Hi! Do you remember blogs? Well, this used to be one. Now it just serves as an archive for my multiple Twitter accounts.

1 April 2006

@web@

Your April Fool’s Joke Sucks. Counter-example.

 

@computer@

Emo Programming. That’s just me!

 

@web@

Flickr caves in to blog pressure [via].

 

@apple@

Steve Jobs Fooled Us All.

 

@web@

New AdWords image sizes [via]. Actually, why not create an ad system that would serve pixel-ad banners? Not sure it wouldn’t work, at least for a moment.

4 April

Working makes me autistic, and living in Paris means I have to work.

But I guess you could say there’s one part of the equation I should be able to change — to work on.

Kattbank the litter bench. A good idea, and easily implemented yourself. Now if it could only be self-cleaning.

@misc@

Am I disinterested with tech news lately or is it really a slow news week? Even Apple’s birthday hasn’t brought anything worth blogging.

 

@web@

Wait a second — Ajax doesn’t work anymore with an up-to-date Internet Explorer 6?! (It’s way down the page, at “Browser security constraints”, and don’t count on me to turn my PC on so I could check.)

 

@misc@

This Fujitsu UMPC concept is a pretty interesting take on the conundrum of fitting a keyboard into the tiniest computers. It’s not a technological breakthrough, but just good design that you’d like to hold in your hands. (But it’s not an Origami and doesn’t appear to have a touchscreen. So I figure it’s announced a year too late.)

5 April

Ian’s Shoelace Site [via] documents all possible ways to lace your shoes. I never really liked Converse shoes, but now I really gotta get me a pair.

@windows@

How I Work: Bill Gates

On my desk I have three screens, synchronized to form a single desktop. I can drag items from one screen to the next. Once you have that large display area, you’ll never go back, because it has a direct impact on productivity.

Yeah, I used to agree, but guess what: I switched from a triple-seventeen-inch PC setup to a single 20-inch iMac and haven’t looked back a single time. Not because the Mac is so good that it’s worth giving up two screens, but because the Mac is so good you don’t have to crowd your desk with monitors in order to be productive.

Seriously, three screens and all he uses is a mail client? That’s so… Windows.

We’re at the point now where the challenge isn’t how to communicate effectively with e-mail, it’s ensuring that you spend your time on the e-mail that matters most. I use tools like “in-box rules” and search folders to mark and group messages based on their content and importance.

It’s funny that way he phrases it like Outlook (he doesn’t name it here, but does later on) is so powerful when he just implied in the previous paragraph that the most important “tool” he “uses” actually is a personal assistant summarizing the thousands of emails he receives from people he hasn’t whitelisted. Yeah, everyone should have one of those.

The future of e-mail (or any other communication or collaboration system) shouldn’t ever be decided by someone who has an assistant. (And I’m not targeting Bill Gates in particular here.)

Outlook also has a little notification box that comes up in the lower right whenever a new e-mail comes in.

OMG that’s so cool!

Uh, sorry, couldn’t help myself.

(Okay, neither Growl nor Mail.appetizer are included with a default Mail.app install. But on the other hand creating an Applescript rule is trivial.)

@apple@

Apple’s April Fools is a few days late: Boot Camp Public Beta repartitions the hard drive without erasing data, burns Windows drivers on a CD, and allows a cute graphical dual-boot when you press Option. (And the final version will be included with OS X 10.5.)

To quote John Gruber: Holy shit. I had to hand-type the URL to verify that it really was on apple.com.

Word to the Wise: Windows running on a Mac is like Windows running on a PC. That means it’ll be subject to the same attacks that plague the Windows world.

Wonder whether they deliberately waited until someone won the contest before they opened their beta.

 

Unless it actually is an April Fools that was discovered too late by the public?

Tiens, Le set n’est pas en clair sur la Freebox ? Ou juste pas en clair du tout ?

6 April

@apple@

Shouldn’t it be (ultimately, if not immediately) possible to put OS X in deep sleep or whatever they call it when you switch to Windows, and hibernate Windows when you switch back? That would make the whole “dual-boot is so 1999” point pretty much moot. (Still not as simple as full virtualization, but orders of magnitude simpler than regular dual-boot.)

I can’t wait to see benchmarks, of games as well as applications. That’s gonna be fun. ([04/06] Cooooool. The Mac has really become the best computer in the world.)

 

To the army of pundits chanting that OS X is dead, again, but for real this time, once more, because developers won’t have any incentive to port their software to OS X any more: that’s Windows thinking and that’s cluelessness. That’s Windows thinking because you’re assuming that the reason people develop for OS X is that the Mac market is captive, and that Mac users don’t switch to Windows because they’ve invested too much money in their white novelty computers. Well, no they haven’t, that’s not the way it works on the Mac side of things, and no they’re not eagerly waiting to switch to Windows on their Mac. But how could analysts ever comprehend that there’s a qualitative difference between two OSes and you can choose to use one rather than the other based on personal preference?

OS X users are staying in OS X, and those (few) developers who wanted to reach them before will have to go on developing for OS X. And the others still won’t, and at least Mac owners will be able to use their software if they need to. And play games. It’s not like game developers were going to be convinced to work en masse on Mac ports of their games any time soon; they’re busy enough working for every different console there is. (Why don’t iMacs have a video input so you can play a console on its glorious screen, by the way?)

You can bet that everyone at Apple has been thinking long and hard to decide whether releasing Boot Camp was a good or a bad move. They’ve decided it was good, and they were right.

When only the glib win, we all lose:

In way too many meetings, the fastest talkers win. And by “fastest talkers”, I mean those who are the first to articulate an idea, challenge, issue, whatever. Too many of us assume that if it sounds smart, it probably is, especially when we aren’t given the chance to think about it. The problem is, the guy with the “gut feeling” — the one who senses that something’s not right, but has no idea how to explain it, let alone articulate it on the spot — might be right. […]

Listen — and respect — your own “gut feelings”. This doesn’t mean that your instincts are always right, but they should NEVER be dismissed without thought.

The brain is always analyzing everything in the background, without any conscious request or even knowledge of it — if you ignore your instincts, then you are actually only using 10% or your mental capacities. The remaining 90% isn’t parapsychology but just ackowledging that you’re not consciously controlling everything that goes on in your head.

7 April

The Pacifist Chess Set.

I’ll buy one. (But I haven’t got enough space to display it in the living room.)

10 April

Je réserve mon jugement sur le Coca-Cola Light Sango — ce n’est clairement pas un ratage comme le Blak, mais le goût est un peu bizarre et rappelle encore moins l’orange sanguine que le Lemon ne rappelle le citron (ce qui n’est pas peu dire). A expérimenter plus avant, donc. Ca tombe mal, j’ai oublié d’en racheter aujourd’hui.

Ah, par contre, pour ce qui est de l’appellation, mon jugement n’est pas du tout réservé. Sango ? Déjà que j’ai toujours trouvé le nom d’orange sanguine un peu glauque à la base, mais là c’est vraiment n’importe quoi. Il ne manque qu’un bon petit arrière-goût de fer…

12 April

@web@

KittenAuth:

I for one have been waiting for a brilliant alternative to those annoying X6hyT8-style captchas that test how human you are. Sure, humans can read blurry, twisty letters, but do we really want to? No human, however, can resist a kitten photo.

Try for yourself: as a basic concept to replace captchas, it’s not as stupid as it sounds (although it requires javascript, and maybe 9x8x7 different values aren’t enough to be effective).

 

@tv@

I haven’t seen any speculation about this, but maybe I’m not reading the right blogs, as usual: is ABC preparing to show Lost and Desperate Housewives episodes for free on the web because Steve Jobs joined the Disney board, or despite that?

(Actually, come to think of it, hadn’t it been announced a while back already? Am I having déjà-vu, or is it making the headlines again for no particular reason?)

 

@computer@

It’s stupid enough that Google Talk saves logs on the server so you can access them in your Gmail account, but refuses to store messages sent to offline contacts. But what makes absolutely no sense is that I just found out those messages are actually logged: the sender gets a “(your contact) is offline”, and my client doesn’t receive the messages when I log back on, but they do appear in the Gmail history! How insane is that?

Geez, I can’t wait to have a place to install our own Jabber server.

 

@misc@

And still not much interesting material to write about or even link, and I’m still unsure whether it’s a slow news month or I’m just losing interest.

T’es bien un anglais, mon pauvre Pollux, tu penses d’abord à ta pomme.

WTF ?! Je n’ai aucun souvenir du Manège enchanté de mon enfance (sauf que ce n’était certainement pas aussi pathétique), mais j’ai du mal à croire que c’était xénophobe.

P.S. Non, citer toutes les phrases qui me font regarder l’écran bouche bée serait très mauvais pour ma tension. (Et pourtant je suis en hypotension à la base.)

13 April

@web@

The Da Vinci Code Quest on Google. Uh… yuk, what the hell, and so on.

For 24 days, you will encounter unique challenges. These daily puzzles will pull you deeper into the world of The Da Vinci Code. Answer all 24 puzzles correctly for a chance to win untold riches.

Okay, I’ll have to admit — if it weren’t for the utter piece of crap that Dan Brown’s novel is, I’d probably find this idea supercool. But in that case it just gives me a skin rash.

14 April

www.garoo.net — version 1872.0

In progress, watch your step.

Some adjustments remain to be made, but it’s five in the morning and most of it seems to be working, so the rest will wait. It’d been way too long since I last redesigned, and I grew really tired of the way the previous version looked. As usual.

It’s not like I’m blogging enough these days to justify working on a redesign, though. I could tell you it was my being bored with the previous version that discouraged me from writing, but… nope.

Crap, I forgot to feature a link to the home page.

15 April

16 April

If I’d known that mail-ordering my convertible sofa from La Redoute would entail receiving that much spam, electronic and otherwise, I’d still be sleeping on my float. What’s with the twentieth-century business practices?

17 April

Rent

It’s hard judging the movie adaptation of a musical you don’t know, when the original has been a Broadway hit for nine straight years. All I knew of Rent was the Seasons of Love song I heard a few years ago at a friend’s, and it had immediately been imprinted in my memory. A good sign, right? A few days ago, I downloaded the movie’s trailer, and it was that song again, in its entirety, and it worked just as well as in my memory. Still a good sight. And, today, in the (rather deserted, not like in the U.S.) theater, the movie opened on the same sequence, the same song. And… that’s when the trouble began.

That prologue is just an announcement of things to come: uninspired, illustrative directing. Ensemble shots. Close-ups for solos. Ensemble shots. More ensemble shots with cranes and dollies. I was much less moved by the song (even though it was the same soundtrack and images as the trailer) watching it performed on the silver screen rather than in a tiny Quicktime window, because what works on my computer screen (music comes first, picture only has to move in sync) isn’t what you expect to see in a theater: spectacle. Sitting in the dark with big speakers around you, you realize much more acutely that this show is meant to be live. In short: if you want to see this, buy the DVD.

Or better rent it. Because there’s not only the movie adaptation, but the original play too. And, even though I wouldn’t want to judge it from a movie, the worst flaws aren’t specific to the adaptation. Such as the songs, which are incredibly heterogenous, style- and quality-wise (a few good ballads, but Seasons of Love is in no way representative of the rest). Such as the fact that those mildly anarchist artists manage to take themselves so seriously, even when they’re singing La Vie Boheme, that amazingly self-appreciative hymn to the play’s author and his friends (and do you think it’s a coincidence that he died right after the final dress rehearsal? he’d just finished writing his own epitaph!). Or the last scene, which… which… oh god, there are no words for that kind of crap.

From the very first number (which isn’t much less ridiculous than La Vie Bohème, but at that point you just assume the writer had some kind of brain fart) I got the diffuse feeling that Rent was just a Musical for young, rebellious dummies. And very few numbers managed to raise the bar a bit.

Of course, it probably doesn’t help that actors are ten to fifteen years too old for their parts — sure, hiring the original cast is a nice touch, but it doesn’t make it any more realistic. La Vie Boheme would still be ridiculous if it were sung by twentysomething Felicity extras, but at least it’d be somewhat believable.

18 April

When I visited this flat, I was ecstatic because there was so much light — white floor and walls, southern window with a real view on the sky, such a luxury in Paris.

Now I’ve got the sun reflecting in my computer screen and I wanna move out.

A part ça, on cherche toujours quelqu’un qui sache faire un serveur de production fiable (Apache, PHP 4, MySQL 4, Webmin, les trucs habituels, quoi) à partir d’un Debian nu. Il y en a pour deux heures de boulot en regardant la télé en même temps, et on est prêts à payer en échange, du vrai argent, des vrais billets, des euros qui ont cours légal, alors, merde, quoi, je n’ai pas envie de me retrouver encore à administrer les vieux Red Hat d’OVH, et j’ai encore moins envie de devoir installer un Debian tout seul. Help !

20 April

@web@

Hacking A More Tasteful MySpace: how to make a bearable web page out of your MySpace profile, using CSS to target miles and miles of child table selectors. (Or the ultimate proof that clean HTML makes for easier CSS design.)

If Dave Shea built the CSS Zen Garden, this was going to be the CSS Weed Patch.

The first time I read this post, he had hidden the banner ad, but now it’s back, presumably so the profile doesn’t get deleted right away. In any case, it’s quite nice knowing you can make something out of your MySpace page, even though the design does everything to complicate the process and it’s all likely to break down whenever their tag soup changes in the smallest way.

Linked from that post, another take on MySpace customization — which I find nicer (more web 2.0, as it were):

Meanwhile I’m working on <plug> gayattitude.com </plug> to make template and CSS customization as easy as can ever be, and I’m wondering: should I, really? Does assisted customization make a site more popular, or has its impact always been too negligible? Most people are quite content with the most crappiest designs, and the others appear more than happy to work their asses off to hack better looks into very limited designs, so am I actually catering to nobody’s needs?

21 April

Stupid question (yeah, I know, I only blog to ask questions these days, but I’ve got nothing of interest to tell, nor the inspiration to make something remotely readable out of the uninteresting stuff I usually write about): how do you clean a… uh, toilet brush? I’m afraid acid might be a bit overkill.

22 April

@games@

From Roger Ebert’s review of Silent Hill:

Dr. Shlain made the most interesting comment on the panel. He said they took some four and five year-olds and gave them video games and asked them to figure out how to play them without instructions. Then they watched their brain activity with real-time monitors. “At first, when they were figuring out the games,” he said, “the whole brain lit up. But by the time they knew how to play the games, the brain went dark, except for one little point.”

Oh well. That’s still more brain activity than most people experience daily.

I’m always surprised when I see with my own eyes a guy I’d found well built on pictures (no, I didn’t see that one in my bed, but only dancing bare chested in the streets of the Marais, and anyone who went by there tonight couldn’t have missed him). Surprised to see how much thinner they are than you’d initially expect. And it always reminds me that it’s not fifteen or twenty pounds I’ve got to shed off, but forty, and it’s a lost cause anyway, not that I’m too lasy to lose them, but the fat you’ve got when you reach thirty you’ll never lose.

24 April

@web@

Apple is working on how to adapt the web for high-definition displays [via]: basically, zoom pages like Opera has been doing for years now (i.e., change the effective size of a pixel), while allowing web publishers to specify alternate high-resolution versions of their graphics so that upscaled web pages don’t look too blocky.

That would be very fine if they didn’t (quite expectedly) confuse backward compatibility with immobilism: while this is a rather major philosophical change, they’re trying as hard as they can to make it fit into existing HTML and CSS tags and attributes, and the only change to HTML they’re proposing is to add resolution-dependent CSS “media” types.

Their basic premise is this: to make a 100x100-pixel image, make it four or sixteen times as big, and use HTML or CSS attributes to specify the intended size. You can use conditional CSS to hide high-resolution images from regular-resolution browsers (although that will make a tangled mess out of your CSS files), but for <img> tags (and those are still necessary for contents — you’re not going to use CSS image replacements for your photolog) the only option Apple offers right now is making everybody download and then downscale a huge high-resolution image on the off-chance that one viewer might someday want to see it on a 30-inch screen.

So here’s the comment I posted:

Since this is all about the images, wouldn’t it be orders of magnitude simpler, and more logical, to just modify graphics file formats instead? Couldn’t SVG and PNG files (nevermind GIF and JPEG since we’re talking about new content development, so obsolete file formats don’t necessarily have to be supported) maintain backward compatibility while having some metadata to either include the additional pixels or reference the high-definition versions?

Imagine this: make your navigation buttons in 300 dpi in Photoshop, check a box when exporting to specify saving to a 72 dpi base, and the PNG holds both versions, with the complementary pixels hidden from older browsers’ view.

Or this: edit your photograph in 300 dpi in Photoshop, check a box when exporting to specify the creation of myphoto-72dpi.png, myphoto-150dpi.png and myphoto-300dpi.png (or more), with each file containing references to the others. That way, a browser downloading the 72dpi version from an img tag will know to refer to the 300dpi if the display resolution warrants it, and a graphics program editing the highest-resolution file will know to update the others accordingly.

Okay, in both cases there’s a bit of bandwidth spoiled, but if a visitor is going to download the 300dpi version of your picture, having downloaded the 72dpi version before will almost be negligible.

Besides, your proposed implementation is only bandwidth-efficient for decorative / navigational images, but not for content (e.g., photos published on a blog or gallery, where you can’t practically use CSS stylesheets to choose which version to download): the highest resolution image will be downloaded every time, and downsampled by the client. That’s a waste of bandwidth, CPU time, and RAM, and for now it looks ugly on Windows browsers (which don’t resample but resize pictures, unlike OS X).

 

Actually, the simplest way would be server-side content-negotiation — with the browser sending its virtual display resolution as an http header, and receives the right image file in response — but then it would be up to each webhost to decide whether to upgrade its web server, whereas with improved graphics file formats it’s up to each and every content publisher to decide if they want to use a program that knows how to output such files.

Alias 5.10–5.11

Doesn’t xxxx look different — even the way of speaking? Did the botox penetrate the frontal lobe? (Besides, what a strange idea botoxing your forehead when you’ve got those veins bulging on your temples.)

If nobody clicks the advertisement, it’s not going to be gone anytime soon. Just saying (because my terms and conditions, unlike those of Google AdSense, don’t forbid my saying).

I removed the banner–buying interface, so it’s the last of its kind.

@apple@

Wow, that was unexpected. I actually woke up this morning (uh, afternoon, that is) thinking I had to check out apple.com (yeah, so I’m a geek) to verify that Think Secret was wrong and the new 17-inch MacBook PowerBook wasn’t out today. Well, what do you know — they were right! That hadn’t happened for a while, had it?

So… it’s a hefty sum of money, of course, and they’re still not taking much advantage of the additional real estate (I don’t know, maybe it’s just me, but with all that space around the keyboard, how about adding some keys or something?) except for the addition of a third USB port and a Firewire 800 port (considering the price of a high-end 15-inch model, I find it weird to save the 800 for that one — does it require that much more room on the motherboard, or is this just Apple’s discreet response to customer and columnist complaints regarding its absence from the previous models?). And, hopefully, a bigger battery… that will only compensate for the bigger screen’s power consumption.

 

Of course, now that such a minor Apple rumor has been proven true (I mean, seriously, everybody knew that was coming, and the rumor only consisted in announcing the exact launch time less than a week in advance), we’re back to square one of the speculation game. Are colored 13-inch MacBooks iBooks really on the way? (Probably not too soon, because that deserves a keynote, and the 17-inch laptops would have been announced at the same time.) Did Apple really have planned the iPodTablet announcement for its anniversary, only to postpone it because of engineering problems? Is Steve Jobs really going to build a 400-meter shiny white monolith on the land Apple just bought in Cupertino? Is the next version of OS X going to emulate the whole Windows API and run Windows apps? (Okay, the last one is too stupid, even Dvorak didn’t dare write that.)

29 April

Alexander (2004)

It’s quite a feat, making a gay movie with Jared Leto and Jonathan Rhys Meyers where the only thing worth a damn is Angelina Jolie.

A Home at the End of the World (2004)

I’m puzzled now — have I ever seen Colin Farrel be a good actor? Is he horribly bad in this movie because they made him kiss a guy, or is he just merely incapable of any sort of acting?

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2005)

Pure entertainment, but it’s not only efficient — it’s better written and more interesting than I expected, too (and well directed and played). And, seriously, how could anyone go back to Jennifer Aniston after doing this movie?

The Royal Tenenbaums (2001)

No idea what the point was (and even less of an idea how that script deserved such a cast — unless it’s all the direction’s fault, but I doubt that).

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