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Saturday, September 24, 2005
12:24 PM      

Pegasus as Alternate Reality
Nice cliffhanger on Galactica. Just when you figure Adama has averted civil war in his fleet, the Admiral shows up with a bunch of cutthroats, and pulls rank. One episode underscores the humanity of the colonists, and sets up season three in a big way... January will be fun.

I think the scene between Baltar and the tortured Cylon, where he brings her something to eat, was superbly acted. Sheer pathos. The moment where she struggled to reach for the fruit, and dragged it back to her mouth couldn't have been done any better. I completely believed that she barely had any strength left.

Warren hipped me to the Galactica podcast feeds. Haven't listened to much yet, but this should be interesting. Get the background skinny on the shows. When I looked, the comments on the final episode weren't up yet. I definitely want to hear those.


I met Nicole
and her mom on 14th Street, in front of Garden of Eden. Nicole's mom was handing out flyers about bad business practices at Garden of Eden, and Nicole was trying on shoes.

I noticed Nicole's tattoo, and thought the combination of her tattoo and her posture was interesting. I approached and took a picture. Her mom told her to turn around. I smiled, and took another picture.

They seemed a little concerned, and wanted to know why I was taking her picture. I said ‘I'm an artist, and I love photographing New York. I thought you looked very interesting.’ She said ‘I could give you a good photo of my tattoo, if you like.’ That turned into several photos of Nicole's and her mom's tattoos. We quickly became buddies.

Adornment is a family hobby. The green on her finger nails are pieces of a dollar bill that were cut to fit and glued into place.




Subject: Mrs. Harding has $348,000.00 for you
I saw the subject line, marked it as spam. Next time a copy comes in, it should slide directly into my junk folder. But, the subject was fun enough, that I had to see how dumb the content was. That was a safe enough endeavor: I never open attachments from strangers, and Apple Mail doesn't load the images in messages marked junk – meaning that spammers won't be able to detect whether you're opening the messages or not (if they bother to check). On Mac, opening attachments isn't such a big problem, either, because there aren't any Mac-specific viruses around anyway. I also think UNIX is also just better-protected against those types of threats.

The body of the message was typical junk about mortgages. They want you to follow a link somewhere to fill out a form: another dangerous move for Windows users. I simply wasn't interested, anyway.

But the message contained a gem. At the bottom was this strange tangle of sentence fragments that reads almost like poetry. It was repeated twice. I figure the text is there so that the content will get indexed certain ways. They can't expect people to keep these messages in their e-mail, even if they have GMail... so I'm not sure what the spammers are trying to target. But it's fun to see... Or, maybe it's just the drunken (psychotic?) ramblings of a miserable real-estate agent who's hoping that sending spam out over the internet will reverse a downward spiral in his or her business...

That our country is founded upon Judeo-Christian values. And I have. Unreasonable man. The right to do something does not mean that doing. Transcendence is used to obscure oppression. The idiosyncratic has. Does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does. Mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice. Health. Begging for mercy, then yes, Mr. Brave man, I guess Im a coward. If. Absence is to lvoe what wind is to fire; it extinguishes the small, it. Or Beethoven played music, or Shakespeare wrote poetry. He should. Like making a large deposit in my name at a Swiss bank. If people talk. From being overwhelmed by the tribe. To be your own man is a hard. The best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a. Kindness from the unkind; yet strangely, I am ungrateful to these. Delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal. I- Unique things must be the most valuable. Unqualified superlatives. War on Drugs is about morals and ethics, lets make it a Volunteer. Has a fallible god. To give pleasure to a single heart by a single. Troops. We will ask questions and we will defend our democracy. Species, has nothing to do with truth. The falseness of a judgment is. Theres so much comedy on television. Does that cause comedy in the. People like me as members. I do not feel obliged to believe that the.

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Friday, September 23, 2005
11:25 AM      

The Return of Big Mouth
I dodged a bullet, maybe not quite as beautifully as Neo, but nicely, anyway. I bought a 250GB LaCie drive a couple of months ago for backup and archiving purposes. It worked great right out of the box.

I dragged a bunch of old (almost forgettable) files off my main drive to free up some space, and onto Big Mouth (English for ‘Boca Grande’), then I disconnected the drive. Several weeks later, I tried to turn the drive back on to copy some more files, and found that I couldn't get the drive to light up. I jiggled the power cord, and only got the power light to flicker. A few more jiggles, and even the flickering stopped. Damn.

Thinking it through, it seemed clear that the problem was with the connector between the drive's external power supply and the case. The socket and the internal power and interface bits are known to LaCie as ‘the bridge.’ I figured the guts of the drive were fine. They just weren't getting power (Scotty, are you listening?). Many years ago, I watched a power supply self-destruct, when I plugged in a hard drive that I thought would automatically sense the higher UK voltage. With the aid of some techs, I opened the case and bypassed the fried power supply. The drive came back to life, no sweat. Lesson#1: dead power supply ≠ lost data.

I contacted Tekserve, and explained the situation. The drive was under warranty. Instead of an even exchange, I wanted someone to open the case and swap the guts into another enclosure – a 15-minute operation at most. Tekserve told me that they'd charge me an hour's labor ($100) to do the job. I contacted LaCie.

The folks at LaCie wrote to tell me that they made no guarantees that my data would return. They suggested DriveSavers (very expensive), and even said Tekserve's offer was good... But I was certain that the drive itself was not compromised in any way. This was no head crash.

I bought $15 worth of packaging (the original box was long gone), and paid $15 to ship it to LaCie. The repair and return process was completely open. I saw when the box arrived at LaCie, and when it shipped back out. I had the drive back in my hands in a little under a week. The turnaround wasn't ‘while you wait’ – fast, but it was very quick, and it didn't cost me $100.

The data was there.

But, now, back to that bullet analogy. I figured the drive was so new, nothing would bring it down before I'd duplicated my archive somewhere else (a backup archive — what a novel idea!). I was wrong. And, of course, archives have somewhat dubious value, simply because they're like the stuff you put in the attic. You'll probably never need it. Still, it's maddening to think that you won't even have the option to peruse those old files when the need or curiosity arises... And then, there's the whole thing about how CDs and DVDs degrade over time, sometimes in a matter of a few years...

I need to work out a more complete backup and archive strategy.

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Wednesday, September 21, 2005
2:53 PM      

My parents were killed by ninjas. Need money for Kung-Fu lessons.
- Large corrugated cardboard sign posted by a panhandler on 14th street, near 5th Avenue.


Welcome to hell.” – Joshua Davis
I started Joshua's advanced Flash course at SVA last night. ‘We're gonna write code until your fuckin' eyes bleed,’ he said, and followed with ‘Forget what you know about Flash... we'll be creating lots of 1-frame movies... forget about tweening.’

The rest of the class was a scripting refresher peppered with a number of small demos, tidbits, and tips. He showed an example of a component that we're going to build during the class. It allows you to create a layout in Illustrator, then use a hack to bring it into a Flash movie and animate the pieces into place. The resulting movies are tiny. One of the Illustrator files he showed had thousands of pieces — Forget any ideas of doing the same thing by hand. Josh said he presented his idea to Macromedia as a potential feature, and they responded that he was the only person in the world who would use something like that. Hah!

Ever notice that in nature, the color schemes just work? Joshua says he uses a digital camera as a ‘color stealer.’ He photographs things, then uses the photos to create color palettes in Flash. How? You ask.

  • Open the photo that you want to extract the color from in Photoshop (or some other image editor that allows you to export GIF files)
  • Save for web as a GIF with between 32 and 64 colors – 32 is generally better
  • In Flash, open the color swatches palette
  • Choose ‘Add Colors...’ from the palette's drop-down menu
  • Point at the GIF file you exported in the second step above
  • Your colors will appear at the bottom of the palette

While he was at it, Joshua skewered the notion of ‘Web-Safe’ colors, pointing out that they were selected to deal with color presentation on computers running in 256-color mode.That might have been common ten years ago, but it's ancient history, now. If your monitor card shows more than 256 colors, ‘Web-Safe’ is irrelevant. The W3C Schools browser stats page doesn't even distinguish between 256-color (8-bit) and 65,000-color (16-bit) cards any more.

Notice, also that the stats indicate that about 10% of web viewers have JavaSript turned off, and that 69% of viewers are running 1024 x 768 or higher resolution monitors. Only about 25% are running 800 x 600.

He also told us that this style of labeling variables is called camelCasing.

Gotta go dust off my copy of Moock's ActionScript book, or better still, get the newer edition.


I called Chuck Schumer's office today, and said that I felt strongly that he should vote ‘no’ on Judge Roberts. It only took two attempts to get through. His staffer sounded upbeat. He thanked me for the call, and asked which county I was calling from. Let's see how the vote goes tomorrow.


The First Person?
“All Caucasian, all American. Why can't there be one Hmong? Why can't there be one minority in there? I believe only one person can judge, and that's God. But God didn't judge today.”
– Pofwmyeh Yang on the mandatory life sentence of Chai Soua Vang, 36, a Hmong man convicted on six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of attempted homicide.

As reported, the case against Yang seemed pretty overwhelming. Would I feel different, if I'd sat through all the testimony? I don't know.

You think it's simply an accident of speech that Yang referred to God as a person? I think it has a lot to do with how our culture relates to The Deity. I'm sympathetic with the whole ‘jury of your peers’ thing, but I wonder about how many Hmong are actually naturalized US citizens. Until this incident made the headlines, I'd never even heard of the Hmong. And, yes, the American legal system is going to have American jurors.

I'll be one of the first to say there are many things about the legal system that don't work, but I think American citizenship is a valid requirement to sit on a US jury.


Lies, Damn Lies, Politics, and Insurance Policies
A new phase of the Katrina story is beginning to unfold. Folks are settling in all around the country, and particularly in a broad band running north and west of the Gulf of Mexico. About a week after the levees in New Orleans broke, companies like Allstate were on TV touting how their people were already in the field taking care of people, and the Feds were on TV saying that displaced people were going to get assistance in the form of $2000 debit cards...

My three 65+ year-old aunts are settling into a house in Texas. One of them has partial paralysis from a stroke, and needs daily assistance. The youngest of the three is burning up minutes like crazy on her cell phone — the only phone they have. None of them drive. They didn't need to in New Orleans, because they had good mass transit, and resources were close. Not so sure it's the same in the little Texas town where they are now.

Now the kicker: My youngest of the three aunts was told by the government that she was not eligible for the $2000 relief package, because she has insurance. At the same time, reports are surfacing about insurance companies saying that hurricane insurance is not flood insurance, and that they intend not to pay a lot of claims.

Then, there's all the mincing of words. Jesse Jackson and Dubya make strange bedfellows, running around saying that the word ‘refugee’ is a pejorative word. C'mon guys, look it up. I'm sure someone on each of your staffs has access to a dictionary. At best, you can argue that there might be some negative connotations to the word (I can hear Tom Petty singing ‘no, you don't ha-ave to live like a ref-u-gee...’), but only some. Lou Dobbs has a great rebuttal to the nonsense.

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