the further adventures of

Mike Pirnat

a leaf on the wind

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January Link-o-Rama Redux

Some part of today managed to melt what's left of my brain, so I settled for skimming rather than chiseling away at my reading, and that has degenerated into a need to close browser tabs and assault you all with another installment of...

LINNcircle k(idd valley)One Letter / ORAmA

My cool flickr-based link du jour is Spell with flickr, which lets you spell words using letter images found on flickr, just like what you see here. Nifty!

Some geek reading: Joel Spolsky on "Great Design" and Michal Zalewski on "Cross-Site Cooking" (potentially dangerous shortcomings of how cookies have been implemented by pretty much every browser).

While we're on blogs, who would have ever thought Chewbacca needed his own blog? I guess you could consider it a scathing satire of "the blogosphere" (a term I really loathe), asserting that any random bloggish drivel is about the same as Chewy grunting and growling unintelligibly (and you probably wouldn't be too wrong). It's really, really daft, but it makes me giggle. What a Wookiee!

Artie attempts to scan your iTunes library, find tracks that are missing album art, and fetch covers from Amazon for you to review and drop into iTunes if they are what you're looking for. As my iTunes library--currently closing in on the 45 GB mark--continues to grow, this seems like an utterly brilliant solution that will save me much time, hassle, and pain... Too bad it doesn't seem to like my increasingly ungainly iTunes Library.xml file. Mostly it seems to time out trying to upload or process the data. Your mileage may vary--let me know if you have success!

Which leads me to the obligatory Mac geek section... I have a new favorite browser: Shiira, a nifty treat from Japan that so far seems lighter and faster than Safari and Firefox, and which sports some wicked visuals (I particularly enjoy the page forward/back that peels the webpage away like a piece of paper). I also ran across a pretty good list of must-have Mac software.

Some amusement for the gamers among us: a library of video game endings for those of us (like me) who were too lame to ever finish most of their games, and, when you have eleven minutes to kill, perhaps this short film will help you conquer your "Fear of Girls". (I'm glad to say I overcame that a long, long time ago!)

Finally, something to get us all ready for lovey-dovey season: SVU Valentine cards. Gosh. Um. Yeah. That's not creepy or anything.

Next time, I promise some real content, even if it's lame, or pictures of the cats doing stupid things.

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January Link-o-Rama

Now that I've gotten caught up on my huge backlog of email, it's time to close some tabs and share some links, because it's more fun than doing anything productive. Submitted for your approval:

Chunk Norris Facts will teach you all sorts of interesting things about Chuck Norris; for example, "the chief export of Chuck Norris is pain." Not to be missed.

Learn all about sushi with the Sushi Eating HOWTO. (Kind of self-explanatory.)

Can't get enough "Firefly?" I certainly can't. Check out Escape Key's "Mal's Song", an expanded version of the "Firefly" theme. It's a bit filkier than my tastes usually run, but I've gotten it stuck in my head anyway. Plus, if you didn't fill your belly with sushi (see above), you probably have room for a tasty Fruity Oaty Bar!

When you're done watching the Fruity Oaty Bar video (and putting the MP3 on a loop for a few hours; don't be embarrassed, it's perfectly normal), some of you might be amused by IBM's Linux cartoons. While I was entertained, my inner shareholder wonders how much they paid for those.

Transformer di Roboter present "Stranger in Moscow", a musical gem that uses the Macintosh startup chord as its bassline. No, seriously!

Retrievr lets you search Flickr by sketching. It's wickedly mind-blowing!

I hooked up my new keyboard (a Christmas present) today to see how effective I'd be at typing without any labels on any of the keys. It turns out, with the exception of well-formed (aka tricky) passwords, I'm quite good with it. I also really like how different regions of the keyboard have different resistance to touch, so your hands get a good feel for what keys are what as they are being struck. The only thing that kind of pisses me off is that the Scroll Lock and Caps Lock lights don't seem to light at all (the Caps Lock would probably be helpful, don't you think?), and the Num Lock light seems to be flaking out--typing causes this LED to flash and sometimes go completely dark. I guess I wouldn't particularly miss these if they went away, but they are kind of annoying and really detract from the overall quality of the keyboard. Alas, I think my search for a new "perfect keyboard" must press any key to continue... (Time to find someone who makes a USB equivalent of the old Apple Saratoga keyboard.)

Finally, Minifesto is a cute tool for making animated icons out of your favorite snippet of text, suitable for generating excellent customized LiveJournal icons.

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Day Brighteners

The lovely folks at LEGO have brightened my day with what is a strong contender for Best Thing Ever: using their software, you can design and order custom LEGO models! The icing on the cake? There's a Mac version as well as Windows. (Sorry, no Linux version, but two out of three is a huge step up from what I'm used to.)

I am also greatly amused and intrigued by Dance Dance Immolation, which seems to have raised the DDR bar to the point where it would actually be interesting to play.


In unrelated news, I've started looking at and playing with Aquarium, yet another of the diverse biosphere of Python web application frameworks. Seems kind of interesting, though I've not gotten deep enough into it yet to know if I will love it or hate it.

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Mad Eye Candy

I think there are probably some Mac geeks out there somewhere...

If you haven't already seen this, you should totally check out Desktop Manager, an open-source virtual desktop manager for OS X. I have been wanting pretty much this exact software for just about three years now, ever since the arrival of my iMac. The best part? Insanely cool desktop switch transitions, the kind of stuff that you would expect to see in Keynote, like warps, zooms, cube flips, and so forth.

I'm not sure I have ever had tastier eye-candy. Yum!

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That's Right, Love the Camera, Darling, Love It! Beautiful!

So painful that it must be shared... Bill Gates, CEO of Microsoft, reclines on his desk in his office soon after the release of Windows 1.0. (1985)(Don't believe what the thread says about a "Teen Beat" layout--it's wrong. It still hurts to look at, though.)

While the photos burn my poor, poor eyes, it is worth noting the Macintosh in the back-right corner of his office. ;-)

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Well, poop.

Work is utterly irritating; there's nothing quite like being ready to kill people from the moment I set foot in the office to the moment I leave. My present workload is quagmire-tastic at best, and violently uninteresting. Ugh.

Continued frustration on the computer front. I ran Memtest86 for about 24 hours and it showed zero errors, so I thought there might be some hope. So I deactivated some services in an attempt to pare down what was running, rebooted, twiddled menuconfig a little bit, and started a kernel compile.... which failed utterly as it neared completion, giving me a lovely kernel panic and locking up the box pretty hard. Rebooted into a much older, theoretically more stable kernel, and still can't get anything to do a friggin' DNS lookup, which makes it hard to see if I have a bad gcc or something that needs updating.

Damn, and blast, and other, less PG-rated terminology. I really don't want to try to reinstall without a backup, and I don't really have anywhere to back up to. Then again, if I'm having hardware problems, I'm not even sure a reinstall would help. Of course, given the whole cat situation, I don't want to have to start replacing hardware either. (Because at that point, why not just get a lovely Xserve and be done with Linux entirely? Oh, yeah, because Xserve costs a lot.)

Ugh again.

Oh, well, at least it's not like Greedo still shoots first or anything... (What? He does? You bastards!)

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Potentially Important Things to Remember

If you use Apple's for your email, and you are in the process of switching accounts around (because, for example, Case disables your wife's POP/IMAP access), do not under any circumstances remove the account from Mail!

It very cheerfully removes not only your login information and account settings (not so bad), it also whacks all folders that belong to that account (inbox, sent messages, and so forth). Without even mentioning to you that, "Oh, hey, it looks like you have 600+ messages that you're about to delete as a side effect, are you sure you're down with that?" That is what I will politely refer to as "poor user experience." I have some really fun impolite things to call it too, but relatively few of them are printable.

Luckily, Symantec's Norton Utilities for Mac OS X managed to recover what looks like everything from a message standpoint, though it looks like attached documents are pretty much hosed. They are also good sports and have a very generous "previous customer" discount (I call saving 50% to be pretty decent) that I will be sending off for.

At least I got Liz's email (pretty much) back.

Let this be a lesson to thee, O users and designers of software!

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Requiem for Mo's iBook

Alas, young iBook
Taken quickly in winter
Water makes you sad

Mourn the CD-drive
That's lost its will to eject
Smooth jazz was thy doom

With great power comes
Great responsibility,
Expensive mistakes

Sweet dreams of repair
Voyage to the Apple Store
Our wish: get well soon

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Bad Apples

I'm really quite annoyed with the Safari 1.0 "final" version that Apple released the other day. Safari has really come a long way, and had been growing into a decent and solid browser in its most recent betas. Heck, once it acquired tabs, it started to cross the line into being cool. So I was excited to download the 1.0 final release today and give it a whirl...

...only to discover that it has some really wacky font smoothing issues (like, it doesn't do it very well any more), and that many CSS things that used to work right are now quite broken. I am specifically peeved that the fixed background image in the site I am developing gets obliterated by empty white space as I scroll down the page. It never used to do that until I "upgraded!" As it turns out, I think I might be one of the lucky ones -- a lot of folks over in the Mac support boards can't even load pages with this new version, or they have it crash as soon as it's started.

Also gone is the bug submission button, which seems like it would really come in handy right about now.


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When We Left Our Hero...

Recent occurrances, list-style:

  • Completed Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix late Sunday night.
  • Trying to recover from stupid, stupid Harry Potter (lack of) sleep schedule... uhhhhghghh...
  • My aunt and uncle came to visit on Sunday evening! They had been "passing through" and had a night to kill, so a visit worked out nicely. We had a great dinner and all went to the lake to watch the sunset.
  • Our bathroom has a floor! Pictures to follow...
  • Up to my eyeballs in regression testing my project at work... ugh...
  • I declare the new PowerMacs to be truly lust-worthy.
  • Hey, the Cowboy Bebop movie comes out on DVD today! Rock on, space cowboy!
  • I got a nice shiny Linux box to use here at work. The distro is a bit dated (in order to match what is in our production environment), but it's still kind of a nice change from Windows. And GAIM is actually stable, as opposed to the super-crashy Windows version that I had been using. w00t!
  • Hey, it's quitting time! Bye!
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