Marco.org • About ▾

I’m : a programmer, writer, podcaster, geek, and coffee enthusiast.

After writing this debug code:

throw new Exception('No hash cookie');

…I realized how incredibly strange it would sound to a non-programmer.

mareen:

Dinner at La Palapa with Stefan Tüshaus, David Karp, Marco & Tiff Arment.

t for Tumblr.

This was a lot of fun. Mareen and Stefan are great. And check out David’s lightscript skills!

Post-Election NYC Tumblr Meetup

Come celebrate (or mourn) the results of the election with a trip to the best beer place in the city!

When: This Wednesday, November 5th, from 7:30 PM until whenever.
Where: Hop Devil Grill, St. Marks Place at Avenue A (Google Maps). Take the 6 to Astor Place or take the L to 1st Ave., then walk over.

Special Guests

Plus (hopefully) all of our awesome NYC Meetup regulars!

Bonus: if you’re hungry beforehand, grab a ridiculous hot dog or two at Crif Dogs. The bacon-wrapped dog with cream cheese is great. Be adventurous.

Reblog to RSVP!

Vimeo’s great attention to detail: their (great) uploader updates the page title as it progresses. So you can keep browsing in other tabs and still be updated on its progress.

I love this review of Instapaper Pro. The vast majority of the other 45 reviews are extremely positive, and I guess that’s too good for this guy to believe.

Tiff golfing at our wedding:

Wedding day golfing.  ”Now that’s a golfer”-Marc

Video by Tara (via Vimeo)

Amazon.com has launched “Frustration-Free Packaging,” a new initiative designed to make it easier for customers to liberate products from their packages. Amazon is focusing first on two kinds of items: those enclosed in hard plastic cases known as “clamshells” and those secured with plastic-coated wire ties, commonly used in toy packaging.

Amazon is working with companies to reduce shipping waste (via clint)

Example.

YES. Let’s make this President Obama’s first item of business, right after all of that important stuff that needs to be done: make clamshell packaging illegal.

And if you don’t think a huge retailer can convince manufacturers to change their packaging, just ask video-game publishers why their boxes all uniformly shrunk a few years ago.

This is great.

What did liberals do that was so offensive to the Republican Party? I’ll tell you what they did. Liberals got women the right to vote. Liberals got African-Americans the right to vote. Liberals created Social Security and lifted millions of elderly people out of poverty. Liberals ended segregation. Liberals passed the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act. Liberals created Medicare. Liberals passed the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act. What did Conservatives do? They opposed them on every one of those things, every one. So when you try to hurl that label at my feet, ‘Liberal,’ as if it were something to be ashamed of, something dirty, something to run away from, it won’t work, because I will pick up that label and I will wear it as a badge of honor.

The West Wing (via aja, peterwknox)

Capturing this for later entertainment or disappointment.

Tiff and I tried to be responsible voters by researching all of our local candidates tonight so we could make an informed decision instead of just voting a straight ticket.

So we went down the list, one by one, and compared their positions on issues with what we think is important. No races were even close — it was very clear which candidate we should vote for in every case.

The result: a straight Democratic ticket.

At least we tried.

Tiff:

Build-O-BAMA and I voted, you should too.

Today is a big day. (via patrickmoberg, hrrrthrrr)

The real final projection by FiveThirtyEight.

Preparing for a win!

Actually, no, I didn’t. And no, it doesn’t taste like freedom, it tastes like shit. Because it’s Starbucks.

Ian Jenkins about the Starbucks free-coffee-for-votes thing

daisymay:

kate-elizabeth:

YES.   YES.  YES.  !!!!!

YEAH! Thank you America, you done well!!

tiffany:

Oh Yeah!  I’m proud of you America.

This absolutely destroys the previous reblog record. Congratulations to the very talented Patrick Moberg!

No words

I can hardly believe it yet. I’m just incredibly happy that this actually happened — I’ve been so jaded with our government and our electorate that I really thought it we’d lose (or it would be stolen) again.

Massive emotional events, good and bad, always take a while to fully register with me. I’m just so happy. I’ll fully defrost and decompress over the next few days.

I woke up

And it’s still true.

By Nora.

Blacks turning out in droves to support Obama also threw their support strongly behind Proposition 8, which would overturn the state Supreme Court decision allowing gay marriage.

AP, “California exit poll highlights

There is something so indescribably wrong about voting to remove the barriers of one injustice, while simultaneously voting to shore up the barriers of another.

(via thedailywhat)

Well said.

(via marc)

(via Jeaux, Angie)

From the NYC Tumblr Meetup last night, which was a lot of fun with a great turnout of about 50 people.

(Photo by Tiff)

Obama watching McCain’s concession speech live

jackieheartsb:

What a downer.

What an amazingly sad “welcome” back. I love it.

Tumblr’s Likes on reblogs

Someone asked this yesterday: who gets credit for the “like” on a reblogged post?

Two are issued: one to the reblogger, and one to the original poster. (Only if they’re different, of course.)

One of bengold’s occasional hits.

squashed:

Marco, David, or whomever is responsible for Tumblr popup messages:

I like this box where you can okay the cancellation of the edit or cancel the cancellation of the edit because the edit is okay. In order to make this box even more confusing, I suggest you change the text on the lower left button to also read “cancel”.

Unfortunately, that’s just a standard Javascript confirm() dialog, so there’s no way to specify the button text. Maybe we should replace it with a big Lightbox overlay with a long animation that slowly slides (all four directions in sequence) into a translucent dialog reimplementation in Flash with rounded corners and a gradient background.

But this is a man who took on the Chicago political machine, Hillary Clinton, and then the Republicans. He’s not afraid of chubby Venezuelan dictators. And he’s good at what he does. A bit of bluster won’t bait him into doing something rash—but if you cause an international incident that takes away time he’d planned to spend with his daughters … you won’t like him when he’s serious.

Squashed: Obama will cut you.

lfarm:

Look who I found today… the carrot man escaping the downpour in a coffee shop.

I expect this to always be one of my favorite photos.

Amazing.

In the car

Patriotism starts at the office.

My search for a wireless router that doesn’t suck may have ended tonight: I received and set up my new m1n1wall ALIX.2D3 system (with pfSense).

However, this probably shouldn’t be your next router. This is not for non-geeks. Even for many geeks, it’s more trouble than they’re willing to endure.

This photo was during the installation process — the case is open because I had to install the wireless card and antenna (they’re sold separately so you can choose the kind you want), but otherwise the system comes assembled into its case with the OS installed on the CF card. You can hook up a null-modem cable and control it with a serial console, but I didn’t need to — the web interface worked fine out of the box.

The box is comically devoid of any documentation or setup instructions. They don’t even tell you what the default web-interface password is (I had to use Google to find pfSense’s default). They also don’t tell you which of the three network ports is the WAN and which is the LAN, so Google came to the rescue again (middle is WAN, closest-to-power-port is LAN). Wireless isn’t enabled by default, and even after you enable it, it won’t actually let any traffic go through until you define at least one firewall rule for the wireless interface, even if it’s allow-everything-I-don’t-care.

But those were really the only snags. The web interface is very nice, and this thing has some amazing capabilities. And it’s tiny — much smaller than any equivalent Cisco thing. At just under $300 after shipping, it’s a great deal for geeks like me who are tired of crappy home routers.

I’ll reserve final judgment until I’ve used it for a while, because I don’t know how reliable it is. But as far as I can tell, these things are supposed to be rock-solid. Hopefully that proves to be true.

The new router in its natural habitat.

tiffany:

Lonely purple chuck in the subway this morning

samreich:

The Matrix Runs on Windows, directed by me, produced by CHTV.

I don’t usually like this sort of thing, but this was very well done. Loved the error-report part.

Advantages of being married to someone who also likes photography:

Disadvantages:

I want a 5D Mark II this Christmas, but it’s going to be pretty damn hard to only get one between the two of us.

I think I’ll justify it by skipping the new-laptop purchase. The Air’s shortcomings and speed annoy me, but I’d rather spend the money on upgrading our cameras.

The concepts of Mirror’s Edge are sound, but it’s too short, and many sections are too similar to each other. Imagine going into a restaurant that everyone has been hyping for the past year, and you order what looks like an appetizer. It’s delicious, and you begin looking forward to your entree. Unfortunately the check comes directly after, and you are shown the door.

Ars Technica reviews Mirror’s Edge

Faking named parameters in PHP

Here’s a short technique for faking Ruby’s cool named-parameter ability. It’s useful when you have a function that takes a lot of optional arguments, and you occasionally want to specify a few of the middle values without specifying all of the preceding values (or knowing how many there are). It also helps code readability if you’re willing to make the slight performance sacrifice — and since you’re writing in a dynamic language, that’s probably true.

The function (note the use of extract):

<?php
function my_function(
    $id,
    $start = 0,
    $limit = 10,
    $filter = false,
    $include_duplicates => false,
    $optimize_fetch => false,
    $cache = false
) {
    if (is_array($id)) extract($id, EXTR_IF_EXISTS);

    /* ... */
}

Calling it the old way still works perfectly fine as long as the first parameter isn’t normally supposed to be an array:

<?php
my_function(1, 0, 10, false, false, false, true);

But imagine how helpful that is when browsing this code 6 months later. Now, compare that with calling it the new way:

<?php
my_function(array('id' => 1, 'cache' => true));

Obviously, the function can have a lot more arguments, and this approach makes a lot more sense when it does.

It’d be great if PHP at least supported a compact or automatic array-literal syntax so we could avoid array(...) everywhere, but the developers really don’t like that idea.

Ditch meetings and other things that don’t matter.

The Lazy Man’s Guide to Getting Things Done (via cowboyo)

zoya:

gonna be a long night

Something tells me that Hype Machine has a fun admin panel (as fun as they can be, anyway).

Now 17 years old, Spencer Elden recreated the Nirvana “Nevermind” cover. (original)

Elden’s parents were paid just $200 for allowing him to be photographed back in 1991. But last year, Elden told us that being the Nirvana baby has its perks. He references it when trying to pick up ladies, he said: “I have to use stupid pickup lines like, ‘You want to see my penis… again?’”

(via artistspaid)

That’s not confusing at all.

By Justin Johnson. (Watch in HD)

Lindsey loves pink.

A great introduction to Lindsey Chen, Tumblr’s official maintenance/demo face.

The US government should order a complete replacement for its vehicle fleet to be delivered over the next four years. The new vehicles must be either plugin electric hybrid, pure electric, or possibly natural gas. Obviously retooling both at the manufacturers and suppliers is required to deliver this order so the government should be willing to prepay a significant part of it as it does for new weapons systems. That gets money into the system fast and creates/saves jobs almost immediately.

Fractals of Change: Saving US Auto Manufacturing (thanks, John)

Mark and I have a great record with stock investments so far.

On the one hand, you had Obama (Will Smith in admittedly impressive makeup, although the ears never really convinced). He was practically walking on water. No one’s that nice. And pitched against him, the Republican campaign, which was so nakedly horrible it could only have been orchestrated by Skeletor. Nudge-wink comments about “the real America”, underhand attempts to link Obama with terrorism, automated robo-calls whispering desperate fibs into the ears of voters … if Obama’s grandmother had died while he was at her bedside in Hawaii, they’d have erected billboards claiming he couldn’t be trusted around white women. Jesus, guys, why not just change your name to the Bastard Party and march around in long black capes? Vote for us, we’re openly despicable.

Charlie Brooker: Is Obama really president or am I just watching a fantasy? It’s almost too good to be true

TPMtv: They Couldn’t Have Known

Just think. We were fairly close to… this.

Scary.

App for server maps?

I need to keep a better version of our server/infrastructure diagram (showing their logical arrangements, IPs, roles, etc.). I’m outgrowing graph paper and could really use an electronic version, either web-based (ideal) or with desktop software (OS X).

What do people use for this?

Ouch.

(via azspot)

Friday Minus Garfield

Dan Walsh (Travors and Garfield Minus Garfield) and his fiance, Evie, are visiting from Dublin, Ireland. Let’s show them a good time!

Same arrangement as last time:

They have reserved a cool little lounge-couch filled room for us UPSTAIRS and they have good food and shitloads of beers.

Reblog to RSVP!

justin:

newinnov:

JUSTIN:
“Believe It Or Not”

This song popped into my head last night at 2 am because of Graham. Damn you, Graham!

Bothered about some design decisions on the new MacBooks

One of the reasons I’ve decided to hold off on a laptop upgrade is that Apple has made a number of questionable design decisions with them.

The buttonless trackpad
I’m not entirely sure who, exactly, had ever complained that Apple’s trackpads had too many buttons. I appreciate the goal of minimal design, but this isn’t elegant at all: it requires a lot of hardware and software tricks to work properly, and it still doesn’t. It’s incredibly unreliable, missing a lot of clicks. (Buttons never had this problem.) Supposedly a software fix is coming soon, but we don’t know if it will actually solve the problem, or if the problem can be solved without a hardware redesign. Why was this change necessary, adding tons of complexity (and more weight, I bet) at the cost of reliability, to eliminate an inconsequential part of the design that never bothered anyone?

Glass screens
Note that I’m not complaining about glossy screens. I used an original 13” MacBook for almost 2 years, then switched to an Air, both with the “old” kind of glossy screen with a plastic overlay, and it never really bothered me. But the new screen overlays are glass, which makes them much more reflective — and they extend over the entire bezel around the screen, significantly increasing the reflective surface area. This pushes the glossy surface solidly into the “offensive” range. Even more significantly, the glass seems much heavier than the plastic, especially on the 15” MacBook Pro. This makes the screen lid unnecessarily and disproportionately heavy, even to the extent that it sometimes closes or flops down unexpectedly. (This very well could be the reason why the 17” version has been delayed.) Again, I wonder why this was necessary. Nobody ever complained that the screens weren’t reflective enough or were too lightweight. Apple may have been going for the environmental angle, but I don’t buy it — I think it’s because Steve Jobs* has a crush on the aluminum-and-glass combination, and they think it’s cool enough to ignore the obvious practicality problems.

* Normally I wouldn’t attribute a company’s decisions to individual executives, but in this case, I believe that this is actually the reason, and Steve in particular has enough power to dictate that sort of thing and a history of doing so.

In both cases, Apple has clearly sacrificed usability, practicality, weight, and complexity for a questionable upgrade in visual appeal.

While nobody was asking for these improvements, they were asking for the usual laptop upgrades: smaller size, lighter weight, and better battery life.

Battery life is a wash: while the chipset uses less power and the 13” finally benefits from an LED backlight, Apple also shrunk the batteries, presumably to offset the additional weight of the aluminum case and glass screen. The aluminum case is very nice and has practical benefits (better build quality, durability, and long-term wear resistance), but the weight of the glass screen could have been saved. That may have been an extra hour of battery life.

The 13” MacBook did indeed benefit from an overall reduction in size and weight. It’s a great improvement over the plastic MacBook, and the gains are enough to offset the annoying screen and trackpad for most new buyers. (If you already own a working plastic MacBook, though, there’s no rush to upgrade.)

But the 15” MacBook Pro retained its size and weight, has almost the same general performance, and kept the same battery life (or slightly less, depending on whose benchmark you see). It’s not a compelling upgrade: buyers get very little benefit in exchange for tolerating the screen and trackpad.

It’s terrible that we have to search for justifications to tolerate new design choices. And with Apple’s design cycle, we’re unlikely to see any improvements on these for at least 18 months.

Tiff:

A while ago Marco got me these awesome pendants from Etsy.  I love them.  Every time I wear one, someone complements them and is very surprised to find out they are scrabble tiles.  They are fun conversation pieces that go with every outfit.

This was a very easy and very effective gift. Thanks for the idea, Nik!

Somebody ought to call Steve Jobs, who doesn’t need to be bribed to do innovation, and ask him if he’d like to do national service and run a car company for a year. I’d bet it wouldn’t take him much longer than that to come up with the G.M. iCar.

Thomas Friedman (via noraleah)

(via lindsayneedscoffee)

Tiff:

I tie all of Marco’s ties, so I’m looking forward to trying out something new.  Apparently I’ve only been doing a Four in Hand knot.

After some experimentation, Tiff just leveled up, choosing to upgrade my standard tie knot to the Shell Knot. And I just learned that my best man, Mark, gave me a Windsor for my wedding. (It was a great knot. I just had to know.)

The new pfSense m1n1wall router is doing great so far. Here’s what happens when I saturate my 12-megabit cable line for a while (starting just after 18:30). Clearly, it’s not really breaking a sweat. And it’s barely warm to the touch.

This does give a decent indication of how much throughput it could handle, though. This is the 500 MHz Geode model. I imagine it would start bottlenecking a bit at about 50 Mbit/s sustained. Of course, if you have that sort of bandwidth, you can probably spare a few hundred bucks and a few cubic feet more for a low-end PC to run pfSense on. Even the cheapest PC desktop CPU you can buy will be able to handle complete saturation of any internet connection that we’re likely to see in any reasonable-sized office, company, or school.

Geekout

I just accessed my home pfSense router’s web interface remotely to wake up my sleeping Mac Pro (via Wake-On-LAN) so I could rsync new stuff from my home iTunes library onto my work computer.

When the transfer is done, I’ll remotely put my home computer back to sleep to save power.

(previous geekout)

In Tumblr’s Preferences screen, you can specify Markdown as your editor instead of the automatic HTML-generating WYSIWYG view:

Edit posts using: rich text editor / plain text/HTML / Markdown

Markdown is a plain-text editing language optimized for quick writing and easy reading. You can mix in HTML if you want. Inline styles such as italics and bold are easy, plus some other conveniences:

The only downside is that it fills up with HTML on reblogs, so you have to be a bit of an HTML geek if you reblog a lot. But give it a try: you might like it.

lfarm:

It’s the Marco!

A few other photos from this, here.

Thanks, Lauren! This is how I look from short distance with a fisheye lens in a room with no light and the on-body XSi flash shooting through a napkin for diffusion.

mallisser:

Cloudy night last night…

I’m envious because this is a much better photo than mine from ~2 years ago with the same weather.

iminlikewithyou:

Caption Contest! Reblog with your captions!

There are no words there!

I hate how the Vista advertisements rave about how parents can limit their kids’ time spent on the internet. One parent says, “…because sometimes I catch them up at 2:00 in the morning still surfing the web.” I attribute 100% of my web and graphic design skills to the fact that I spent an insane amount of time on the computer in my youth. I wasn’t playing. I was learning.

Allison Weiss (via Mareen)

Here’s the thing: Your Tumblr, while clever, will not pay your bills. We want to fix that. So we’ve made the TypePad Journalist Bailout Program. While we can’t promise it’s going to replace having a full-time writing gig, it gets you up and running with your own site that you can start to benefit from.

TypePad: Journalist Bailout Program (via David Chartier, Bijan)

Translation:

“Here’s the thing: We keep bleeding customers to these other services that, while clever, do not pay our bills. We want to fix that. So we’ve made the TypePad Bailout Program. While we can’t promise that we’ll be any different from what you’ve fled from or ignored in the past, it will keep us up and running by hosting your site in a way that we can benefit from.”

Improv Everywhere greets random people coming off of planes at JFK. (thanks, unalone)

Remember when you were a kid and you’d throw down in a staring contest? Remember how a little crowd would form and you knew that if you lost you’d be the laughing stock of the class? Well, Typepad just blinked.

Jeff Rock on this

Need a software load-balancing proxy?

Damn, HAProxy is good.

The internet saves the day again

My local mediocre grocery monopoly recently stopped selling toffee bits for baking into my favorite cookies (recipe: make Tollhouse cookies, but in addition to the chocolate chips, add one bag of the Heath or Skor toffee bits from the baking aisle, usually next to the chocolate chips — but don’t get the kind covered in chocolate too, because then there’s too much chocolate).

Given the sad and corrupt state of the grocery industry, this isn’t a big surprise. Good items get pulled from the shelves all the time by various bullshit business deals. It doesn’t hurt Hershey’s — it just hurts me, because I can’t have toffee cookies.

Fortunately, Amazon came to the rescue. With Amazon Prime, I ordered these with $4 overnight shipping. It even comes out to the same price as the grocery store — about $2.50 per bag. The only catch is that I had to order 12 bags. (Oh well, I guess I’ll have a lot of cookies.)

I’m amused that Amazon is overnighting me a huge box of toffee chips.

In an iPhone app, everything counts so much — every design choice, every line of code, everything left in and everything left out.

Brent Simmons

Achievement unlocked: Get a lightweight, parallel HTTP server embedded into my app, compiled, and running on the iPhone.

Problem solved.

When geeks rearrange.

but go ahead and buy riedel’s shit if all you drink is turning leaf or yellowtail or concha y toro, i’ll be over here letting my leathery cab franc breathe the fuck out in my excalibur while my tulip glass shoves the bouquet of some hyper-dry vouvray right up my shnoz as i sip on it and dunk toast squares into some milked-out and unpasteurized camembert a friend of mine smuggled in from france.

Jared on wine glasses

GPOYW

Xbox 360 or Wii?

theloveyturtle:

I’m getting my brother one or the other for Christmas and I have  no idea which one to buy him. The last thing I played was Super Nintendo. So yeah, if you have any suggestions…leave a comment, email, anything. Please.

(via Peter W. Knox)

I have both. I’ve had the Wii since its release (Nov. 2006) and the Xbox 360 since April. I have many games and controllers for both. I mostly play alone, but occasionally with friends.

The Wii is more popular with friends who have never seen it before. It’s good for a few days of enjoyment. But its games are mostly shallow, quick novelties — like trade-show tech demos. After a few weeks, the novelty wears off. The game library is very weak, and the number of good games is very small.

The Wii has almost no online play, and the vast majority of its games have terrible single-player value, so it’s really only useful when friends are over. The 360 has excellent online play, yet most games also have great single-player modes.

The Wii’s graphics look awful on my 42” HDTV. The 360’s look excellent.

The 360 can play DVDs, so that’s one less thing you need plugged into your TV. The Wii can’t. The 360 can also stream video files over the network from your computer and play them on your TV. The Wii can’t.

Games that come out for multiple systems, such as Rock Band or the annual sports franchises, usually have very bad Wii versions. The 360 versions are usually the best, and usually come out first.

The roadmap for high-profile, likely-to-be-good Wii games coming out in the near future is pretty weak. The 360, while it’s often dominated by sequels, always has a great roadmap of promising upcoming releases.

I haven’t turned on the Wii in months. I use the 360 almost every day, at least for the video playback, and often for games.

To me, the choice is obvious.

Unalone asserts Wii dominance (also here):

A commenter on Hacker News reminded me: 2009 ought to be the year that we see legitimate titles hit the Wii. It takes 3 years to develop a production-level game for the Wii, and nobody bet on the Wii’s winning. Now it’s regained Nintendo’s lead by a ridiculous amount. This should be the year that development for the Wii finally hits a sort of climax.

I’ll believe it when I see it. The video game world is full of hype and anticipation that later evaporates or disappoints.

It’s a terrible idea to buy a console based on what might come out and might be good in the future.

The 360 is the better system for most gamers today. It has tons of games that are already out that we know are definitely good. And since the system has been out for a relatively long time, it has a sizable library of hit games that cost $20-30 each.

I don’t take certain competitors seriously. People developed for the 360 only because it launched early and beat the PS3, not because the system has anything worthwhile of its own.

Do you have anything in particular to back that up?

(I don’t count online gameplay here, because my attention has always been solely on hardware features, but the Xbox certainly has the online advantage.)

Oh, you’re judging on hardware features. Well, that’s a weak position to take at all — hardware doesn’t matter nearly as much as a console’s game library. Now, capabilities matter a lot, and they’re often related to hardware. But you won’t convince me that the Wii beats the 360 overall on noteworthy hardware-enabled capabilities. You might prefer the Wii’s motion-based controller, but I prefer the 360’s hard drive, HD resolution (and far nicer graphics), and HDMI port (saves a ton of cables). And once we go into software capability differences, it’s pretty tough for the Wii to beat the 360’s DVD playback, network video playback, the new Netflix on-demand client, Xbox Live, Xbox Live Arcade, the media store, downloadable game demos, and downloadable add-ons (like Rock Band tracks, extra game maps, etc.).

The PS3 doesn’t have anything interesting to offer on its own, either.

It’s a Blu-Ray player that’s not much more expensive than any other Blu-Ray player. That’s not nearly as compelling as when the PS2 was the most affordable DVD player in 2001, but it helps. It also has some useful innovations like entire downloadable games, user-installable OSes for hobbyists, and probably a bunch of other stuff that I don’t know about. That said, I don’t follow the PS3 at all, but last I heard, it still had a fairly weak game library.

What’s interesting, though, is that having a weak game library doesn’t really hurt the PS3 as much as it hurts the Wii because people have other compelling reasons to buy the PS3 instead of only playing its games, primarily the Blu-Ray playback. (If the 360’s library was weak, it would have the same benefit with all of its media features.) But the Wii has no such fallback. It has no other useful purpose: if you don’t feel like playing any Wii games for a week or a month or a year, it’s useless. I know that’s the way all game consoles used to be, but advancing past that was progress — good progress. The 360’s multiple media roles have replaced 2-3 potential boxes and ~20 potential wires with 1 box and 3 wires (power, HDMI, Ethernet).

I wish you’d back up your incredibly dismissive statements with a few more specifics. It sounds like you’ve never seen or played a 360 or PS3.

You know how Apple employs people who can consistently make polished, clear, functional, and pleasant user interfaces?

Well, none of them work on the iTunes Connect team.

I am not tired, just angry at the way many people can think and act only that one way they were taught to do it.

Mareen Fischinger

Got a Mac? Like Gratuitous Picture Of Yourself Wednesday (GPOYW)? Need a new screensaver?

Caveats:

This is what happens when David leaves me alone for an hour on a Thursday morning.

(via kenyatta, bradofarrell)

gregbrown:

Geisel Library looks very creepy in the mist. (pic taken by HojuSimpson)

Looks like you’re in a bad Will Smith action movie.

Sony knew the economy was going to hell back in February. How? Camcorder sales fell like a rock. Camcorders are the proverbial canary in the coal mine, plunging before everything else. (All of their vast historical data over the last few recessions back this up.) It’s because, Vandenbree says, there’s “nothing more discretionary than camcorders,” so it’s the first to go when consumers feel a crunch, making it an early warning sign.

Gizmodo quoting Jay Vandenbree, president of Sony Electronics Consumer Sales

The defense will rest on two theories. First, as truth is an absolute defense to libel, the defense will attempt to show that Mr. Minelli is, in fact, a douchebag. Secondly, the defense will show that the author is not the proximate cause of Mr. Minelli’s damages. The “friends, acquaintances, coworkers, employees, and strangers” are, more likely than not, calling Mr. Minelli a douchebag because of his uncanny resemblance to a douchebag.

Dan’s legal analysis of Alleged “Douchebag” Sues Author

The Next New Networks/Frederator office Bonjour-iChat list at 8:50 AM is noticeably short. (In 3 hours, this will be 40 people long.)

iPhone 2.2 software update

This feature bothers me because it will unfairly bias reviews to be negative. It’s the only time where Apple interrupts you and strongly encourages you to tap a star rating, and it’s doing so at a time that’s likely to be negative and fleeting, and without any text for the user to explain the rating.

Most users with positive opinions don’t rate apps. Most people with a medium-to-positive opinion never bother to go back and do anything about it.

Fewer than 2% of frequent users of Instapaper Free have left ratings, but it has a good 4-star average. (Instapaper Pro is 4.5 stars, which is pretty lucky since it’s a $9.99 app that was released before reviewers were required to have purchased the app.) If everyone who deleted them was aggressively encouraged to rate it with this dialog, my rating would probably be horrible. Everyone’s would.

The response rate to this mandatory dialog is likely to be much higher than App Store reviews, and it’s presented to the user during a negative action. It only makes sense if there’s a corresponding dialog presented during a likely-positive action, like when the user launches the app for the tenth time, or after it has been installed for two weeks, or on the first launch after it has been used for more than 30 cumulative minutes.

The App Store’s ranking and metrics are already misleadingly negative to developers, who keep cutting their prices because three people gave low ratings saying it should have been $0.99. This won’t help that trend at all, and will ultimately unnecessarily discourage a lot of developers from supporting the platform.

I can’t believe that, with so much negativity in this world, people are so eager to introduce more.

Justin Ouellette

Tiff:

I got my new license today with my new name.  How will anyone take me seriously with a photo like this?  Marco and I can’t stop laughing at it.

By Migsambo on eatsleepdraw.

Surprisingly accurate. Slightly creepy. But I’m honored.

Ode to the Mac Pro

I’ve said so before, but my computer makes me incredibly happy that I have it every time I use it. Yes, it was expensive, but I don’t feel that a penny was wasted.

It’s fast. Ridiculously fast. All the time. I’ve never thought any other Mac felt truly fast even most of the time. It doesn’t break a sweat doing nearly anything I throw at it, and even when under the rare heavy load, it stays perfectly responsive and I don’t hear any fan noise. Every computer shows its bottlenecks sometimes, but it’s laughable how rarely I hit this one’s — especially since I used only laptops for 4 years before I got this, during which I was hitting disk-performance limits every 5 minutes. Laptop performance always drives me crazy, and that’s not likely to change until SSDs are large and cheap.

If I get the itch to make the Mac Pro faster, I can do so very easily and very cheaply. If I want more RAM, I can add another 4 GB for just over $100. If I need more storage or want faster disk I/O, I can upgrade my software-RAID array to insanely fast new disks for $140 per 1TB drive. And when good SSDs and Blu-Ray burners become worthwhile, I can add those, too. With 4 internal hard drive bays, 2 opticals, and a 32 GB/8-slot RAM capacity, I have a lot of headroom for future upgrades. And I can’t even come up with a good use for the three unused PCI-Express slots yet (unless I want to have 8 monitors) or most of the ports on the front and back.

The only parts that I can’t upgrade very far (or cheaply, or easily) are the CPUs, but at 2.8 GHz and 8 cores, that’s the part that I stress the least. It’s going to be a long time before I need more CPU power.

But the most telling advantage of the Mac Pro is its longevity. This is how I know that I really made the right choice. Intel just released its Nehalem CPU, and while I’m not following it closely this time, I bet the Mac Pro will be updated again in January with them. (Mac Pro releases coincide with major updates to Intel’s Xeon line.)

If it were any other computer, I’d be envious when the new models came out. I’d want to upgrade because the new models would improve whatever bottleneck was frustrating me with my current one.

But that won’t happen this time. It’s been almost 1 year since I bought it, but it’s still absolutely perfect for me. My friend bought the first Mac Pro just over 2 years ago, and he feels the same way (I’d still be happy with his, too). It was a big initial purchase, but I probably won’t need to replace it until it’s at least 3 years old — most likely longer. That’s a very impressive main-computer lifespan for a geek like me. I’m perfectly fine to spend $3000 every 3-5 years and be very happy every day instead of spending $1500 every 2 years and being moderately satisfied most of the time.

The kitchen appliance you don’t know you’re missing:

andrewrfox:

NOOOOOOOOOO! Wait for me!!!!!

valeriepeters:

The Santa Fe Quesadilla maker.  It’ll change your life.

Is it this one? We love it!

We’re not usually fans of overspecialized, only-good-for-one-thing kitchen gadgets, but this is completely worth it.

What’s the worst Apple application program, and why?

John Brissenden:

OK, I’ll start. It’s a tie between Safari 3.x and Mail. Safari because it’s slow, and temperamental - I’ll do the slow and temperamental around here, thank you very much - and so much worse than the boring-but-at-least-it-worked 2.x. Mail for pretty much the same reasons, and especially because it’s the poor man’s GMail.

Andrew Fox:

Mail is awful. Safari is tolerable, mostly because it works with the new multi-touch trackpad motions and Firefox doesn’t. I’m not a huge iChat fan either.

I think Mail and Safari are both pretty good, especially considering how bad the competition is and how young they both are. But that’s it — “pretty good”. Neither is great. But my standard may be a little different than yours — I don’t believe anyone has made a truly great web browser or desktop email client. (Having used each of them for long periods, I can confidently say this at least about Eudora, Outlook Express, Outlook, Thunderbird, Internet Explorer, Firefox, Camino, and Safari. Some, like Lotus Notes and Opera, were so awful that I couldn’t use them for long enough periods.)

My vote goes to iCal. It’s not that it’s bad — it’s just inexcusably mediocre for such a simple program. It takes a lot of effort and money to truly improve on mail clients and web browsers, but improving iCal should be cheap and easy — Apple just never seems to think it’s worth the resources, receiving almost no meaningful improvements since its 2002 release. The only significant update was in Leopard a year ago, but this only yielded two major changes:

  1. Two-way synchronizing with CalDAV. This is great when multiple people need to edit one calendar, such as an executive and an assistant, or a team of people organizing events.
  2. Moving the “drawer” event-editing interface into an annoying popup, introducing even more interface quirks and unnecessary clicks.

Many simple interface adjustments and minor feature additions could make iCal much better, but for some reason, they just don’t happen.

Are spammers even trying anymore?

[import-email] Trying multipart parse
From: <GRANDMA@TUMBLR.COM> Subj: [RE: November 70% OFF] Recip: <grandma@tumblr.com>
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No valid recipients

Times must be tough.

My Dashboard is slow on a Monday mid-morning. Did everyone lose their jobs? Or is everyone a slacker and taking the entire week off?

Job interviews

lindsayneedscoffee:

I have a job interview tomorrow. Or today for some of you East Coast folks. Anyway, I am requesting, nay, begging for you guys to do the following:

[…wish me luck, etc.]

Thanks. I’m nervous.

It’s OK to be nervous about a job interview, but make sure you’re framing it with the right perspective.

Remember, they need you more than you need them. Hiring and interviewing people is incredibly time-consuming and expensive. It takes a lot more time and money for them to interview you than for you to go on the interview. They need to fill this position, but you don’t need to be the one to fill it: you can just as easily take a different job.

There’s always another good opportunity for you to take. Maybe you don’t see it today and it’ll show up next week. But if you accept this job, you will miss tons of great opportunities during the time you’re working there, whether you know it or not.

This isn’t as much about you as it is about them. You’re interviewing them. This is where you’re going to spend the majority of your awake time every weekday, probably for at least a year or two. While they’re evaluating your potential fit in the job’s intended role, you’re asking a much more difficult question: Is this somewhere worthy of my time? There are tons of jobs, but I’m only [insert age here] once. Will I be satisfied spending this portion of my life doing this job for this company? Am I going to happily get out of bed every day to do this? When my friends and family ask me about my job, will I be proud and excited to talk about this? Would any massive portions of my education or interests be ignored or wasted here?

So drill them. Be picky. Ask questions about how your time and skills would be used and what you’d be working on. Observe everything happening around you: absorb as much as you can about the company and work environment. Is the work interesting? Does it appear well-managed? Will you be able to learn and grow professionally here, or would you be the smartest person in the room? Do the other employees seem friendly? Are you impressed by the interviewing process? (You’ll be working with people who got through it, whether that’s a good or bad thing.)

If they don’t offer you the job, oh well — it probably would have been a bad fit anyway. You’ll get another interview for a better job soon. That’s a much better outcome than the other failure direction: taking a bad or mediocre job and being miserable or bored for the next two years. Nobody can afford to risk that.

So let them be nervous. You have all of the control.

Cable management

travors:

I really need to rearrange my home office but the thought of tackling the tangled mass of snake-like cables makes me want to curl into the fetal position, rock gently back and forwards and think of candy floss rainbows and chocolate covered kittens.

My cable-management strategy is pretty simple and has served me well.

Buy a huge bag of plastic zip-ties from a hardware store. When I bought my supply, there was no quantity available between 25 for $4 and 1000 for $15, so I went with the bulk option. (This was in 2004. After an interstate move and at least 10 desk/cable rearrangements, I’m about a third of the way through the bag.)

For every cable you have, ziptie the excess at a point relatively close to the end of the cable that’s most out-of-the-way. This makes the biggest difference, since most cables are much longer than you need them to be. (Bonus: For cables that you can replace cheaply and come in a variety of lengths, such as network cables, just buy new ones to be the exact length you need and no more.)

Wherever possible, ziptie bunches of cables to desk frames and legs to stop them from dangling freely.

Want to rearrange? Cut off the ties and reapply liberally. When you have a bag of 1000, you don’t need to think twice about it.

Fleeting Seating: The Slightly Uncomfortable Chair Collection is a collection of chair prototypes to ensure more efficient meetings due to their strange, humorous construction.

(via 2arrs2ells, britticisms)

Remember when you used to be able to search for “productname + review” and actually find a review? Yeah, those were the days.

jwz (via AZspot)

Me:

Cause of death: an incredibly dysfunctional society where overconsumption and consumerism are out of control while education and adulthood are neglected.

dalasverdugo:

Marco, I like you, but every other post you make is about something you just bought or you are considering buying. So this is hard to take, coming from you.

You have a point, but I don’t feel it’s in the same league:

  1. I only buy things I can afford. The only debt I’ve ever taken on was financing for a car, which I paid off after 18 months.
  2. I never buy anything at retail if I can reasonably get it online.
  3. I know better than to assume that anything at retail is ever a “good deal”.
  4. I’ve never killed anyone trying to get into a Wal-Mart at 5 AM.

At the famous Roscoe Diner.

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