32-inch LCD HDTV recommendations

November 07, 2005

UPDATE: I think I've settled on the Sony BRAVIA XBR.

Though I already have a few well-informed friends on the case, I thought I might as well ask the question here too: what's the best 32-inch LCD HDTV for less than $2500?

It's very likely that I'll still do my usual over-the-top, leave-no-webpage-unread research on the subject, but I wouldn't mind hearing from a few people who might be a bit more knowledgeable than I when it comes to this sort of thing.

Expansys and delayed shipping

November 05, 2005

UPDATE: Well, I'm fairly certain that I'm going to be going with the 8700c I mention below — currently Expansys is claiming that my order will not ship until Nov. 30th Dec. 11th Dec. 23rd!!! If it ships on that day (and it won't), it will have taken more than three months to arrive at my doorstep. No thank you.

As I mentioned previously, I recently purchased an i-mate SP5. It still has not shipped. When I ordered it I was told that it would ship in six days. It's been 30. Every time the "estimated shipping" ticker drops down a couple of days, it always seems to jump back up by four or five. Currently, it says four days, so assuming it actually ships this go around (unlikely), it will have shipped 34 days after I ordered it.

I've used Expansys multiple times without incident, but this is really starting to rub me the wrong way. I understand that the holdup is likely on i-mate's end, but not once in the past month have I received an e-mail explanation from Expansys regarding the delay. Nothing.

I've been looking very seriously at the Blackberry 8700c and if it ends up coming out on the 21st as expected, I may very well cancel the SP5 order if it hasn't yet shipped. Hell, I may just cancel the order out of principle — this is getting ridiculous.

Disabling auto-paragraphs in WordPress

November 02, 2005

If WordPress feels that a tag you are using needs to be wrapped in a paragraph tag, it will just go ahead and do that for you no questions asked. No thank you.

I first ran into this problem when checking the site for XHTML validation after coming up with a method for producing weblog footnotes using Textpander. The XHTML would not validate: there was a closing paragraph tag without a matching opening paragraph tag. Poring over my code again and again, I knew that I wasn't doing it — WordPress was adding the rogue paragraph tag sometime subsequent to the calling of the_content(). After taking the issue up on the support forums (and finding agreement that it was indeed a bug), I noticed the problem again when I did the latest redesign, however in this instance it was adding an opening paragraph tag and not closing it, which compelled me to re-examine the issue.

After sifting through more code than I'd like to admit, I figured out a very quick and easy fix that doesn't seem to break anything else (on my site anyway). All you need to do is open the /wp-includes/default-filters.php file and comment out the following line:

addfilter('the_content', 'wpautop');

Logic would suggest that if you don't currently roll your own XHTML, then this little hack probably isn't for you, because, I'm assuming, that without this filter, posts that are typed up through the WordPress web interface are never wrapped in paragraph tags. In other words, don't comment out the above line unless you know what you're doing.

Keep the change

October 29, 2005

I hate change. Hell, I hate cash period. I'm very used to the surprised looks I get from friends when, for whatever reason, I actually whip out some cash to pay for something. One of the biggest reasons I hate cash is that you have to keep replenishing it, which means taking trips to the bank (or selling things on Craigslist), which means you're being inefficient (unless of course you walk around with thousands of dollars in your pocket or you work at a bank).

That said, most of the people I know don't seem to agree with me about this. They almost always use cash and make frequent trips to the bank to get more of it. My argument is simple: it's 2000-fucking-5, the world is electronic, why aren't you? I don't get it. With a debit/cash card you never have to worry about not having money (if you actually have money in the bank), there is an electronic record kept of whatever you purchase, and best of all there is no change to deal with.

Perhaps Bank of America has finally realized that a significant number of people still prefer cash, because they've just come out with a pretty ingenious program, Keep the Change, that would seem to prod people into using their debit cards more. Basically, the program rounds up any purchases you make using your debit card to the nearest dollar and puts the difference between the rounded amount and the actual amount into your savings account — automatically and with every purchase.

What I don't quite understand though is that the name "Keep the Change" seems to be a bit of a misnomer. I mean, if you are using your debit card, there is no "change" anyway, right? Right. Notwithstanding the confusing name, I still think it's a neat idea, especially for those spendthrifts who don't normally "save."

Sadly though, the program can't really compete with some of the other cash-back credit card programs out there because those give you something on top of what you've already put in (assuming that you pay off your balance each month) rather than skimming the top off of what was already there and repackaging it . That said, I do think that this aspect of the program is pretty cool:

For the first three months, we'll match your Keep the Change? savings at 100%. That means for every Keep the Change transfer, we'll contribute the same amount to your Bank of America savings account. And when the three months are over, to make it even easier to save, we'll continue matching 5% a year, every year.

While on the topic of Bank of America, I have to say that their website can be pretty goddamn annoying sometimes. For those not in the know, BoA has two completely separate computer systems, east and west, that cannot talk to each other; apparently, like those that still use cash exclusively, no one there got the memo that it's 2000-fucking-5 and that this sort of interoperability should be a non-issue — it's the same company for christ's sake!

I have accounts in both California and Florida and if I want to deposit a check into my Florida account while in California I actually have to go into the bank, fill out some paperwork and then wait in line so that I can talk to a teller (even though I can withdraw "Florida" money from any BoA ATM). What is more is that the deposit is not instantaneous and usually takes a couple of days to show up in my account. It's much easier to just deposit it into the California account and then move it over electronically.

While this isn't that big of a deal (I mean, how often do you use checks anyway?), there is another aspect of this divide that is incredibly annoying, namely, the fact that you can't consolidate multi-state accounts (if they exist on opposite systems) into a single online "account." I have to use separate logins to get into my accounts even though they are through the same damn bank. This wouldn't be such a chore if you weren't required to choose the state in which the account is held (the different login name isn't enough), but you are and the song-and-dance requires multiple steps.

If anyone can explain away this chasm, pray tell.

From iPhoto to iView MediaPro

October 22, 2005

ADDENDUM: A few days ago, Apple announed Aperture, a professional-grade photo editing and management tool, which, after watching the demo videos, I'm incredibly impressed with; something tells me I'm going to be doing this whole "migrating" thing all over again with Aperture pretty soon. It's obvious that Aperture is currently meant to complement Photoshop, not obviate it, but I'm sure Apple isn't ruling out the possibility years down the road.

A couple of weeks ago I decided I was going to stop using iPhoto and move to something, umm, what's the word, oh yah, USABLE. iPhoto had been giving me all kinds of trouble, much more than I want to get into here (and that you likely want to hear about), but the problems are by no means specific to me and I'm sure most of the people reading this post know exactly what I'm talking about. Indeed, in the last month I've seen a considerable spike of I'm-sick-of-iPhoto rants across the blogosphere.

The biggest problem for me was always speed — use iPhoto to organize a substantial amount of photos and you'll quickly realize that it's incredibly slow, to the point that for all intents and purposes it's quite unusable. This annoyance quickly became unbearable when I started using iPhoto with the larger files produced by my Canon 20D and I knew that something was going to have to change.

Let the OS do the work?

There really aren't too many alternatives on the Mac when it comes to image organization. Given the lack of options, I, at one point, thought that I would just use hierarchical folders (year/month, etc) and navigate the pictures using a combination of the Finder, Spotlight, and smart folders. As ever, I thought long and hard about the possible long-term implications of such a move and ultimately decided that that was probably not the best approach right now (though I might very well decide otherwise in the future).

After dismissing the "filesystem" option, it didn't take me long to stumble upon iView MediaPro. I'd heard of it before and even read some reviews, but never really considered it until now. I knew that a lot of "serious" photographers swore by it and so I decided to give it a shot.

Post-move Details

I knew the transition was not going to be easy and I put it off as long as I could. I was aware of the iPhoto import feature (truth be told, I doubt I would have attempted the move without it), but I was scared that the amount of pictures I had would make the importer shit on itself (especially in light of the fact that all of the pictures were tagged with at least one descriptor, if not many). Imagine my delight when the move was completely error-free. That's not to say that there wasn't some post-move work to be done, but the catalog and thumbnails built themselves without a hitch; this included both the albums I created (called "Catalog Sets" in MediaPro) and keywords.

The only real hang-up regarding the transition was manually moving the image files to another directory. iPhoto stores its photos in a particular year/month/day structure located in ~/Pictures/iPhoto Library and when you "import" these pictures into MediaPro the disk location is maintained. Obviously, I didn't want my pictures to reside in the iPhoto directory anymore and I also didn't want the directory structure to be so granular (i.e., I wanted just year/month).

Surprisingly, this wasn't too hard to do in MediaPro.1 I first created a directory off my home directory called "images" and then created subfolders for the years and months. I added the images folder to the "Catalog Folders" pane in MediaPro, which already contained the iPhoto directories because of the initial import. Finally, using the Catalog Folders pane I selected each of the "day" subfolders within the iPhoto directory, highlighted all of the resulting thumbnails, and dragged them to the corresponding year/month folder under the images directory. Using this method, MediaPro physically moved the files to the new directories and kept all of the meta information (keywords, sets, etc) intact.

Likes / Dislikes

A few things I really like about the program:

  • Very, very, very fast. I'm running it on a 1.25GHz PowerBook G4 with 1GB of RAM and am loving it; it's such a departure from the spinning beach-ball that was iPhoto.
  • Good configuration options (not great, but certainly very powerful).
  • Very nice interface. There's no real clutter and everything feels like it has a purpose — the entire application is very navigable.
  • Excellent metadata options.

A few things I don't like:

  • When browsing through thumbnails you can't select multiple pictures using the mouse (i.e., you can't click and drag over multiple pictures) — if you want to pick more than one picture you have to CMD-click each of them.
  • Can't select multiple keywords at once (i.e., there's no way to see pictures tagged with both "justin" and "friends").
  • Can't change the size of the thumbnails — they're stuck at 128 pixels wide.

Backing it all up

I'm a huge fan of rsync and have been using it for years to backup various important documents and so it was the logical choice for backing up my photos remotely now that my webhost gives me enough space for this sort of thing.2 The following is the rsync call that I use to backup my photos (once a day using cron). The first instance of this obviously required all of the pictures to be moved to the webserver, which took forever given my upload cap.3

cd /Users/justin;rsync -e ssh -rtR --delete --stats --progress
images/ jblanton@justinblanton.com:/home/jblanton/

Keep in mind that to run this particular command you will need to have setup passwordless SSH access on your webserver. Also, you might want to delete the "delete" argument, lest you run the risk of deleting all of your remote files if syncing from an empty disk.

  1. Of course I could have done all of this either in a shell or through the Finder, but I would have lost all of the metadata manually entered by me previously.   

  2. When I first started using Dreamhost to host this site I was allotted 2.5GB of space. Now, almost exactly a year later, I have nearly 20GB of space and am paying the same price per month.   

  3. Number of files: 4484
    Number of files transferred: 4422
    Total file size: 5469814058 bytes
    Total transferred file size: 5469814058 bytes
    Literal data: 5469814058 bytes
    Matched data: 0 bytes
    File list size: 72342
    Total bytes sent: 5470722216
    Total bytes received: 70772

    Sent 5470722216 bytes received 70772 bytes 44058.01 bytes/sec
    Total size is 5469814058 speedup is 1.00   

i-mate SP5

October 17, 2005

I recently sold my Sony Ericsson K750i and purchased an i-mate SP5, which probably won't arrive for at least another week — consider this a pre[re]view. As some of you may recall, I had an i-mate SP3i a few months back and loved it — there was literally nothing wrong with it. Now, take everything I liked about that phone and square it. Seriously. Pretty much nothing comes close to the specs on the SP5. A brief list of notable features:

  • Tiny, candy-bar form factor (107x46x17mm; 106g)
  • QVGA screen (320x240 pixels shoved into 2.2 inches)
  • Wi-Fi (802.11b)
  • EDGE (class 10)
  • MiniSD
  • Quad-band (850/900/1800/1900)
  • 1.3 MP camera (yes, a step down from the K750i's 2MPs, but I could not care less)
  • First Windows Mobile 5.0 Smartphone Edition phone
  • Bluetooth1

If the construction of this phone is as solid as that of the SP3i, I have a feeling I'll be keeping it for a while. In fact, I'm pretty sure that even the Motorola Q won't be able to pry me away from it, if only because the Q will not have Wi-Fi (and possibly not even EDGE), nor will the Treo 700w, which was also on my radar. However, the Nokia E61, which was announced subsequent to my ordering of the SP5, has really got my attention. It will have everything the SP5 does, save Windows Mobile (Symbian OS v9.1 will be the platform), plus, if past support is any indication, it will sync with Macs.2

  1. Unfortunately, it's a Bluetooth 1.1 stack — this is perhaps my only technical qualm with the phone.   

  2. I am a bit bummed that no one (including me) has been able to get a Windows Mobile device to function as a Bluetooth modem under Mac OS X, something I've written about before. I received a lot of feedback from that post, but no solutions.   


October 11, 2005

UPDATE: Dave Kellam, the author of flickrRSS, sent me an e-mail shortly after I put this post up to let me know that he reads my site and to thank me for the plugin plug (well deserved Dave). He also expounded on his future plans for the plugin and his intention to take care of its inability to display Flickr's "medium"-size images (500 pixels wide), my only complaint. Then, not two hours after that first e-mail, he sent me an updated PHP file that addressed the "issue" (you can now see the larger pictures on my photos page). I'm told that he'll release this version to the public in the next week or so.

Ever since the latest site re-design (and even before), I've been a little less than pleased with my photos page, which basically contained just two links, one to my Flickr photostream and one to my PHP Slideshow script. I have a couple of ideas to help fill in this space, but haven't had time to implement them. I was either going to use the Flickr API to populate the page with the most recent photos or run the Flickr RSS feed through an XSLT transform to accomplish the same.

However, while doing some very cursory research I stumbled across flickrRSS, a WordPress plugin. To be honest, I didn't have high hopes for it and never expected to actually use it, but after setting it up it was hard to convince myself that it wasn't exactly what I needed. The available customization options, image caching, and integration with the WordPress panel have really sold me. The only thing I will probably hack it to do is to pull medium-size images (500 pixels wide) instead of the smaller sizes it currently supports.

Truth be told, I'm a little bummed that I found this because building it myself now would likely be re-inventing the wheel.

iPod nano + Brasso + invisibleShield

October 09, 2005

As you have no doubt heard, the Apple iPod nano gets scratches when looked at, much less used. Even my nano, which, if you know me personally, is transported on a cloud and handled with velvet gloves (read: I'm anal), has succumb to noticeable scratches.

After reading about the guy who removed nano scratches with Brasso (a mild abrasive), I was intrigued and knew that I had to try it out. As per Todd's example, I used a micro-fiber cloth and concentrated mostly on the screen, which I rubbed for ~15 minutes. Surprisingly, all of the scratches that were there had disappeared — I was amazed. Granted, my screen was in pretty good shape to begin with, but after applying the Brasso it genuinely looked new. The same treatment was given to the metal portion of the nano with the same spectacular results.

After letting the Brasso dry and wiping the nano clean, it was time to put on the invisibleShield, which is basically a military-grade, nearly impervious, nano condom (watch the demo videos); the end result looks as if the nano has been vacuum-sealed.

Getting the shield on is a bit tricky and requires you to dip the film into soapy water to allow for it to slide about the nano so that perfect alignment may be achieved (the film is cut to fit the nano precisely). I was a bit reluctant to soak my nano with water, but knew that others had done it without incident and so I went against every anal-retentive bone in my body and "dove in." I decided to apply the front film first, and surprisingly, I had it bubbleless and perfectly aligned in less than five minutes. I found that the best way to get the film on the nano is to completely soak it, shake the water off, and then lay it perpendicular to the top or bottom of the nano and kind of let it 'fall' until all of the nano is covered. This method completely obviates the bubble issue and all that's left to do is align it (be careful though as this can produce bubbles if done incorrectly).

Unfortunately, I couldn't leave well enough alone and ended up trying to get out a piece of dust near the bottom, which caused a seemingly endless cycle of pulling the film off, soaking it, and re-applying it. While the "stickiness" of the film never seemed to dissipate, its clarity did, and after more than a few "tries" it became apparent that some of the marks were going to be permanent. So, the lesson to be learned here is that you should roll with your first effort if you think you can live with it, because it's probably only going to get worse.

Applying the back layer was nearly as easy as the front, but because the back piece also covers the sides I had to tackle its application in two steps. I found that trying to align the sides (and get them to stick) before the back was completely dry was damn near impossible. What I ended up doing was aligning the back and letting it dry for about 45 minutes before working on the sides (I just let them hang over the edge). After setting the sides and letting the whole thing dry for a few hours I have to say that I'm really happy with the results.

[It's amazing how some posts that you envision to be three lines end up being six paragraphs.]

Where are those damn kids?

October 05, 2005
Where are those damn kids?

I'm really happy with this shot and I'm curious to see how you guys receive it. I played around with it quite a bit in Photoshop, mostly just experimenting with isolating the clown and blurring the background to make it look like the clown was spinning on something. While the effect was neat (and believable), I ultimately decided to just crop it a bit and play around with the color.

The original colors were brilliant, but after desaturating everything I knew that I had to present it in black and white. To get the black and white seen here, I did the following: created a new hue/saturation adjustment layer with mode set to "color"; created a second hue/saturation adjustment layer with the mode set to "normal" on top of the first adjustment layer and set the saturation of this layer to -100; went back to the first adjustment layer and adjusted the hue/saturation until I was happy.

I'll leave the context and circumstances of the shot to the imagination.

Site design v137.1

October 02, 2005

As you can see, there is a new site design here at jb.com (if something looks a bit off, empty your cache and refresh). As is always the case, the minimalist in me seemed to take over. To be honest, I wasn't quite sure if I could get any more "skeletonized" than my last effort, but I do think I've pulled it off.

I've shot at the design with just about every browser gun on the planet, and it seems to have held up alright. That said, if you see any bullet wounds, please be sure to let me know.

Miscellaneous Comments

  • Yes, that's pink in the linked-list section on the right. Shut up, you love it!
  • Referrer spam has forced me to remove the referrer page. Despite my best efforts, it was time to throw in the towel. I fought the good fight for a couple years, but it just wasn't worth it anymore, especially in light of the fact that there are many other ways to gather that sort of information nowadays.

  • I moved the "descriptions" that were at the top of the nested pages to the sidebar to try and make that element more uniform throughout.
  • I moved all the feed links to a single area in the footer.
  • I've had a site in one capacity or another since ~1993, but have never put up an "about" blurb, until now (see index page if you came here from an aggregator). Though I'm sure this little description will be in a constant state of flux, I'm going to try to keep it up for a while and see how it plays out. I keep telling myself that I'm going to put together a full colophon page, but it just never seems to materialize.
  • The links page has always been hand-rolled, but just recently I decided to let Bloglines have a go at it and I'm pretty happy with the results; the aggregator service offers all the necessary options regarding CSS and privacy.

Sleep is for weenies

September 29, 2005

So much to write about, so little time. Why so little time you ask? Five law classes (including two bar courses and Federal Courts, arguably the toughest, most 'abstract' class in law school) + working part-time at the firm + intermittent patent bar studying + working on a book + keeping up with this website + "life." I have so many ideas I want to run with and flesh out here, but I just can't find the time to put pen to paper.

In other news, I hope to have a new design up here fairly soon (perhaps even tonight if I choose not to sleep). I've been working on it for a while and now I just need to integrate it into my "live" system. Don't expect anything too crazy — less is more baby, less is always more.

Cammy Cam Party

September 24, 2005

I took this picture last weekend while walking around downtown San Jose. I debated just throwing it on Flickr and not putting it here, but I really liked the lighting and so I figured what the hell. I'll probably put up at least one more from this outing in the next couple of days.

Cammy Cam Party

Archives without using WordPress' Pages

September 21, 2005

A fair majority of the Smart Archives e-mail I field is concerned with how to actually create the /archives/ directory structure without using WordPress' Pages. I thought about just putting the solution on the project page, but I think this tip will help others with similar problems (unrelated to WordPress) and so I'm posting it here on the weblog.

I'm working off the assumption that you want the same URI as my archives page (i.e., foo.com/archives/). The first thing you are going to want to do is create the /archives directory off your root. After you've created this directory, place your PHP file (the one with the Smart Archives function call) within this directory. Make sure that this PHP file has the following code at the top:

<?php require('/path/to/wp-blog-header.php'); ?>

Once the PHP file is placed in the /archives directory, you're going to need to add the following line to your root .htaccess file:

RewriteRule ^archives/ archives/index.php [QSA]

It's probably self-explanatory, but this rule redirects any page request that falls under the /archives directory and points it to the index.php file sitting in /archives. This line must go after whatever htaccess rules that WordPress, or you yourself, have already put in your .htaccess file that redirect browsers pointed to pages within the /archives directory.1

That's all there is to it.

  1. The idea here is that you want to make sure that other rules concerning /archives are processed before this rule; if they weren't, then any attempt to reach a non-index archive page (i.e., the archive of an individual post) would result in the user being redirected to your /archives/index.php file.   

1TB+ datastore recommendations

September 18, 2005

UPDATE: I received a lot of great recommendations, but none of them could pull me away from the Infrant ReadyNAS X6, which I've had in mind from the beginning. If interested, and judging by the volume of e-mail I got regarding this, a lot of you are, be sure to check out TomsNetworking's take on it. I'm not buying this tomorrow or anything, but barring any dispositive feedback from you guys, it will likely be the solution I run with.

I'm looking to purchase a rather large datastore fairly soon and was wondering what you, the readers, might recommend. I was initially hunting for an all-in-one solution, but prices haven't been dropping at the rate I anticipated and so I'm also thinking about just buying an enclosure and filling it myself.

Requirements / Desires

There are a few things that I'd like the datastore to have:

  • It must have an on-board RAID 5 controller (I want both striping and fault tolerance).
  • If you're going to point me to an enclosure-only setup (i.e., it doesn't include hard drives), the box must be less than $400.
  • If you're going to point me to an all-in-one setup (i.e., it includes hard drives) it must be at least a terabyte (truthfully, I want much more because I'm afraid I'll fill up a TB immediately, but cost is so prohibitive) and less than $1200.
  • I'd like SCSI, but I realize that SATA or IDE are probably the only interfaces that will allow me to stay within my cost constraints.
  • It must have at least four drive bays.
  • I'd like both USB2 and FireWire 800, but either will do.
  • Any kind of wireless connectivity would be great, but it's certainly not going to be a dealbreaker.

Craigslist automatic relisting

September 15, 2005

Why doesn't Craigslist allow you to automatically relist an item? The current system simply removes your item from the site seven days after you post it. You're never informed that the item is about to "expire," nor are you told when it's ultimately removed. I sell a lot of stuff on Craigslist (mostly to circumvent eBay + PayPal fees)1, and on more than one occasion I've failed to remember that I had an item on the system until days after it had been removed. The worst part is that if after it's been removed, you let too much time slide, the link sent to you by Craigslist to edit/delete the item will no longer work and you will have to rewrite your description from scratch.

Why can't Craigslist simply let me know by e-mail that my item is about to be removed and provide a link that I can use to extend the life of the listing (not unlike the link it sends me right after I initially list something)? Everyone wins. I know, I know, you get what you pay for, but...

  1. It doesn't hurt that I live in Silicon Valley where there's always someone who wants to buy the "techie" things I'm selling; were I in any other section of the country it's doubtful that I would (or could) rely so heavily on the service. In other news, I can't believe I actually put this in a "footnote."   

Apple iPod nano

September 07, 2005

Just when I thought I would never buy another iPod (pipe dreams, I know), Apple drops the most badass digital music player ever, the iPod nano. Let's be honest, when Apple comes out with a device called "nano" they're pretty much guaranteeing a purchase from me. Sadly, I'm told there won't be any in Silicon Valley until the weekend, but you can bet I'll be first in line when they arrive.

While I'd like to say that I'm going to 'review' it, it's highly unlikely; all that really needs to be said about it is that it's an incredibly tiny, full-featured iPod without the hard drive. Have you seen it?!?

UPDATE: Valley Fair got a "ton" of them this morning and I picked one up earlier today. If you think it's impressive online, just wait until you see it in person. They were flying out the door; everyone in line had at least one and I saw one guy with five.

Motorola ROCKR

This entry originally included a very long rant concerning the Motorola ROCKR, the first "iTunes" mobile phone and the other "big" announcement from Apple yesterday, but after reading it a few times I realized that I sounded a bit like a gadget elitist (surprise!) and so I digress. Let's just say that it's strikingly underwhelming both as a mobile phone and as a music player.

Apple Mighty(?) Mouse

September 07, 2005

Steve, please, for the love of god, just split the damn mouse down the middle and give it two buttons. The pseudo-button(s) on the Mighty Mouse drove me crazy. I have to admit though that I never had any real intention of holding on to the Mighty Mouse, due in part to the fact that in the past nine months I've gone through six different mice1 and because I, like a lot of other Mac zealots(?), am just compelled to try out anything new from Apple. I figured I would use it for a few days and then return it — that's exactly what I did.

Before I start complaining, let me first expound on the virtues of the mouse's only saving grace, the scroll wheel, or "nipple." I'm a big fan of the nipple (to quote Jon Stewart, "settle...") and can't wait to see it adopted in other mice. It feels perfect and the "click" sound generated by the tiny speaker inside the mouse complements it well. I was this rarr; ← close to keeping the mouse just so I didn't have to give up the nipple.

The only thing I would change about the nipple would be to make it clickable. It can currently act as a button mapped to some action, but it doesn't act independently of the rest of the mouse; when you press down on the nipple hard enough it causes the mouse itself to click (not unlike when you give the mouse a normal left-click) and the guts deduce from this movement that you're pressing down on the scroll wheel. The whole thing feels a bit awkward.

Speaking of awkward, I was never able to stop thinking about hitting the "right" mouse button and this is what ultimately came between me and the nipple. I kept telling myself to try it for another day to see if I could get used to it or maybe come up with a different way of holding it. Nothing. My annoyance with this came into strong relief when happenstance had me use my "regular" mouse again, which immediately freed me from having to think about right-clicking and I quickly realized that the Mighty Mouse just wasn't for me.

Another thing I was a little disappointed with was the length of the cord — <1m. It's perfect for me, and, I suspect, for others who use Apple monitors (because they usually have built-in USB ports), but there's just no way to use it if your tower is sitting on the floor.

Finally, the side buttons were horrible. Not only can they not act independently of each other (they must be pressed simultaneously), but they're in a horrible position and offer pretty much no tactile feedback. To be honest, I thought the buttons on my mouse were broken until I saw other people with the same complaints.

  1. I currently have the Razer Diamondback and will likely get the Copperhead when it's released. I've also tried out just about every 'high-end' Bluetooth mouse on the market, only to be repeatedly disappointed by the "feel" and inaccuracy of their tracking.   

Six symbols

September 05, 2005

This is a metal sheet that conceals a 'garage' on the side of a building across the street from the Borders I frequent. Every time I walked past it I thought that it might make for a good photo; I think I was right. I did quite a bit of post-processing on this image, but it doesn't deviate too much from what I actually saw.

Six symbols

Donate "logo"

September 05, 2005

I've had a few people e-mail me asking for permission to use the donate image I've been displaying above the menu on the right. Of course I told them that they could, as can anyone else who so desires; if you feel that it will do some good on your site, then please, by all means.

Katrina relief

September 02, 2005

American Red CrossAs I did for the tsunami victims, I plan to donate any advertising revenue generated during the month of August (which I'm going to match) to the Katrina relief effort, and I encourage other webloggers to do the same.

To be honest, I kind of wish I was there so that I could contribute physically, but seeing as how that really isn't feasible, I do hope that my monetary donation can help to make at least one person's struggle a little easier.

My thoughts are with all of you.