Marco.org • About ▾

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

Gary Vaynerchuk’s talk at Web 2.0 Expo NY (via keynotekid). My favorite part starts at 14:18, when an audience member asks how you get money to start your own business/blog/whatever.

This guy’s incredibly motivating.

The only sports discussion you’ll ever see on my blog

Dilemma: I want the Steelers to win because I used to live in Pittsburgh. But if AZ gets one more TD for a 21-20 win, I’ll win the party pool for $100.

Don’t tell anyone I know in Pittsburgh, but I’d rather have the cash.

Edit: Well that was short-lived. Back to talking about computers and coffee.

I love you, Ars, but this hurts.

OK, your error page is awesome.

The Heavy Pets — Sleep (8:37, jam band). I love how the first two minutes don’t resemble the rest of the song at all.

After hearing this song a lot on the Sirius jam-band channel, I bought this double album and couldn’t be happier with it. Usually, jam bands lose a lot of their appeal when they record studio albums, but The Heavy Pets did a great job with this one.

I essentially tricked myself into auditioning e-books [with a Palm m505] without even understanding that was what I was doing. And had I been introduced to e-books through, say, the Kindle, I would very likely have rejected them. The Kindle is too big to carry with me all the time, and the screen is not backlit, eliminating two out of the three things that sold me on e-books.

John Siracusa in The once and future e-book: on reading in the digital age (page 7)

Add earthquakes (!) to the list of reasons not to live in New Jersey.

They decided not to learn the gender of the baby ahead of time, which made ALL of us nuts.  However, after watching him run to the waiting room tonight and witnessing him utterly break down with pride and joy as he announced the arrival of his first born, a son, I damn near lost it.  My mother lost it.   Hell, four strangers anxiously awaiting the news of their own new relative lost it. It was one of the most deeply profound moments I have ever been privileged to witness and I have a completely new perspective about the decision to wait to meet your child until the big day.

Res Ipsa Loquitur: Greetings, Hudson

Every day, a government official goes to your door. That’s pretty amazing and valuable when you think about it.

Postal Service seeks to weather economic storm (via pile)

Well, almost every day. Except Sundays and holidays. Five of the six days that they come to my door, they come at a time of day when almost no full-time-employed person will be there. And most of what they deliver is immediately thrown away.

The government official who comes to my door can’t do everything I need from this agency — I sometimes need to go to the post office. This is designed to be as hostile to working people as possible. My post office in Larchmont, a town where most full-time-working people commute to Manhattan, doesn’t open until 10 AM on weekdays and closes many hours before anyone gets home in the evenings. So for nearly all of the hours that this office is open, the majority of the residents of its ZIP code can’t possibly use it.

There’s certainly room for improvement in this wonderful government service.

If you’ve ever emailed Tumblr Support, you know how friendly Marc is. He’s really this nice. He ends every email with a smiley. Even the ones to us that nobody else will ever see. (Well, until now.)

I had to preserve this one, though. This is the only time I’ve ever seen Marc express any possible anger or frustration. (Air travel brings out the worst in people. This is apparently the worst of Marc.)

It’s pretty funny that it still ends with a smiley.

To each his own

Jacob Bijani:

I totally just schooled Marco in Illustrator. He then proceeded to completely blow my mind with PHP.

Yeah, this was a fun exercise. I spent an hour last night (badly) making a (bad) gear icon using Photoshop’s vector tools because I neither have nor know how to use the right tool for the job, Illustrator. I mentioned this to Jacob and he whipped together a perfect one in Illustrator in about 3 minutes.

So then he showed me some of his PHP code for pHome.us and I taught him about static methods and showed him how much easier it is to accomplish some of these tasks in our custom PHP framework.

Now my app’s toolbar has a proper gear icon and his app is going to have a much more advanced code structure.

It’s good to have people around with different skills.

Countering App Store piracy

John Gruber on Crackulous, the automated app-pirating tool for jailbroken iPhones:

I suspect we’ll soon start seeing high-profile App Store apps that attempt to detect whether they’re running on a jailbroken phone, and, if so, quit.

That’s not the best approach to counter this. It would be too easy for the crackers to find and disable the check in the apps.

The ideal piracy detection system doesn’t make it immediately obvious to the crackers that their efforts have been detected. That way, they believe their crack is sufficient, release it, and move on to another app.

If your app interacts with a web service, you can then do all sorts of interesting things. For example, you can log the unique iPhone IDs that run pirated copies of your app and blacklist them from future updates. Or you could quit the app on launch, but only after it has been installed for a few days. You could even create a database of pirating iPhone IDs and share it with other developers.

If you also have user accounts that people use on the site from a web browser, you can match pirate iPhone IDs to your site’s user database and see what IPs they connect from or what email address they signed up with to contact them, send notices to their ISP, or prosecute them.

So it’d be a waste to just immediately quit, and they’d just find your check and disable it.

Or you could just ignore the pirates, since hardly anyone jailbreaks their phone and they’ll never pay for anything anyway, and spend that time making the app better to attract more paying customers.

(Update in response to feedback: To clarify, I’m talking about detecting whether your app has been cracked, not whether it’s running on a jailbroken phone. I don’t care if you run my app on a jailbroken phone if you paid for it.)

I raced my MacBook Air and my work Mac Pro installing the iPhone SDK 2.2.1.

It wasn’t even close. This is where the Air was right before the Pro finished. The Air finished 14 minutes later. (Ah, the benefits of desktop hard drives.)

Surprisingly, this is not one of the geekiest things I’ve ever done.

Tonight’s lesson in frustration

Here’s a color photo on screen. I would like a paper version.

I would like the colors and brightness in the paper version to resemble the colors and brightness on the screen.

I recognize that generating color by shining red, green, and blue light through a polarizer has different output characteristics and ranges than dropping millions of tiny dots of cyan, magenta, light magenta, light cyan, yellow, and black pigments (or fusing cyan, magenta, yellow, and black plastic powder) onto paper.

My screen is calibrated with one of those Spyder things, so I know it’s pretty accurate. What’s the printer equivalent? My printers are the Epson R260 inkjet and the Xerox Phaser 6180 color laser. I have a variety of excellent paper. I don’t care which printer is color-accurate — I just want at least one of them to be.

I’ve burned through at least $40 worth of ink and paper tonight performing trial-and-error with various settings. How do people do this? How am I supposed to do it?

50D or 5D Mark II?

iansanity:

50D or 5D Mark II, that is the question. I need some real help deciding.

While I really can’t afford a whole slew of new lenses, I really don’t want to cheap out and get a non-full-frame camera. But my XTi is just not cutting it for me any longer.

Advice… anyone?

Why isn’t your XTi cutting it anymore?

But:

Go for the 5D Mark II. Eat the EF-S lens loss. You won’t regret it.

Passwords in Email

avinash.vora:

Why do certain websites insist on emailing me my password in the account confirmation/activation email and displaying it in plain-text right in the body of the email? I’m neither interested in being told my password 1-2 minutes right after I create my account, nor am I happy if someone is looking over my shoulder and catches a glimpse of my password.

Agreed. My next question: Why do most websites need to store my password in plaintext at all?

Hashing is a good thing.

During development.

When you don’t drink, people always want to know why. They’re like, ‘You don’t drink? Why?’ It never happens with anything else. ‘You don’t use mayonnaise? Why? Are you addicted to mayonnaise? Is it OK if I use mayonnaise? I could go outside …’

Jim Gaffigan (via stalkchrispazen)

Disconnection

An emergency construction crew has been tearing up our street all night. Around 11 PM, we lost running water. (I assume these are related.) They’re still going. We still have no water.

It’s strange being without such a critical utility. I keep having to think very hard about what I can and can’t do. I’ll think, “I want to post on Tumblr! Wait… can I do that?… Oh. Yeah, the internet works.”

But later, “Oh, there’s my coffee Thermos. Time for its nightly rinse before I go to bed. Oh, wait…”

It’s also funny how valuable our remaining water has become. I need water to brush my teeth, so I scavenged and found a few ounces of day-old water in the tea kettle. I also found a partially-full water glass on the dresser from last night: usually a reminder of laziness, but tonight, an oasis. We have a half-full water pitcher in the fridge that I’m saving for last (or for drinking).

Hmm, is it getting a bit colder in here than most nights? Oh… steam radiators need water. Damn.

Kindle 2 pictures and pricing leaked (via mikehudack, justincharles)

I have to give Amazon credit on this. A lot of people had completely written off their industrial design abilities after the Kindle, but this looks like a huge improvement. I still wouldn’t call it great, but it looks good so far. I’ll reserve final judgment until I get to play with one. (I’m also curious to read what Kindle power-users think of it after a few months.)

Tiff hates peas

I’ve been sick all weekend, but only one nostril is ever stuffed. The left one. Aren’t they supposed to alternate?

Progress

My sister:

I’m in the Apple store. Right now. Playing with the iMac I’m about to buy.

Joy!

Congratulations! This is a big move. This will be the first computer my sister has ever purchased — but not the first one she ever owned.

The first one she owned was my 400 MHz Pentium II system in a hacked-together full-tower case (missing a few 5” bay covers, like every good second-hand full-tower) that I built for myself in 1998. I gave it to her after I upgraded a few generations past it.

That was still her sole computer until last year. 2008. Yes, really. When it started showing signs of hard-to-diagnose hardware failure (CPU/RAM/PSU/MB), I “upgraded” her from my 9-year-old system to the 7-year-old system that replaced it, the 1.33 GHz Athlon/Geforce 3 combo that everyone built in 2001. That didn’t last as long, flaking out a few months ago and showing signs of another hard-to-diagnose core hardware problem. I didn’t have any more old desktops to give her (my next and last PC desktop died while still in active duty), so I said, “Please just buy a Mac.”

The cycle of Windows computers in my family is finally over. Now she’s upgrading from a 2001 PC to a 24” iMac.

Christine and Hernan, you will never regret this move.

In 1960, the ratio of CEO pay at large companies to that of the president of the United States was about 2 to 1. In 2007, it was more than 20 to 1. In 1980, executives at large companies made about 40 times what the average worker made. Last year, CEOs made about 360 times more than the average worker.

You Can Cap The Pay, But The Greed Will Go On (via squashed)

On a related note, go ask your older relatives how much they paid for their houses, and how that price related to their annual salaries at the time.

ugh

Remember when Sudafed switched to phenylephrine because its old active ingredient, pseudoephedrine, was frequently being used to make meth?

The new version doesn’t work as a decongestant. At all. I can confirm this now.

My wonderful wife baked me edge brownies to make me feel better. Being married while sick is awesome.

The great underappreciated Canon midrange USM prime series: all delivering great optics, fast apertures, and good build quality at very reasonable prices:

I strongly suggest that every Canon SLR owner get at least the 50mm f/1.4. A lot of people recommend the super-cheap 50mm f/1.8 instead, but its build quality and focus motor are so terrible that I really think you’re better off spending the extra money on the 1.4 if at all possible. The 1.8 is disposable, and it’s a moderately acceptable way to try out a 50mm prime cheaply… but if you intend to keep a 50mm prime in your lineup, get the 1.4.

The 85mm f/1.8 is almost the same lens as the 50mm f/1.4, but at the different focal length. Construction and mechanics are almost identical. You probably don’t need both — we mainly got both so that Tiff and I can both shoot with two different cameras in very low light (where we were previously fighting over the 50).

The 100mm f/2.8 macro is an entirely different beast. As the review linked above states, it is “Canon’s most fun per dollar lens.” It’s nearly useless without a tripod except in sunlight, but it’s the sharpest lens we own and we’ve taken many of our favorite photos with it. Macro photography makes ordinary things look interesting, even in your boring apartment.

You can safely skip nearly every zoom lens under $700, but these primes are excellent deals and are highly recommended.

indieandyy in response to my brownie-edge pan:

The edges are always hard and dry… I don’t get you people! I mean look at the picture… someone cut into an edge piece to avoid the edge!

Tiff cut into an edge piece and took some of the middle for herself to create more edges* for me.

That’s love.

* Tomorrow, every exposed seam becomes an edge!

The substitute didn’t work… time for the real thing.

On a related note, the procedure for purchasing this was more complex and paranoid than a TSA security checkpoint.

The case against all-in-one cold medicines

Look at the active ingredients on most of the multipurpose cold/flu/headache medicines, and you’ll find that they’re all just various permutations of the same basic ingredients: acetaminophen (Tylenol), ibuprofen (Advil), naproxen sodium (Aleve), phenylephrine (Sudafed), diphenhydramine (Benadryl), dextromethorphan (Robitussin), and caffeine (caffeine).

So you don’t need Excedrin if you have Tylenol and coffee. You don’t need NyQuil if you have Tylenol and Robitussin. And you almost never need multisymptom versions of the regulars (e.g. Tylenol Cold and Cough, Robitussin Flu, Advil Exploding Nose, and whatever else they’ve come up with recently) if you just keep a few of the basics in your medicine cabinet. (Paying attention to the ingredients on everything also gives you a better appreciation of just how useful plain-old Tylenol is.)

I’m a big fan of taking as little medication as possible, so if I have symptoms I’d like to alleviate, I want to take only the relevant medications and nothing extra. Why fix a fever, headache, and stuffy nose with an everything-pill that also contains a cough suppressant?

Just get some big bottles of the basics so you’re prepared for nearly every common problem, and you won’t need to keep a million little boxes of random combinations that you don’t need.

I, for one, am looking forward to the happy day, about two to five years after the merger, when I’ll be able to log into Tumblr with my Yahoo! username.

Tim Shey

benjaminstein:

Heh heh. New Pepsi logo (via jonathan-deamer)

I resisted reblogging this all day, but I can’t resist anymore.

David, this is what’s left of GeoCities. (via)

Review of cold medicines

As conducted with a sample size of one over a scientifically significant 4-day trial:

New Sudafed (phenylephrine)

Meth Sudafed (pseudoephedrine)

Tylenol

Natural stuff (vitamin C, zinc, herbal “remedies”, etc.)

Coffee

Letting your body do its job for a few days

I have a much better understanding of the over-the-counter pharmaceutical industry now.

The Unofficial Trader Joe’s Commercial (via Serious Eats)

marcolove:

UNSATISFIED TTITWTH THE AVAILABLE OPTIONS OF LETTING ME CONTROL MARCO IN A FIGHTING GAME

I CREATED MY OWN

THIS IS TUMBLR FIGHT FEAUTREING MARCO AND DAVID BATTLING ITH LAZERS

YOU NEED JAVA TO PLAY IT

HERE

what

Approximate summary of Nip/Tuck Season 5.

Social networking is about people engaging with people. Individuals do not want to build relationships with brands and corporations. They want to talk to other people.

Harsh Truths About Corporate Websites (via Jared Moran)

A tremendous surplus was squandered and lost into ever deepening deficits, tax cuts were given to the rich who lost it all in hedge funds that did nothing but move paper around. Innovation was actively shut down. The telephony advances were destroyed for ATT to hold their hegemony, internet 2 was stopped by the Bush administration, stem cell research was shut down, basic science research was gutted. Capital was shifted from research and innovation to building stick houses, and not even with any efficiency standards. Thrown up as they have been the last fifty years. I can’t think of a worse use of capital. We flushed a trillion dollars down the Iraq toilet, and managed to destroy countless families both here and abroad in the process. CAFE standards were gutted which stopped all innovation in the auto sector and led to the highest gas prices since the late 1970’s. The US became a nation that tortures and kidnaps, that taps phones and cowers in fear and self doubt, that hid information, and let religious fanatics make science and policy decisions. It was lost, all lost. The lost decade. It is like we wasted ten years. Can you identify a single major innovation? Everything was status quo, incurious, how can we be surprised in the absence of any future thinking that we wallowed in a decade of nothing.

The Lost Decade (via azspot, jhnbrssndn, msbadkittie, terryblakey)

Thanks, Topherchris!

Tiff:

I’m home sick today and Marco left me this helpful feel-good buffet.  Thanks for taking care of me while I have your bloaty head disease.

The least I can do is pass along my now-extensive knowledge of cold medicines.

Tonight I shaved 250 lines off of my biggest controller’s code. It’s fun making progress in negative lines of code.

Sirius Satellite Radio sound quality test

Sirius’ satellite-broadcast audio quality has really declined recently. It was never great, but now it’s downright horrible.

Here’s a little test I did — Live’s All Over You, as broadcast this afternoon on Sirius’ Lithium station (#24), in three different versions:

As you can hear, the satellite-broadcast version is absolutely terrible. It used to sound approximately equivalent to a 112 kbps MP3. Now, it sounds very similar to an 80 kbps MP3. I suspect this is because they added a lot of XM’s channels after the merger, but needed to fit them into the existing bandwidth. (Sirius radios can’t just tune to XM’s broadcasts directly, or vice versa, because they’re different formats on different frequencies. So to have XM content available to Sirius radios, they need to duplicate-broadcast it on part of Sirius’ bandwidth.)

Interestingly, the web-streaming version is excellent: indistinguishable from the CD unless you really try to hear a difference — and even then, I’m not convinced that there is any real perceptible difference.

Methodology

(so you can’t accuse me of tape-recording the FM-transmitter output over an analog cellphone from the bottom of well to make it sound worse)

I recorded my Sirius Starmate Replay 3’s output from its line-out directly into my computer’s line-in. The web-streaming version was played with Pulsar and recorded with Audio Hijack Pro. Volumes were normalized. All recording and processing was done in AIFF or WAV until the finished edit, then compressed to MP3 using LAME at highest quality, discrete stereo, 320 kbps CBR for posting here.

You can download this file here.

I tried making hazelnut coffee today by grinding up hazelnuts and adding them to the coffee grounds for the vacuum-pot brew.

It worked, slightly. Very little flavor transferred, but the flavor that did make it into the coffee was the hazelnuts’ bitterness (like eating them directly), not the syrupy-sweet flavor that people usually mean when they want “hazelnut-flavored” anything.

It was an interesting experiment. While it didn’t make the coffee bad, I won’t try it again.

Our Valentine’s Day synopsis (photo by my Valentine)

Most of the photos in the bin weren’t really interesting in any way, but I still couldn’t help but feel bad about tossing them aside since no matter how uninteresting the photo may be, it is nevertheless a record of someone’s life and existence, private moments and places frozen in time.

ck/ck: The Lives of Others

(via soupsoup)

Windows Mobile 6.5 announced. Glad to see Microsoft exhibiting their extraordinary design taste.

Not cool, szymon

Last week, our friend Dan Meth made The Trilogy Meter, a very popular post that spread all over Tumblr.

Today, szymon posted a copy, but with Dan Meth’s signature removed from the lower-right corner. The source he cites has the signature in the image, so Szymon must have intentionally removed Dan Meth’s signature from the image before reposting it. And since Szymon is popular on Tumblr, his altered version of the image now has 25 reblogs (with many more likely to come), so Dan’s image is now spreading around without credit. (Dan would be perfectly within his rights to ask Tumblr to take down all altered copies of his image.)

Let’s leave that sort of thing to eBaum’s World. Tumblr is better than that.

Please respect artists and make sure to properly credit their work.

@shawnblanc:

Should I buy a 23” Aluminum ACD or the new 24” LED?

Disadvantages to the aluminum Cinema Display:

Disadvantages to the new 24” LED Cinema Display:

Disadvantages to both over a Dell 24xxFPW-series:

If you don’t mind the physical appearance, the Dells are almost always the smartest buy. But I completely understand the appeal of the Apple displays if you’re willing to pay the premium and accept the limitations.

via iFixit disassembles the new 17” MacBook Pro. Even in that giant machine, the motherboard is amazingly tiny.

Shown here: the three unibody MacBook displays.

Hacking Amazon to be useful with American Express gift cards

I got an American Express Gift Card for $100 over the holidays. It works like a credit card, but only has a $100 available balance, and you can’t get change from it or anything, so the only ways to spend it all without leaving any fragments behind (which I refuse to do on principle) are:

  1. Buy something that will charge a credit card exactly $100, or
  2. Order something from a place that will charge $100 to this card and the remainder of the balance to another card.

I wanted to spend it on an Amazon purchase tonight that was over $100, but Amazon has a little exception: You cannot charge an order to multiple credit cards if one of them is an American Express Gift Card.

Fine, I thought. I’ll use it to buy myself a $100 Amazon gift card, then apply the Amazon gift card balance to my own account, then place the order and pay the remainder on my real credit card.

Nope. There’s also an exception that you can’t buy Amazon gift card balances with American Express Gift Cards.

I was about to give up when my brain kicked in and figured it out.

  1. I went to the last page of the checkout before purchase when it shows the total with tax and shipping. $435.81. Copied that number down, abandoned the checkout.
  2. I purchased an Amazon gift card balance with my real credit card for $335.81. (Conveniently, this doesn’t replace or reset the shopping cart for the original order.)
  3. I applied the Amazon gift card balance to my own account.
  4. I went back to the checkout page for the original order. My gift card balance was applied, and the remaining balance to pay was exactly $100.00.
  5. I paid for the order with the American Express gift card, using every cent.

Done.

mareen:

looks like my bag from the inside.

(via fannycacahuete)

Let’s see… 580EX II, 5D (no, wrong wheel place, but doesn’t match the 40D/50D… maybe an XTi?), 16-35 2.8L, 70-200 2.8L IS, a Nikon lens, 85 1.2L, Nikon body?

It makes me a little sad whenever an Instapaper Free user emails me to request features that are already in Instapaper Pro.

Canon has Introduced Two Wide Angle Tilt-Shift Lenses with a “Twist”. That’s one of the strangest-looking lenses I’ve ever seen.

(via bringtheruckuss)

Phone-in audio posts are turning out well. (slightly not-work-safe content)

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

Justin Ouellette

Airport delays always bring out the best in people.

Privileged upper class white kids love to fight capitalism by making life miserable for minimum wage working class folk. Rage against the machine dudes!

Commenter on When media pirates are dicks regarding those “Available online for free” stickers that internet nerds are printing, sticking on CDs and DVDs in retail stores, and bragging about.

Sometimes I still can’t believe how cool my job is. I get to casually talk to people all the time who I saw as elevated, unreachable celebrities (in my world) just a few months or years ago.

I’ve never been a big mainstream celebrity fan. I walked past the Olsen twins a few months after moving to New York and didn’t even care — to me, they were just a couple of overly-made-up girls with some people who were slightly annoying to walk past because they were taking up too much of the sidewalk.

But I was actually nervous when I first went to Joel’s open house, met Gary Vaynerchuk, gave my iPhone app to John Gruber for testing, or talked on the phone with Dan Benjamin (which, as you might expect, feels like being in a podcast). In my world, they’re the celebrities. And unlike A-list actors and musicians, they’re accessible to regular people like me — because they are regular people to the majority of the world and don’t need to hole themselves up from paparazzi and crazy fans and Perez Hilton.

But just meeting and interacting with my geek-world celebrities wasn’t surreal enough. Now, people are starting to treat me like one of them at Tumblr events.

I still can’t believe all of this myself sometimes.

Secret visitor.

There isn’t that much going on. While the constant flow of information is entertaining and addictive, it is, by overwhelming consensus, primarily filled with bits that are of little to no value.

Anil Dash: You Didn’t Miss Anything

Meetup tonight with a top-secret special guest!

Crocodile Lounge
325 E. 14th St. (between 2nd-1st Aves.)
~7:00 until whenever

Go!

We’ve been selected to be a Nielsen Radio Family. Only problem: we don’t listen to the radio. So our survey’s going to be pretty dull.

Fortunately, they included $2 for our trouble. That was nice of them. Nielsen’s going to buy my coffee tomorrow. Thanks, Nielsen! Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.

Neven Mrgan: “Everything about this image is absolutely perfect. Everything.”

Macworld: TechRestore’s matte-screen MacBook Pro service

What I find most interesting is how the conversion to a matte screen reduced the weight of the machine from 5.5 lbs. to 5.2 lbs, confirming my suspicions that the glass unnecessarily bulked up the screen lid’s weight. (For reference, the Air is 3.0, the aluminum MacBook is 4.5, the plastic MacBook is 5.0, and the 17” aircraft carrier is 6.6. So this brings it almost down to the weight of the plastic MacBooks.)

TechRestore replaces the bezel with their own black matte plastic. I don’t find theirs or Apple’s very attractive, but I do like how Apple uses metal on the 17” anti-glare option.

Offering the option in the 17” means that Apple is reconsidering the universal appeal of high-gloss screens.

I’m hoping that the next update to the 15” MacBook Pro will include an anti-glare option, and I think it’s likely. And with this year’s upcoming SSD releases, 6 months from now might be a very good time to buy a high-end laptop.

Let me brag for a minute

2arrs2ells:

Tumblr is much smarter about this, and “freezes” your dashboard as you read through it. When you navigate to the next page, you see the next group of posts without repeats. New posts don’t show up (and “push” everything down) until you refresh the dashboard home.

This is what the big numbers in Dashboard page URLs are for (/dashboard/2/80000000). I always love the (rare) times when people notice this because it was my baby. David hates ugly URLs, so this was one of those ideas I couldn’t just bring up while brainstorming — instead, I just implemented it one afternoon in development and said, “Hey, let me show you something cool.”

It’s one of the little things we’ve picked up over time, like aggressively giving every checkbox a clickable <label> or letting the registration form behave like a login form (go ahead, try it), that so many web apps should do if they can. It’s all about the little things.

We need a place to find and share these sorts of ideas.

Fun outtake from the train platform a few weeks ago. I call this one, “Take the picture already, there’s snow flying into my face, I can’t see anything.”

My new compact lighting setup. (Not pictured: ST-E2 wireless transmitter on the camera.)

I realized that I frequently need extra light when shooting indoors (especially at home in the evenings), but:

So for almost the same price as a 580EX II and a 430EX II, I got two 430EX II units and the ST-E2 transmitter to be the on-camera master.

Tiff got me this great staple remover at a very strange store in Grand Central. (If you’re nearby, it’s next to the good bookstore on the west end.)

Louis CK:

“Everything is so amazing and nobody is happy.”

A surprisingly in-depth criticism of modern society in the guise of a brief comedic interview on a late-night talk show.

(thanks, inky)

The point everyone is missing is that in Technoland, nothing ever replaces anything. E-book readers won’t replace books. The iPhone won’t replace e-book readers. Everything just splinters. They will all thrive, serving their respective audiences.

David Pogue in his Kindle 2 review

Microsoft’s attempted copy of MobileMe is called “My Phone”. Cute.

@danielpunkass:

At a time when RSS is only getting more popular, the Safari 4 Beta RSS feature marketing section is void of “New” claims.

Regular people still don’t use or understand RSS, so it’s understandable why Safari wouldn’t play that up very much.

I think we’ll see more products and features that are based on RSS but don’t call it that. RSS is valuable, but like other underlying technologies and data formats of the internet (HTML, HTTP, IMAP, MPEG-4), it needs to be packaged into consumer-friendly and consumer-relevant concepts, terms, and products.

Things I have bought for my wife that she has absolutely loved:

I have it easy.

The diner we patronized for National Pancake Day has this awesome orange-juice machine.

Recent App Store review of Instapaper Free

sikes senter    ★✩✩✩✩
by Sikes senter

take this advice!!!!!!!! do not download this app!!!!!! just do the following:

• go to the page that you want to save and press the home button and the sleep button at the same time.

you can do this on any firmware. on ANY ipod touch and on any iphone.

there us a video on youtube that gives you step by step instructions.

on youtube just look up ipod touch camera trick.

no joke it really works!!!!!!!!!!!

This is my favorite one-star review I’ve ever received by far.

I’ve never seen a great client or server implementation of IMAP.

Negativity

It’s incredibly hard to ignore the toxic whirlwinds of negativity that crop up all the time in online communities.

There’s a lot of negativity out there, most of it unwarranted: personal attacks, gossip, rumors, trolling, and just plain hate. And it’s self-perpetuating: negativity breeds more negativity. The widespread appeal of negativity crosses all cultures and generations, from angry teenagers saying everything sucks to extremist fanatics teaching their children to hate people of other races or political views.

Those attacked have an innate desire to defend themselves, but it’s not always a good idea: to someone producing negativity, accepting anything but more negativity is defeat. If you’re telling the world that some people suck, the last thing you want to hear is that the reasons you think they suck are invalid and they’re actually pretty cool people. Once a negative opinion is formed, most people’s instinct is to defend and reinforce it.

People aren’t always this vicious in person, or you don’t feel it as much, because real life provides a few big filters:

So online communities and media tend to bring out the worst of people, not because internet users are inherently nastier people, but because most common filters are removed. This effect also applies to a lesser extent when people are driving cars: they’ll frequently behave more selfishly than they would in person because they know you can’t see them and you’ll probably never be near each other again.

This is why communities that encourage using real names and/or photos for identities (Vimeo, Flickr, Amazon) tend to have much more civil, constructive, and valuable discussions than those that are usually anonymous or under fake names (YouTube, iTunes App Store, IRC). And, correspondingly, the majority of negativity online is written anonymously or under a fake name. There would be a lot less of it if the authors needed to provide a real name and photo.

Hardly anyone has clean hands. I sure don’t. I’m ashamed of a lot that I’ve written and said. Even in high school, I made fun of the few kids below me in the pecking order. (The social dynamics portrayed in Freaks and Geeks, where the bullies are just one rank above the people they bully and are still ultimately outcasts, are incredibly accurate.) I can’t believe how much negativity I’ve thrown out there, and I did much of it under my real name. And every instance made me a worse person.

Negativity is the only subject matter I’ve ever regretted publishing. And, as a corollary, I’ve rarely not regretted negativity that I’ve published.

It has taken me a long time to realize this, and it will take even longer to migrate away from it completely. (It’s also a problem for me in real life.) But I’ve started, and I’m making a conscious effort to withhold negative content and make amends for what I’ve said in the past.

The biggest challenge isn’t avoiding the creation of new flames — it’s resisting the temptation to enter existing battles and butt my opinion in, or defend myself with aggression and more negativity when I’m the one being attacked.

It’s been especially hard over the last week, as my company has been receiving a shitstorm from a few loud people. It’s been very hard to stay out of this, and I failed a few times and made a few comments — and I regret them all. Every time a new wave of shit hits us or me, my first desire is to retaliate. But it’s better for everyone, myself included, if I just keep my mouth shut. I have to accept that there’s absolutely nothing I can do to prevent negative people from saying nasty things about me, my friends, and my company. It’s a lot harder than I expected, which is why I’m not surprised that so many people can’t do it.

But one effect is clear: remaining positive and disarming yourself of negativity is the most effective way to avoid being hit by whatever others are flinging around.

It’s hard for me to walk away from arguments that I think I’m losing. And I’m right — most of the time, I’ve “lost” as far as the instigator is concerned. But my error was thinking that it was possible to win.

By giving up that assumption, I can define a new metric for success: staying out of it.

Amazing acoustic instrumental cover of Toto’s Africa. (via imkevin, thephenthouse)

The main reason I don’t allow comments is that I want to inspire debate. I think people do their best writing when they’re forced to defend their ideas on their own turf. It’s one thing to leave a comment on someone else’s blog, but quite another to put your argument in front of your own readers. It forces a level of consideration that, without fail, results in a higher quality exchange of ideas.

Alex Payne

This is exactly the rationale behind using reblogs as a means of debate and discussion.

Zuck was — remarkably! — unphased by this line of thinking and went ahead and built Facebook, and just to prove how useless everything we teach about efficiency and careful software design in CS161 really is, he implemented it in PHP. And it worked. Oh yeah, and he managed to grow the site to over 175 million users. So clearly I know pretty much zip when it comes to figuring out what a good startup business strategy is going to be, which explains why I should remain safely ensconced in my office at Harvard.

Matt Welsh, one of Mark Zuckerberg’s CS professors

Time to make this great.

Amazon did an excellent job on this iPhone-esque USB/power plug. (And, in an improvement over Apple’s proprietary Dock connector, this one connects to the Kindle with standard Mini-USBcorrection: the Kindle end of the cable is the new and still rare Micro-USB.)

I think I really like product photography.

Our main goal at Facebook is to help make the world more open and transparent.

Mark Zuckerberg (via toldorknown)

I just showed Tiff the Kindle for the first time. She tried touching the screen and was instantly disappointed that it’s not a touchscreen. Then she tried tilt scrolling. No luck.

“How are you supposed to read on this?”

I love my wife.

By The New York Times, cited in The Burning Platform (via mikehudack, hilker)

topherchris:

More blog comments talk. I’ll be experimenting with this idea over the weekend. Hi, I’m a geek.

I’ll be experimenting with the Kindle’s document-conversion-service input formats to see how much HTML I can get away with. Then I’m restyling my web service to add some new features so I can release the next version of its iPhone app. Hi!

If you need to go back and update your headline with ‘(Confirmed)’, you’re doing journalism wrong.

Alex Payne (via David Chartier)

Pictured left to right: Kindle 2’s power/USB port, its Micro-USB plug, and a standard Mini-USB plug for comparison.

Minor correction: The Kindle 2’s power/USB cord does not end in a standard Mini-USB plug. It’s the new Micro-USB type. (thanks for pointing that out, Ben Gold!)

At least Amazon only charges $15 for a set of one cable with an AC plug — for comparison, Apple sells the cable/plug combo for $30.

There’s one saving grace for multi-gadget owners: iPhones and Kindles both connect to their respective AC power plugs with standard USB plugs, so the AC plug cubes are interchangeable in case you forget, lose, or break one. (In fact, iPhone owners needing only an Apple AC plug, without the cable, can just buy the $15 Kindle cable set and use the plug that comes with it.)

Macro shot of the Kindle’s e-ink screen and text rendering.

Looks like the e-ink globules are the little round circles (look at the top of the “e”) and they dither to make the 16 shades of gray. It’s further using anti-aliasing, but not at the insanely high resolution subpixel level of the actual globules — it looks like it just sets each pixel to a solid value instead. Given the current speed and memory constraints and the very early e-ink technology, this is perfectly reasonable, and I bet they can really improve the text sharpness in future revisions by using subpixel sharpening.

It’s also clear that the globule flipping is approximate, at least in this early version of the screen technology. That’s why there are random black dots in the “white” areas (that’s not dust) and why some of the pure-black pixels have an occasional white dot hanging around (like the big one in the lower-left curve of the “e”).

Coffee.

Let’s make this Coffee Week. I’ll post a picture of coffee every weekday morning during this coming week. You should, too.

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