Journal: News & Comment

This is " January 2006," a page that archives an entire month's entries from my online journal. The latest material for that month is at the top. For my newest entries, visit the home page.

Tuesday, January 31, 2006 - newest items first
# 2:47:00 PM:

Keep your hat on

Space Needle Google MapsGoogle has increased the resolution of many of its satellite images for Google Earth and Google Maps, at least for some U.S. locations.

Vancouver is still as it was, but check out the Space Needle and Bell Harbor Conference Center (site of in June) in nearby Seattle—you can almost see the colours of people's shirts.

Actually, in Google Earth, where you're able to zoom in more, you can see them.


# 1:10:00 PM:

A mystery

I was just checking through my website server logs, and came across a bit of a mystery. Can anyone figure out why I would have received a small but significant number of visits linked from the International Atomic Energy Agency website this month? I haven't been able to find any references or use of any of my music or other material. It's neat—just strange.


# 12:00:00 PM:

Hear about Internet Explorer 7 for Windows

Todd Cochrane at Geek News Central has a nice 20-minute audio interview with Margaret Cobb, one of the product managers for Microsoft's upcoming Internet Explorer 7, to be included with the Windows Vista operating system update planned for later this year (you can download a beta for Windows XP now).

If you're a web developer or otherwise might work with the new and improved version of Internet Explorer—even if, like me, you use a Mac and might never run the browser itself regularly—it's a good listen.


# 11:56:00 AM:

Argh! The kerning!

goobuntuThe Register and Good Morning Silicon Valley report that Google is indeed working on its own operating system based on Ubuntu Linux. Right now it's called "Goobuntu."

I don't know if it will ever see the light of day, but if people are going to use it, it will need to become a whole lot less ugly. Google does many things well, but application interface design isn't among them.

While you wait, go get yourself a dancing Steve jobs iTunes visualizer plugin for your Mac. It's free.


Monday, January 30, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:13:00 AM:

Derek's interview, Brad's morphing

In case you're wondering what I sound like when my cold-induced Barry White voice isn't active, take a listen to the January 29 episode of the Diabeticfeed podcast, which includes a feature interview with me.

Totally unrelated to that, check out how Brad Pitt morphs to match the women he dates.


Sunday, January 29, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:27:00 PM:

Gnomedex 6.0 registrations are open

Many Apple Laptops (and a Few Others) at GnomedexLast year I attended the 5.0 conference in Seattle. It's hard to describe how geeky-good it was, but my reports over at the Navarik site give you an idea.

Registration for Gnomedex 6, also in Seattle from June 29 to July 1, 2006 (and including my birthday on June 30) is now open. If you like geeky goodness, you should go. I'm already signed up.


Friday, January 27, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:41:00 PM:

Rock on, Nettwerk

Yes, Nettwerk Records absolutely gets it! From the press release:

"Suing music fans is not the solution, it's the problem," stated Terry McBride, CEO of Nettwerk Music Group [which] has agreed to pay the total expense of all legal fees as well as any fines should the family lose the case against the RIAA.

"Litigation is not 'artist development.' Litigation is a deterrent to creativity and passion and it is hurting the business I love," insists McBride. "The current actions of the RIAA are not in my artists' best interests." [...]

Nettwerk Music Group is Canada's leading privately owned record label and artist management company, responsible for managing some of North America's biggest artists such as Sarah McLachlan, Avril Lavigne and many others. Nettwerk has several offices located around the world including New York, Los Angeles, Boston, Nashville and London. Its home office is in Vancouver, B.C.

It makes me want to go out and buy some Nettwerk albums right now.

Link via Jason.


# 10:01:00 AM:

Hey everybody

I'm at the tail end of a persistent head cold right now, and as I've mentioned before, the only benefit to it is that I develop a nice deep radio-announcer voice.

If you want to hear what that sounds like, I've taken advantage of the situation and recorded both a new 30-second promo for my instrumental tunes podcast (575 KB MP3 file), and a piece of audio feedback for Adam Curry's "Daily Source Code" podcast episode #325 (at the 31-minute mark in his 40 MB MP3 show file, or you can just grab my 1.2 MB feedback MP3 by itself).

Here's the Absolute Spa, in case you want to know more about it.


Thursday, January 26, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:32:00 AM:

The big world

Sixth birthday #2In the one year since my youngest daughter turned five, she's started school, become more confident on piano and on ice skates, ridden a scooter along the sidewalks of Seattle, gone to the doctor to get stitches for the first time, learned to write lower case, and grown several inches.

She has her birthday party on Sunday, but today is the real day to say happy birthday to her. It is also her day to be special helper at school, where there is a bake sale too. And tomorrow it's pajama day.

I'm sure it's good to be six.

P.S. Happy birthday to my cousin too (who'll be at our house Sunday), and to Australia, although it's already pretty much over on that continent as I write this.


# 10:03:00 AM:

Two worthwhile reads

  • Joel Spolsky: "Indeed, it's surprising just how many of today's devices and gadgets and remote controls have actually made TVs, stoves, and telephones harder to use. Suddenly, bad computer user interface design is seeping into the entire world."

  • Philip Aerts leaves an excellent rant as a comment on Darren Barefoot's and my old posts about ugly parts of Vancouver.

Here's what Philip wrote:

Well for starters, I wanted to comment on the brilliant website ugliest Buildings of Vancouver. If I had my way, here are individual buildings or even streets I would demolish and rebuild in a human-scale pedestrian pleasing manner:

  1. Toronto Dominion Tower (Granville at Georgia sts) Dubbed the black tower and built in 1971. Worst, absolute intimidating tower that needs to be imploded pronto!
  2. Sears (former Eaton's store) Granville at Robson - built in 1971-2 and dubbed by many locals as the urinal for its white tile - like facade this is an abomination of a building in the city centre. City planners ought to be ashamed of themselves that it wasn't imploded years ago.
  3. Scotiabank tower/London Drugs/Vancouver Centre - as every Vancouverite old enough to remember this banal and uninspired tower was the replacement for the Birks Building that stood at this location from 1913-1974. The very thought of Birks being razed and replacing it with this tower that was completed in 1977 is totally absurd.
  4. Harbour Centre - Who cares about a silly revolving restaurant in the year 2006. This unispiring vertical slab of concrete in the sky also completed in 1977 replaced several Edwardian structures along west Hastings that would be designated as heritage buildings today had they not been razed back in the 1970's.
  5. CBC Building - As mentioned by several other architectural critics this building dubbed Brittania Mines South is an intimidating and hideously ugly building especially from its backside. This building should be imploded before 2010 if the City wants to seriously live up to its name Beautiful Vancouver.
  6. The Masonic Building. Enough said.
  7. The Aquatic Centre. Enough said.
  8. Cathedral Place - Vancouverites think of this building as a cheapo knockoff of the former Medical-dental Building that was razed back in 1989. To add insult to injury they donned the building with a faux-copper roof to mimic the Hotel ancouver across the street( how cute) This is insulting to Vancouverites intelligence and to good taste. If I were in charge, I wouldn't hestitate to implode this architectural dogpile and replace it with an EXACT replica of the Medical building JUST TO SAY FUCK OFF TO Paul Merrick.
  9. BC Place - This stadium is a white eleplant now as the land it sits on is too valuable, and will be razed to make way for more condo towers. I never like this stadium because every time rock bands played here, the acoustics of the place were goddawful. I will cheer on when it is razed to the ground.
  10. Most apartment towers in the West End - Most were built in the 1960's and 1970's in drab, uniform, always conforming, and built solely for one purpose= greed. Maximize your profit with a 20 storey apartment rack, when your'e a building owner, they obviously don't give a damn about architectural integrity. Most of these obsolete structures were built to last maximum of 30 years. Their time is up, and most ofthem should be razed.


Wednesday, January 25, 2006 - newest items first
# 2:04:00 PM:

Apple's podcasting technical specifications

After a fairly disastrous start last summer, Apple's podcasting specifications are improving. Let's hope the same happens with photocasting.


Tuesday, January 24, 2006 - newest items first
# 2:57:00 PM:

Get your CSS-XHTML contract job ad here

My employer Navarik has posted the ad for the junior CSS-XHTML designer job I wrote about. It pays about $20-25 Cdn per hour, and so would work well for a student. It should appear on Craigslist shortly too.


# 10:46:00 AM:

Three worthwhile music podcasts

As I noted a month ago, I can't work and listen to talk podcasts at the same time—they occupy the same part of my brain. But I can listen to music, and the three podcasts I most enjoy for doing that are:

  • Tower of Song (RSS feed) - a wide variety of indie rock that matches closely with my tastes, even if I hardly know any of the artists.
  • The Scene Zine (RSS feed) - rocks hard, always about 25 minutes long, comes out often so there's always new stuff to listen to.
  • The Roadhouse (RSS feed) - high-quality blues, excellently formatted, reliably posted in a one-hour chunk every Saturday.

My own music has appeared on the first two shows, and that's how I found out about them, but I come back because they play good tunes, not because they've promoted me specifically.


# 10:33:00 AM:


I guess it's just as well I didn't go to the MSN Search Champs event in Seattle. Fortunately, my Canadian company is paying my way to Gnomedex in June, so I shouldn't run into similar problems. Tough break, Darren. At least it's a beautiful sunny winter day in Vancouver!


Monday, January 23, 2006 - newest items first
# 5:03:00 PM:

Quiet and loud, and brilliant

Why do we not get cool Honda car ads like this old one and this new one in North America? Is it because they're too long? Why not use them in movie theatres instead of the crappy ones we get there, then? Hm?


# 4:02:00 PM:

You can pick 'em, Rick

Rick Mercer's scary Conservative fantasy cabinet comes from real-life quotes. Now that's scary. More updates on his home page. (Via Melanie Watts.)


# 3:47:00 PM:

Oh, how lovely is that

One More Snow PictureIt's usually rainy here in Vancouver in the winter, but those living in other parts of the world, such as Jeremy Hedley in Tokyo, get beautiful things like this.


Time to make that my new desktop picture, I think.


Sunday, January 22, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:06:00 PM:


i am canadianIf you're a Canadian voter and have not yet decided about tomorrow's elections, the CBC has an excellent summary of the platforms of the major parties (not including the Greens).

Elections Canada can tell you where your local voting place is, if you can't find the card you got in the mail. Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in B.C.


# 7:11:00 PM:

One week gone

Poor Little ThermidorA week ago, I was pleased for the weekend to be over. Last night my wife and I drew a virtual line in the sand at the end of the subsequent week, which was only marginally better, by finally going out for that dinner we had planned at The Cannery.

You see, after my youngest daughter had to get five stitches in the back of her head last Sunday, she stayed home from school. Just as she was feeling better, her sister developed a fever, and soon enough, I had a cold too—in addition to the antibiotics I was already taking for a previous infection.

Everyone was finally getting back to normal when we took our youngest to have her stitches removed yesterday, except that our family doctor couldn't actually get them out, causing a general emotional meltdown for the little one, and a headache for my wife. Fortunately, the doctor at the children's clinic had better luck, although we had to wait an hour.

My parents took the kids overnight, and so the late dinner my wife and I had Saturday night was especially delicious. This week, we start fresh again, and things will be better, I'm sure.


Friday, January 20, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:55:00 AM:

Massage therapy blog meets WordPress

Sunset just around the cornerMy friend Simon James (he co-wrote and performed with me on two songs on my album, and also is a DJ and a kick-ass singer) is a Registered Massage Therapist with a practice in Victoria, B.C.'s capital city.

Massage therapy is a full-on health care profession, accredited by the provincial health ministry, with a remarkably intensive training program (he studied full time in Vernon, B.C. for more than two years). Both Simon and my cousin's boyfriend T.J., who is now taking a similar program in Vancouver, report that the academic and practical load is very difficult. So don't think of your massage therapist as just a massese, okay?

Simon just started his own blog at, where he'll be talking about his work, putting up photos of his office and some of the procedures he performs, and so on. I helped him put the site up, and included in that was my first crack at installing the WordPress blog software—which, I discovered, is quite elegant.

What's also nice for me and for Simon, as well as for my work at Navarik—where we're moving part of our coming public website update to WordPress from an old version of Movable Type—is that I'm on a "Getting Started With Blogging" panel with WordPress's main developer, Matt Mullenweg, early next month at Northern Voice. That can't hurt.


Thursday, January 19, 2006 - newest items first
# 6:29:00 PM:

Seeking keen CSS/HTML design contractor

UPDATE: We've posted the job ad now.

[Navarik logo]If you're in the Greater Vancouver area and have some mad XHTML/CSS design skillz, and you're interested in a basic entry-level contract where you can strut your stuff—or know someone who is—my employer, Navarik, needs some help re-skinning one of our web-based applications.

It's a contract that will last a few weeks, starting pretty soon. It will pay a relatively entry-level freelance rate (not sure quite what that will be yet), so if you're Dave Shea, it isn't for you. We've posted it to Craigslist and our jobs page. If you have a lead or are interested yourself, email and we'll see how the process goes. Feel free to pass this request on to your mad keen XHTML/CSS pals, too.


# 3:56:00 PM:

Make thine monsters

MonstersNoel just reminded me about the Monster Engine, a project where an artist takes young kids' sketches of creatures of various kinds and turns them into fully rendered paintings.

The results are extremely cool.

I wish someone could have done similar stuff to some of my drawings when I was seven.


# 9:24:00 AM:

The Faller and the Grapple Yarder

My wife's childhood friend Susan is a court reporter, and a poet. Her recent work "The Faller and the Grapple Yarder" won an award at the last Vancouver Writers' and Readers' Festival. Go read it.


# 1:19:00 AM:

My appearance on Roland's Rabble

Derek Miller at Rolands Rabble 12Jan06 - 8.JPGSpeaking of guitar face, last week on January 12 I recorded an episode of "Roland's Rabble", which is Roland Tanglao's tech discussion podcast show:

Go to the Episode
(or download the MP3)

Roland, Will Pate, Michael Tippett, and I talked about music, my album, Apple's new iLife suite, Google Video, Aperture, Google Earth, digital restrictions management, maps, the upcoming Northern Voice conference, and my employer Navarik.

It also features me playing the world acoustic debut of "You're the Big Sky" (although I forgot most of the words, and was still mistakenly singing it as "You're the Blue Sky" at the time). And Roland took some spiffy photos too.


Wednesday, January 18, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:47:00 PM:


I didn't think I actually made that guitar face when I played:

Derek Miller at Rolands Rabble 12Jan06 - 4.JPG


# 1:00:00 PM:

Campaigning for Canada with a pic from the USA

Campaigning for Canada With a Pic From the USAGeorge Drazenovic is the Conservative candidate in Burnaby-Douglas, the Canadian electoral riding I live in. The current Member of Parliament is Bill Siksay of the NDP, our socialist party. The other challenger is Bill Cunningham of the ruling Liberal party.

The Conservatives are, as you would expect, pretty conservative (i.e. not likely to get my vote). They're also not exactly known as a very pro-environment party, but Burnaby is a fairly green sort of riding. For those of you unfamiliar with Canadian politics, the Conservatives (a merger of the old Progressive Conservative party with the former Canadian Alliance, née the super-conservative Reform Party) have also so far failed to win government in part because Canadians have been afraid that their policies are too American-style.

The attached photo is a shot of George's campaign flyer advertising his environmental awareness, and touting the potential for wind and tidal power on B.C.'s wild and beautiful Pacific Coast, with accompanying picture. One problem: the photo is of Haystack Rock, in Cannon Beach, Oregon. Which, as I have personally confirmed over several summers, is in the United States. Nice awareness!

Thanks to my lovely and talented wife for finding this one. Check out the quick A-B with Cap'n Qwest's Flickr picture from a similar Cannon Beach vantage point (on the left):

Haystack and Haystack

Election-related tags:


# 10:24:00 AM:

Podcast in print

Mack Male notes that there is a new ID3 Podcast Magazine starting this spring. Yes, an actual print magazine. This thing is taking off.


Tuesday, January 17, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:44:00 PM:

On the feeds

darts anyone?Roland Tanglao has not yet posted the episode of Roland's Rabble I recorded with him, Will Pate, and Michael Tippett last week, so the acoustic world premiere of "You're the Big Sky" I performed on the show isn't quite a premiere anymore. But I will let you know when the podcast gets posted.

Today I recorded an interview with Christel Marchand of diabeticfeed which should get posted two or three weeks from now. We spent a quite a lot of time discussing non-diabetic topics, which is good, since diabetes isn't the core of my life even though I've had it for 15 years. The funny thing about the show is that they started using my music as for their theme and background tracks without knowing at all that I had diabetes. We discussed that a bit, as well as how I put the music together and some of my wisdom (if you want to call it that) about living with the disease.


Monday, January 16, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:52:00 PM:

A new free song: "You're the Big Sky"

[A big sky, with kids]This latest song has quite a story. Back in early December, my work set up a charity auction to take place at our Christmas party, where staff members paid money (which went to a good cause) and then got fake virtual money to bid on services by other staff members, such as free tech support, Japanese lessons, and so on. I offered a custom composed and recorded song. My co-worker Carl won.

Once again, I actually sing, a month after my last one. It has been some time since an update, but there was Christmas and the new year and a bunch of gigs with my band, plus there was that CD album I released and that you should buy. But now I'm back.

I'm very happy with the song that came about, and so is Carl, my high bidder. "You're the Big Sky" (4.5 MB MP3 file) is simple enough to sing to a child, but works for grownups too. Every word in the lyrics (available in the Lyrics tag inside the MP3 file or below) is one syllable, no more:

You're the big sky that shines down on me
When I'm sad, when I'm dark
You're my sun, you're the spark
You're the big sky that shines down on me

You are the field where the tall grass grows
You are the path that shows me where to go
When you're as small as my hand
When your smile is wide as the sea and land
You're the big sky that shines down on me

You're the north wind that can turn me round
You're the one storm that can blow me down
When you're mad, when you cry
I'd take your place, don't ask why
You're the big sky that shines down on me

Simple as they are, they may be the best lyrics I've ever written. I hope you like the song too.


# 8:15:00 PM:

Questionable signage, podcast subscribing for newbies

The other day I was walking home through our local mega-mall and spied a strange sign at a jewelry store:

Sparkly Euroballs - $15 - *WOW

It was funny in a juvenile, Beavis and Butt-Head huh-huh, huh-huh sort of way. Then, a couple of days later, I passed through again, to see the same sign reading this:

Dangling Set - $10 - *LIMITED SUPPLY

I couldn't decide if it was a language barrier thing or an actual semi-innuendo thing, or maybe just a slightly clueless thing. I got a smile both times, though. What would it cost to buy both the sparkly euroballs and the dangling set, I wonder?

More usefully, the Parrot Talks website has a useful Podcasting 101 PDF file (scroll down the page a bit) that will help get someone you know who doesn't know the first thing about podcasting set up with iTunes and some subscriptions. It's a useful and very well designed document.


Sunday, January 15, 2006 - newest items first
# 9:06:00 PM:

Let this accursed weekend be over

Yesterday morning I woke up grumpy. My wife noticed, and I denied it, but it was true. I wasn't the only one: both our kids were in crappy moods all day, and there were tantrums and rude statements and canceled movie plans. When our daughters were going to bed, I told them it had been a hard day, and that Sunday would be better.

It was, for the most part. The kids let mommy and daddy sleep in till 10 a.m. (!), were polite and relatively fight-free all morning, and had a great time at a birthday party we went to in North Vancouver in the afternoon. My parents, who live next door, called to offer unsolicited babysitting (!!) so my wife and I could go out to dinner. We made reservations at The Cannery, where my cousin works.

Ten minutes before we were to leave, however, my parents phoned to say that our youngest daughter, who is nearly six, had been carousing in the basement when she had fallen and hit her head. There was some blood. We rushed over and saw immediately that she'd need a doctor. Dinner reservations canceled, and a trip to the Kensinton Children's Clinic later, she had five blue plastic stitches on the back of her scalp. Instead of eating alone at The Cannery, my wife and I were now at Dairy Queen and our two girls were scarfing down Dilly Bars (certainly a good sign of no lasting injury).

Our youngest is fine now, sleeping here in front of me as I type this. She's staying home from school for a day tomorrow under doctor's orders.

For once, though, I'll be glad it's Monday.


Saturday, January 14, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:36:00 PM:

We were at a party

DSC_8955ppFor many people of my generation who grew up in the '80s, our equivalent to the "where were you when you heard JFK was shot?" moment was when we heard that the shuttle Challenger had exploded. Our "Beatles on Ed Sullivan" event, on the other hand, was probably when we heard "Rock Lobster" by The B-52's for the first time. At least it was for me.

Two events could hardly make for stranger bedfellows. For the Challenger news, I was at school that sunny day in 1986, in the covered walkway outside the biology lab, and heard from a classmate.

By then I had come to "Rock Lobster" already, but late, I think in 1985, six years after the B-52's first album came out. I was in the deepest depths of my nerdy prog rock (Genesis, Yes) and electronic music (Jean-Michel Jarre, Synergy) listening. I sat in the passenger seat of my classmate Chris Marshall's blue Honda Civic while he rode the clutch on a steep hill at a stoplight, and he told me I should hear something. He popped a cassette tape in the deck.

Ricky Wilson pounded the bottom strings of his reverb-heavy Dick Dale–vs.–Duane Eddy guitar. Fred Schneider shouted "Pass the tanning butter!" like a flaming carnival barker while singers Cindy Wilson and Kate Pierson made bizarre drowning-dolphin noises in the background. One of the instruments was an electric buzzer.

It was weird.

It took a few years and I was in university before I actually bought the album, but "Rock Lobster" seared itself into my memory that day. Like the Beatles did for so many others 20 years earlier, the B-52's shocked my rock-n-roll listening out of its complacent space and made music fun again. It's possible I wouldn't be a musician today without them.


Friday, January 13, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:38:00 PM:

Recording on the 5G iPod

Finally the first recording system for the new 5G iPod like the one I have. But where is Griffin Technology? Usually they're all over this stuff.


# 1:49:00 PM:

A good low-midrange audio podcasting setup

Audio recording and podcasting setup for NavarikAt my work at Navarik we're going to be producing some screencasts and training videos, and perhaps in future some podcasts, so my boss Bill assigned me—as resident audio geek—to go buy some basic recording gear and screen-capture software to get it done. (Yeah, he sure had to twist my arm to get me to buy stuff from a music store.)

In case you're interested in doing something similar, here's what I decided on, which differs a bit from what I recommended in my December blog and email posts on a similar topic:

  • The Samson C01 studio condenser microphone, which performs remarkably well for a mere $100 Cdn (about $80 USD). Since we're not recording singing or instruments, we don't need a high-end microphone, but for that price, a condenser mic provides more pleasant sound for voice narration than a more rugged but common dynamic mic.

  • Edirol's UA-25 USB audio interface (about $275 Cdn). I would have preferred a FireWire interface myself, but USB is both a bit cheaper and more widely supported on both Macs and PCs. It's likely we'll use each at some point, so I wanted to keep our options open. This particular interface has phantom power for the condenser microphone, multiple inputs and outputs, and a built-in limiter, which prevents overdriving the mic preamps if you speak too loudly.

  • Audio-Techica ATH-M20 sealed monitor headphones. These are smaller than the Sennheiser HD 280 set I own myself, and their sound isn't quite as good (less top-end detail, a bit too much bass), but they're just great for speech, they're extremely comfortable, and they're less than half the price of the Senns.

With a little desktop microphone stand and a couple of cables, plus a copy of GarageBand, we're all set, for less than $500 Cdn before taxes. We're planning to use Camtasia Studio on the PC and Snapz Pro on the Mac when we do the screen captures, which gets us a complete hardware-software combination for under $1000.


Thursday, January 12, 2006 - newest items first
# 12:24:00 PM:

Digg vs. Slashdot smackdown!

Full-on totally pointless geeky link department: a fascinating analysis from Jason Kottke of how being Digged and Slashdotted differ.

More useful from Scott Rosenberg is his tip to end your sock-matching problems forever.


# 10:26:00 AM:

Nearing the end of film

Son of FeiningerBlogaholics reports that 95% of Nikon's business is in digital photography now. The company is phasing out all film-based large-format and enlarging camera lenses, as well as its entire non-professional line of SLR and point-and-shoot cameras and lenses.

All that will be left is the top-of-the-line F6 professional film SLR and the midrange FM10 (and apparently not the rugged fully mechanical FM3A, oddly—those will get snapped up), as well as a total of nine manual lenses.


Wednesday, January 11, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:51:00 PM:

Joining the rabble

rolandTomorrow afternoon I'll be recording an episode of Vancouver super-uber-blogger Roland Tanglao's podcast Roland's Rabble (RSS feed), which will also apparently feature Will Pate, Michael Tippit, Susannah Gardner, and perhaps Alexandra Samuel.

We'll be talking about the vast implications of my CD, recent Apple announcements, stuff from CES, and maybe some of the cool mapping stuff we're doing at Navarik.


Tuesday, January 10, 2006 - newest items first
# 10:35:00 PM:

About time for UWB

Almost four years ago, I wrote about the coming new ultrawideband (UWB) wireless communications technology. Looks like it might actually be happening now.


# 8:46:00 PM:

Aerial photo vs. Google Earth

Aerial Photo vs. Google EarthNow that Google Earth is available for Mac, I've been having some fun. This screenshot is one result.

On the left is an aerial photo of a town in Alberta, just north of Calgary, which I took in 2004.

On the right is the same view reproduced in Google Earth, which reported the apparent altitude as about 8 km, or 26,000 feet, which seems about right.


# 4:37:00 PM:

Google Earth for Mac

Never mind the Apple and CES hoo-ha: Google Earth for Mac is out!


# 11:02:00 AM:

The latest breathless Apple announcements

MacBook Pro MagSafe connector - Macworld keynote January 2006Speaking of PR spin machines, Computer just announced a bunch of stuff this hour.

The new MacBook Pro laptop and iMac (page not updated as of press time) both run Intel dual-core processors instead of PowerPCs, but are otherwise quite similar to their predecessors. Lots of neat software updates to iWork and iLife (including broad podcasting support and a new iWeb blog/podcast application), an FM tuner/remote for iPods, and so on.

Engadget has the best announcement coverage, with photos.

The neatest stuff for me is all the built-in podcasting stuff in iLife and new features in GarageBand. Perhaps the coolest thing is the magnetic power adapter on the new MacBooks (I'm going to have to get used to the death of the PowerBook name): if you trip over the cord, it just disconnects, rather than pulling your laptop off the table. Smart.

Contrary to rumours, Apple is also not killing FireWire—it's still in both new machines—which is good.


# 10:07:00 AM:

Songs and CES

It's been nearly a month since I posted a new track to my Penmachine Podcast, largely because I was working on getting my CD out, the Christmas holidays, and just generally having a life. But I have one in the pipeline that should be out in the next week, and it's interesting.

First of all, I do more singing on it, and most of the tracks I've released have been instrumentals. Second, I'm writing and recording it for someone at work, who won the rights to have me compose it in an auction at our company Christmas party in early December. He had some suggestions for what he wanted, and I've tried to accommodate them.

Once that track is done, I'm going to put together a brief piece of soundtrack music for Roland (who was the first customer for my CD, incidentally), then maybe something for the Stars Hollow Podcast. All that stuff will continue to be and free, so those people aren't getting any kind of exclusive rights to the music. But it is nice to have them request music from me, and to provide inspiration. I have no shortage of ideas for tunes now.

Finally, I found this comment from Todd Cochrane about the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) he attended last week to be illuminating:

So here is the bottom line folks [on the CES show floow] you get to [hear] the exact coverage that the companies want you to hear, I have observed a great number of reporting organizations just re-purposing the press releases that have been handed to them.

The tech gadget industry, like other fields of entertainment, is a big PR cycle. So don't believe the hype.


Monday, January 09, 2006 - newest items first
# 1:24:00 PM:

Links of interest (2006-01-09):

  • Dori Smith and Tim Bray discuss the thorny problem of shared online family calendars.

  • Intel and Kodak, what the hell are you thinking with the blandiferous anonymization of your logos?

  • Jakob Nielsen: "Search engines extract too much of the Web's value, leaving too little for the websites that actually create the content. Liberation from search dependency is a strategic imperative for both websites and software vendors."

  • Online writers are calling BS on James Frey's A Million Little Pieces. My take: I figured he was making much of it up when I read it, but I don't care. Reading the book helped me understand those among my family and friends (or others) with addictions and mental illness much better, and that's good enough for me.

  • Top ten weirdest USB drives.

  • Rare colour photos from more than 60 years ago. (Check these nearly 100-year-old ones too.)

  • Failed redesigns: "A failed redesign is a Web page created from scratch, or substantially updated, during the era of Web standards that nonetheless ignores or misuses those standards. [...] It indicates not merely unprofessional Web-development practices but outright incompetence. For if you are producing tag-soup code and using tables for layout in the 21st century, that's what you are: Incompetent."

  • Dos and don'ts beating the iPod. (It's getting scary.)

  • Take Bill Gates's speech about all the fabulous new features coming in Windows Vista later this year, layer it over visuals from last year's version of Mac OS X, and what do you get? Two different funny videos.


Friday, January 06, 2006 - newest items first
# 2:38:00 PM:

Today's kool Mac linx

Noel (who runs Linux on his desktop machine) sent a couple of interesting links today:

  1. Many many useful Macintosh applications, most free.

  2. How Steve Jobs prepares for his "reality distortion field" keynote speeches. I've added the link to my rants at powerpoint.

    Jobs is, of course, probably the best business presenter in the world. My favourite line from author Mike Evangelist (his real name), who used to work for Apple and appeared onstage as part of Steve's keynotes on several occasions: "[the process] makes me think of a magnifying glass used to focus the power of the sun on one small spot until it bursts into flames." Not exactly the words very many people would choose to say about preparing for your typical PowerPoint snoozefest.


# 12:41:00 PM:

Where I'll be in the next while

PANEL: Promoting Your Blog and Building TrafficSome stuff I'm doing in the first half of the year:


Thursday, January 05, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:17:00 PM:

Automate and record, baby provides lots of cool workflows for Apple's Automator, a way to script and (surprise!) automate all sorts of stuff in Mac OS X.

Les also points to a huge long list of useful links about audio recording and production.


Wednesday, January 04, 2006 - newest items first
# 3:52:00 PM:

Power pop

Ready for the USA.My oldest daughter, who's seven, has become obsessed with a particular music album. She plays it over and over again, in the living room, in the car, in her room, on my iPod shuffle when she borrows it. She sings along and dances and writes down the names of the songs and looks at the photos of the artists and figures out who is who.

Now, normally that might be kind of annoying. But the album she's obsessed with is the Beatles' 1, which, when I think about it, is probably the least annoying rock album to play over and over and over again. Take a look:

"Love Me Do," "From Me to You," "She Loves You," "I Want to Hold Your Hand," "Can't Buy Me Love," "A Hard Day's Night," "I Feel Fine," "Eight Days a Week," "Ticket to Ride," "Help!," "Yesterday," "Day Tripper," "We Can Work It Out," "Paperback Writer," "Yellow Submarine," "Eleanor Rigby," "Penny Lane," "All You Need Is Love," "Hello Goodbye," "Lady Madonna," "Hey Jude," "Get Back," "The Ballad of John and Yoko," "Something," "Come Together," "Let It Be," and "The Long and Winding Road."

It's pretty hard to get tired of those. All I wish is that "All My Loving," "Twist and Shout," "Drive My Car," "Rain," "Revolution," "Here Comes the Sun," "I Saw Her Standing There," "Don't Let Me Down," "I'm Down," "Yes It Is," "Tomorrow Never Knows," "Magical Mystery Tour," "Money," "Norwegian Wood," "A Day in the Life," "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "The Fool on the Hill," "Please Please Me," "In My Life," "I Am the Walrus," "Lucy in the Sky With Diamonds," "Nowhere Man," "Girl," and "With a Little Help From My Friends" were on there too.

Actually, this album and this one would probably do the trick.

Man, take a look at that list of songs. How did one band do that—and dozens more I didn't mention—in just eight years?


Tuesday, January 03, 2006 - newest items first
# 11:17:00 AM:

Favourite images from 2005

It's the Year in Pictures, Derek style. 2005 was when I finally got into Flickr, and here are my favourite images in my photo library there from the past year:

Derek's favourite images from his Flickr library, 2005

This one was the single one I liked the best. I think you can see why.

Oh, and I've added some images to the photo set since creating the thumbnails above, so you'll see a few different pictures when you view them at Flickr.


Monday, January 02, 2006 - newest items first
# 4:09:00 PM:

Time to waste some time

Bored? Check out Jason Kottke's Best Links of 2005 and Rest of the Best. That'll keep you going.


Sunday, January 01, 2006 - newest items first
# 9:48:00 PM:

Derek to spyware authors: you suck

BichoHaving been a Macintosh (and before that, Apple II) user since the 1970s, I hadn't realized quite how bad the malware problem has become on Microsoft Windows computers. Then, a couple of days ago, my aunt and uncle in West Vancouver called me to help them with their infected PC.

I had some experience purging spyware and adware from the old Windows 98 computer we used to have, and I worked for a Windows software developer for almost five years, so I know the basics of what's going on. Before I went to their house, I checked out the various recommendations of knowledgeable people. But what confronted me was nasty.

Specifically, in addition to several other nefarious programs, their computer was infested by Spyaxe, which repeatedly popped up windows and alerts, changed the desktop background, and otherwise disrupted the user experience intolerably. Despite throwing every tool I could find at it, including specific tools to try to remove it, Spyaxe would not go away.

So we resorted to the heavy artillery: a complete hard-drive reformat and Windows restore, after backing up critical email and documents. I was at their house for about five hours, and in the end, we had things relatively back to normal. My aunt had to re-create some of her bookmarks and find her email password, and a few other things are a bit odd, but they're up and running. I had time to set up a separate user account for my uncle, and to switch their default browser to Firefox. We installed Norton 2006 and the well-reviewed Microsoft Antispyware beta.

But when people say Windows computers are cheaper than Macs, they sure aren't taking into account all that wasted time. It was almost as unpleasant an experience as trying to get my five-year-old to bed these days.


# 3:00:00 AM:

Helloooo 2006

Last year, 2005, was considerably better than its predecessor for a bunch of reasons. One was that at least 108 separate podcasts (there may be more, but that's all I know about) played one or more of my tunes—which I post to my Penmachine Podcast and the Podsafe Music Network. And all in the last six months of the year, since I attended in Seattle in June.

When I first started making the music available on my website in mid-2004, I never imagined that I'd hear it in so many disparate places, from pirate radio on the CBC picket lines here in Vancouver, to IT Conversations and Adam Curry's Daily Source Code, to podcast promos and shows from around the globe. Your appreciation and use of the stuff I produce here in my basement studio makes me feel good, and forms the widest audience I've had since I started in the music business in 1989.

And then, late in the year, I released my first-ever CD album, which I certianly didn't expect to do back in January '05.

So far I haven't plugged for votes at Podcast Alley, but I'll start now: I invite you to click "Vote Now!" on this page. Podcast Alley needs an email address to confirm your vote, but then gets rid of it after that, and you never get any more mail or spam from them. (I've checked.)

Thank you once more to all of you who've read this site, listened to my music, or talked shop about any of this stuff with me over the past year, and have a great 2006. There'll be lots more writing and music from me to come. Thanks also to to my lovely wife, fabulous daughters, our families and friends, and my bandmates. Be safe.


Journal Archive »

Template BBEdited on 29-Apr-2010

Site problems? Gripes? Angst? - e-mail
Site contents © 1997–2007 by Derek K. Miller

You may use content from this site non-commercially if you give me credit, under the terms of my Creative Commons license.

eXTReMe Tracker