November 2003

November 27, 2003


Apple, please please please call the tablet Macintosh the iTab. Please. =-)

Happy Thanksgiving y’all.

November 25, 2003

Dear Peter Jackson

Is there any way I can pay extra to see the extended version of The Return of the King (which will be released on DVD in about a year) in theaters on December 17th instead of the scaled back (and therefore crappier) theatrical version? This is an honest question, I’d really like to know. Since both of the extended versions of FotR and TTT have been better than the theatrical versions, I was hoping to skip the disappointment I’ll inevitably feel this year and jump straight to the “why the hell didn’t they just show that version in the theaters”-feeling I’ll inevitably experience next year. Feel free to respond in the comments. Thanks for reading. And kudos on making such great films (on DVD).

[More: Kottke’s review and Polytropos’ “Extended, Enhanced, Redeemed” review.]

November 24, 2003



Knock on aluminum, I have not had much trouble with my shiny new laptop. However, I have had no luck whatsoever upgrading the RAM in my 15-inch PowerBook G4. (Others have experienced a wide range of infuriating issues.) I recently sent back the second pair of upgrade chips provided by the reseller and last night I discovered that the Chip Merchant isn’t selling RAM for these machines because the brand they sell has been shown to be incompatible as well. All signs point to very poor support for third party RAM in these new machines to a degree seldom seen among Apple’s computers. This is, of course, quite frustrating to me. If anyone knows of a case where a 15-inch PowerBook G4 has been upgraded to 1GB of memory, please let me know. Any links to sites which deal with this issue would also be appreciated. Thanks.

[More: MacFixIt on bad RAM and replacement options.]

November 18, 2003

Kottke Is Looting My Mind

He beat me to it but I swear I was planning on implementing at least two of the enhancements Kottke has recently made to his weblog. The first is the inclusion of his link blog inline with his general blog. I was so going to go that way. However, now that I’ve seen it in practice it makes me think it really wouldn’t have worked on my site. The iWalt weblog is defined by its series of entries, each with a title. If the links were placed inline with the entries it might seem like I was trying to relate them. Kottke’s implementation uses light rules (lines, not laws) to create a visual distinction but I wonder if it’s strong enough. It might help to group all of the types of items posted within a 24 hour time period under a single date header. I dunno.

The other thing (and this kills me, and Rob can attest to my scheming) is the inclusion of a blog of external comments. That is, comments Kottke has made on other sites. What I’m wondering is whether this system is automated. For example, this is the way I pitched my idea to Rob, “Here’s what I want: If I comment on someone else’s blog, I want their site to ping my weblog so people can see what I’m posting on other people’s sites.” I suspect Kottke is having to post these comments twice, once remotely and once locally.

In any case it’s great to see the format being pushed a bit. I may have to put some actual development where my mouth is and demonstrate some of the things I’ve been kicking around in my head before more ideas of mine start appearing on other people’s blogs. =-)

P.S. If it’s not clear, I’m being a smartass. Not actually trying to take any credit here.

November 17, 2003



I’m back from my all-too-brief trip to Los Angeles. Thanks again to everyone I visited, apologies to those I missed this time. Congratulations to the winners of the Urban Challenge.

For those of you who haven’t heard about the circumstances of my visit, allow me to explain. I’d owed Nick a visit following several visits from him and numerous invitations. With the holiday season fast approaching I thought it was unlikely I’d get down there this year if I didn’t go immediately. It so turned out that a couple Nick’s friends were participating in the national Urban Challenge competition in New Orleans that weekend and Nick’s apartment was to be serving as command headquarters for their remote support team.

If that sounds impressive, it is. Picture about a dozen workstations (mostly Apple laptops), wireless networking, collaborative note-taking software, multiple phone systems for communicating with the racers and the local support team, digital audio recording devices for rapid transcription of race clues, and digital image transfer systems. All extremely well-organized and manned by a crew of motivated and clever problem-solvers intent on keeping their racers provided with good intel.

At this point you may want to read Nick’s account of the day.

Upon conclusion of the races the central figures called to offer mutual congratulations on jobs well done. Following that, the Runcos and I went out for a celebratory feast. (Cajun food, appropriately.) And finally we retired to an evening of Rebel Strike, SSX3, and SNL. Which reminds me I need to get my grubby hands on SSX3 at the earliest possible convenience.

So yes, you hear about these Nick-related adventures but you rarely find yourself caught up in one. Particularly if you’re me. Which you’re not. But still. You get the idea.

November 14, 2003

Kick the tires. Light the fires.

In twelve minutes I’ll be on the road, bound for L.A. Back on Sunday. Stay tuned.

(And… we’ve arrived.)

November 13, 2003

The iWalt Music Store

I just wanted to announce that along with Napster, Dell, Microsoft, Amazon, Sony, RealNetworks, Comcast, Wal-Mart and the hundred thousand or so other dumb-ass companies who plan to become rich by ripping off the iTunes Music Store, this humble website plans to follow suit and compete in the digital music sales bonanza by following the current working theory regarding the copy-and-paste business model du jour. Specifically:

  1. Duplicate the iTunes Music Store.
  2. Rebrand and crapify.
  3. ???
  4. Profit!

We will, of course, be calling this the iWalt Music Store and it won’t feature any of that crap from “the big five” (which will shortly be known as “the big three” and then, we assume, “EvilMusicOmniCorp9000”) but rather albums which we have secured rights to distribute like “Walt Singing in the Shower” or “Walt Humming ‘Funky Town’ in the Car” or “Sounds of Walt Eating Sandwiches”. The tunes will, of course, cost a measly 99 cents (yes, even the 10 second tracks) and feature DRM (which only works with a player which I haven’t developed yet but the specs are incredible) for your protection. (You don’t want to be a music terrorist do you?) Do you?

Where was I? Yeah. It’s going to be great. You’ll love it. I’ll be rich.

November 12, 2003

A Humble Request

Movable Type comes preconfigured (I think) to require an email address when a comment is posted. That’s all fine. I don’t mind giving my email address to the owner of the site I’m commenting on. Unfortunately, MT is also preconfigured to display the address I gave alongside my comment. That’s not cool. Now spiders will harvest these sites and spam me. So, I humbly ask that my Movable Typing friends edit their templates and rebuild their archives. Or at least provide a warning so I don’t make the mistake of commenting on their site. Thanks.

November 10, 2003

TransitInfo Degeneration

When I moved to the Bay Area a little over two years ago and needed to find bus schedules, BART stations, and other public transportation information, I was delighted to discover Developed by two UC Berkeley undergraduates, TransitInfo was a model of good data organization and ease of use. I was impressed with how many transportation systems the site covered, how few clicks it took to find the information I was looking for, and how light the whole site was, basic HTML and few graphics, zero bloat.

In November of 2002 the original developers handed over control of the site to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission and their contractor. Since then the beauty and simplicity of the original site have been eroded beyond recognition. The new site, 511 Transit, is far less usable and much less efficient in my opinion.

In particular, one of the excellent features of the old site was the ability to quickly get the fare and upcoming schedule information for any two points on the BART system. Two clicks from the home page would deliver you to a map of the BART system with clickable station points. After selecting your departure and arrival stations and choosing whether you wanted the full schedule or just the schedule for the rest of the day, the system would return the schedule, the fare, all the information you needed. Simply. Quickly.

Now, any form of travel has been rolled into one infuriating piece of software, the “511 TakeTransit(SM) Trip Planner.” (Yes, even it’s name is bloated.) You have to either know the exact street addresses you want to travel between or navigate a sluggish map to pinpoint the locations. There doesn’t seem to be anyway to limit the tool to one form of transportation. What if you just want some Muni schedule information?

I’m sure a lot of time and effort has gone into this site’s evolution and this is just my opinion. I don’t mean to offend anyone or insult their hard work. It’s just frustrating that a tool which I used to rely upon has become effectively unusable to me. I hope the designers take a look at the success of the original site and choose to bring some of that simple elegance back to the software.

November 9, 2003

There and Back Again

Every ring that has a beginning, has an end.

I finished reading all 1,000-plus pages of The Lord of the Ring this past week. This brings to a close my three year effort to read each of the books before the movies come out. I think the extended edition of The Two Towers is due out in about a week and The Return of the King should be in theaters sometime in December. I should be good and Lord of the Ringed out by that point.

[Funky RAM Update: I finally got around to installing the new RAM which was sent to replace the kernel panic-inducing pair supplied originally. The new chips made the OS crash twice during startup. I reseated them and have been running for about an hour with no problems. I’m keeping my fingers crossed.]

November 6, 2003

Let me tell you what I believe.

The Matrix trilogy. Is the best. Action/sci-fi movie franchise. That has ever been. Or will ever be.

Revolutions ends big. Exhaustingly big. So big you expect it might collapse in on itself thus creating a singularity of action movie goodness which sucks lesser movies into its gravitational well of kick-assedness. Really, very, big and exhausting and good. I can understand why people don’t like the Matrix. I love the Matrix. I hope they make more. A lot more. I will cough up the $15-plus it costs to see them in IMAX. I will stand in line for three hours to get the best seats in the theater. I will permit them to abuse my senses with their delightful brand of belief-suspending, sensory-overloading, gratuitous over-the-top action. And when they’re finished I’ll beg for more.

Let the flaming commence. Try to keep spoilers out of the comments please.

[Elsewhere: Nick had the opposite experience but agrees that Hugo Weaving had his act together, Kottke kicks off another marathon comment thread, and waferbaby is surprised to find that he enjoyed the film.]

November 4, 2003

Tenacious DVD

How in the name of all things Rock did I miss the free screening of the “Tenacious D-VD” last night at the Metreon. Damn!

According to this Reuters story, the D are promoting the release of their “Complete Masterworks” DVD by going on a fictitious 45-day hunger strike which will end early “if ‘The Complete Masterworks’ goes platinum, if ‘hunger is solved’, or if there is peace in Middle East.”

(Totally by coincidence, this is entry number 666. How perfect is that?)

November 4, 2003

Jury Duty

My jury duty summons fizzled out. I called last night and again just now and it turns out that my participation will not be required this time around. Which is kind of a shame as I was looking forward to my first go at dishing out some fierce justice. Maybe next time.

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