Friday, May 28, 2004

the day after tomorrow

tdat_dt2_sm.jpgEbert says it best: "'The Day After Tomorrow' is ridiculous, yes, but sublimely ridiculous -- and the special effects are stupendous."

We went to see it this afternoon -- I'm a disaster movie freak and I've been waiting forever to see it. I checked the website every week or so to see if there were any new trailers. I read all about the science behind the premise of the movie (the most credible article is this: The Day After Tomorrow: Could it really happen? from The Weather Underground. The answer is, yeah, some of it, but not the flash freeze stuff.)

So, it was fun. It was stupid. The dialog was stupid. The stupidest part was Dick Cheney finally admitting he was wrong -- it took a planetary disaster to induce that in the movie Cheney. Another stupid part was the bitching about the end of civilization due to the new ice age in the northern hemisphere. Guess all those people in South America, Africa, and Australia aren't civilized. Oh, and that a Gutenberg Bible represented civilization. Yep, definitely a white man's movie.

At any rate, the special effects were great -- but there weren't enough of them. Would've loved to have seen more of what happened due to the bizarre weather. The ice shelf breaking off was great. But what is the average temperature during an ice age? I mean, is it colder than living in Iceland or Siberia?

All the pre-movie buildup about how this was gonna fry the administration's asses for screwing around with the environment, and ignite something (I'm not sure what) to spur the environmental movement was BS. I think the producers were trying to pull a "Passion" number.

The movie started out stupid: The Veep at a science meeting? Get real. Why was Dennis Quaid misting all those dead plants? Why did daddy trek north to get sonny boy if they could've sent helicopters in? Why am I even thinking about the two hours of stupidness anyway?

The special effects were stupendous. I don't know why Ebert gave it three stars, except that it was fun to watch. Well, except for the preachy crap. God Dennis Quaid has the goofiest smile. Gotta hand it to those Quaid boys -- they sure can save this old world. Except that Dennis didn't -- I still can't figure out why he's the hero in this movie. "Independence Day" was loads better than this movie.

All I can say is "Thank god for Wendy's." Can always drop in there to avoid being freeze dried. I wonder what Dennis would've done if he'd been more than 50 feet from a building? And I never did figure out why that other guy just collapsed. Here was the best scene: Other guy is trucking along behind Dennis, trudging across the tops of the malls in Jersey to get to Manhattan. Other guy collapses. Dennis says to the unconscious guy, "Hey, are you all right?"

Well, the dog survived. That's the only being in the movie I cared about.

What struck me most about the movie happened afterwords: all those assholes in their SUVs revving up in a rush to be the first out of the parking garage -- when climate change does really happen, those types will be the first to bitch about the government not doing enough to prevent it.
posted by lee on 05/28/04 at 04:47 PM

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Thursday, May 27, 2004

two people had a very bad afternoon and other stuff

I didn't get pictures, damnitall. I always forget I have a camera--I'd make a lousy photojournalist.

Anyway, I was sitting here calmly doing webmastering stuff, eyes only half shut from the pollen, cat dozing peacefully atop my monitor. Then, at 12:05pm, BLAM! The house shakes, the cat jumps a foot, the dog starts barking and barking. "Crap," thought I, "yet another accident."

As my one or two regular readers know, I live on Strawberry Hill Avenue in Norwalk, CT. SHA is a two-lane residential street, speed limit of 25mph, with three schools on or adjacent to it. I was rear-ended turning into my driveway. Last fall there was a fatal accident on the corner of SHA and Tierney, which is just past spitting distance from our house. And these are just two of many, many crashes on this allegedly residential street.

Now I knew from the sound of the crash that there was no way the crasher was going 25mph.

Went out to see what was what, ready to render assistance, call 911 if needed. Fortunately there were a couple of good sammies out there on cellphones and directing traffic and they told me they didn't need anything, thanks. So I just stayed out of the way, watching.

It looked like the crashee was trying to making a left turn into Heather Lane when the crasher slammed into crashee so hard the crashee's car fell apart. The back half of his car completely detached and in the road -- a good view of the inside of the trunk.

The crasher's windshield was a spiderweb -- I couldn't see the front. Crashee was trapped in his car; crasher was sitting dazed on the stone wall next to the road. Eventually, a firetruck arrived and they got busy throwing sand over the gas and coolant all over the road. Then the cops showed up, the fire chief, and finally, an ambulance. They pried the crashee out of his car and took him away on a backboard. Crasher climbed into the ambulance assisted by the paramedics. Crasher was probably doing something stupid like dialing her cellphone instead of noticing that they guy in front of her stopped to turn.

What was most annoying about it all was that the people trying to get by the accident were speeding along the shoulder -- even with the accident and cops right there, they didn't slow down. And the cops didn't do anything about it.

We need the traffic light at Tierney & SHA. A neighbor figures, along with me, that it will take a kid getting hit before the city actually deals with the problem.

So that shot 30 minutes out of the middle of my day.

HARRY'S CREATOR RELAUNCHES HER WEBSITE
J.K.Rowling Official Site - Harry Potter and more launched recently. It's interesting, mostly Flash, but I didn't spend much time there because her anal designer used that microfont that's impossible to read. One of these days I'll go back and look at the text-only version. We're looking forward to the latest movie--so we're playing hooky next Friday. (And we're playing hookie tomorrow afternoon, actually, to go see "The Day After Tomorrow.")

XP PRO UPGRADE
sucks. So far, it's been agonizing. I still haven't gotten my internet connection back on, and I can't very easily upgrade any of the multitude of drivers that need upgrading until I get the stupid connection working. Plug and play my ass. For $180, I want the upgrade to be painless. Yeah, right.
posted by lee on 05/27/04 at 10:25 AM

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Wednesday, May 19, 2004

i yam what i yam ...

Popeye's Thimble Theatre is a place to explore, providing a glimpse at
the unique, peculiar world of ELZIE CRISLER SEGAR -- the creative genius behind Popeye, the Oyl Family, Wimpy, Swee'pea, Poopdeck Pappy, Alice the Goon, the Sea Hag, Eugene the Jeep, Roughhouse, the Whiffle Hen, King Blozo, Ham Gravy, Oscar ...
posted by lee on 05/19/04 at 02:48 PM

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Saturday, May 15, 2004

MT backtracks—but still misses the point

I read today's entry in Six Log: Movable Type 3.0 Developer Edition, where they, sort of, backtrack and define things such as what they consider a weblog.

The problem is this: MT 3.0 does not offer anything that 2.661 doesn't already have EXCEPT comment registration. Back-end recoding doesn't offer US anything. So they debugged the code. Big deal. 2.661 worked well enough for us.

Not only that, there is no guarantee that the plugins already installed will work in the new version. (The one we use the most, for example (and donated to support) is MT-Blacklist. That one won't work.

If MT were offereing 3.0 as a truly new version, including a couple of new built-in features besides comment registration, we'd buy it and live with the author/weblog restrictions.

We don't want, don't need comment registration. We want photoblog support and sub-categories. We'd pay for that. We'd pay for decent tech support. We won't pay $70 for software that does less than the software we paid $20 for.

It's not about thinking Ben and Mena are greedy. It isn't about whining that it ought to be free. It's about refusing to pay for software that doesn't do what we need it to do. It's about being really pissed off that we faithfully waited and waited for MT Pro, or an update to 2.661, and were willing to pay for this, but got slapped in the face with a non-upgrade that costs too much for what it is. It's about being pissed that repeated emails sent to Six Apart went unanswered. It's about wishing Six Apart had at least one grown-up guiding things there.

And it's mainly about not trusting the company any more. Broken promises, lack of communication, and claims of growing pains don't cut it -- there are too many competitors in this space to put up with Six Apart's bullshit.

We're moving on. Looks like we'll be spending our money on pMachine for the simpler sites, and pMachine ExpressionEngine for the more complex sites. Check out their offer for a free copy of Expression Engine -- we submitted our request last night and got it for free.
posted by lee on 05/15/04 at 12:03 PM

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Friday, May 14, 2004

two big disappointments this week

The first is the rollout of Movable Type 3.0.

I read Mena's Corner: It's About Time to find out the details about Movable Type 3.0 -- this was after going to the MT site to check out the forum for an answer I've been waiting for (had to really work hard to even FIND the forum!) and was shocked at the new pricing model. Really shocked.

Do I think it's perfectly reasonable to ask for a fee for using MT? Absolutely. We've donated at least $100 to MT to fund development. Do I think $70 is unreasonable for this type of application? That depends. Is this formerly free application spiffed up, polished, super-duperized? Nope. So why would I pay the $70 for something I already have for nothing (well, for $20)? To get the comment registration. What a load of crap that is.

If MT had added just a couple of the long begged-for features, such as sub-categories and a photoblog or moblog built in, and had they NOT added the insane author/weblogs restrictions, I would pay up. But the author/weblog restrictions are the deal breaker for me. For some installations, it doesn't matter since there will always be only one author and one weblog. For others, most of them, it does matter. MT 3.0 offers less than I have now, so why would I pay?

For the commercial version, the minimum amount I would have to pay for the installation is $700. I wouldn't even consider that an unreasonable amount IF MT 3.0 actually did what I needed it to do and if the restrictions on the number of weblogs didn't exist. But it doesn't and they do.

This was another stupid move on the part of Movable Type. The first was dropping development of MT Pro. The second was the months of delays with no communication about what to expect. The third was ignoring the wish list of the community of thousands that supported them one PayPal donation at a time. The fourth was reneging on their promise that MT 3.0 would be free.

Then there's the plugin developer contest. For chump change.

Ah, it's depressing. I don't trust them to do the right thing anymore, and I think they've made one too many mistakes -- I hope I'm wrong, but I think they'll go down the tubes once business at TypePad settles into post-blogmania norms and after MT 3.0 bombs.

The other disappointment was the other long-awaited development: the re-design of Digital Web Magazine. I mean, here's a publication that I actually donated money to because I've found a lot of good info there over the years. Been reading about the pending redesign for a while. It definitely needed a back-end rework since finding stuff there was difficult. I always kind of liked the visual design. At any rate, I was anticipating seeing something smashing because there was so much talent going into the redesign process.

Well, the content is there. And it's definitely an improvement over the old design as far as the information architecture and navigation goes -- except I never really know if I'm on the home page or not so I guess I'd really like to see more of a wayfinder function (such as the use of the word "HOME" perchance?)

But the visual design? Yuck. It's soooo boooorrriiiinnnggg. Muddy, muted colors, crappy contrast. It looks like a thousand other sites -- that standards-compliant blog look. The crappy contrast and the dull design make the content seem soporific. Visual design matters. There's no more excitement here. Oh, I know what it looks like: Boxes and Arrows! Hmm, look at those names, they're all the same ... same anal logo ... same tabs. Snore.

I still keep going back to Zen Garden for inspiration. There is so much you can do with CSS -- that I want to learn how to do. Digital Web's redesign looks like they just slapped on a template because it was the last thing they needed to do to just get the damn thing relaunched already ...
posted by lee on 05/14/04 at 06:09 PM

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Wednesday, May 12, 2004

google blah

Google Blog launched a few days ago. Man o man is it boring so far. Oh well -- I guess I shouldn't expect anything before the IPO. I think this is supposed to be Google's quiet time.

I still don't quite get why a company that's making zillions while private is going public.
posted by lee on 05/12/04 at 10:28 PM

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Sunday, May 09, 2004

twitching dogwoods greet new site launch

This photo was taken on May 1 -- about two days after our dogwoods actually bloomed. Though the blossoms got brighter after a couple of days of rain, blooms are spotty this year. Not just on our dogwoods, but all over around here. They're later than usual. We had a colder-than-usual winter this year, so that might have had something to do with it.

sparseblooms.jpg


We saw a story about a lady accidently Fedexing her cat to Indianapolis. I have no trouble believing it, and it doesn't take much imagination to figure out how it happened. I live in fear that I will either run Twitch through the washer or fluff him up too much in the dryer. We stuck an Easter basket in the recycles bin so we wouldn't forget to dump it, but Twitch has adopted it as one of his eleventy-seven favorite places to roost.

screwtheeasterbunny.jpg


And, last week, we launched another website: John Donoghue Ceramics. plate6749_t.jpgThe site's visual design is by Victoria Chave of Chave Design (New Haven, CT) -- we did all the rest and it was NOT easy to do. We still have to put in some hacks to it looks at least ok in non IE 5.5-6 browsers.

It's always amazing how much harder it is to do what appear to be simple sites. But we're pretty please at how it looks. It was fun doing a simple dhtml gallery, though this is probably not a site that a client could maintain with just a little help. I love the work John does, which made the agonizing over how to do things much easier to bear.

Interesting things coming up. We took a day trip up to Massachusetts Saturday so we could go to a plant sale at the Massachusetts Horticultural Society (got there too late to see much, alas) and went to a wonderful nursery in Hopkinton (Weston Nurseries) were I found hellebore and Stanley found some black violas -- they are so great (will take pictures of them as soon as I get them in the ground). It was such a nice respite. Now the work begins anew -- all really interesting stuff but so much of it.
posted by lee on 05/09/04 at 11:03 PM

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Saturday, May 01, 2004

it’s hard to stop looking at it

We're now the proud custodians of two of Candace Held's fused glass creations. Stanley hung one of the pieces, Stripes, already, and it's very hard to stop looking at it.

ch_stripes.jpg

Later Stanley will hang the other piece, Curves, when we figure out where it would best be viewed.

When I see things that are so beautiful I get this sense of, I don't know how to describe it, serenity almost describes it. It's like the kind of music that makes me feel as if I'm in the quiet place at the center of a maelstrom.
posted by lee on 05/01/04 at 12:58 PM

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