June 2004 Archives

Anterior Compartment Syndrome

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If my self-diagnosis is correct, I've just determined that I have Anterior Compartment Syndrome. Effectively, this is caused by muscle swelling that outgrows the sheath containing it. Sounds sexy, eh? When I start running, blood floods into my legs and my shin muscles become engorged (ooh baby) causing undue pressure on the sheath around the muscle. This results in an intense pressure down the front of my leg that forces me to stop running. i haven't experienced this since high-school PE class but really haven't done any extensive running since that time. A recent interest in the game of Ultimate has re-awoken my blood-thirsty shin muscles and their inadequately sized sheaths. I end up pairing myself with the slow guy on the other team and then limping around the field after him. Very exciting.

I was hoping that 10 years would have 'matured' my legs so I no longer had this problem, but it just isn't so. I don't want surgery so am going to try some intensive massage that will hopefully expand the sheath and reduce the pressure.

Blog comPost

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I was thinking more about Russell's post about the integration of news aggregators and weblog publishing systems and became particularly frustrated with Bloglines' lack of a 'Post to Weblog' link beside each entry. The standard MovableType Bookmarklet doesn't work as it tries to blog about the Bloglines website rather than any specific entry.

So I decided to do something about it. Introducing Blog comPost.
What exactly is Blog comPost?
Blog comPost is a simple utility that integrates into the Internet Explorer right-click menu (also called the context menu) and allows for easy blogging from any web page. Best of all, it also works as expected within the excellent Bloglines online news reader.
It can post to multiple types of weblog systems and can easily be extended to others. So check it out, try it out and leave your comments on this page.

As proof it works, Blog comPost was used to post this entry announcing the release.

BitterBlog

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Passed along by a friend, here is a link to BitterBlog: The Single Bitter Announcement Weblog. One post. One point. One permalink.

I think most bloggers have likely drafted such an entry themselves at some point. At least in their head.

San Francisco

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Well, I'm getting ready to move to San Francisco. I've been in California for 4.5 years and have likely spent less than 15 days up in the city. I was at a movie in the Castro recently and I suddenly realized just what I'm missing. I dreaded the idea of leaving in 6 months or so and never really getting familiar with this famous city.

One strong reason against moving was the commute. I never wanted to drive 1-2 hours a day just to get to work and back. Google has recently introduced a shuttle service that has 3 pickups in the city and gets you to the 'plex in 40 minutes or so. Same thing in reverse in the evening. Cool!

Annotated Map of San Francisco Being fairly ignorant about the neighbourhoods, I asked some friends at work for their opinions on different areas. Later that day I found a annotated map printout on my desk chair. The map was of the city, and the annotations were a series of happy, indifferent and sad faces indicating the area's status. You can see the full map by clicking the image. Agree with the map? Disagree?

I'm surprised with the close proximity of 'good' areas and 'bad' areas. One area: high-end residential area... walk two block: crack-whores. Perhaps something to do with the constrained land with no room to expand. I'm currently considering the Noe Valley area as many people at work seem to live there. Hearing lots of good things.

Smoking

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My mother-in-law has smoked for a long time and is now trying to quit. She quit for a while, a few months even, but has now started sneaking them again. She doesn't realize how blatantly obvious that smell is to a non-smoker. Impossible to mask. Or maybe she does. I've never smoked and can't really relate to the experience. I know Dave quit smoking almost 2 years ago and has posted about his withdrawl and his experiences on a regular basis. I'm passing this fairly complete record of his smoking entries along to my mother-in-law for her perusal. Hopefully reading this will help her quit for good.

Innovative Packaging

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At the Takeo Paper Show 2004 in Japan, a company has unveiled the fourth version of their drink-box that looks and feels like the source of the juice it contains.

Apparently they have also developed Kiwi, Strawberry and Tofu style drinkboxes. Sorry, no pictures of those. I just love how the folded over tab of the tetra-pak is like a flattened banana peel end... or that subtle browning along the crease at the front.

via Gizmodo

WebDev Links

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• A recent ALA article, Separation: The Web Designer's Dilemma. A straightforward discussion about the goals and process of separating structure and presentation with CSS. If you've ever been confused about this topic, give it a read.

Creating Colour Palettes, describes a quick Photoshop/Fireworks technique to create a palette of colours to use in your website design. Online JavaScript version available as well.

• The mezzoblue CSS crib sheet. A set of very useful rules of thumb and browser gotchyas to remember when working with CSS.

CSS Positioning and the Box Model, a clear description of how margins, borders, padding and content interact with each other. Also a groovy Flash based interactive version.

The Layout Reservoir. Practical guide to get CSS to do the classic 2 and 3 column layout.

Aggravated Aggregator

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Russell Beattie recently asked why we don't see more aggregators integrated into weblog systems. That is, why Movable Type doesn't have the ability to read feeds, and why BlogLines doesn't have an integrated weblog system for easy posting. He suggests it is because aggregation is hard (check out Mark Pilgrim's analysis of the different RSS formats and imagine parsing them) but I don't think that is it.

First, I think his premise that aggregating and publishing being the yin and yang of the current web publishing paradigm is correct, but the ability to read an item then seamlessly post and comment on it on your own blog, all under one logo, just isn't such a necessity. The two applications are inherently different with all of their own frontend and backend challenges. They are two applications at opposite ends of a process. Just because some of use want to connect the two ends to create a loop doesn't mean the apps need to be developed in the same house.

Second, just because someone can create a great aggregator app, it doesn't follow that they would also be able to create a great CMS app, or that they should (or vice-versa). BlogLines is a great aggregator and I love how they just focus on streamlining the reading process. Movable Type is a great publishing tool, and I love how they focus on streamlining the publishing process. It would be great if MT Bookmarklets worked within Bloglines, or Bloglines had an interface to post to MT, but in the meantime they focus on their task and both do it well. I have yet to see software encompassing an aggregator and CMS that is as compelling as MT and Bloglines used individually.

Ranchero Software, makers of the popular NetNewsWire aggregator, leverages the various weblog APIs to allow posting from within the aggregator. Also, just last month, they proposed the External Weblog Editor Interface to allow the use of an external editor when posting to a weblog. It seems they understand that the weblog-specific editor is going to be better suited for posting to that weblog then anything they create (or can squeeze through the weblog posting API) and so they open the door into their app, add some hooks, and then go back to making a better aggregator.

Hockey in the veins

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Calgary Flames Logo I'm not usually a huge hockey fan -- a hard thing to admit for a Canadian -- but this year has been different. Perhaps some combination of my being in the US for 4+ years, the Calgary Flames being in the playoffs, or just some hormonal abnormality, but this year I've been eagerly watching the Stanley Cup schedule, tune in via Internet radio for the games, and even yell and get teary-eyed when the flames do something like squeeze out a goal and win the game in overtime.

The Calgary Flames are playing against the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is the final Stanley Cup playoffs and Calgary leads with 3 games to 2 in a best-of-7 match. Game 6 is tonight at 5PM PST in Calgary and the Flames just need one more game to win the Cup. The flames haven't won the cup since 1989. Calgary would definitely be an exciting place to be tonight.

update: Calgary lost. It's going to game 7. Monday 5PM PST.

Happy Speed Signs

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Palo Alto has a fair number of 'Speed Awareness Signs'. These are those orange LED speed signs that display the current speed limit when you are within the limit, and flash your car's speed when you are over the limit.

Inevitably people take their foot off the gas pedal when the sign starts flashing, check for cops, then resume their speed. There really isn't any reward for slowing down, except the sign stops blinking. I bet that if we gave people some positive feedback, even as simple-minded as a little LED smiley face, they would get some small level of satisfaction from going within the limit. Make it into a bit of a game.

Two other areas that have benefitted from understanding and working with human-nature are urinals and bulk image labelling.

Apparently, by painting a picture of a fly in the bottom of a urinal, men increase their peeing accuracy by as much as 80%. Peeing on a fly is just that much fun. Over at MIT, some enterprising students created a computer system called You're In Control (get it?) which allows you to play a video game by peeing on sensors integrated into a urinal. Wow. Make sure to check out the demonstration video (safe for work).

How much fun could it be to come up with a list of descriptive keywords for a set of random images? Well, the ESP game, a research project at Carnegie Mellon University, had people coming to their site in droves to do just that. It shows two users the same random image and they have to guess what word the other user will use to describe that image. You get points when you are right, and high-scores are kept and displayed. As a side-effect, they get a list of the best descriptive keywords for each image. Cool! Perhaps Project Gutenberg's Distributed Proofreaders could benefit from such a similar setup. I tried the proofreading for about an hour and haven't gone back. It ultimately just wasn't that much fun.

US Marine Speaks

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A candid interview with a US Marine about what he experienced in Iraq. The title of the article says it all.

Atrocities in Iraq: 'I killed innocent people for our government'

via Don Park.

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from June 2004 listed from newest to oldest.

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