14 July 2009


Links of interest 2006-07-05 to 2006-07-13

Yup, still on a blog break. So, more of my selected Twitter posts, newest first:

  • Vancouver to Whistler in one minute (okay, I cheated):

  • We're in the mountains, but in a civilized way. Pool/hot tub, grocery store across the street, Wi-Fi. But, uh, there is mountain weather.
  • Super-duper stop-motion movie with 60,000 photo prints (ad for Olympus, via Lisa Bettany and Photojojo). Chris Atherton points out that this follows Wolf and Pig.
  • Okay camera nerds, here's some rangefinder pr0n for you.
  • The stereotypically blingtastic (and boobtastic) video diminishes Karl Wolf's tolerable version of Toto's "Africa." (And I'm no Toto fan.) It's like a live-action Hot Chicks with Douchebags. Yes, the choirboy harmonies are actually kind of charming, but he's going P-Diddy on it in the end.
  • In the storage closet, my kids found something of mine from 1976 that is EVEN GEEKIER than my U.S.S. Enterprise belt buckle:
    Aye Captain!
    Red shirts were available back then, as well as the blue Mr. Spock style, but I chose Kirk. Of course.

  • The only sounds I can hear right now: the dishwasher, the fan in the hallway, and the birds in the trees outside the window.
  • During my biology degree, Platyhelminthes was a favourite organism name. Now there's a plush toy! (With 2 heads!!)
  • When I used to busk with the band, our biggest victories were scaring away the holy rollers across the street (we got applause).
  • Neat. When a ship is built, here are the differences between milestones: keel laying, christening, commissioning, etc.
  • AutoTune the News #6. Even more awesome.
  • Picked up kids from Aldergrove camp. Sadly, there was a terrible accident on the Port Mann Bridge. We took a long Langley/Surrey/New Westminster detour.
  • Google's changing culture. Point: Google now has more employees than Microsoft did at launch of Windows 95.
  • Time lapse: 8 hours from my front window in about 1 min 30 sec, made with my new Nikon D90 and free Sofortbild capture software (and iMovie):

    Something like John Biehler's Nikon Coolpix P6000 is better for timelapse long term; the D90's mechanical shutter, which is rated for 100,000 uses, would wear out in less than 6 months if used for time lapse every day. P.S. Andy Gagliano pointed to a useful Macworld podcast about making time-lapse movies.

  • Depressing: most Internet Explorer 6 users use it at work, because they're not allowed to use another browser.
  • These Christopher Walken impressions are way funnier than I expected.
  • The way monkeys peel a banana shows us we've all been doing it the needlessly hard way all these years.
  • Um... hot!
  • Most appropriate Flash cartoon ever?
  • Drinking whisky and Diet Dr. Pepper, watching MythBusters. Pretty mellow.
  • A good photo is "not about the details or the subject. It's what your subconscious pulls out of it all without thinking."
  • Just picked up another month's supply of horrible, nasty, vile, wonderful, beautiful, lifesaving anti-cancer pills. Thanks, Big Pharma Man.
  • My wife tells me she's discovered a sure-fire tip for a gal to attract quality guys in public: carry a huge SLR camera over your shoulder.
  • "For the great majority [...] blogging is a social activity, not an aspiration to mass-media stardom."
  • Just talked to younger daughter (9) for first time after three days at summer camp. She's a little homesick, but having fun.
  • I took a flight over a remote landscape:

  • The 50 worst cars of all time (e.g. "The Yugo had the distinct feeling of something assembled at gunpoint").
  • I haven't seen either Transformers movie, but that's okay, I saw this.
  • Dan Savage: cheating on your spouse should now be known as "hiking the Appalachian Trail." Good point in the article too.
  • You can still buy a station wagon with fake wood paneling!
  • Train vs. tornado. It does not end well. Watch without fast-forward/scrubbing for maximum tension.
  • Just lucked into a parking spot on Granville Island. Time for some lunch.
  • Sent the kids off for a week of horse-riding camp today. Wife Air and I had sparkling wine in the garden. Vewwy vewwy quiet around here.
  • Just sorted a bunch of CDs. Still several discs missing cases, and cases missing discs. I feel like a total '90s throwback.
  • Rules of photography (via Alastair Bird).
  • When did the standard Booth Babe uniform become cropped T-shirt and too-short schoolgirl kilt?
  • Listening to "Kind of Blue." It's been awhile.
  • "A two-year old is kind of like having a blender, but you don't have a top for it." - Jerry Seinfeld (via Ryan).

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15 September 2008


Super-awesome new Gmail feature

If you use Google's Gmail, check out the experimental Google Labs settings. There are several cool options, but I turned on the newest one right away: the Forgotten Attachment Detector.

"Many of us have experienced the embarrassment of having sent a message without attaching the file we said we were going to attach," writes author John Kotker. "Turn on the Forgotten Attachment Detector in Labs, and you'll get an alert if you mention attaching a file but forget to do so."

That's a small little bit of awesomeness added to my day. (Via Steve Rubel.)

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06 September 2008


Two looks ten years back

It's weird to think that my website here is older than Google.

And valued a tad less on the markets, too.

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09 March 2008


Links of interest (2008-03-09):

  • "You call this traveling? Twenty-one days, 15 countries, 45,000 miles—without setting foot outdoors."

  • "The more affluent a country gets, the more things parents come to see as essential for raising children [so] as long as the world keeps creeping out of poverty, families will continue to shrink."

  • jamNOW lets you jam online with other musicians, interact with fans, and listen to live streams from nightclubs all over the place. Haven't tried it, so I'm not sure how well it works.

  • Looks like the iMac DV in our kitchen is finally officially obsolete. It's slow, but it still works pretty well.

  • Are things really this bad for biology teachers in significant portions of the U.S.A.?

  • "If all you do is work, your value judgements are unlikely to be sound."

  • "I rejoice in this life that I have, and in the grandeur of a world that preceded me, and an earth that will abide without me."

  • "Studies have shown that abstinence-only education does virtually nothing to prevent kids from having sex [and that] abstinence-only group[s] used birth control less frequently."

  • "When I get a resume, the first thing I do is type the person's name into Google.  If nothing comes up, I trash the resume without reading it."

  • "I don't want my ISP looking at how I use the Internet to target ads to me, period, any more than I want the phone company listening in on my conversations in order to sell me stuff."

  • TripIt looks like one of the best online travel resources out there, though I haven't tried it.

  • How to make your website or blog faster.

  • The Universe is 13.73 billion years old, give or take only about 120 million years. Now that is a cool finding.

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01 February 2008


Microsoft + Yahoo! = Um, Well...

I summarized my opinion of the proposed $45 billion takeover of Yahoo! by Microsoft in my comment on Robert Scoble's post:

I think if the merger happens, it will take ages to bring the two companies together, Yahoo!’s best people will bail out, and by the time the smoke clears, Google will have lapped Yahoosoft/Microhoo several times. Bad for both sides, and in the end for users, in my opinion.

Then again, I know nothing about running a business. These are just my instincts.

Here's what some other people had to say:

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30 January 2008


Links of interest (2008-01-30):

A bunch of stuff I've been accumulating over the past few months:

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08 November 2007


Winer's wisery

Dave Winer has a good point about why most conferences suck:

...if you want to have a truly useful conference that everyone gets something out of, structure it so that everyone has something to do at all times. Hopefully things that involve other people or the venue, if not, what's the point of going somewhere to do this stuff?

He's had a lot of interesting things to say recently, such as about Google ("...one thing they don't have in huge supply at Google is humility [...] the number one law of software, of course is Murphy's Law. And one of the big things it teaches is humility...") and how technology companies use the word open ("...they just serve someone's interest without thinking about the users' interest (at best) or counter to the users' interest (at worst)...").

Winer has been around the industry a long time. He's a controversial guy within it, but I think his experience has given him some wisdom about it too.

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27 October 2007


Geekiness and nerdery

Awesome Death Star pumpkinWired reports that Mark Crispin, the guy who invented the IMAP email protocol more than 20 years ago, is unhappy with Gmail's new implementation of his creation. "The consequences of the current [Gmail IMAP] server being presented as a completed product," he says, "would be far worse than their not doing IMAP at all."

Similarly, Nancy McGough, who maintains a remarkably obtuse page about IMAP that includes a strangely-sorted list of IMAP email providers, is now optimistic about IMAP, but still laments that, "We need e-mail messages to be linkable, annotatable, and access-controlled. Basically we need all our e-mail in a wiki with multiple levels of access control..."

Whoa. Okay, okay. Let's calm down a little. I can't imagine my in-laws managing their email as a wiki with multiple levels of access control, you know. As someone who has been a little obsessive about validated HTML, I can understand the geeky impulse for wanting standards (especially ones you've invented, or spend a lot of time on) being fully supported. But if you check right now, this web page doesn't quite validate—mostly because I occasionally embed YouTube videos (also owned by Google) on my site, and their default code is broken.

You know what? That's okay. The Internet is a success because of Postel's Law ("be conservative in what you do, be liberal in what you accept from others"), and while Google isn't following it—they're being a bit sloppy in what they do with IMAP, as with many other things—the rest of us can follow our part. I can accept Google's sloppiness, at least temporarily.

Just to note, Gmail is still labeled a "beta" product (almost four years of that so far!), so Google has a theoretical excuse here. Yes, IMAP's benefits were obvious even a decade ago, and many services like Apple's (for-pay) .Mac have offered it for a long time. In fact, I was using IMAP without knowing it when I used to check my university email with pine through a 2400-bps dialup modem back in 1992.

Douglas Adams had a wonderful definition of a nerd: someone who uses a telephone to talk to other people about telephones. One of the problems with many open-source and other geek-driven IT initiatives (like IMAP) is that they're often wrapped up in nested vortices of nerdery that demand note-for-note perfection in implementation—perfect for emailing other nerds about email. Google's approach, while imperfect, is also pragmatic: get it out there and fix it over time.

Obviously Crispin and McGough see that too. To them it appears to be a nasty set of flaws; I think it's just real humans trying to make something work. My website here—a much smaller example—started out technically problematic, and has generally gotten better over the past seven years. It's good that the alpha geeks behind IMAP are pushing Google to implement it properly. I don't think it's terrible that it didn't start out that way, however.

And speaking of nerdery, check out these awesome jack-o-lanterns. The Death Star one is my favourite.

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24 October 2007


Getting Gmail's IMAP support to work

I didn't have much trouble getting Gmail's new support for the IMAP email standard to work.

UPDATE: Here are some more very useful tips for IMAP with Apple Mail (and the iPhone). I'll be using them.

Why is IMAP useful?

IMAP is cool because, unlike the more common POP standard, it always keeps your mail on a remote server, and your local email client software synchronizes with that.

The upshot is that, no matter what computer (or other device) you use to read and write email, stuff like latest messages, read and unread mail, deletions, spam filtering, and sent messages are always in the same state. In other words, you get the always-up-to-date benefits of an online webmail system (like Gmail, Hotmail, Yahoo! Mail, and so on), plus the ability to work in a dedicated email application instead of a web browser—and process your email offline, such as on a plane or somewhere else without perpetual Internet access.

So how do I do it?

I've had a few people ask me how to get IMAP working since Google announced the support yesterday. It seems to be a staged rollout, so if you are a Gmail user, you might not see IMAP yet. But if you have it, go to Gmail on the Web and choose Settings > Forwarding and Pop/IMAP:

Gmail goes IMAP

If you don't have it, the IMAP setting won't be there. If it is, turn it on and save your settings. Then follow the link instructions to set up Apple Mail, Outlook, your handheld device, or whatever you're going to use. (Make sure your email software supports IMAP.) Google's instructions are quite clear.

Once you have your program set up, choose Get Mail or Sync or whatever the command is (see my tip below). Or, if you don't have IMAP in Gmail yet, you'll have to wait a bit until it becomes available to you.

Other tips

I also disabled POP—it was a pain and I rarely used it anyway—just to avoid confusion.

Be prepared for your first sync to take a long time (hours) if you have a lot of Gmail. My 1.6 GB of mail took several hours, so I let it work after I went to sleep. Of course, it also sucked up 1.6 GB on my hard disk in the process.

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12 August 2007


Buy more Gmail storage

Via Tod, I find out that you can now pay a yearly fee to buy more online storage for your Gmail account (and other Google services)—up to 250 GB. My free storage is currently at 2.8 GB, and is only about half full, so I'm fine, but it's good to have the option.

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