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143 entries from October 2003

Damned dilated eyes

I'm at Tully's' flagship store (4th and Union) in downtown Seattle, stumbled here after my eye appointment in which my eyes were dilated to the point that even though night was falling and I was wearing my sunglasses on my way here, there was too much light—my eyes screamed the whole way.

I have the iBook's screen at its lowest brightness and at arm's length and I can barely read it. Good thing I touch-type well so at least I know what I'm writing.

Today's appointment was a repeat of a series of imaging tests I first went through two weeks ago. The tests are computerized and the computers hosed the data, according to the doc's office. The tests require eyedrops in a combination that induced a terrifying migraine last time.

Here's hoping that migraine was a fluke. I really do NOT want to spend tomorrow in a darkened bedroom with pillows over my head.

Chat Context Magick

In AIM just now.

Don (13:46:50): Wow, I just made my iPod crash
B.R. (13:53:10): O.o
Don (13:54:22): Hit "play" and it just froze, no response, nada.. never done that before
B.R. (13:58:19): reboot?
Don (13:58:45): yep, simple enough to get it going again
Don (13:59:43): Mainly I was struck by the silliness of repeatedly pressing the "play" button on the wired remote and then trying to adjust volume, checking to be sure the headphone cord was plugged in still, etc., and only then actually looking at the display to see it was all frozed up
B.R. (14:01:00): lol
B.R. (14:40:17): It rebooted, then I noticed blood all over the carpet, lol!
B.R. (14:40:21): oops
Don (14:40:39): O.o
B.R. (14:40:43): that must have been oddly out of context
Don (14:40:49): lolol yes and no
Don (14:56:17): My first thought was, if you're rebooting your iPod in such a way that it draws blood, perhaps your first worry shouldn't be rebooting your iPod ;x
B.R. (14:57:03): lol

Driving the cell phone

On my lunch break I watched a man in a full-size dualie pickup attempt to negotiate a turn-around in a parking lot so he could pull through to a space for a nose-out parking job. He had one hand on the wheel, the other firmly pressing his cell phone to his ear.

He made the turn-around in only 38 steps, and even then he couldn't pull into the parking space straight. Unreal.

Now, I'm not a fanatic for outlawing cell-phone use while driving. I don't use my phone while my car is actually moving except for an occasional few-seconds call, long enough to tell a person I'll call back or to get off the phone if I start a call at a stoplight and the light changes before I think it will. Only a couple of times in my life have I been in danger from an accident caused (or nearly caused) by a cell-phone-using driver.

That said, here's my thought:

We could solve the problem of drivers on cell phones by the simple expedient of no longer equipping motor vehicles with power steering.

Most cell phones are tiny devices not intended to be wedged between shoulder and ear, and so most drivers who use cell phones keep one hand on the wheel and use the other to hold the phone. This is made easier by the power steering most vehicles have nowadays.

So make steering the vehicle harder, make drivers keep both hands on the wheel, limit cell phone use.

Of course this could just result in higher sales of hands-free kits and headsets, but in typical U.S. actuarial fashion, we'll deal with that when it happens.

Mac OS X “Panther” upgrade: iTunes problem disappears; iBook install goes bye-bye

The problem I had in iTunes on my dual-G4 450, mentioned in this 27 Oct 03 post, has disappeared as quickly as it appeared. I have no idea what caused it or what I may have done (or not done) to fix it.

The iBook problem, however, devolved into a general mêlée that eventually required reinstalling Panther on that machine. I did that last night and everything was fine as of 01:30 today.

I’m still pleased with the upgrades in general, and this isn’t the first time I’ve done an install twice in a short time based on what I wanted/needed for a given machine. But the rapidity of the iBook’s cascading failure yesterday was a surprise.

Radio advertising irritant

There’s an auto dealership somewhere in the Seattle metro area whose owner does his own radio ads. Actually, I’m sure he’s not the only auto dealer to do his own ads, but he is the only one whose ads have registered on my brain this hour.

This man has a particularly nasally/whiny voice, very grating. But he does two other things that drive me UP THE FREAKIN’ WALL.

  1. His answer to most questions posed by the Female Straightperson in the ad is: “Yes we can!”

    F. S.: “Did I hear right? [low interest rate and other incentives blah blah blah]?”
    DealerTwit: “Yes we can!”

  2. He says “and” when he speaks the cars’ model years: “Two thousand and six,” for example.

    For God’s sake, one doesn’t say “Nineteen ninety and three” or “Seventeen twenty and one”!

Mac OS X "Panther" upgrade: problem on 600MHz iBook

Apple's flatly refuses to run properly. I double-click the icon and it launches, starts checking for and downloading mail from my accounts, and then I get an "unexpected quit" dialog.

I saw a mention of this at MacInTouch as a possible symptom of the FileVault feature gone bad, but I never activated FileVault on my iBook.

Deleting prefs hasn't worked, nor has permissions repair. Those are the only steps I've tried so far; I encountered this first thing this morning and I had to rush out the door to work before anything else.

Looks like I know what I'll be doing tonight...!

Ah wait, it didn't work

No, I typed too soon. It didn't work after all. iTunes is now back to the endless quit-relaunch cycle, until I force-quit.

I guess I could leave it running all the time. It's stable enough otherwise, but I don't like having to Command-Tab through apps I'm not using at a given moment.


Stupid iTunes problem after OS X upgrade

Installed Mac OS X 10.3 ("Panther," in Apple's recent feline-centric naming convention) Saturday morning, and since then I'd noticed that iTunes really didn't like to quit. It would quit, and then it would immediately launch itself again.

I tried everything I could think of. Repaired permissions, checked all the iPod-related preferences in iTunes several times (specifically, made sure to disable the option to launch iTunes when the iPod was connected), set the iPod updating to manual and back to automatic, disconnected the iPod and then quit iTunes, nothing worked. I eventually had to force-quit iTunes if I wanted it to stay down.

So I filed a bug report with Apple, and then for kix I repaired permissions, checked the options, and connected my iPod once more.

And this time, it worked fine.


:: • :: • :: • :: • ::

UPDATE 00:36: Well, I typed a bit too soon. It didn't work after all. iTunes is now back to the endless quit-relaunch cycle, until I force-quit.

I guess I could leave it running all the time. It's stable enough otherwise, but I don't like having to Command-Tab through apps I'm not using at a given moment.


Ahh, Wi-Fi. Or, how I love using my laptop in bed

Floor plan for 2-bedroom/2-bathroom apartment, Archstone Northcreek My apartment is a two-bedroom, two-bathroom affair set up in what the management company calls a "perfect for roommates!" layout. The master bedroom suite is at the far end of the apartment from the front door; the second bedroom and bathroom are right inside the front door.

Naturally I use the master suite as my bedroom and bath, and the second bedroom functions as my office and as a guest room on the rare occasions I have overnight guests who aren't staying in my room.

So I have an AirPort base station shooting Wi-Fi signals out of my office, and I'm in my bedroom with my laptop, comfortably reclined on my bed with A Few Good Men playing on the VCR.

I'd forgotten I even had that movie on VHS still, but here I am, sinfully comfy in my own little world.

Saturday Night Stupid

Caught a brief clip of an episode of Saturday Night Live. Apparently it was a repeat episode from 2001 with Matt Damon hosting.

I remember when this show used to be funny. Now I feel embarrassed for the poor actors who have to flog their way through stupid skits that never fucking end.

Speaking of Matt Damon, if you haven't seen The Bourne Identity, give it a try. Very engaging film, full of action and twists to keep your attention riveted.

Installing Mac OS X Panther

Yeah, I was nerdly and waited in line at the Bellevue, WA, Apple Store. Fought my way through crowds of Apple zealots—even though I am one, I'm nowhere near as odd as the folks I was among tonight—and got the single box, then beat a hasty retreat.

I decided to back up my docs and do a full disk wipe and clean install, and so far it's going fine. I started with OS 9.2.x so I could use Classic apps if necessary, and now just starting the Panther install itself. It's blazing along, went from 1% to over 80% complete while I typed this.

Full-text book search at

Today introduces a feature allowing searches to be run on the full text of thousands of books, with excerpts (and in many cases full scanned images of the pages) available to see the context. It's built directly into the search function of the site, pretty handy if you want to see all books with a certain term or phrase and don't know or don't want to specify a title or author.

glazing... over...

Just tried a chocolate-iced donut from Krispy Kreme. First time I'd ever had anything other than a standard-issue glazed from that establishment.

I didn't know that all Krispy Kreme donuts are glazed, despite any other finishes that may be applied.

I can deal with a single regular glazed without thinking too much about it, but the equivalent of a glazed and a chocolate-iced at the same time?


Oh yes, and the Krispy Kreme donut page even has nutritional info.

For their customers who are watching their waistlines.

Marysvillians finally heading back to school

No contract yet, but a court order made the teachers wake up and smell the chalk dust.

The Seattle Times: School days finally arrive for Marysville students, teachers

This strike was by no means solely the teachers' fault. Both sides have displayed a remarkable paucity of common sense in the 51 days since the strike began. But to hold the schoolkids hostage, to require a court order to return to work without a contract when they could have done that 50, 49, 40, any number of days ago since this started—well, in the spirit of our big purpose of "sending a message," what kind of message does that send to people?

"Hey, I know! Let's strike, make no progress toward settling our differences, delay the lives of thousands of people to make a point, but then return to work without a contract when we might face fines or other penalties!"

I believe public-school teachers shouldn't have the right to strike, so I don't side with the teachers. I understand their complaints and concerns, and I agree with many of them, but I do not support striking as a method of achieving better conditions for them.

And one question no one has answered to my satisfaction yet: The Marysville teachers didn't take their strike vote until September 1. Why were negotations for a new contract not started months ago so the two sides could hammer out any differences with enough time that a strike would be shorter, if it occurred at all? I know the budget may not have been finalized, but budget work isn't done in a matter of minutes; the school district had to have a good idea months in advance what expenses it would be able to justify for the next contract period.

Why wait until a strike even COULD go on this long?

The school year now ends July 27, since the kids have to make up 36 schooldays to meet the state-mandated 180-day school year.

Breakfast adventures

I woke up very early this morning and, having nothing better to do than look out the windows at the breezy rain, I actually cooked breakfast.

Scrambled eggs with a bit of garlic powder, some pepper, a little cheese. Crisp bacon. Coffee, which I haven't made at home just for myself in years—I have a drip coffeemaker that sits on my counter all the time, until now used only for guests.

I may just have to do this on a regular basis. It was nice to be out on my patio, protected from the wind and rain, with a steaming cup of coffee and a nice morning meal to get the day going.

I'll have to try teaching myself to wake up an hour before my alarm every day so I have plenty of time to enjoy the morning. I usually wake up a few minutes before the alarm goes off, but I don't like rushing.

I think the rain stopped

Just stepped outside and came back in without a splattering of raindrops across my face. Radar at wunderground shows the storms to the south and east of Seattle proper right now, which means we have a couple hours anyway without new rain.

It's strange to me for the rain to go on for a full day and into the night, but it's so mild outside. It's 65° on my patio right now, which for a late-October rainy day is unheard of in my experience. In Salt Lake, rain in October meant chilly nights in the low 40s, even high 30s.

Swimming to lunch

NW USA weather radar snapshot from wunderground.comI hereby declare this weather insane. Amen and hallelujah.

0.31 inches of rain in the last hour, with rain forecast to continue through tonight at similar rates in some parts of the Seattle metro area (mainly Everett north, the radio weather wonks are saying).

Winds at 15-20 mph, gusting to 30 or 40 in some areas. I'm looking forward to that, oh yeah.

There's an active flood advisory for the rivers surrounding the Puget Sound area, and on my way back from lunch just now I was detoured five times by standing water on the roads around the lab.

I'd been looking forward to driving through the puddles at high speed, but I was thwarted.

Oops, design coding goof

So I used words like saddlebrown and tan and linen in the color settings for my design templates, and my Mac browsers had no trouble with them, but my PC browser at work (IE 6) choked on them and just didn't display the elements that were defined in those colors. Went back and put in the hex codes instead, all seems well.

Gotta love standards compliance. Although now that I think about it, I doubt words for colors is standards-compliant, but I'd at least think the Mac and Windows IE versions would be close on interpreting a similar element type.

(I almost typed that with a straight face...!)

Damn, we travel a lot

Seattle Times has an article with statistics about Americans' travel habits. Interesting numbers there.

Kinda horrifying too. My commute takes me about 12 minutes; I've never had a job that took more than 20 minutes to get to or from (barring the occasional car crash or power outage that made things longer). I do drive between Seattle and Salt Lake City several times per year, such that my 2-year-old car already has nearly 40,000 miles on it. But otherwise, I don't spend as much time in my car as the averages indicate.

The vanity of blogs

I created this blog 45 days ago. Saw the daily average hit count go from 1 to 135 back to 30 or so now, the vast majority of those hits caused by searches on hurricane Isabel photos and later by Chicago Cubs and variants.

Says to me that what I write is of no interest to anyone but myself, and others check out this blog when their search terms match up to it, regardless of what I said about a given term.

For instance, I've had a few dozen hits over the past few days on the terms iPod users guide, which points readers to a post I wrote related to the Smart site, which does indirectly relate to iPods but is by no means a user guide for them. In large part it's barely an information site for iTunes' Smart Playlists feature—not enough posts there beyond the basic "here's how to make a list that only shows songs you played today!" type of thing, which is pretty self-evident from the Smart Playlist creation window in iTunes. But I get hits on it anyway, and I feel cool about it.

Yeah, that's me. Cool because of hits on my blog unrelated to what I'm actually saying, but I choose the right words and drag people here kicking and screaming.

One of these days I should write about photos of the Chicago Cubs driving Ferraris on their way to losing the NLCS while using their laptops to look at photos of Hurricane Isabel.

Saturn announces name of 7-passenger vehicle

This happened in September, but I missed it somehow. Full Metal Jacket for Saturn RELAY

They're scrapping the polymer panels with this model and going with all-steel-panels construction, so they lose a main part of their marketing from the past.

They're also stepping away from the three-letter naming conventions of the last couple of new models, the VUE and the ION. But they are continuing the odd design choices I've found in those two models.

Be interesting to see this new RELAY in 2005, but I can't imagine actually buying such a vehicle. The idea of a van-type vehicle that doesn't have sliding rear doors, or at least two doors hinged oppositely like many larger passenger and cargo vans, strikes me as strange. From the photos I've seen of the RELAY, it appears the left side has a pretty typical rear-passenger door that swings out from directly behind the driver's door, and looks like there's a smaller hinged door on the right side.

Strange Saturday

I spent Saturday afternoon at two brew pubs, and when I got home the lack of sleep from the two days of migraine caught up to me with a vengeance.

Spent a couple hours at Hale's Ales in Fremont, and then met a friend at McMenamins on Roy Street for a late lunch. Got home around 18:00 and by 19:00 I was having a hell of a time keeping my eyes open at all.

I had maybe 6 hours of sleep from Thursday night to yesterday afternoon, and the last time I remember looking at a clock was 19:30. I woke up at 00:30 today and got up for a couple of hours, because I was wide awake and I don't like lying in bed when I know I won't be sleeping. By around 02:30 or 03:00 I was a bit groggy once more, and I climbed into bed and snapped awake at 09:00. In total I missed three phone calls, several text messages, and a bunch of IMs, even though my phones and my laptop were within a few feet of me and all at their highest volume settings.

The Friday Five: 10/17/03

Slowly getting better about the timing on these things. Only one day late this week.

  1. Name five things in your refrigerator.
    Half-gallon of milk; mixed-greens salad; ranch dressing; two bottles of wine; leftovers from dinner last night

  2. Name five things in your freezer.
    Four ice trays (two full, the other two the ice has evaporated); chicken breasts; beef cubes for a stew I'll probably never make; vanilla ice cream; Arm & Hammer baking soda

  3. Name five things under your kitchen sink.
    Trash bags; cleanser; dishwasher detergent; a couple spare sponges; Windex

  4. Nave five things around your computer.
    SoundSticks; spindle of blank CDs; file cabinet; laser printer; stack of CDs I need to rip into iTunes someday

  5. Name five things in your medicine cabinet.
    Two extra toothbrushes; dental floss; aftershave; spermicidal gel inserts; beard trimmer

Migraine's finally gone

A slight photosensitivity in my right eye still, but no more pain or pressure.

I saw Jerry Seinfeld in concert at the Paramount Theatre last night, and it was simultaneously torture as the pressure built up and then relief as the endorphins flooded my skull and the pain subsided somewhat. When I got home, however, it was all I could do to get into bed fast enough.