Now This Log

Archives: February 2002

Friday, 1 February 2002

Various tools I use got upgrades this week ... BBEdit 6.5.2, Eudora (Mac OS X Beta 20), TimeCache 4.1.5 (though not the OS X version; wish they'd fix some bugs with that one too)...

Still waiting for: Macromedia Fireworks (who I expected to have something to say for themselves at Macworld, but nooooo....) and Adobe Photoshop ('just taking our time, see you in the spring'). What, was OS X a sudden surprise? Were the demos from last year and the year before of their programs working under OS X just QuickTime movies, or were they real?

Bah. I'd give them money if they would give me new software, but so far they refuse to take it. permanent link

On the one hand, it seems self-evident that pop-up and pop-under ads are bad. On the other, it's clear that not everyone thinks so, as they keep showing up on even 'major' sites. (Amazon, TIME, NY Times...). So it's nice that a different major site has come out as being opposed to their use in general. They further note that whatever pop-up windows you may see near a Google window didn't come from them.

Kinda sad that it's necessary to clarify it, but it's good of them to do so.

Speaking of Google, here's a semi-interesting interview with the CEO:

Three Minutes With Google's Eric Schmidt [PCWorld]
Half of Google's revenue comes from selling text-based ads that are placed near search results and are related to the topic of the search. Another half of its revenues come from licensing its search technology to companies like Yahoo.

The catalog search is a good example of a new service, because it was done in six months by two people. Because Google already has the infrastructure, it's relatively easy to add new services.
permanent link

Old-web-curmudgeon font size gripe:

When so many sites out there set their main text's font size to be small (with, say, <font size="-1"> or <small> or some entry in a style sheet), it makes those of us who don't modify the text size of our body copy (under the assumption that the user will set the text to their own most comfortable font and size) look like we're artificially, deliberately big in comparison.

Over time, people will set their browser's font size to make the majority of sites they visit appear at a comfortably readable text size. If the majority of sites are a size small, that size will be set as the new 'normal' and sites that were a normal (unmodified) size will then appear as overly big text (as though we are shouting, perhaps) when in fact we were the ones trying not to interfere with the reader determining their own optimal settings for reading us. It's perverse, I tells ya.

Everything would have been better if so many people hadn't insisted that their sites appear as teeny text. Teeny text is good for sidebars and for other incidentals but not for the main blocks of text people come to a site for. Oh well, too late, can't do anything but moan and gripe.

"If everyone's site uses small text, no one's site will have small text." permanent link

February already. Hm. Guess I should start moving the site to having a 2002 archive folder (and copyright notices...). Was going to do that when I moved to Movable Type, so I guess that means I need to get to it. permanent link

Wednesday, 30 January 2002

Word of the moment: telltale

Use the word in a sentence. One sentence per poster. NowThis is not a registered broker-dealer and does not endorse or recommend the services of any brokerage company. permanent link

Tuesday, 29 January 2002

"...Intelligence can find solutions where there are none. Psychologists once locked an ape in a room for which they had arranged only four ways of escaping. Then they spied on him to see which of the four he would find. The ape escaped a fifth way."
-- Robert A. Heinlein, Tunnel in the Sky

permanent link

Monday, 28 January 2002

Washington Post: Most Web Sites on the Hill Unimpressive, Survey Finds by Juliet Eilperin
The Congress Online Project, a venture funded by the Pew Charitable Trusts, evaluated the Web sites of all 605 House and Senate personal offices, committees and leadership offices. Just 10 percent received grades of A or B, while 90 percent got grades of C or below.

...lawmakers have a different agenda from the constituents, lobbyists and journalists who are searching the Web. As the report notes, those accessing the sites "are seeking basic legislative information such as position statements, rationales for key votes, status of pending legislation, and educational material about Congress. However, offices are using Web sites primarily as promotional tools -- posting press releases, descriptions of the members' accomplishments, and photos of the member at events."

The best sites, according to the project, correctly identify their audience; provide up-to-date, targeted content; offer opportunities for interaction; are easily used; and employ creative innovations.

The report also outlined several mistakes other lawmakers were making ... includ[ing] engaging in excessive self-promotion, failing to provide fresh content and including so many graphics that visitors have to wait several minutes to download the site.
The Congress Online Project, funded by a grant from the Pew Charitable Trusts permanent link

Word of the moment: dustbunny (as one word or two)

Use a form of the word in a sentence. One sentence per poster. Not for internal consumption. permanent link

What did Aaron Sorkin know and when did he know it:

KPCC Reveals President Bush Has A Heart Arrhythmia: White House Did Not Disclose After Pretzel Incident That Mr. Bush Has Sinus Bradycardia []
In August, after President Bush underwent a physical exam, the White House reported that his resting heart rate was 43 beats per minute. ... White House spokesman Ari Fleischer told reporters the day after Bush's fainting spell that the president's resting heart rate was 51 beats per minute.

...up until now, the White House has not volunteered, and the media has not reported, that the president's slow heart rate is due to a heart arrhythmia called sinus bradycardia. But now the White House is confirming this.

Generally speaking, a slow heart rate is a sign of a healthy heart, and many well-conditioned athletes have resting heart rates well below the normal 70-100 beats per minute. ... But one common problem associated with bradycardia is fainting.

Had the press known that President Bush has sinus bradycardia, and that fainting is a common symptom of bradycardia, the story might have been reported much differently. But the press didn't ask the right question, and the White House didn't volunteer the right answer.
There might be an argument for being a little less fit than he apparently is... get that heart rate up... permanent link

Oh, and finally Apple released its new professional desktops, with a high-end option of a dual-1 GHz PowerPC G4, 1.5GB of RAM, a DVD/CD burner and two 80GB drives for $3650 (which also gets you $500 off their 22" LCD screen, so you could spend as much as $5650 for the complete system). Apple should have released these the day after the new iMac to begin to justify the hype they spouted, but it's only been three weeks, so hey, close enough. The 'low' end has come down in price to $1600, which is not bad for what you get.

I think it was Bill Machrone of PC Week who often said "The machine you want always costs $5000." I think we've reached the point where that's just not true; I might drool conceptually over a dual-1GHz machine, but there's no way that I can make a case that I would ever use that level of power, RAM or storage (let alone that I would use it to its full capabilities every day). As it is, my single-400MHz G4 machine spends way more time waiting for me than I for it.

I think $5,000 now gets you a dream machine, not just a really good workstation. permanent link

Thanks to Bump for the pointer to the free, tedium-reducing Search Google add-on for Mac OS X, which allows you to select text in any of several applications, hit a keystroke and your browser will automatically search Google for that term or phrase. [credit also to Mac OS X Hints] I look forward to trying it.

Hey, the source code's available too. Cool. permanent link

Links, exploration and
synthesis from
Steve Bogart

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photo by my wife
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