January 2003 Archives

Webster

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Take a dictionary.
Open it at random.
Put your finger down on the page.
Type the word into your browser's location bar.
Add '.com'.
Hit return.
Observe the randomness.
Write a perl script to do it for you.

Restaurant Week, Part Deux

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Yesterday's target restaurant was San Domenico, the famous Italian restaurant on Central Park South.

The room itself is an attractive, well-lit space with little art-deco sconces on the ceiling. The background music, a bit louder than I would have preferred, was Tommy Dorseyeque renditions of classics like "Smoke Gets In Your Eyes" (though it later switched over to the bland, meandering stylings of a fusion guitarist who'd listened to too many mellow John McLaughin albums), the kind of music that I've always associated with the grand restaurants of San Francisco's Fisherman's Wharf.

The food -- which is what this whole exercise is really about -- was very good. In fact, the first course of the luncheon menu -- little sea bass ravioli -- was not just very good, but spectacular. It's not a combination that would seem to make sense -- fish and pasta -- but it worked really, really well. The delicate flavor of the pasta melted into the sweet fish, giving the perfectly cooked bass a little flavor gracenote.

The cornish hen main course suffered by comparison. While perfectly executed (and the onion marmalade and olive bed that the bird rested on was delightful), it was, after all, only a small chicken. It was very nice, though 'very nice' shouldn't be what a restaurant of this caliber should be shooting for.

Dessert was a nutty Neapolitan cheesecake with a tangy, sweet tangerine sauce.

I should mention the wonderful bread that they served us, the focaccia in particular meriting extra attention. It was crunchy, flavorful (a small argument broke out among my dining partners regarding the exact nature of the herb on top of the bread), and served its purpose exceedingly well.

The menu, overall, did an decent job of representing what the restaurant is about: innovative, interesting, and tasty modern Italian cuisine. A very solid two stars out of four.

The Cat's In The Cradle

Vonnegut, being interviewed by In These Times:

That said, do you have any ideas for a really scary reality TV show?

"C students from Yale." It would stand your hair on end.

From Sassafrass.

The Devil Finds Work For Idle Hands

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In collaboration with Mike Whybark Enterprises and The Ken Goldstein Project, I very proudly present the very finest in Goldsteinwear: The KG Collection.

All proceeds will go to fund the charity of Ken's choice (I'm guessing it will either be the KG beer fund or the Barbie fund, one of the two).

And speaking of beer, if you wear a shirt (or other article of clothing) from the KG Collection to the next BABB, you will get a free beer!

Next up for the emporium? Probably counterfeit Gawker goods...

Ring Around The Rosie

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Dave Barry on LOTR: The Two Towers: Why Can't They Just Lose The Ring In The Sink?

Restaurant Week, Part I

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It's Restaurant Week, which mean a week-long festival of gluttony dining at some of New York's better restaurants (it should be noted that with the exception of Gramercy Tavern, many of New York's finest restaurants don't participate in Restaurant Week as they'd be losing money at $20 for lunch).

Today's target restaurant was D'Artagnan, a restaurant specializing in the native cuisines of Gascony (meaning duck, goose, and foie gras). Which is where the musketeer D'Artagnan comes from. Not that it really matters.

Decor is amusingly goofy -- a cross between a french country house and a musketeer dormitory (crossed swords on the walls, musketeer movie posters, including one for what must have been an absolutely dreadful movie called Cyrano et D'Artagnan). The restaurant week menu itself was rather plain and straightforward: the entree was a choice between a mesculn salad or the soup d'jour; the plat was either rotisserie chicken or salmon (the salmon is, of course, not native to Gascony); dessert was a rice pudding.

I went with the soup (carrot) and the chicken. My dining partners showed better judgment than I by opting out of the prix fixe and ordering a la carte.

The soup came undersalted. Once I had corrected that, it was a very nice, very carroty soup that had a little bit of olive oil poured on the top of the soup.

The chicken leg was wonderfully done, served in a dark broth with potatoes that had been roasted in the drippings from the rotisserie. The skin was thin and crispy and the tasty, juice flesh fell right off the bone. It was how chicken was supposed to be done. The potatoes were pretty good, too.

And dessert? Well, there's really only so much you can do with rice pudding. It was very nice and they used real caramel (as opposed to the stuff you get out of a can) to make a design in the middle of the plate that was either a stylized picture of a duck or a stylized "D", depending on how the plate was oriented.

Overall? I'd give it 2 stars out of 4 on the New York Times scale. Points off for not really featuring the cooking style that defines the restaurant on the prix fixe. If you go, my recommendation is to skip the lunch menu and just dive straight into the (really, really, really excellent) foie gras.

Paint It Black

Partygirl on The Power Of Paint.

Winning Style

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I promise that this will be my last post about the whole Bloggies scandal. At least for a while.

Dawn Olsen is putting together the Big Ass Blog Awards in response, which doesn't sound like a terrible idea to me.

It seems to me that part of the problem was how the Bloggies were nominated: one round of at-large nominations, then a select panel of volunteers winnowed out the huge list of nominees to produce the finalists. However, since the select panel had access to the entire list, they could cherry-pick their favorites whilst ignoring the rest of the list.

My modest proposal would be a little bit different.

The first round of at-large nominations would stay the same: after all, the blogosphere is so huge that no one person can read them all.

The second round would be a bit different, though. First, the nominees should be cut off to only include the top X number (25 seems like a nice number) of blogs in each category. Second, and more importantly, the judges wouldn't be asked to view each site and to pick their top five. Instead, each judge would receive a list of five (or maybe ten) nominees, and they would be asked to rate each blog on a 0-5 scale in a number of categories (for example: Content, Design, Timeliness, and Returnablity for a theoretical maximum of 20 points). Once all the judges have reported back and the scores all averaged out (if you really wanted to get fancy, you could throw out the high score and the low score for each nominee and then normalize each judge's scores), the top five-scoring blogs would be listed as finalists.

This should, in theory, help limit the gaming of the system.

Does this make sense to anyone else?

Four Score and Six Powerpoints...

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The Gettysburg Powerpoint Presentation.

Not sure that I can really add anything to this, except to say that PowerPoint is probably the single most over-used piece of software ever.

Via Arts & Letters Daily.

Brass Monkeys

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Baby, it's cold outside.

How cold is it, Paul?

Colder than many traditionally frozen locales.

Much, much colder.

Oh, and does anyone know what exactly a brass monkey is and why their nuts would freeze?

Willie The Wonder Worm

In more entirely unsurprising news, Microsoft was hit hard by this weekend's SQL Server worm.

This suggests (to me at least) that the update mechanism that Microsoft uses to keep their products up-to-date is pretty badly broken. Perhaps not broken in a technical sense, but broken in a practical sense.

And this does nothing to refute the idea that Microsoft's security problems aren't just the result of bugs, they're the result of questionable architecture decisions...

Stupor Bowl Shuffle

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Well, the game wasn't exactly great, but it really didn't entirely suck, either. The Raiders took a shot at making it respectable (until those two last interceptions). It was nice to see Jerry Rice streaking towards the end zone once more in a Super Bowl.

The commercials weren't terribly memorable, either, which was a real shame.

LA Woman

The truth about walking in Los Angeles.

Neighbours

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Dave Barry has a blog.

No, really.

The Death of Irony

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Um, if you were trying to hit my site today, it was down for most of the day as part of the collateral damage from the giant worm attack that shutdown large parts of the Internet today.

For the non-gearheads among us, what happened (the short version) was that a small program (the "worm") that was programmed to spread between copies of a Microsoft database program called "SQL Server" quickly got out of hand and crashed large parts of the internet. The worm spread by exploiting a security hole in SQL Server, a hole that Microsoft had patched several months ago. However, it would appear that many (about twenty-two thousand) database administrators hadn't kept their servers up-to-date with all the latest security patches, thus allowing the worm to spread unchecked.

technology.gifIn other, entirely unrelated news, Bill Gates is pledging to improve security in future versions of Microsoft's software. CNN, bless their hearts, ran both stories together on the front page of their site (as you can see).

Which does sound (at least to an inveterate Microsoftphobe) a bit like an admission that their current security blows chunks is a stinking, rotting pile of dubious architecture and crappy code less than optimal.

Update: For the true gearheads among us, here's a in-depth look at the worm (thanks, Nick).

Born in the USA

Cold Sweat, Pt. 1

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While I may be the only New York City blogger left who hasn't complained about the bone-chilling, soul-numbing, cheek-freezing cold, I should point out that when I came home the other night, the doorman politely informed me that there was no water in the building at the moment because the water pipes had frozen.

Now that, my friend, is cold.

Veni, Vidi, Vici

This is a fun little time-waster: iConquer. (and it supports network play, too!)

Sorry, Mac OS X only.

Bass Ackwards

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Well, the finalists for the 2003 Bloggies have been announced, and the only thing I can say is What the fuck?

Did the nominating panel have their collective heads up their asses?

Some of the nominations were, well, puzzling to say the least; what was even more bizarre were the omissions...

Dawn Olsen has much more to say on the topic.

Three Line Wonders

Shauny presents tennis haiku.

You Know My Name (Look Up The Number)

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There's a new blog directory on the scene called Blogarama.

It seems to be an attempt to create a user-driven directory (202 blogs currently listed and counting). But there are already sites like diarist.net and The Pepys Project (speaking of which, the original is now on-line), not to mention the dmoz project's weblog category, Eatonweb Portal, and many, many others. And then there are the specialized blogger directories, like NYC Bloggers or photoblogs.org.

The basic problem with manually-driven weblog directories is that unless you're talking about a specific, targeted directory (like NYC Bloggers) where there is a clearly defined member set and audience, the blogosphere is simply too big for any single directory to do it justice (an analogue would be the way that Yahoo! eventually had to give up on cataloging the web by hand).

Moreover, many bloggers don't actually use blog directories to find sites that they might be interested in. Because bloggers are, by definition, narcissistic, they are much more likely to find sites by poring over their referrer logs to find out who's been linking to them. Automated, robot-based sites are also popular (Blogdex, Daypop, Popdex, Organica, technorati, Weblogs.com, blogmints, blo.gs and so on and so forth) are also popular because they give a sense of the ever-expanding blogverse as a web of connections.

I suspect that in the long run, all attempts to fully map or catalog the blogverse are doomed to failure because the network of blogs is growing faster than you can link to them all. Blogger alone has more than one million register users (how many are still actively blogging is a matter of debate, though).

(OK, I'll admit that the real reason why I think Blogarama is doomed is because they open their links inside a frame with their toolbar across the top. Tacky, isn't it?)

Fly Like An Eagle

This is pretty nifty: Shanghai will open commercial service on a maglev this summer.

The train will travel from Shanhai's financial district to the airport in 8 minutes. The same trip takes 45 minutes by car.

Now I wonder if this technology could be used in other cities where it takes forever to get to the airport. Not that I can think of any canidates. No, getting to the airport in New York is really easy.

Happy Trails

The Forecast (Calls For Pain)

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Partygirl probes the pain of Philadelphia.

Size Matters

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World's longest domain name (to date): authoritarianopportunistswhocozyuptogenocidaldictators-forpeace.org.

Though their acronym for "RESPONSE" is kinda lame.

Good Intentions

Derek Powazek and Steve Jobs present unintentional art.

Taxicab Confessions

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S*: Oh, the last time I was at the Limelight my ass was pinched by someone of indistinct gender.

J*: Ooo! That's my favorite!

*initials have been changed to protect the guilty.

Carmen Miranda Babylon

Is there anything as humorous as anthropomorphic bananas, peppers, and tomatoes?

No, I didn't think so.

Thanks, Ken.

What Is It Good For?

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John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt blow huge honkin' holes in the Bush administration's excusesreasons for starting a war in Iraq.

And in other news, have you ever wondered to whom exactly does Iraq pose a threat? Not Iran -- they already fought a very long and expensive war. Not their neighbors to the north (Turkey) or the west (Syria and Jordan). Which leaves... the south and the southwest, otherwise known as Saudi Arabia and Kuwait (here's a map from a very nice collection at the University of Texas).

That would be the same Saudia Arabia that funded and continues to fund Al Qaeda; the same Saudi Arabia that furnished 15 of the 19 9/11 hijackers.

Foreign Policy link via the estimable E. Spiers.

Prayer

I've said it before, I'll say it again: Tony Pierce is a god.

And now I have proof. After all, who other than a divinity would go to hell, come back, and write about it?

Won't You Be My Neighbor?

I'm kind of surprised that I haven't blogged Mr. Beller's Neighborhood before.

It's a neat collection of short stories about New York, organized by neighborhood and a rather large satellite photograph of Manhattan, broken up into neighborhoods. Tufte would be proud.

It's actually a little like something we tried for the ill-fated Bigtown -- of course, they've got lots more stories and more and better writers.

(fyi, the only browser I could get the map to work with was IE 5.2 on my OS X box -- Windows users will have varying luck)

Hollywood Nights

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The IMBD is running a poll to figure out what New Line Cinema will do to keep the LOTR franchise alive after The Return of the King is out.

My favorite options are:

  • Release the three LOTR films as one twelve-hour, two intermission movie marathon
  • Give Charile Kaufman The Simarillion and see what he can do with it.
  • Get taggers to think that "Frodo Lives" is some new, cool gang slang
  • Release DVD versions where you can edit Liv Tyler OUT

(Link updated to reflect the results of the poll)

Life On Mars

Meg lays it down: "Sanctity of Human Life (except Iraqis) Day."

In other news, I'm not sure that this Onion piece is really satire: Bush On North Korea: 'We Mush Invade Iraq'

And to make it a trifecta: Gulf War 2 (aka World War 2.5) in Flash.

The last one via everyone's favorite old media curmudgeon.

Life During Wartime

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The latest salvo in the burger wars:

Daniel Boulud is introducing a $50 burger, according to the New York Post.

The new burger, which will be available ... next week, adds layers of fresh shaved black truffles to the successful formula of ground sirloin and chuck stuffed with fois gras and braised short ribs ... "If the price of truffles goes up, we'll have to increase the price of our burger," [Boulud] says. Black truffles usually retail for $350 to $500 a pound. Boulud says he will serve the uber-burger until the end of the black truffle season.

First Old Homestead introduced a $41 burger, then the Times ran a piece spotlighting the best burgers in the city, and now Boulud has a $50 burger. Is New York City in the midst of a burger mania?

Cheeseburger in Paradise

Ken Layne claims that the first step to getting a proper hamburger in New York is to get on an airplane and fly to El Lay.

Now, anyone who's ever lived in Arizona or New Mexico or West Texas knows that nothing beats a burger made from ground chuck grilled over a smokey mesquite fire. A bit of BBQ sauce, some mayo, lettuce, tomato, and onions. Paradise enow.

Tenth Avenue Freezeout

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The Voice claims that 89% of their readers have dined out in the last 30 days.

Thing is, New Yorkers don't cook. So my question is are the other 11% doing time at Rikers?

Even Better Than The Real Thing

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This link is proof that you can really truly find everything there is to buy on the internet (or, at the very least, advertised in the pages of the Village Voice.

The site itself is safe for work, but the general thrust of things is so not safe for work...

Speedball

The lawyers for two US pilots facing an Article 32 hearing (kind of like a grand jury) claim that they were on government-issued speed.

Hm. Gives a whole new meaning to the whole "War on Drugs", doesn't it?

Clothes Line

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You know, Saint Valentine's Day is less than a month away at this point.

And I know that many of you are still struggling with what to get your loved one this year (I'm going to ignore all of you who're just struggling to get a loved one this year). You already exchanged Rolexes last year, chocolate will give you spots, and diamonds, well, they are a girl's best friend, but they are just so last year (not to mention that it's so hard to tell if they're African blood diamonds that are being used to finance a megalomaniac's scheme to take over... oh, that's a Bond movie?).

No, let's face it: for 2003, nothing says "I really, really, really love you" like something from the Paul Frankenstein Light Industries and Manufacturing Emporium. Fresh off of a $30 million renovation, the new store features a revised inventory, new products, and all sorts of other kinds of lovable goodness.

Really. Who needs flowers and jewlery, anyway? Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get to the courthouse to change my name to Loman, Willy Loman...

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Another Brick In The Wall

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Was reading the Wall Street Journal at lunch.

Three things:

  1. On the importance of a classical education: During the HP/Compaq merger, Carly Fiorina insisted that the code names for the two companies be "Heloise" and "Abelard", respectively. If anyone asked, they were told that the love letters of Abelard and Heloise were an important part of French medieval literature. Which they are (even though they were written in Latin). What they weren't told was the fact that Abelard had his nuts cut off by Heloise's family (something that anyone who'd ever taken a course in medieval literature would know). Hmmm. Sounds like a metaphor for the whole HP/Compaq deal, don'tcha think? Incidentally, Compaq's CEO didn't find out what happened to the real-life Abelard until well after the merger had been consummated. Hmmm. You think he might have had cold feet if he'd taken History 407: Intellectual History of Medieval Europe?
     
  2. On why the New York Sun will fold this year: The Sun wants to be a different, alternative, conservative second paper for the movers and shakers of New York, a niche that they claim is unfilled. Of course it's filled. It's filled by the Wall Street Journal.
     
  3. On sharing the pain: The Journal is reporting that United Airlines has won some important concessions from its unions in its attempt to stay alive: pay cuts of 19% for pilots, 9% for flight attendents, and 13% for dispatchers, mechanics, ramp workers and customer-service agents. I'm wondering, though, if United's officers are also cutting back: after all, a 9% cut isn't going to make a lot of difference to the day-to-day lifestyle of someone making a million bucks, but it does make a difference to someone making $20,000 a year. What digging I did do suggests that United's CEO took home $0 in salary in 2001; instead he received 400,000 stock options (currently underwater, of course).

I Am The Walrus

Paul Katcher (he's going to be the other guy named "Paul" at BABB) explains why he's really going to the BABB.

I think that I've explained before that the only real purpose behind writing and maintaining a blog is to pull.

She Said She Said

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The official paulfrankenstein.org guide to deciphering what the other sex is saying:

She says: "I'm not looking for a relationship right now."
She means: "... with you."
He says: "I'm not looking for a relationship right now."
He means: "... just sex."
She says: "Size doesn't matter."
She means: "That's the smallest one I've ever seen."
He says: "Size doesn't matter."
He means: "It's the smallest one you'll ever see."
She says: "I like you as a friend."
She means: "... a friend who's less attractive than a dead toad."
He says: "I like you as a friend."
He means: "I'm lying."
She says: "It happens to lots of guys."
She means: "God, you're pathetic."
He says: "This has never happened to me before."
He means: "Well, except for when..."
She says: "He's a nice guy."
She means: "He's a nice doormat."
He says: "She's got a great personality."
He means: "I'm never going to go out with her again."
She says: "I'll call you."
She means: "Is it too late to erase my number from your Palm Pilot?"
He says: "I'll call you."
He means: "In three days."
She says: "I'll call you tonight."
She means: "I'll call you at 11, because you should have called me first, you pig."
He says: "I'll call you tonight."
He means: "... if I don't get too distracted by the hot bartender."
She says: "Oh, I wear this all the time."
She means: "... when I want to get some."
He says: "Oh, I wear this all the time."
He means: "... and it hasn't been washed since the first Bush administration."
She says: "I love movies."
She means: "... like Sleepless in Seattle or Riding in Cars With Boys."
He says: "I love movies."
He means: "... starring Arnold Schwarzenegger."
She says: "I like foreign films."
She means: "I like foreign films."
He says: "I like foreign films."
He means: "... because girls dig guys who like foreign films."
or
He means: "... because someone's gonna get their kit off."
She says: "I love you."
She means: "I want to spend the rest of my life with you and bear your children."
He says: "I love you."
He means: "I just had the world's worst case of brainlock and couldn't think of anything else to say."

Sometimes in Winter

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It's not just your imagination: the Times figures out that it's been an unusually wintery winter.

Steal My Sunshine

Wired News is reporting a rumor gangs of thieves have stolen new PowerBooks from MacWorld.

I doubt that's true... because when the original (blue & orange) iBooks were introduced at MacWorld New York in 1999, one of the protoype iBooks was lifted from the show floor (this wasn't just a rumor, it was confirmed to me by an Apple employee).

I would hope that security's been beefed up since then...

Brave New World

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SaturnLaunch.jpgThe illustrious Mike Whybark is running a series of interviews with David Sander, a man who has decided to create a mockumentary called Man Conquers Space. It's a "documentary" about the US space program in an alternate timeline, based on a series of articles that Collier's magazine initially published in 1952 and 53.

The articles, created by a team that was headed by Wernher von Braun and Chesley Bonestell, were profoundly influential (just Google up collier's magazine space program), although they were somewhat optimistic.

Man Conquers Space is a retrospective "documentary" about this never-realized space program (moon landing in 1962, a Mars landing in 1968). Sander uses Bonestell's artwork as the basis for the visual look of the film, and, judging from the trailer, it looks spectacular.

I say check it out.

I'm Looking Through You

The Los Angeles Times has a piece about David Hockney and Lucian Freud painting each other.

With, of course, pictures of the paintings.

The Washing of the Water

One of the very few things that I like about doing laundry is going through the pockets of my pants and finding 5 bucks.

And in other news, if you haven' heard the The Lords of the Rhymes yet, you probably should.

C-c-c-changes

David Weinberger wants to know: How Badly Does Windows Suck?

Let me count the ways....

No Matter Where You Go, There You Are

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Dr. Fiorella Terenzi is an astrophysist and a rock star.

Hmmm. Kind of like someone else I've heard of, only real.

Via Steve Giovanetti.

The Linguini Incident

I was at the supermarket the other day when I saw a young woman purchasing a jar of white sauce labed "Creamy Alfredo".

Since the ingredients in Alfredo sauce are cream, butter, cheese, and black pepper (see this recipe), I'm wondering if they now sell a "Non-Creamy Alfredo".

Surfin' Safari

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More on Safari, Apple's new browser.

  • It feels very fast. Reports are coming in that Chimera's just as fast (check the comments) (and that's not the only one), which may be true, but it still feels faster to me. I can't quite put my finger on it, though.
  • Using bookmarklets is broken. Smarter people than I have already figured out the bug; it has something to do with Apple's DOM implementation, apparently.
  • The font size on this page is simply rendered incorrectly. It's just way too small.
  • Using the address bar as a progress meter is a really neat idea. I would, however like to see what links I'm going to be clicking on.
  • I like the interface and I like the way it uses the bookmarks bar better than any other browser. I don't like the fact that the bookmarks menu can't list all my bookmarks (you have to use the iTunes-esque window to see them all).
  • No tabs, but that's something I can live without. However, it doesn't automagically cascade new windows, so having a whole mess of windows open at the same time is messy.
  • No way to check if a website has changed (ala OmniWeb or IE's subscriptions, not that anyone could ever get subscriptions to work properly). This makes checking a very large blogroll (who, me?) difficult.
  • Two of my favorite things about this browser are very much behind-the-scenes: pop-up killing and automatic rejection of cookies from third parties (like, say, doubleclick).
  • There are a few rendering bugs here and there; see this post for an obvious example.
  • It's a hell of a lot more standards-compliant than OmniWeb, that's for sure.
  • There seems to be a lot of discussion about whether or not going with the KDE rendering engine as opposed to Gecko (the engine behind Mozilla, Chimera, and modern versions of Netscape) was a good idea. Here's the reasoning behind the decision, at least from Apple's point of view. I personally think that it's a good thing, as the more browsers the merrier (as of right now, I have OmniWeb 4.1.1, IE 5.2.2, Chimera 0.6 and Safari 1.0 Beta in my dock, with Mozilla 1.2.1 and 1.3a in the Web Browsers folder). By introducing another rendering engine into the mix, designers will (or should; maybe this is wishful thinking) design for standards rather than browsers.
  • Auto-completetion in the address bar is URL only; it doesn't recognize site titles. Nor does it recognize bookmark names.
  • Speaking of bookmarks, there doesn't seem to be a way to import them from other programs.
  • The Google bar is very nice. Integrates well with the rest of the OS X UI and it even remembers your past searches (like, for example, "name of old high school crush").
  • If you have people in your Address Book who have website urls, Safari can automagically read that list and make it bookmark button. Sweet (no, I don't know how actually useful that is, but it's pretty cool).
  • The zoom button (the little green one) actually works, and it works well.
  • Network performance seems to have some room for upside improvement.
  • Makes very nice use of favico files.
  • You can command-click on the title bar.
  • Command-clicking a link opens it in a new window; shift-command-clicking opens the link in a new window behind the current one. Option-clicking automagically downloads the file to the desktop.

That's all for now. I'll be playing with it more later. I like it enough that it's now the default browser, though I'm still using OmniWeb to manage the blog thing....

Bulbous Bouffant

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Going to the opera and sitting behind someone with big hair is no fun.

Counting Crows

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The big news of the of the keynote (I only got one thing right, and that was that Bluetooth has been incoporated into the new laptops) were the new laptops, obviously (you can check them out at Apple's Powerbook page).

What's really interesting about them is that they showcase a lot of new technology that's going to be tricking down into the rest of the mac line probably pretty soon.

First off is what Apple calls Airport Extreme, known to the rest of us as 802.11g. It's a faster version of Airport that should be a standard for quite a few years to come, and, more importantly, it's compatible with old 802.11b (aka WiFi) equipment.

Second is the introduction of FireWire 800. This will be very useful to people with lots of video to work with, and will result in faster external harddrives.

And the new PowerBooks feature DDR RAM, a first for Apple's notebooks.

What does this mean?

Well, I would expect the PowerMac desktops to be refreshed by the end of March to incorporate the faster Airport cards and FireWire 800. I would also expect the 15" TiBook (are the new PowerBooks going to be called AiBooks?) to either disappear shortly or get a significant facelift to fit in with its brethren, at least in terms of getting an Airport Extreme card and DDR RAM.

However, the introduction of the smaller PowerBook raises questions about the future of the iBook. It's priced fairly low for such a powerful laptop -- I'd be wondering if this means the end for the 14" iBook. It also suggests that the iBook line as a whole isn't going to get upgraded to G4 processors anytime soon.

The XServe also didn't get mentioned at all, though I wouldn't be surprised to find out that it will grow some FireWire 800 ports soon.

The utter lack of any mention of the desktop machines (the iMac, eMac, or PowerMac lines) suggests that all is not entirely well there.

The emphasis on software suggests to me that Apple is trying to leverage its advantages in fit-and-finish on the software end. The upgrades to iMovie, iPhoto and iDVD (the iLife package) are interesting, though not as interesting as fact that iDVD will now be purchasable by the general public for $49; the real question is whether or not it will work with external third-party DVD-burners.

Keynote looks like a PowerPoint killer, though the fact that it will never be ported to Windows means that it won't take over the market entirely.

Safari is very nice. It's very, very fast, and it renders most things with minimal bugs (though this site is rendered with very small text). I'm actually composing this using the public beta.

So those are my predictions: minor revs for the PowerMac G4 line soon, major revs for the 15" PowerBook, the eventual demise of the 14" iBook, and FireWire 800 ports for the XServe.

We'll see how long that takes to come about....

One more thing: in the promotional video that they played at the end of the keynote, the look on BT's face when he realizes that the keyboard lights up in the dark is priceless.

Bunch of Keys

| 3 Comments

Off to watch St. Steve's Macworld Keynote address soon.

These things tend to follow a fairly predictable template:

Steve comes out and a great roar rises from the assembled masses. Then he does a bit on hardware and new machines (he's probably going to talk about the PowerMac desktop line, though he might talk about the iMac). After that is a bit about OS X (these things are always shot through with references to 'massive' sales numbers). He might get Phil Schiller on stage at this point to rally the troops a bit. After that, a series of guest speakers get paraded on stage. Probably some marketing VP from Adobe, someone from Microsoft's Mac Business Unit, a game programmer, maybe (but not likely) someone from Quark. After this (or perhaps during the middle of the long parade), he's gonna talk about the XServe; when he does that, he's probably going to talk about the XServe's RAID drive unit (ps -- expect to see faster XServes). Then he's gonna talk about the iApps -- iMovie, iCal, iChat, iTunes, etc. The rumor on the web seems to be that they're going to be charging for upgraded versions of the software. If there are going to be upgraded versions of the software, then they'll spend some time demoing it. This is also the logical time to discuss .Mac. Incidentally, it seems to make sense that .Mac would incorporate some kind of blogging tool, though I don't think that's going to happen this time around. Then he's going to talk about the portables, the iBook and the PowerBook. I wouldn't be surprised if they incorporate Bluetooth in new revisions. And he's going to wrap up with the desktop platform that he didn't start with (most likely the iMac/eMac).

Will there be a "One More Thing"?

Hard to say. Rumors about this keynote have been kind of thin on the ground, which either means that nothing spectacular is coming out or something really spectacular is coming out.

The safe money is on nothing spectacular coming out.

Oh, and it seems that I left out the iPod (and rumors of another iDigitalLifeStyleDevice) and the displays. If there are new displays, those will probably come either first or close to the top of the keynote.

Just my guesses. We'll see how accurate I've been in a few hours.

The Morning Side

Note to Self: Do Not Dispose of Gifts on Ebay.

Regifting works so much better.

The Sound and The Fury

| 1 Comment

Nick Denton says that Weblogs are a gigantic interlinked discussion forum, in which it's trivially easy to route around idiots.

Oh, so that's why only three people read this...

Heavy Soup

| 3 Comments

Things to do when it's snowing out (ok, it's already stopped snowing and I made this last night, but whatever): make ginger carrot soup.

Ingredients:The Stockpot

  • Four or five cloves of garlic
  • One large onion
  • 6-8 cups of chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • Two large carrots
  • One large potato
  • A medium piece of ginger root
  • Chives
  • Butter
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Equipment (aka gadgets):

  • A stockpot
  • An immersion blender (henceforth referred to as "the stick")
  • A sharp knife
  • A sieve (optional)
  • A ladle

The StickFirst, peel and crush the garlic and roughly chop the onion. Add about a tablespoon of butter (or you can substitute olive oil) to the bottom of the stockpot, add the onions and the garlic, and heat over a medium flame until the onions have turned translucent.

While you're waiting for the onions, cut the potato into slices, between 3/4 and 1 inch thick, and roughly chop the carrots. Peeling the potato is optional, though if you want a nice-looking soup, you should probably peel it. In either case, make sure that your vegetables are, of course, thoroughly washed. Thinly slice the ginger against the grain. You want to slice the ginger thin because the fibers in the ginger root will survive being pulverized by the blender blade, and coming across them when you're eating the soup isn't what you would call a great mouth-feel experience.

When the onions have turned translucent (if you want, you can brown -- but not burn -- them a bit), add the chicken stock (6 cups if you like a thicker soup; 8 cups if you like a more fluid soup), the carrots, and the ginger. Let simmer until the carrots are soft (about, say, 45 minutes or more).

Then add the cream (or you can use milk, if you're not into all that fat).

Put the stick in the pot, and blend until smooth.

This can be a little trickier than it sounds -- first of all, the soup is really hot, and these sorts of blenders really like making a big mess. I've found that putting it on the bottom of the pot at an angle works well for me. Move it around a bit to make sure that you get all the solids in the soup -- you want the soup to be nice and smooth.

The SieveOptional: pass the soup through a fine sieve to make it even smoother and to take out any large bits that might have survived the blender. This is something of a pain, though, and is only recommended if you really want to impress someone. Like, say, Julia Child. Or Amanda Hesser.

Season with salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls, garnish with chopped chives (or a sprig of parsley, or green onions, or whatever), and serve.

This is a pretty straighforward soup that can be used with many different kinds of vegetables: broccoli, cucumbers, asparagus, and so on. Just substitute the carrots and ginger with the vegetable of your choice, and blend when it's cooked. With faster cooking vegetables like broccoli and asparagus, add those after the potatoes are soft.

The Ballad of Aragon and Arwen

| 6 Comments

Perhaps the best summary of The Two Towers yet: THE TWO TOWERS (condensed)
By Molly Winter
.

Warning: this link may induce laughter. We do not recommend the consumption of beverages while reading it.

You Can Sleep While I Drive

| 9 Comments

You know, there are some downsides to having 24/7 internet access.

Like when you turn on your computer to play some silly video game and instead of playing the game you end up IM'ing with a totally hot chick until 3 a.m.

Man, I hate it when that happens.

Downtown Train

If you're at all interested in the New York City subway system, an invaluable resource is nycsubway.org, a comprehensive site dedicated to all things subway-related.

From the origins of the system and the competing companies (the IRT, the IND, and the BMT) up through the newest cars running on the L line (formerly known as the Canarsie local), it's really rather interesting.

Winning Style

| 4 Comments

The nominations for the 2003 Bloggies are open (link via Jeff Jarvis).

You know what to do, don't you?

I'm Only Sleeping

| 1 Comment

The word of the day is post-prandial.

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