Archive for November, 2004

Entropy

Clark’s Restatement of the Second Law of Thermodynamics:
Chaos Ensues.

Give the Gift of Art

Looking for a unique holiday gift? Give the gift of Art, in the form of a signed photography print. My good friend Sean has opened an eBay store just in time for the season. He already has a number of his prints available, and is adding more daily.

I’m putting Moon over Charlotte on my Christmas list. This is one of my favorite photos of his. When I bought my Epson Photo Stylus 960 last winter, I asked Sean to send me a full res TIFF of this shot, to use testing the printer out. I took a 4×6 print of the picture to show to some of my co-workers. It’s been pinned to my office wall ever since, and continues to draw comments from everyone who sees it. The 12″x8″ enlargement has got to be stunning.

Syncronicity

It’s funny how certain topics seem to show up around the web about the same time I’m thinking about them. Sometimes there’s a common trigger, but alot of times there isn’t. Here’s some of both (and some of neither).

  • First off, a handy tip I picked up looking at someone else’s del.icio.us bookmarks- if you prefix a tag with an asterisk, it will appear at the top of your list of tags. I use this to maintain several categories that stay at the top of the page, including *toblog, *toread, and *tobuy. Once I’ve blogged/read/bought the item in question, I just remove that tag (or occaisionally the whole bookmark.

  • Here’s one I forgot to blog: on Oct 10, I *toblog-marked the RadioShark from Griffin Technologies (makers of the ultra cool Powermate and iTrip). It’s essentially a TiVo for radio, allowing you to record live radio and play it back later (perhaps on an iPod). When I saw this, I thought it might help with the problem of finding something good on the radio at a random time of day. Within a day or two, I learned about Podcasting; by Oct 15 I had blogged about it. I don’t even own an iPod (yet), but I rarely listen to the radio anymore. I do have a stack of 20+ CD-Rs in my car, full of already-listened-to podcasts.

  • Several days ago, I wrote about losing my Bloglines ‘unread’ metadata. I had over 3000 unread items, and I ended up deciding it was probably a good idea to start fresh anyway. The very next day, Jeffrey Veen wrote about conciously making the decision to clean up his unread RSS count in his desktop aggregator. He wrote of “literally hundreds of subscriptions haunting me each day; a bright red counter showing unread posts creeping up into the thousands.”

    Dave Winer then commented on Jeffrey’s post on his own blog, delivering the alarming news that “so many people are using RSS the wrong way.” Sorry, I just don’t see it. RSS is a content delivery mechanism. It is optimized for certain uses and usage patterns, but it is at the core a way of delivering information. The right way to use information is what ever way that information is most useful to the consumer. For me, I want to see everything. I may not read it all, but simply filtering everything brings me some degree of awareness of what I skipped.

    Having said that, Dave does have a point. His vision of the “right” way to use RSS is not without merit. He wrote:

    It’s not like email. Let the river of items flow through your queue, scroll over them with a scroll bar, and don’t let the software tell you you’re falling behind. Your time is what’s valuable, there’s no value to the items you didn’t read. If it’s important it’ll pop up again. RSS is not email. Don’t sort them out into little boxes that you have to go to….

    There are probably some feeds I subscribe to which I could apply this model to, and should think about doing so. On the other hand, there are feeds for which I never want to miss any content. Just last weekend (prior to losing my unread counts), I caught up on Tim Bray‘s feed- over 200 items dating back over 6 months. I never should have let it go unread so long, but I knew it would take me time to catch up since I like to read everything. The limitations of the Bloglines interface (reading unread items in a feed is all-or-nothing) are also to blame. But I’m glad I did catch up. I learned a lot about many intersting topics, got a recommendation for a book which I’m now reading, and discovered Magnatune.

  • Security, in many forms, has been on my mind ever since I recently re-read Cryptonomicon. Data security, communications security, and backing up of important data. One of these days, I’m planning to write a series of articles about some of the things I’ve done to get more secure (but not today). One of the things I haven’t yet done is get serious about backing up my Powerbook. I should know better- I’ve been on the wrong end of a horrible crash before, including one that was potentially career-limiting. To say I got religion about backing up work stuff is putting it mildly. At home, I’m not quite so diligent.

    So I was pretty interested when I read Mark’s take (at BoingBoing) on an OS X backup solution called SuperDuper. Looks like it could be just the thing, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. Jeremy Zawodny wrote about improving his backups across all of his systems. He’s now using SuperDuper for his Mac.

  • I can perform my backups onto my 120GB external Firewire harddrive, but Jeremy has built a Raid-5 backup cluster on a Linux server (same link as above). This got me to thinking (again) about LaCie’s Bigger Disk, now available in 1.0 and 1.6 Terabyte sizes. They aren’t exactly cheap, but just look at it: You can get 1 TB of storage in a portable, 5 1/4″ 2U form factor on a Firewire 400/800 interface for $999 list (10-15% less if you shop). A terabyte for under kilobuck? Wow.

  • Thinking of my Firewire Drive and the Bigger Disk then got me thinking about the Linksys NSLU2, a USB2.0-based Network Storage Device. Plugin a USB2.0 Harddrive, turn it on, and it becomes a Samba server on your network. What makes this ├╝ber-cool is that like its cousin the Linksys WRT54G wireless router, it’s a little Linux box, and much cool hacking is already going on. It’s a shame that it only works with USB2.0 drives and not Firewire. And of course, today’s hack-a-day hack was on how to use the linksys nslu2 as an itunes server.

  • Jumping back to Neal Stephenson’s Cryptomonicon… I’ve been wanting to read his Baroque Cycle, which expands on Cryptonomicon, but several hundred years in the past. Due to a long standing policy of mine, I won’t start the triology until all three books are published (yes, I’m a Robert Jordan fan). Seems I won’t have to wait any longer. Looks like I missed the early October release of book three.

  • Which reminds me, I’ve really got to put together my Christmas list.

  • Speaking of lists, the Markdown original of the post has a list of all of the links. Twenty-eight. Must be a new personal best.

  • As long as I’m tying everything together (and yet rambling), here’s one of my favorite albums of all time.

Can you see me now? Crap.

Several weeks ago, I got a surprise when trying to use my camcorder, Canon ZR65MC. After turning it on in camera mode, the image through the eyepiece was black, although the timecode and other overlayed information was visible. A quick check of the lens cap revealed that I had not, in fact, forgen to uncork the device. Opening the side-door view screen didn’t help… same problem. Some tinkering revealed that playback still worked. I thought perhaps I had somehow changed a setting, and spent several minutes trying to figure out how to restore the video. By the time I had given up, the event I wanted to capture had already begun.

Although I forgot about this for a couple of weeks, I’ve resumed my search for an answer. I could find nothing in the manual or online support website. Looks like warranty service will be needed. Fortunately, Sherri does a great job of hanging on to receipts, and I tend to keep boxes for exensive items. The camcorder was purchased last year on 11/29, so I’m still (barely) within the year’s warranty. I have to call an 800 number Monday morning to get shipping instructions. Oh, Joy.

Doing a little more digging, I found that I’m not the only one having problems. Seems alot of people with the ZR65MC, as well as the ZR60 and ZR70MC (the other two cameras that were on the market at the same time) have seen the same problem, and generally around the end of the warranty- some before, many after. At least mine happened before. I’ve been trying to see if anyone’s posted about this in Amazon’s review section, but Amazon is slow beyond use (yet again, but that’s another post). This year, Canon has a new crop of camcorders out- the ZR80, ZR85, and ZR90. I have no idea if they suffer the same flaws as their older kin, but if you plan to buy a Canon camcorder, I suggest you hang on to the receipt. I’ll post more here after I’ve talked to Canon.

Update: Canon repaired the camcorder under warranty, and I had it back less than three weeks after shipping it. Read the complete update.

Oops

This is what my folder list looked like yesterday on Bloglines. As you can see, I had a lot of unread items. I’ve been slowly catching up for months, but I’m pretty meticulous about reading things if I’m subscribed (eventually). Probably the collecting bug I’ve got.

Anyway, in case you haven’t used Bloglines, inside those folders are individual feed subscriptions. You can expand the folders to read each subscription individually, or you can click on the folder to read all of the items in all of the feeds in that folder. Guess what happens if you click the top-level folder?

I accidently did just that yesterday. Realizing what I had done as soon as I did it, I panicked, and closed Firefox as quickly as I could, hoping the request wouldn’t go through (I was at work, and our web proxy is a dog). Of course, it did go through, and closing the browser was a big mistake. Bloglines now has a feature that lets you mark all articles currently being viewed from a feed as unread… but only when first viewing them. By the time I’d restarted my browser, it was too late. There are a few ways I could have viewed what I’d lost, but no way to recover the state information for future use. I even had the Powerbook running and tuned into Bloglines at the same time- I put Firefox in the Mac into Offline mode, which let me get the screenshot, and I could have used that to see what feeds I needed to review for lost items. In the end, however, I decided to accept the loss of my unread items gracefully, and start over with a clean Bloglines inbox.