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Thursday, September 04, 2003
12:53 PM      

I really like Ashley Wood's work. The PopBot series is amazing. He works with a combination of traditional and digital techniques. As you flip through his artwork, you'll even see screenshots taken from his Mac.


Macromedia's been doing their homework
Studio MX 2004 is coming. It ought to be shipping in a couple of weeks. Saw demos of Dreamweaver, Fireworks, Flash, and Flash Pro last night. Each looks very much to be a worthwhile upgrade. If it wasn't clear before, Macromedia is serious about courting application programmers.

In Flash, they've improved the ActionScript language so that it's even more consistent with traditional OOP languages – ActionScript 2.0 supports strict typing, for example. They've also enhanced the Pro environment so that developers who are used to products like Visual Studio will feel more at home. A third way that they've made Flash more approachable, is that they've added menu items that can generate timeline-based animation or ActionScript behaviors for you. There's a lot of new video-encoding stuff in Pro, and the latest player is version 7, but most of the new stuff works without a problem in player 6, so you might not have to wait for the player base to upgrade. What else? Improvements in small text rendering, and a global spell-checker.

Dreamweaver is now set up to handle CSS even better than before, and is intended to give designers the power to generate completely CSS-based layouts – no tables involved. They've also done some impressive work with tasks like table editing, capturing styled tables from Excel, and rendering clean code from Microsoft Office products via copy & paste. Some of the Fireworks image editing code is embedded in Dreamweaver so that simple tasks like cropping an image no longer require a round-trip to Fireworks. There's also a new feature called Flash Elements, which allows specially-designed Flash movies to be controlled through parameters using an interface built into Dreamweaver. Perhaps the most useful tool in the new Dreamweaver are the enhanced browser validation tools. You can select which browsers and which versions you want to target, including Opera and Safari. Offending code is highlighted in the editor, complete with suggestions on how to fix the problem. You can jump from error to error, and fix them as you go.

Fireworks has some nice new features: new live effects, and contour gradients, which conform to the shape they're applied to. They've also implemented dashed strokes for people like me, who never figured out how to get good-looking dotted lines in Fireworks or PhotoShop. Anti-aliasing for text is also improved. There's even an option to use the Quartz engine in OS X for rendering text anti-aliasing. That's cool.


In a hole and diggin' it deeper
[This new effort to secure international assistance in Iraq is] "a tacit admission that we don't have the forces there to get the job done. If we don't turn things around in the next few months we are facing a very serious long-term, problem." - Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.

So, now we're going back to the very same UN that we said we said "fuck you" to, five months ago?! The mess in Iraq is costing the US "at least $3.9 billion a month," with no end in sight. McCain is soft-peddling it when he says we have a few months to turn it around before we face a long-term problem. It's more likely that we've had a serious long-term problem since the bombing started, and folks are only beginning to wake up to how serious, and how long.

Why are they going back to the UN now, you might ask. Have you noticed the reports that we need more troops over there? (Thanks, Donald Rumsfeld.) Well, we're fresh out of troops, and enlistment is way down. If we were to continue to try and go it alone, the only way to get more troops would be to bring back the draft. Talk about political poison – this mess is already being compared to Viet Nam – the backlash to a draft under these circumstances would be a total disaster. Sooo... Poor Colin has to pucker up and try to mend fences at the UN.

The interesting thing now, is that they can't just ask the other countries to send troops into harm's way. They have to offer a meaningful role in managing things over there, yet they are adamant that the entire operation has to remain under US control. Fascinating tight-rope they've asked Mr. Powell to walk. Sounds like he doesn't have much candy to offer, and I wonder how much leverage he has to twist arms with.


Spell-checking this entry, I noticed the word "fuck" is not in Dreamweaver's dictionary. Quel surprise!

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Wednesday, September 03, 2003
12:56 PM      

Lady blogger from Baghdad

I was a bit disappointed with it all. For the last week, I was anticipating some sort of… I don’t know- elaborate inauguration ceremony? No, not really… maybe more of a festivity, worthy of the solemn occasion, marking his ascent to power. A circus-themed gala, perhaps, where Bremer can play the ring-master and Chalabi can jump through red, white and blue hoops to mark this historical day. Qambar can serve the cocktails. ...

...I stayed silent because I don’t even know the city anymore. Now, areas are identified as “the one with the crater where the missile exploded”, or “the street with the ravaged houses”, or “the little house next to that one where that family was killed”.

The looting and killing of today has changed from the looting and killing in April. In April, it was quite random. Criminals were working alone. Now they’re more organized than the CPA (Coalition Provisional Authority) and the troops combined. No one works alone anymore- they’ve created gangs and armed militias. They pull up to houses in minivans and SUVs, armed with machineguns and sometimes grenades. They barge into the house and demand money and gold. If they don’t find enough, they abduct a child or female and ask for ransom. Sometimes the whole family is killed- sometimes only the male members of the family are killed. ...

Good to find another insider view. Sure, parts of it are probably skewed, and not all the facts are checked, but that's no different than the filtered junk (mostly written by the Pentagon press corps) we get from CNN and Fox, is it?

This entry has a lot of good stuff. The site's definitely worth a bookmark.


Life's too short to drink cheap wine,
but if it's just inexpensive, I don't mind. Had another bottle of Parallèle “45” Côtes du Rhône from Paul Jaboulet Aîné last night. It's really tasty – a lighter red with a bit of a spark – especially if you let it breathe for about an hour before you start drinking.

In fact, most reds really do become a lot more magical, if you let them "open up" for at least an hour. We got an inexpesive wine decanter (improperly labeled a caraffe) at Crate and Barrel. It looks something like an hourglass that's had most of the top part sawed off. The wide bottom exposes more of the wine's surface to the air, promoting the oxidation that makes the wine come alive.

Another good, inexpensive red we had recently – 2000 Roc du Bel Air Bordeaux Supérieur. It's 40% Merlot, 35% Cabernet Sauvignon, and 25% Cabernet Franc. This and the Côtes du Rhône were about $10 each, and so much better than those cloying generic reds that are often around the same price point. Yup, they're both French. Got a problem with that? Cheers. Drink what ya like...

The 2000 wines from France are rated an especially good vintage, and there are rumors that some of the producers are mixing in as much left-over 1999 as they can get away with, to take advantage of the hype.


Victim of their own success is taking no more new subscribers, until they can get a handle on some bandwidth issues.


The decision, already in effect, has not been made public. It is being treated as a "new interpretation" of existing law, according to the memo, which was obtained by USA TODAY. As such, no public comment was required.

What decision? The decision to lift a 25-year-old ban on selling sites contaminated with PCBs. The law was re-interpreted to make it easier to sell property before it's properly cleaned up, the theory being that some property has been stuck in limbo because the owners couldn't afford to clean it up...

But the EPA already allowed its regional offices to waive the ban on selling PCB-contaminated land when a buyer is willing to clean it up. Regional officials say that process slowed the transfer of a few properties but generally worked.

Q: What happens to the materials that are removed from contaminated sites? Are they dumped together somewhere else to form another, larger, contaminated site? Or, are they burned, releasing who knows what into the atmosphere?

Brought to you by Bush & Co. – Bend over. We'll drive.


The man burns in 366 days.
I've never been to Burning Man. The idea is fascinating. Here's one man's experience, including VR panoramas, and an article from Wired. I'll have to go, at least once. Maybe next year?

[ link | e-me ]

Tuesday, September 02, 2003
3:40 PM      

A blonde girl walks into a drapery store. She tells the salesman:

"I'd like to buy a set of pink curtains for my computer screen."

Surprised, the salesman replies:

"But, madam, computers don't need curtains!?"

To which the blonde says:

"Um, Helloooo!....
I've got WINDOWS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 


Street scene in SoHo


Monday was the annual West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn, but Saturday was the kiddies' parade – which had much better weather than the adult parade this year.


Before the kiddie parade, we took in a bit more of the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.The water lilies were past their peak, but very interesting.

... not that water lilies were the only thing in bloom.


Isn't it ironic...


Yowsah! Monday, I start the Fast Track to ColdFusion course. I'm definitely looking forward to this...

[ link | e-me ]
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