Monday, May 12, 2003

an ending, a change, and more photos of the yard

Prince of Wales Antiques was our fourth website. We closed it down today because the store owners want to retire for real--they had come out of retirement when their children, for various reasons, did not want to continue running the stores. Though it was sad to close it down after running the site for several years, we're happy for the owners: they deserve to take a break from the hectic day-to-day operations of a very busy store in addition to buying trips to Europe. We wish them a happy, long retirement.

Meanwhile, Interland is busy changing all the IP address of all the webservers they acquired when they bought the managed webserver farm from Interliant (which is now, I think, officially out of business? Or maybe not)--which includes ours. The guy from tech support told Stanley it's not going as smoothly as they thought it could because of the thousands of websites registered with all these weird, obscure registrars--not exactly like running a script at Network Solutions and changing everything at once. So we now have a new IP address, which of course I'll never remember. But, fortunately, that's Stanley's job!

jack_in_the_pulpit1.jpgI did manage to get some more pictures of the yard yesterday--even though it was kind of gloomy. I figured if I waited for sunshine, the flowers would be gone since we're not due for the steady glow of the sun until Thursday.

The jack-in-the-pulpits and trillium seem especially beautiful this year. The jacks have bloomed, but the trillium have not.



The Japanese dogwood seen through the window.


The American dogwood just seems to glow this year.


This is looking down on it from the balconey.

posted by lee on 05/12/03 at 10:23 PM
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Thursday, May 15, 2003

and behind this door lies ... matrix2

MorpheusYep, we played hooky again, went to see The Matrix Reloaded, 12:15 pm showing. Good choice since, as we were leaving, the teenies were already starting to line up for the late afternoon showing.

Before I forget: be sure to stick around through the credits, 'cause after the credits is a trailer for Matrix3.

Did I like it? Yep. As much as Matrix1? Nope. It suffered, I think, from too much money. M1 was tighter, every scene and every prop meant something. M2 is bloated. But that's okay--the boys really like it.

Things I liked: Morpheus, of course. Zion, maybe because it is so familiar (quick, name five SF movies and/or TV shows that feature vast, underground cities). The first five minutes of the sex/dance scene. The Geiger-esque machines and those wraithy twin things. The first ten minutes of the MultiSmith fight. The first hour of the car chase. Trinity & guest's motorcycle ride (I was worried about the guest, until I remembered that there is no way he would fall off because his purpose in life had not yet been fulfilled.) The way the plot is shaping up. The cliffhanger. I really like the plot twist(s)--it will be very interesting to see how it resolves--whether the resolution is predictable or if this is truly a unique piece of SF or just another big-budget comic book.


I'm wondering if Niobe is going to be in M3, and what the point of the strife between Lock & Morpheus is, unless that, too, is supposed to be resolved in M3 (it added absolutely nothing to the plot, at least in M2).

KeymakerWhy is Neo wearing a cassock? I kept wanting to say, "Bless me father for I have sinned ... " Wouldn't it be hard to do those kicks in an ankle-length skirt? His costume is unbelievably stupid--I can't believe the costume designer dressed him as a priest. And the patent leather or vinyl stuff Trinity was wearing in the matrix--what's with that? Looks like somebody's rubber fetish and looked incredibly uncomfortable. The Zion clothes are weird, too--half ratty looking sweaters and half some filmy stuff that lets the nipples show through. Where did the cloth come from? Where is the food coming from? What do people do all day? (I'm a sociologist by training--it doesn't always stand me in good stead when it comes to the suspension of disbelief, alas.)

The sex scene had the usual fifteen or twenty candles burning. I don't know, but I somehow think that two people really hot to get it on don't stop to light fifteen candles before jumping each others bones. Where did those candles come from, anyway? There have been no bees for more than a century.

I'm anticipating M3. I want to see how it all turns out. If the plot holds, and it's as unique a finish as the beginning, then all the bloat and the lazy conventions won't matter. It is a pretty ballet, though, no matter what.
posted by lee on 05/15/03 at 03:30 PM
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Sunday, May 18, 2003

origami for your cd

Make a paper cd case (or jewel case) complete with tracks, or mailing address, etc. Takes html form data and converts into a PDF file, which you then print out and fold by following the little lines ... might be useful, I dunno for sure. Via Kevin Smith at Centricle.
posted by lee on 05/18/03 at 08:59 PM
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Tuesday, May 20, 2003

orsinal has a new game

Orisinal added Rainmaker. Orsinal is up for a Webby.

The Webbys are going to be presented online on June 5. How lame is that? I guess IDG didn't want to spring for the meeting space.
posted by lee on 05/20/03 at 10:34 PM
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Thursday, May 22, 2003

post-war iraq

The Mark Fiore: The War Planner is pretty apt. Depressingly apt.

Meanwhile, Tony of Beneath Buddha's Eyes is posting his stories and photos from his trip to Baghdad on an AmeriCares relief mission.
posted by lee on 05/22/03 at 10:06 AM
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book reviews for real people

I did a search for Carolyn Knapp earlier this evening because I read that she died last year and was shocked and I wanted to know why she died (lung cancer, at 42). I read Knapp's Drinking: A Love Storyseveral years ago. The book meant a lot to me.

At any rate, when I googled Knapp, I came upon Booked, a blog by Cynthia Crossen. I began reading through it--she's a very good journal writer (she either wrote or still writes for the Wall Street Journal, and has two non-fiction books: Tainted Truth and The Rich and How They Got That Way. I had actually heard of, if not read, the latter.)

Booked is the web companion to her (print) newsletter about books, wherein she writes her reviews of various and sundry books, mainly fiction, and with a few entries here and there about her life.

So far, based on what I've read, I think I'll start reading the books on her "Fiction 50" list that I haven't already read. Mainly because it does NOT include Cold Mountain (which I thought was a nasty piece of work and not good literature at all, let alone Pulitzer-worthy) and because her reviews appeal to me.
posted by lee on 05/22/03 at 10:43 PM
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Saturday, May 24, 2003

here & there & so on

Check out this Flash movie by interaction artist / student Danny Gomez. Be patient, get through the early stuff, wait for the interesting stuff, the peyote trip. Not recommended for those on dialup, unless you can let it run while you do other things.

If aliens are controlling your mind, you might wanna check out how to make a helmet to block them. Stop Alien Abductions tells you how--but you MUST use velostat and only velostat will do.

We finally watched Panic Room last night. It kept our attention. It was exciting at points. But I found the whole premise VERY implausible: if the thieves discovered people in what they thought would be an empty house, why didn't they just wait until the people left and break in later? Or, barring that, the nephew coulda just claimed his inheritance and pay the damned inheritance taxes. Or the schmucks coulda just knocked on the door and offered to split the booty with the new homeowners. But no. If so, there would have been no movie, right?

So the message of this movie was very Republican: do away with inheritance taxes so homeowners uwittingly now in possession of hidden safes in their hidden safe rooms are safe in their beds. Don't be a nice guy thief because you'll lose out in the end. And, it's okay to be a home-invading thief because you're such a nice, compassionate guy and you really really need the money so you can win your custody battle.

It's worth watching because Forest Whitaker and Jodie Foster are damned fine actors. Kristen Stewart as the daughter was no slouch herself--she's one to watch.
posted by lee on 05/24/03 at 10:59 AM
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What is Zeldman Testing?

In Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report Opera and PNG, he wrote, "It also emphasizes that IE/Win is alone among modern browsers in its lack of true support for the 199596 PNG image standard." Wrong, wrong, wrong. Boyo is he wrong.

In the US, go to your local BMW dealership and ask to see their Virtual Sales Center (BMW's name for their kiosk). The navigation interface graphics are done entirely with PNG images BECAUSE IE/Win supports PNG alpha transparency. And I built this interface a couple of years ago, so it's not something new.

You can see an example of how to apply the alpha filter here: The html / CSS looks something like this:

‹DIV ID="oFilterDIV" STYLE="position:absolute; top:50px; left:10px; width:240px; height:160px; padding:10px; font:bold 13pt verdana; background:green;
filter:progid:DXImageTransform.Microsoft.Alpha( Opacity=100, FinishOpacity=0, Style=1, StartX=0, FinishX=100, StartY=0, FinishY=100)"›
This is the DIV object content.‹/DIV›

I don't know if Netscape 6+ or Opera supports MS filters now or not--I haven't had any reason to experiment and find out since I haven't needed them for web work, just for a kiosk interface where the browser is absolutely controlled. Now I'm wondering: I wonder if they do ... I'll just add it to my list of things I want to experiment with ... (I need about four additional hours per day with no corresponding need for additional sleep!)
posted by lee on 05/24/03 at 10:12 PM
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Sunday, May 25, 2003

“collateral damage” in iraq: the truth is slow in coming

Surveys pointing to high civilian death toll in Iraq (Christian Science Monitor, May 22, 2003)

Evidence is mounting to suggest that between 5,000 and 10,000 Iraqi civilians may have died during the recent war, according to researchers involved in independent surveys of the country.

These are the victims of a war they did not want, did not ask for. Are we going to provide the families of these victims of this immoral and unnecessary war the same kind of financial assistance we gave to the families of those killed on 9/11?

Tell me how Bush is any less a criminal than Hussein? Is it a question of scale? Bush killed at least 5,000 innocent people in one month, for what?
posted by lee on 05/25/03 at 10:14 AM
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Tuesday, May 27, 2003

Zeldman wrong—a rethink? Sort of.

In my comments section, Alexander Johannesen had this to say about my opinion that Zeldman is wrong about the IE/Win lack of support for PNGs:
No, he is right; MS does not fully support PNG, not even in the latest IE incarnations. What you are referring to is the MS-only way of putting an Aplha on images through CSS, and has got nothing to do with PNG in itself which has got Alpha support in its native format. Netscape, Opera, Mozilla all have better PNG support, and in this case Microsoft should be ashamed of themselves.

I see what they're getting at: MS should be fully supporting PNGs without the need to resort to CSS hacks or proprietary DirectX filters, etc. They're right, MS SHOULD be ashamed.

But still, the lack of native IE/Win support for the complete PNG format doesn't mean you can't use them because there are DirectX hacks to support them. So you CAN support those lovely alpha transparencies in IE.

Yes, we should continue to bitch and moan about IE not being standards-compliant--maybe MS will get it and make my job a lot easier. But in the meantime, since IE is not 100% compliant, and IE is the browser used by the vast majority of surfers and probably will be for some time to come, my advice is this: "Deal with it." The bitching and moaning can be pretty offputting without the "but ... "

Aaron Boorman of youngpup has a script called Sleight that he says makes PNG graphics work as normal in Win32 IE5.5+. I haven't tried it yet, so I don't know how well it works. I saw this link on Evolt, where there is a semi-useful article about and useful discussion of PNGs.
posted by lee on 05/27/03 at 09:33 AM
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