Photobloggling 'etiquette'

November 13, 2006

If you currently maintain a photoblog or are planning to create one, please keep the following suggestions in mind:

  • You should have a thumbnailed archives page. Do you really think we want to look at a list of your photos' titles? When you're on someone else's site, do you find yourself reading through text lists and saying, "Hrm, what an interesting title for a photograph, I think I'll click on that one"? Didn't think so.
  • The current picture should always link to the previous picture. I absolutely can't stand it when this isn't implemented [correctly]. You are left to search around for cutesy little arrows (or whatever) that are next-to-impossible to click on and change position depending on the dimensions of the current picture. Why?
  • Your RSS feed (yes, you have to provide a feed) should contain a thumbnail of the latest image. Artsy-fartsy titles won't cut it.
  • Your pictures should be at least 500 pixels wide. Why make them smaller? Seriously, why? Are you hurting for storage space in 2006? I doubt it.

WriteRoom for Windows?

November 11, 2006

Update: Dark Room is the Windows equivalent of WriteRoom. Thanks to those who wrote in to tell me as much.

A few months ago I put the following in a bit:

WriteRoom is "for Mac users who enjoy the simplicity of a typewriter, but live in the digital world. [It's] is a full screen, distraction free, writing environment." I love this application and can see myself using it a lot. It's kind of like megazoomer, except that WR is itself an editor.

Indeed, earlier today I began drafting a patent application and found it to be indispensable. Is anyone aware of a similar application for Windows? I think I may want something like this at the office.

Another day, another iPod

November 11, 2006

So, I purchased my 8th iPod a few days ago. What's wrong with me? Oh, that's right, I've a voracious gadget appetite that will likely never be satiated.

This time I've gone with the brand-new 8GB (PRODUCT)RED nano. Speaking of the (RED) campaign, can anyone tell me why American Express has yet to offer (RED) cards to us Americans (for whatever reason, they've only been available in the UK since launch)?

In any event, I'm loving the new gizmo and absolutely do not plan on buying another iPod until the [real] video models debut, likely at the beginning of the year.

The real impetus behind buying this latest model was that I felt it was the first iPod I could use naked (i.e., without any sort of protection). It's no secret that Apple's music players have always been a bit fragile and that some of us have gone to great lengths to ensure their scratch-free survival. Now that Apple's finally moved away from the plastic tops and toward this all-aluminum enclosure, I'm hoping that the device will be a little more resilient to basic, everyday use. I wonder if the rest of the line will eventually get the same treatment.

My quest for decent 'portable' speakers

November 07, 2006

Update: Thanks so much for the avalanche of feedback. I've decided to go with the Audioengine 5's, which I discuss below.

A couple of weeks ago I decided that I wanted to get a speaker set for my office because I was tired of listening to music on my headphones.1 After researching this a bit, I decided on the Klipsch iGroove HG — it was relatively cheap ($250), could interface with non-iPod players (through a regular 1.8" jack), came with a remote, looked decent, and, by most accounts, sounded great. But, not everything was as it seemed.

The "remote"

While the system sounded pretty good (for what it was — a cheap, portable speaker set), it had a few significant problems. First of all, the remote was useless. In my book, if the remote does not allow you to choose between different albums, it's useless. Period. I almost didn't believe this was the case when I first took it out of the package; I thought there must be some key combination that could act like the iPod's "menu" button and take me back through my selection trail. Certainly a system advertised as "iPod-compatible" would allow me to do such a thoughtless task through the remote. Nope. That would make too much sense.

Let me try to put this into perspective: if you are sitting more than an arm's length away from the speakers and you want to listen to a different album — the most basic of wants — you have to get up and fiddle with the iPod, even though you are holding the freakin' REMOTE in your hand!

Perhaps the worst part about all of this is that the majority of reviews floating around make nary a mention of this ‘oversight.' Everyone just acts like it's totally normal and praises the remote. Am I missing something here? Did us humans suddenly recover some long-lost desire to make things difficult? My head is going to explode.

The sound

Lucky for me, I didn't really plan on using the remote so that wasn't necessarily an insurmountable issue, though the mere fact that I couldn't even if I wanted to didn't sit well with me. Unfortunately though, the problems didn't end there. Like I said, the system actually sounded pretty good, at least until I started playing Thom York's "Atoms for Peace" (from his first solo album, The Eraser, easily one of my favorites this year). At some point in that song the tweeters began to make this awful sound in line with the pitch changes of his voice, not unlike what you would expect from blown speakers. I was able to reproduce the noise with other songs as well, like Wilco's "Hell is Chrome"2 (off of Ghost is Born).

After playing with it for a while, I determined that it actually wasn't the speakers (something I wasn't terribly surprised about given that I had never come close to pushing them), but was the unit itself. For whatever reason, certain vocal ranges caused the center console unit, the part that docks the iPod, to vibrate in such a way as to attempt to harmonize (unsuccessfully, obviously) with the singer. Though I was willing to get over the whole remote thing, I'm not willing to compromise on sound quality.

I took the system back, and fearing a design defect, decided that I wouldn't swap it for another of the same model.

Bose

Short on options, I decided to try out the Bose SoundDock. As most know, I'm no fan-boy of Bose and wouldn't have given them a shot had there been other viable options, but, surprisingly, there just isn't too much out there to choose from.3

If you can believe it, the Bose remote was apparently conceived by the same team that came up with the Klipsch remote, as it too thought it normal to deprive you of the very simple, and oft-requested, album change. Give me a break.

As with Klipsch, that wasn't even the worst of it. At least with the iGroove, the iPod had some sort of back-support so that you could press the iPod's buttons (albeit carefully) without having to cradle the device. Not so with the Bose system. If you want to manipulate the iPod in any way (e.g., choose a different album), you have to thoughtfully slide your hand behind the iPod, bend your fingers so as to push your knuckles against the speaker grill, and then make your selection. It is completely and utterly ridiculous. Moreover, the "center console" is very shaky and when I pick the system up, this console hangs below the rest of the unit, so much so that you can see some of the electronics inside.

I'll be returning this system in the next couple of days.

Alternatives

Like I said, this space is pretty bare. I've half a mind to just buy some nice powered monitors that can handle a 1.8" jack. In fact, I'm considering the Audioengine 5's, which can dock an AirPort Express in the back, take an iPod (or any other player) in the top, and, as far as I can tell, blow other similarly-situated speakers out of the water. And they look great to boot. To be honest, the only downside I can see to this setup is the price; I'd probably end up getting an iPod Universal Dock and an Apple Remote, which would put the total cost somewhere around $450, a bit more than I wanted to spend on office speakers.

Another option may be the Tivoli iYiYi (yes, that's its real name). I'm not a big fan of its looks, but at this point I think I'd be happy with anything that functions well. I've a friend who'll be receiving one in the next couple of weeks and I look forward to giving it a good once-over.

Recommendations?

Yes, please.


  1. Let's be honest, I'm a total music snob and just want everyone walking by to ask me what I'm listening to so that I can expound on my musical knowledge. I'm just kidding, well, partly, I mean, I am a music snob.  :)   

  2. Not for nothing, but this song has one of the most harrowing 20 seconds of guitar you'll ever hear (from about 3:00 to 3:20).   

  3. Many will no doubt point to Apple's own speaker system, the iPod Hi-Fi, but not much has changed for me since I first wrote about this system right after it was announced. If anything, I'm even more turned off by it now because of what I've read about it since (i.e., weighs over 15 lbs., has no non-iPod connectivity, is meant to be listened to from 10+ ft. away, etc.).   

Apple in the garage

November 05, 2006

Yesterday I went to the ninth annual Vintage Computer Festival at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View. I have to say I had a blast and met quite few really, uhh, 'neat' people. The high point of the day was the very distinguished panel discussing the early days of Apple, and truth be told, it was this Apple 30-year anniversary event that brought me to the festival in the first place (I hate to say it, but I'm a bit young to be running with the "vintage" crowd; indeed, I was one of the youngest people there).

The panel consisted of Steve Wozniak (whom I've met before), Daniel Kottke, Randy Wigginton, and Chris Espinosa. The discussion was more or less open, but centered mainly around Apple's somewhat inauspicious beginnings; the members of the panel spoke up where appropriate and took turns relaying to us anecdotal nuggets (as one would expect, Woz's stories were the best). Sadly, a lot of what I heard I already knew, both from Woz's new autobiography, iWoz, and Andy Hertzfeld's Revolution in the Valley, which I've mentioned before. Speaking of Andy, he was actually there and was sitting next to Woz in the front row before the panel discussion began. I was very eager to meet him, but he put on his ninja costume and snuck out of the room as soon as the main event ended.

I should mention that John "Captain Crunch" Draper was in attendance and told some stories to the audience once the floor was opened up for comments and questions.

Before I end this somewhat pointless post, I'd like to note that Woz — the man utterly revered for his hardware prowess — uses the Dolce and Gabana Motorola Razr. Never mind the fact that it's gold (why anyone would want a gold phone is beyond me), but as we all know (certainly he more than anyone), the Razr sucks. Moreover, it's just not the type of phone you'd expect from someone who wears neon display tubes on his wrist to tell the time.


CNET'S take on the event.

The Church of Google

November 05, 2006

The Church of Google. "We at the Church of Google believe a convincing argument can be made stating that the search engine Google is the closest mankind has ever come to directly experiencing an actual God (as typically defined). Supernatural gods are rejected on the notion they are inherently unprovable. Thus, Googlists believe Google should rightfully be given the title of "God", as She exhibits a great many of the characteristics traditionally associated with such Deities."

ThisService

October 30, 2006

ThisService "lets you turn any command line script or AppleScript into a system service, accessed from the Services menu." Very cool.

Your error != a bug in my software

October 30, 2006

As anyone who has ever e-mailed me asking for help knows, I always respond and try to help as much as I can. So please, if after I've e-mailed you back asking a few questions about your implementation of something I've written, do not, before answering my questions, publicly pronounce that my software has a bug. Not only is this foolish, it's just plain wrong.1

Be courteous and use common sense.


  1. I'm obviously not implying that I always write bug-free code (no one does), but in this instance the problem was definitely not a bug (unless, of course, there was a bug in this particular user's eye that affected his ability to read the documentation).   

Reinventing HTML

October 29, 2006

Reinventing HTML. "This is going to be a very major collaboration on a very important spec, one of the crown jewels of web technology. Even though hundreds of people will be involved, we are evolving the technology which millions going on billions will use in the future. There won't seem like enough thankyous to go around some days. But we will be maintaining something very important and creating something even better."

Similar Posts

October 29, 2006

Ever since I started keeping my linked-list posts within the weblog CMS (and not del.icio.us), I've run the following in the side menu of individual archives where I usually display "possibly related" posts:

This is currently disabled and will probably remain so until I have time to hack up the Related Entries plugin to make it aware of categories; I want to exclude the linked-list posts from its results.

A couple of weeks ago, Robert Marsh e-mailed me to let me know that he had done this very thing with his Similar Posts WordPress plugin, which is a modified version of Related Entries. I just wanted to note that it works wonderfully out of the box -- the "possibly related" section of my side menu is again alive and kicking. I should also point out that the plugin no longer needs to be run after an iteration of the "WP loop," something for which I explained a workaround in my initial Related Entries post; apparently the apostrophe error was fixed somewhere along the line too.