Another blogging friend

Another childhood friend of mine has started a blog, Fury (as in the Eumenides, not the car or the Salman Rushdie novel). Good writing. I particularly like the most recent post about the H2, entitled “I Just Can’t Decide”: “We are back to the same old deal, where if you can shell out $55K for a car, then you can get it tax-free. God bless America.”

Star Wars DVD notes

After two prequels and several years away from the original movies, it’s interesting to come back to the original (albeit in a twice-revised form; see these notes on changes to key scenes). It’s interesting that there are some things that I remembered in radically different form, to wit:

C-3PO’s dialog. The femme half of science fiction’s first gay robot duo was pretty damn bitchy in the first film. He was also inaudible a lot of the time, at least to my ears—though that may be an artifact of listening to the DVD in stereo rather than 5.1 surround. But I think there was a whole lot of snotto voce goin’ on.

The first Millennium Falcon vs. TIE Fighter battle. You know, after waiting 27 years since this movie came out, and going through two digital revisions, you’d think that they’d fix the big rectangles around the TIE fighters where they were superimposed for this sequence. Look at this picture and tell me I’m not seeing things:

But it’s a lot of fun anyway. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have some documentary features to watch.

Aaron Swartz, College Student

Aaron Swartz has been such a key part of the blogging (and web services, and XML syndication) world(s) for so long that it’s always a shock to remember that he’s so young. To wit: he’s starting undergrad at Stanford this month. Today’s update finds him making some of the discoveries many of us made ten years ago, like how professors don’t always understand your insights; parties are sadly funny when you look at them as anthropological rituals (and don’t participate); and how phony patriotism is used to build group identities.

(I will note, however, that it’s grimly funny to find a leading proponent of RDF, the leading (and still mystifying) XML-based semantic taxonomy, and of Atom, which proposes an alternate notation and representation for the syndication data presented by RSS, totally baffled by the transition from the Dewey Decimal System to the Library of Congress system.)

But the series is still highly readable. The alienation of a smart autodidact confronting his peers in the brew of the most intense period of peer interaction—well, it’s awfully familiar to me, and I suspect to many of my readers as well.

Local update

I’ve been struggling to take a good picture with my digital SLR of the view we get from our park; fortunately, the good folks at the Friends of Robbins Farm Park website got a good shot for me. I think we need to join that organization, given how much joy we’re getting out of the park.

In other local news, looks like I have a Googlegänger in Sudbury: “The offensive highlight for the game came in the first half on a 70-yard drive, featuring two clutch, long third-down passes from quarterback Tim Jarrett to end John Kelley and running back Derek Lowe.” Just for the record, folks, if you ever see the word “quarterback” next to “Tim Jarrett,” it ain’t about me.

A long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…

…I placed a pre-order for the original Star Wars trilogy on DVD. On Tuesday, the trilogy was released. Today, my pre-order was delivered.

Expect blogging to be light. For at least the next couple of days, since I don’t have six or seven contiguous hours where Lisa and I can watch it together any time tonight.

—Incidentally, am I the only one that had the Star Wars storybook with record as a kid? I remember playing that record to death. It was one of those ones where the record made a sound effect for you to turn the page—the effect was an R2-D2 sound, in this case. I mention it because Google searches on the only thing I can remember from the intro, “the hope of freedom was kept alive… but the Rebel forces were pitifully small compared to the might of the evil Galactic Empire,” turn up nothing.

Erm, geek off.

Fixing the Safari spinning beachball

spinning beachball of death

Safari users know about the “spinning beachball”—when using the browser, Mac OS X’s modal wait cursor appears for no reason, sometimes while you’re in the middle of typing or scrolling a page. I had been experiencing the beachball periodically over the last few months and my fix had been to quit and restart the browser—or, when it got especially bad, my PowerBook. Then I installed the public beta of NetNewsWire 2.0 and for the first time noticed the same beachball activity there. That inspired me to seek a fix.

I thought the two might be related, since the new built-in browser in NNW 2.0 uses WebKit, the browser framework classes that also underpin Safari. I wondered whether the same cause was at the root of both SBODs.

I first tried the number one suggestion for the problem from Google, which was disabling auto-fill for forms in Safari (choose Preferences from the Safari menu, click AutoFill, and turn off the third checkbox). This didn’t do anything. I then tried emptying Safari’s cache. Also nothing.

The last thought I had was that there was a problem with the underlying WebKit libraries. The only problem is that there wasn’t a clean way to rebuild them that I was aware of. So I went for a brute force method: I downloaded and re-installed Safari 1.2. After a reboot, I tried to run Safari, and it was fast, no beachball. I then tried running NNW, and it worked smoothly as well.

I don’t really like this solution, because it doesn’t isolate a fix. The problem could have been corrupted binaries, or it could have been prebinding that needed fixing—the reinstallation accomplished both. It also might leave me vulnerable. I don’t know whether the Safari 1.2 standalone download includes some of the security fixes that have been made since the browser was released. Finally, I am noting some irregularities with pop-up menus reporting “Localized String Not Found” in the place of some options. Nevertheless, my browsing experience is generally faster, so I thought this might help some others.

NetNewsWire, MarsEdit public betas

Ranchero Software (aka Brent Simmons) just announced public betas for NetNewsWire 2.0 and MarsEdit 1.0. I’ve been privileged to be a tester for both apps, and I can say without reservation that NNW 2.0 is the finest news aggregator I’ve used on any platform.

And MarsEdit? Well, I’ve used it to compose my weblog entries for the past several months. Multiple document interface, multiple blogs, flexible HTML support, live previews, in a clean, lightweight application. Plus image support, which I will rave about once it is fully supported on my platform (Manila doesn’t support the NewMediaObject verb for the MetaWeblogAPI). Fabulous stuff, and multiple well deserved cheers to Brent (and Sheila).


The workload over the last two days:

  • Remove and clean all the window screens
  • Remove and clean all the first floor storm windows
  • Figure out that a baking soda paste removes the years-old nasty dirt on the glass of the front windows (thanks, Lisa)
  • Move the demolished kitchen cabinet to the floor of my storage room cum workshop for extra storage
  • Install two pegboard panels on the exposed studs in the storage room
  • Try to get our tub draining better. We must have the only tripwaste linkage unit around that can’t be removed by removing the overflow plate. (Ours appears to be permanently in residence in our tub, possibly because the drain has a sideways jog.)

Enough. Time to catch our breath. The Lucadamos are hitting the road tomorrow, so we’ll celebrate tonight with burgers and corn.

Reaping some benefits from the Big Dig

Boston Globe: Barrier Comes Down on Hanover: After five decades, a section reopens. The change “marked the first time since the 1950s that pedestrians and drivers could pass directly from the cafes of Hanover Street to Haymarket’s fruit and vegetable stalls.”

I’ll definitely have to go and check out the new street configuration. For one thing, it’s the start of the end of the North End’s isolation, as I predicted three years ago.

Miscellaneous Virginia news

Quick link roundup from the land where I was born:

Photo publishing request

I’m almost out of space on my .Mac account. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good photo publishing methodology? My constraints:

  • The method has to work pretty well with iPhoto
  • It should leave the photos on my server, not a hosted service (I believe this rules out Flickr)
  • It should produce clean index pages that include captions and thumbnails with links to larger images
  • I have access to a server that supports FTP, but can’t do solutions that rely on FrontPage extensions
  • Solutions that rely on server-side CGI are going to be tricky because I don’t know if I can install anything on my server

Surely someone out there has done something like this before. Ideas?

Weekend catchup

mystery photo--leave your guesses in the comments

In addition to the pumpkin patch yesterday, the weekend was pretty good. On Friday afternoon I got a chance to catch up in person with Chris Reeder and his lovely fiancée Barb at Mr. Dooley’s. We talked for quite a while and discovered it is indeed a small town: she used to work at Robertson Stephens, where my friend and Sloan classmate Charlie worked before business school. Chris and I got into a discussion about business school programs that culminated in an invitation to sit in on a case discussion of Linux and the software industry at Boston College, where Chris is doing an MBA. Hopefully I can make it.

On Saturday it rained like crazy, but we got out and did a few errands. Among other treats, I picked up a set of photos at Costco that I had transferred to CD. Sometime in 1999 I started getting all our photos on PhotoCD, but prior to that we had several photogenic trips that missed being digitized, including our honeymoon to Italy. Since that was the first time I had been out of the country, I took acres of photographs, including the teaser to the right. (I will be publishing more of those photos online soon once I figure out a technical challenge—more details shortly.) Bonus points to readers who can identify the location of the teaser photo. It is of course in Italy, but where? Leave your answer in the comments.

Today Lisa’s parents and I will be catching up on some work around the house while Lisa’s out of town on business—and we’ll be trying to keep the dogs from destroying the house too. Wish me luck…

The great glass pumpkin

glass pumpkin

Lisa’s parents are in town, and today we partook of a unique MIT tradition that I never experienced before: the Great Glass Pumpkin Patch. The glassblowing labs at MIT sell the pumpkins every year to raise money for their facilities. We got there at the right time: any earlier and we would have been waiting in line with the crowd, which stretched from the Kresge Oval into the Infinite Corridor; any later and the pumpkins would all be gone. As it was, we got a very nice six-inch glass pumpkin and I got some decent photos around campus. (I noticed while putting some of my photos in order this weekend that I had never taken any of the MIT campus. Shame, shame.)

Brimful of Asha

A flood of “just addeds” in the iTunes Music Store this week that … well, I could describe them, but better to let Cornershop do it!

when i was born for the seventh time

When I Was Born for the Seventh Time
Warner Bros., 1997

There’s dancing
Behind movie scenes
Behind the movie scenes
Sadi Rani
She’s the one that keeps the dream alive
from the morning
past the evening
to the end of the light

Brimful of Asha on the 45
Well it’s a brimful of Asha on the 45

And dancing
Behind movie scenes
Behind those movie scenes
Asha Bhosle
She’s the one that keeps the dream alive
from the morning
past the evening
to the end of the light

Brimful of Asha on the 45
Well it’s a brimful of Asha on the 45

And singing
illuminate the main streets
And the cinema aisles
We don’t care bout no
Gov’t warnings,
’bout their promotion of a simple life
And the dams they’re building

Brimful of Asha on the 45
Well it’s a brimful of Asha on the 45

Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow
Everybody needs a bosom
Mine’s on the 45

Mohamed Rufhi-45
Lata Mangeshkar-45
Solid state radio-45
Fer-guh-son mono-45
Bonn publeek-45
Jacques Dutronc and the Bolan Boogie, the Heavy
Hitters and the Chichi music
All India Radio-45
Two in ones-45
Argo Records-45
Trojan Records-45
Brimful of Asha on the 45
Orchestra set
Everybody needs a bosom for a pillow
Mine’s on the RPM!!

Crossing paths

Dave has moved to Seattle just as I moved back to Boston. Come on, man, cut it out! This is twice now we’ve crossed paths

He asks for advice today about places to eat in the market. Here’s my comment, reposted from his blog and annotated with past experiences from mine:

I like the Pike Place Brewery—their beers are outstanding and the pub cuisine is good. For fish, honestly just go to the Market Grill and get a salmon sandwich—spicy. It’s hot sitting at the grill and you have to wait a while but it’s outstanding.

For the best sunset and happy hour appetizers, Maximilien’s has a great view of the sound and an assortment of fantastic $2.50 plates, including really excellent mussels and pate.

Outside the market I like Etta’s—next block over, great seafood creatively done—and Anthony’s Pier 66, down on the waterfront.

Heh. I thought I had more links than that. I never once wrote about Pike Place Brewery or Maximilien’s… To make up for it, here are bits about some restaurants I didn’t mention in the comments: Zoë and Wasabi Bistro.