February 2003

February 28, 2003

Hypothetically, Of Course

Surfin’ Safari: “If there were a Safari v62, and it did happen to leak to the public, and someone did happen to run it, and that person did happen to discover a bug with text-decoration, well then I would hypothetically be most grateful.”

I wasn’t sure that the Safari v62 rumor was true. Tonight, I am convinced. The tabs are a great feature but the look of them could use a bit of work. It’s difficult to make descending tabs look cool. Especially boxy, metallic tabs.

The maximize button still doesn’t maximize the window. Sigh!

February 27, 2003

Canon S50 and S400

Canon PowerShot S50

Canon’s got a whole slew of new products out today, including the PowerShot S50 ($700). The S50 brings 5 megapixel resolution to Canon’s line of high-end consumer digital cameras. The PowerShot S400 ($600) also debuted today, which means Digital Elphs now have a 4 megapixel model. There are also a couple of low-end cameras released including the Powershot A70 and A60 ($450 and $350).

My trusty PowerShot S30 is roughly a year and a half old now. The model probably costs drastically less today then I paid for it but it’s an excellent camera and, as always, is highly recommended.

February 27, 2003

How To: Control iTunes From The Keyboard

For some sick reason, I’ve added a new How To. Now featuring: How to control iTunes from the keyboard. This how to was inspired by the Lazy Web.

February 26, 2003

Drowning In Mail

How in the hell do I get so much email? I swear I feel like no one ever writes to me but then I try to clear out my mailbox and find I’ve got a huge backlog of messages to pour through. Apologies to one and all who’ve had to deal with me over email. I hope that something better comes along.

[Totally unrelated: It is a dark and stormy night in the city by the bay.]

February 26, 2003

Go, Go, Gadget Lust

Sony Ericsson P800

I bought a Palm III in college for calendar, address book, and note-taking purposes. I made good use of it for years but eventually issues with Palm’s sync support for Mac OS X and finally hardware failure led me to drop-kick the damn thing into the trash. I also had a cell phone for a good two or three years. First a Nokia 6185 then a Samsung N200. However, after Spring PCS overcharged me to the tune of $800 over the course of six months (most of which was painstakingly recovered) and with Tabitha and I moving in together, I decided to tell Sprint where they could stick it. Since then I’ve been like a gadget junkie on rehab: trying to kick the habit, shaking off the shakes, counting the days until I fall off the wagon, waiting for real convergence of PDA and cell phone technologies.

The Sony Ericsson P800 is the new most likely candidate for pushing me off the cliff of gadget independence. Email, web, phone, pda, symbian, triband, bluetooth, ssh, keypad, stylus, camera, color, games, audio, video, and you know Apple will support it. Hopefully, six months or so after this phone hits the market, Amazon will have some kind of $100 w/activation deal. Drool.

The Register: “As early reviews indicate, it’s a great phone and a thoroughly respectable PDA, all in one, at a price that undercuts todays PDAs.” Gizmodo: “If you’ve got any dirt on this, let us know.” Steven Frank: “I’m very, very interested in the forthcoming Sony-Ericsson P800 phone.”

February 25, 2003

Bits and Pieces

I fixed a problem I’ve been having with posting to my weblog through NetNewsWire while on the BART on the way into work this morning. Very nice to have that issue resolved.

TMP alum Jonah Rudy has uploaded some really excellent aerial photography shots he took while flying around California and Arizona.

Both Mac and Windows users may be able to access my iDisk’s shared folder using Apple’s new iDisk Utility for Mac OS X and Windows XP.

Christopher Guest has another comedy/fiction-documentary film in the works called A Mighty Wind. I thought his last film, Best In Show, was hysterical.

February 25, 2003

Win Without War

Dad reminds us that there are alternatives to bombing the living hell out of the Iraqis.

[Also: This amazing QuickTime VR photograph was taken during the recent anti-war march in San Francisco and just happens to be right out in front of the building I work in.]

February 25, 2003

Photo Forward

First poppy of the year.

We’ve incorporated a number of tweaks to the photos section. The first improvement is the addition of cleaner URIs. No more of that “sneakypeek” nonsense. Second, we’ve split the album views into three modes. The full album mode is still around so you can see all the photos of an album in a list and now there is also a thumbnail mode and a single photo mode. Third, there’s an every album page so you can access the older ones. And last but not least we’ve added a photo RSS feed and tweaked the Photoshare tool a little bit. All these changes have been sort of evolving in pockets of spare time for months now and I’m really happy to finally be able to roll them all out. The photos section is beginning to shape up nicely, at last.

February 24, 2003

iWalt in the News

In our continuing quest to achieve “A-list blogger” status (ed. We have no such ambitions. Right now.) we would like to direct your attention to Doug Fox’s article Get Personal over at Event Web. Doug writes of the challenge of finding a human voice in trade show promotional materials from the perspective of a show promoter. He points out the effect of weblog commentary reflecting on the most recent Macworld Expo event in San Francisco. For example, “In the iWalt.com weblog, Walt Dickinson praises this year’s MacWorld.” … Whuzzah?

In only slightly related news, I’ve been getting a bunch of hits from another weblog where I have no idea why they’re referencing this site.

February 22, 2003


Yes, we’re back up and running again as of Friday evening and planning on spending a disgusting amount of time in front of the computer this weekend.

February 21, 2003

What I Do Know

Todd Dominey is cursing the shortcommings of CSS today. I’ve been trying to put my thoughts together into a really solid rant about the truly painful weaknesses of trying to design without tables for a while now, and this is one of the best examples I’ve read so far.

Close to the root of the whole ugly mess are two simple facts about publishing on the web. 1: The web is very young and terribly vast. 2: CSS is a poor language for styling content. All I’m going to say about my first point is that the web’s youth and size mean that many necessary advancements are going to come very slowly.

With respect to the second point, CSS is better than what we had before. But it’s missing so much. For example, it seems to me (and correct me if I’m wrong) that there is no concept of columns in CSS. That’s part of exactly what drew people to using nested tables. The ability to say, “This section of the page is divided into N columns.” Now, instead of nested tables, we pervert CSS’s float element to fake the appearance of columns. Which leaves us with the kind of problems which are frustrating Mr. Dominey.

What XHTML/CSS might need is a sub-element for the <div> tag which would get us our columns. For example, <div><dc>Column One</dc><dc>Column Two</dc></div> would get us a <div> divided into two columns. The width, padding, color, etc. of the <dc> tags could be set with CSS.

This is simply my “five-minutes of thought” solution to a hideously complex problem. XHTML/CSS has significant shortcomings and the right solutions won’t be easy to find or quick to roll-out.

February 18, 2003


I left my laptop’s power adapter in Santa Rosa. The folks are graciously mailing it back to me. Meanwhile, the battery is going fast. As a result I haven’t had much of a chance to check email, work on projects, or feel like a whole human being. Please bear with us.

“Oh that darn paperwork. Wouldn’t it be easier if it all just, blew away…” - Mike Wazowski

[Later: Okay, half a dozen emails sent. Everything seems caught up as well as possible. Battery about to die. Hoping charger arrives tomorrow. Hate being unplugged. Thanks again to the folks. Out.]

February 16, 2003

Google Buys Pyra

Dan Gillmore posted a column Saturday which reports that Google will buy Prya which, of course, is Blogger. Interesting news. Will all Blogger weblogs soon have Google-powered search engines? Will Blogger weblog content influence Google News? Will Blogger’s feature set ever be on par with other weblog software? Stay tuned.

BoingBoing covered Evan’s live announcement of the purchase from the midst of Live from the Blogosphere. =-) SXSW is going to be a blast.

February 14, 2003

My Girlfriend’s Wicked Smart

I went to watch Tabitha present her work from her second rotation to her entire first year class tonight. It fun to watch her blast through all the work she’d done compressed down into one 30 minute presentation. Especially with the understanding of the pressure all the presenters are under to deliver technically flawless presentations both in terms of data and also illustrative and verbal quality. Tufte would’ve been proud.

In any case, Tabitha did a phenomenal job and ate more than half of my french fries at the post-presentation celebratory meal. No grudges will be held.

February 12, 2003

A Full Plate

Man, today was a busy day. I’ve just sent off the last project of the day. There were a bunch. And more that I didn’t get to. And more that are on the way. Need an outline. Need a schedule. Need a plan. Need some sleep. Tomorrow can’t possibly be as busy. Then I’ll have a handle on my workload. It’s not as bad as it seems at 12:45 a.m.

Today I discovered Konfabulator but didn’t get a chance to get into it for reasons explained above. If you’re a Mac OS X software gizmo junkie, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also today I plunked down my $29.95 for Brent Simmons’ NetNewsWire. Now if I can just get that bug resolved.

What else? Nick. Nick sent me a hammer. Nick sent me a hammer and I’ve been too busy to properly thank him or even find the time to reply. Let me do it publicly. Thanks for the hammer Nick. It’s a true friend indeed who thinks to himself, “Walt is my friend. He should have this hammer.” If that sounds sarcastic, it’s not meant to be. I needed a hammer.

February 9, 2003


My little earthquake feed picked up the first “big” quake since I wrote it. “Big” quakes are defined as being the top three magnitude categories greater than 3. So 3s, 4s and 5s are big unless there are 5s, 6s, and 7s. The one last night was just a 3.0 and far away. The feed has really amazed me as to how many earthquakes there are every day in California.

February 7, 2003

Surfers Wanted

David Hyatt is conducting an experiment. Annoyed by visitors blathering away at him through his weblog about feature requests, release dates and other Safari-related hoo-ha, David politely asked everyone to shut up. Fair enough. The blathering went way up. Clearly some reverse psychology was required.

Now he’s asking for feedback. The blathering has exploded. I’ve never seen so many comments in such a short period of time. Over 200 already tonight. So if you want something changed in the way Safari works, go let him know. Get it out of your system. This is your chance. Then, please, everybody shut up until Safari 1.0 comes out.

[Later: Due to bandwidth concerns, the experiment ended, with over 750 comments in about 14 hours. Amazing.]

February 6, 2003

Cuban Council

Those bald bastards have done it again. The new Cuban Council website is completed and online. I just got through banging my head against the desk and crying over how talented they are. I wonder if I cut off the rest of my hair and drape myself in Gucci they would see fit to let me fetch them coffee just to I could bask in their glow. A boy can dream can’t he?

February 6, 2003


We slapped together a simple Trackback implementation this evening. It was easier than I expected. It’s not perfect and there may be a number of bugs but it should be functional. I’m curious to see whether any of the bloggers who comment on this site and run Trackback-enabled blogs will use it.


[Later: There was a trackback ping, but no data. Weird. A bug? Perhaps. Let me know.]

February 5, 2003

CandyBar and NetNewsWire


I bought Panic and IconFactory’s CandyBar application at Macworld Expo (yes, mostly for the free t-shirt) so I was happy to see the update yesterday. The new mechanism for importing and exporting group of icons in iContainers is a great addition to the software.

The NetNewsWire Pro beta got an upgrade the other day also. The fix list includes an issue I wrote the author about. It had started crashing when I submitted new posts. I’m looking forward to seeing if it’s really fixed when I post this entry. Here we go…

Well, it sort of worked. I passed another note along to NNW’s developer who’s probably the most responsive and friendly person I’ve ever pestered about their software. =-)

February 3, 2003

Gone All Sideways

I love having the Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas soundtrack in my iTunes collection if for no other reason than for the random moments when the current song ends and crossfades smoothly into track fourteen and I hear Hunter ask, “What kind of rat-bastard psychotic would play that song, right now, at this moment?”


February 2, 2003

Googlizer Found

How embarrassing. Or flattering. Or something. I don’t think I’ve ever had a piece of software I’ve written (granted you can hardly call the Googlizer software) linked to before. It shocks and horrifies me to think that someone might actually download and use that thing. I suppose I ought to find the source code and see if I can’t get it to work a little better. Or at least remove that “iWalt.com Production” line. Shudder.

Oy. The Googlizer apparently, inexplicably, doesn’t work with my version of Mac OS X. I’ve found a reference to the same problem in another programmer’s blog but no fixes yet.

February 2, 2003

The Quake Feed

I’ve got a feed set up now which syndicates the latest quake information for California and Nevada. It pulls the data from the USGS website and is up-to-date within half an hour. (It would be easy to make it even more timely but I didn’t want it to hit the USGS website more than 48 times a day. The Moby feed works similarly.) I updated the RSS page a bit also.

February 2, 2003


Our house just went all shakey.

[Later: There is, apparently, an “earthquake swarm” occurring in the East Bay this morning. They’re all around magnitude 4 or lower and we only felt the one so far. The first one was at 8:22 this morning. The most recent was at 11:02. A total of five so far.]

I just thought of a great use for RSS. A feed for earthquake data. Hmm…

February 1, 2003

Columbia Destroyed

Oh no. The space shuttle Columbia exploded during reentry this morning…

February 1, 2003

Doran Beach Photos

I added a new album to the photos section earlier tonight. In the process of building the album I fixed a bug in the Photoshare tool. It should be working much better now.

Speaking of which we actually had over 250 visitors from the Digital Photography Review website last week thanks to someone who uploaded their photos and then posted a link to them on DPR’s forums. Pretty cool.

My latest batch of photos features the Dooce-trademarked image manipulation tips, as well as my usual color tweaks and subtle rotations. Enjoy.

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