Busch Gardens

December 29, 2005

Yesterday I went to Busch Gardens with a bunch of friends for the first time in ~10 years. It was an absolute blast and everything I remembered. I think it's always been my favorite theme park and yesterday just helped to solidify its position at the top. The new big ride, SheiKra, is completely insane, and were it not for the ridiculous wait times, we probably would have rode it all day.

WordPress 2.0

December 27, 2005

WordPress 2.0 was released yesterday (from v1.5.x) — I upgraded my installation last night and had no issues. Great job guys.

Also, both of the plugins I maintain for WP work fine under 2.0 (I've updated the list of working plugins to reflect this). On a related note, I'll be releasing Smart Archives v1.1 sometime in the next few days and am working on two new plugins.

As you were.

I just can't keep up

December 26, 2005

Too many friends to see. Too many voicemails to respond to. Too many conversations to have. I'm afraid that there just isn't going to be enough time to fit it all in this break. If you haven't received a response from me (other than through SMS/e-mail), trust that you are in the queue.

Uhh, at some point I should probably do some patent bar studying.

I ended up getting the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM lens I spoke of in an earlier post, but haven't had a chance to shoot with it yet; hopefully tomorrow I can find some time. I'm currently sitting on about 10 pictures I think are good enough to post here — expect them to trickle in over the next few weeks.

Florida sunset

December 20, 2005
Florida sunset

Today was the first day since I've been home that I've been able to take any pictures (my previous efforts had been thwarted by rain and lack of transportation), but even today I was only able to go out for about 45 minutes before it got dark.

You can find another, similar sunset picture below this one in my Flickr photostream (I took a ton of pictures because the sky kept changing colors) along with a B&W picture of a parked train that I took before I got to the water.

Expect many more photos, weather and transportation permitting.

I am a workaholic

December 19, 2005

That's the first step, right? Now what? It's no doubt getting worse with age, and, well, it kind of scares me.

What's a GSM fanboy to do?

December 19, 2005

UPDATE: I actually ordered the i-mate SP5 again. Should be here tomorrow.

Am I going to be 'forced' to move to Verizon? Of all the phones I've owned and services I've used, the only major carrier I've never gone with is Verizon (for various reasons). However, that might have to change given that they seem to have both the Palm Treo 700w and the Motorola Q locked for the foreseeable future. Not sure if we'll see unlocked GSM versions of these phones until well after the Verizon launch-hype has worn off.

This puts me in a very contentious position. Perhaps I'll have to try and get the i-mate SP5 again(!) (obviously not from Expansys) or just wait for the Nokia E61, which I think might be a huge hit next year, assuming of course that Nokia doesn't follow their usual practice of pricing "high-end" phones completely out of the market.

Still reluctant to move to Verizon

My love for GSM really has nothing to do with the underlying technology. That used to be the case, but as this industry progresses we're starting to see that the big three (Sprint, Cingular, and Verizon) are converging toward similar ceilings. I think the biggest reason I've never gone with Verizon (or Sprint since about 2001) is because the [CDMA] phones they use are locked to the carrier, and so phones without the carrier's "seal of approval" simply will not work. What does that mean exactly? It means that the latest and greatest devices (read: those available anywhere but America) can't be used on these networks. If you flip mobile devices like I do, you not only want access to the newest gadgets, you also want to be able to sell them easily, which becomes a bit more difficult if your ad is limited to a specific carrier. When locked in with either Verizon or Sprint, you're at the mercy of the respective provider as to which phone you'll be using next — unless they decide to pick up the phone you want (and the manufacturer decides to let them have it), you're shit out of luck. This has never sat well with me and I'm not sure the Q or the 700w can change that. Couple this inability to control your device with the fact that Verizon's unlimited data plan for devices is $45/mo., where Cingular's is $20, and the possible switch quickly becomes a non-decision.

I actually purchased a RIM Blackberry 8700c after the whole SP5 fiasco, but returned it the same day after realizing that there was no way for me (err, Cingular wouldn't allow me) to use my all-I-can-eat data plan with the RIM device even though I didn't need/want any "push" functionality; I simply wanted web and POP/IMAP access, but this required a separate $50/mo. "BlackBerry" plan. Just one more way to get your money. I'm so sick of the providers here I can't see straight and could talk at unbelievable length about the inequities and ineptitude of the entire mobile phone industry, but I'll save everyone the bore (for now!).

On the lack of new pictures here

December 17, 2005

Yes, I know I've been a little lax with pictures here lately — I've been busy. Truth be told, I haven't taken a single shot in about two months — I'm itching to get back into the swing of it and plan to shoot a ton while here in Florida.

While on the topic, I should mention that I might be adding the EF 50mm f/1.4 USM to my arsenal fairly soon.

On having luggage lost

December 16, 2005

Well, as usual, the black cloud of luck that hangs over my head decided to rain on me again today — American Airlines lost my luggage, which included both my patent bar study materials and some rather expensive clothes. Hopefully they'll find it and rectify the situation. This is just what I needed after the last month and a 7:00AM-midnight transit from California to Florida. Same shit, different day.

What a month

December 15, 2005

I had my last law school final of the semester last night and am completely burnt-out. Not sure why, but finals really took their toll on me this semester. They always do, but this semester seemed a bit more intense for some reason. I've essentially been a machine the last few weeks and am now devoid of energy. All that's really left to do is wait for my grades to start trickling in and ruining my day(s). Luckily, I'll be able to drown my sorrows in good company, Chik-fil-A sandwiches, and fried okra from Sonny's (see below).

Unfortunately, there's really no downtime — today is the girlfriend's birthday and tomorrow morning I head back to Florida for about three weeks. On top of the fact that there are 2342353 people I need to see and hang out with in Florida, this break is likely going to be a lot less fun than years past because I'm going to have to spend the majority of it studying for the patent bar, which is not the most exciting thing in the world. In fact, I dare say it's the most boring, god-awful thing I've ever been made to do.

Notwithstanding the fact that I've got all of this stuff going on and that the next few weeks will arguably be as busy as the last few, you should expect a ton of posts from me over the next month or so — there's a whole lot I've been wanting to say, but just haven't had the time to say it.

We're now off to find Midway Arcade Treasures: Extended Play for my PSP. This cartridge comes with the original Mortal Kombat trilogy (I'm an MK god; it's been a while, but...) and ~20 other games. I can't wait!

We also plan on seeing King Kong this afternoon, and from what I've heard, it's nothing short of brilliant.

As you were.

Del.icio.us alternatives redux

December 03, 2005

I received quite a bit of e-mail regarding the Del.icio.us alternatives post I put up a few weeks ago. As is always the case when I write something like that, much of the feedback comes from similarly situated people looking for the same solution and asking me to let them know if and when I come across it.

However, not all of the e-mail was from end-users — I also got feedback from various del.icio.us competitors hawking their wares. In fact, the CTO of Furl, the service I commented on in the earlier post, e-mailed me to get a better understanding of what I was talking about regarding the URI-forwarding and has since told me that a "furl"-free referrer is now on the to-do list. I really hope this actually comes to fruition.

For what it's worth, I did try out quite a few other social-bookmarking services, but all of them suffered from the same no-HTML-in-comments shortcoming.

Something tells me that at the end of the day I'm going to have to migrate the entire thing back to my own CMS to get this very simple feature. I explained how to create a "linkblog" with Movable Type a while back, though I'd likely use WordPress this time around if it comes down to that.

Out of curiosity, has anyone come across a del.icio.us importer for either WordPress or Movable Type (either would work — importing/exporting between those systems isn't too terribly difficult)? When I say "importer," I'm referring to moving the actual bookmarks (+descriptions) to the CMS (i.e., each bookmark ends up being a separate post); I'm not looking for a way to present del.icio.us bookmarks on a site powered by either of those CMSs.

Gmail and Lynx

December 03, 2005

Not sure why I'm writing about this here, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Gmail works, and works well, in Lynx, the text-only web browser for *nix terminals.

A few days ago there were some network problems on campus (surprise, surprise) and about half of the sites I was going to were not coming up. I desperately needed to check my e-mail and my phone's battery was dead so I couldn't do it from there. I didn't know of any proxies off the top of my head and so I ended up SSH'ing into my webhost and using Lynx to get to Gmail.

Now, I fully realize that Gmail has an HTML-only version that is triggered when JavaScript is disabled (or missing), but for whatever reason I just assumed that the site would somehow break under Lynx. Lucky for me it didn't break, and honestly, the navigation isn't that bad in a pinch.

Note to self

December 01, 2005

It's probably not a good idea to do this again. Finals are killing you this semester.

Hacking Gmail

November 23, 2005

It appears that Wiley has put up a few excerpts from Hacking Gmail, a book for which I was the technical editor (also see Google Hacks).

Keep in mind that the selections Wiley offers don't touch at all upon the real crux of the book, namely, the API and other code-related things that were Ben's focus.

If you're a Gmail "power user" and really want some neat, practical insight into the web service's innards, I suggest you check out the book, which I'm told should be in stores before Christmas.

As an experiment, I started using Gmail exclusively about a month ago and have a lot to say about the experience (not the least of which is the fact that I'm still using it). Because I fear the post will be relatively long, I'll likely wait until law school finals are over before writing something up.

Colored bubbles

November 20, 2005

Mike Haney's got an excellent article up on Popular Science titled, The 11-Year Quest to Create Disappearing Colored Bubbles. It's one of those inspiring feel-good stories that really makes you want to keep pressing on and producing, knowing that there are still problems yet to be solved and things yet to be created, and hoping to one day claim your well-deserved jackpot for figuring it all out. My favorite passages:

I started with Jell-O, because I thought, "Well, it's got pretty intense color. So I mixed Jell-O and Ivory soap. I got nothing." Undeterred, he went back to the store and tried food coloring. Then hair dye. Then ink. Within weeks, he was taking Sherri on dates to the grocery store, where he would buy as many colored products as he could afford. Back in his kitchen, he'd dump the Fruit Roll-Ups or Juicy Juice into a pan, heat it on the stove until he figured the color was loosened up, and pour in the dish soap. Only clear bubbles emerged.


Color remained elusive, but his try-anything approach kept plenty of other strange bubbles floating across his kitchen. One exploded with a loud bang. Another gave him chemical burns when it popped. The best one bounced, just like a Super Ball. He thought he could have sold that one, but he couldn't re-create it. He could rarely re-create any of his experiments. "I never wrote anything down," he says. "I'd get too excited as I was doing it. But once I lost that bouncing bubble, I was crushed. I started videotaping myself so that next time I'd know more than 'It was something on that side of the kitchen.' "


Ask Kehoe now to describe the day the first colored bubble appeared, and the details are fuzzy. He remembers dipping his wand into a pot of blue solution (although they produced clear bubbles, most of his solutions were colored by then) and looking at the quivering film, thinking that this one seemed different. He blew, and a bubble floated across the room. It was blue. He tried again. The next bubbles were blue too. He called Sherri in to make sure he wasn't hallucinating. No, she agreed, it was a blue bubble. As far as they knew, the world's first blue bubble. In his kitchen.

What the hell is up with PopSci's pagination? That entire story should have been on three pages max, not 11! I get that they want to hike up page views and ad impressions, but their scheme is a bit overkill — I can promise you that if I haven't clicked on an ad by page two, I probably won't on page 11. Hell, I don't think I've ever clicked on ad period, but that's beside the point, or is it?

Use CSS to place Firefox tabs where you want them

November 19, 2005

I actually hacked this up for myself a couple of months ago and the explanation of how I did it was sitting in the "queue" waiting to be posted here (like 30+ other things at the moment), but it seems that I've been preempted by mozillaZine, which I was just informed, has some instructions on the process.

I like everything on my computer to be on the right (tabs, system dock, application drawers, etc); for me, it makes perfect sense both from an efficiency standpoint (i.e., it's usually the case that my mouse pointer "sits" on the right side of my screen) and a screen real-estate standpoint (i.e., my monitor, like most, is wider than it is tall).

Del.icio.us alternatives

November 14, 2005

Can anyone point me to a "social" bookmarking service that has everything del.icio.us has plus the ability to use markup in the comments you add? If there's no relatively easy1 way to import my del.icio.us links into whatever you're recommending, then forget it, but if you think you know of something that might fit the bill, pray tell.

Of course all of this would be moot if del.icio.us would simply allow HTML in the comments. You listening Joshua? Come on man, make it happen; I don't want to leave del.icio.us.  :)

I'm well aware of Furl and if I switch that's likely what I'll switch to, but there's one thing about that service that really bothers me, namely, the fact that when you use it to put links on your site, those links are routed through their servers each time someone clicks on them (i.e., sites won't see that I'm linking to them because the referrer will show Furl; not only does this perturb me personally, it frustrates the means and ends of search engines).

  1. As long as the new service offers the ability to import links not created through it, I don't mind massaging my del.icio.us links into a format that the new service can read.   


November 13, 2005

I got turned on to Cribcandy, "bookmarkable stuff for your home," a few months ago and can't get enough of it. Every day its RSS feed alerts me to neat products that I can add to my "wist" (wish + list) with a single click. Nevermind the fact that I can't afford 99% of the stuff I add — it's there waiting for me when I can.

Perfect Blue Buildings

November 13, 2005

Just down the street from your hotel, baby
I stay at home with my disease
And ain't this position familiar, darling
Well, all monkeys do what they see
Help me stay awake, I'm falling...

Down on Virginia and La Loma
Where I got friends who'll care for me
You got an attitude of everything I ever wanted
I got an attitude of need
Help me stay awake, I'm falling...

Asleep in perfect blue buildings
Beside the green apple sea
Gonna get me a little oblivion
Try to keep myself away from me

It's 4:30 a.m. on a Tuesday
It doesn't get much worse than this
In beds in little rooms in buildings in the middle
of these lives which are completely meaningless
Help me stay awake, I'm falling...

Asleep in perfect blue buildings
Beside the green apple sea
Gonna get me a little oblivion
Try to keep myself away from myself and me

I got bones beneath my skin and mister...
There's a skeleton in every man's house
Beneath the dust and love and sweat that hangs on everybody
There's a dead man trying to get out
Please help me stay awake, I'm falling...

Asleep in perfect blue buildings
Beside the green apple sea
Gonna get me a little oblivion, baby
Try to keep myself away from me

From Counting Crows' Perfect Blue Buildings

Chaos theory

November 09, 2005

I recently received the following e-mail from a good undergrad friend:

This link in your bits feed made it into lecture today after I sent it to Dr. Wu.

This is his reply:

"It is easy to explain why we see green dot. Since the pink dot moves fast, what we see is actually the complement color of pink, which is green. When the pink changes to grey (the background color), you will see green. If a monitor show R and G at different location, you will not see R and G, but yellow, as long as the lighting moves fast from R to G (faster than 30 Hz or so)."

He showed it in class and said he would ask how it works on the final exam.

Is this an example of chaos theory? The effect of including a link in your page alters the final grade of Dr. Wu's students.

Hopefully no one in that class reads my site.  :)