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31 entries from April 2005

Ideas for the Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger Smart Folders feature

From Mac Geekery - Get Smart (Folders):

Smart Folders are easily the hottest new item in Tiger, and they're powered by Spotlight's index which just makes them even more powerful. The two places I've found that I use them the most are in Mail and the Finder, so I'll just run over the best applications I've found.

The one that leapt out at me, since I tend to lose downloaded files even though I store them all in a file called Downloads in my Documents folder:

Recent Documents - Quickly organize your Documents and Desktop folders with a simple Saved Search that checks for items in Documents created or modified since yesterday. Works best with downloads from a program where you forgot where it was downloading to...

::plot further evile while I await the opening of the nearby Apple Store::

Via Bloglines

mmm seafood

Ray's neon sign (swiped from
Ray's neon sign (swiped from
Had dinner at Ray's Café tonight. They're participating in the Dining Out For Life campaign to benefit Lifelong AIDS Alliance.

Our party of five (Michelle, the suggester of this night out; Katharine; Sonya; Sasha; Don) ended up contributing roughly $75 based on 30% of our dinner check total. And it was damned good.

We started with the calamari with lemon aioli appetizer—the child in me has to pick up those little rings of calamari and make suction-cup noises as I squeeze them—and I had a cup of clam chowder and the grilled Alaska Coho salmon (see entire menu) for an entrée. Very tasty. The fish was perfectly cooked to medium as I requested, and the raspberry ponzu made a brilliant flavor combination, its sweet/tangy taste adding subtly to the texture and mild flavor of the fish. I was pleased to experience salmon without the heavy, slighly oily mouth feel I've usually associated with it.

We chose a bottle of Chinook's Yakima Valley Sauvignon Blanc, complemented all the flavors well.

The five of us shared two desserts, both of which were absurdly good: a chocolate and orange concoction the name of which escapes me, but the taste for which I'll carry a pleasant memory forever (it isn't listed on the online menu, unfortunately); and the Sour Cream Cheesecake on a Gingersnap Crust.

The entire experience was spectacular. Good service, our server (didn't catch her name) timed everything perfectly and our table by the fireplace afforded wonderful views of Puget Sound. We were near the door to the deck as well, and even though there was a bit of a chill breeze blowing in once the sun set, we were never cold; the staff took pains to keep the sliding doors closed as much as possible.

Even the valets got in on the act, guiding us through a sea of cars on our arrival so we wouldn't be late for our 19:15 reservation.

All in all, a delightful evening. I hadn't been to Ray's in a few years but I'll make a point of going at least yearly, and of checking the events lists on their web site to see what grabs me.

Laptop battery arrives

Flickr photo sharing: Laptop battery arrivesA few weeks ago I noticed I was getting drastically reduced usable times between charges on my PowerBook 12-inch. I usually managed 4 or 5 hours of use between charges when the machine was new last year, but in the last few months that had dropped to the point that I was getting 50 minutes if I was lucky. I checked the battery's condition with a couple of utilities and sure enough, its capacity was drastically reduced, so off I went in search of a replacement.

It turned into something of a quest.

Continue reading "Laptop battery arrives" »

Used to be


Strange, don’t know why I haven’t been in a prattly way the last few weeks. Last Tuesday’s four postings must have taken something right out of me because even though it’s been a fairly interesting week, I find it not yet worth writing about.

Also I need to download the photos from my camera and start sifting them through various image filterings and whatnot, the better to crash my upload apps when I try to export them to Flick and photos.~.

Right now I am surrounded by computer equipment in various states of reinstallation and by felines in various states of slumber, with the stereo cranking through headphones via a cable extension along the entire length of my townhouse’s upper floor. The cats were having a blast killing the headphone extension cord until I loosed The Loudly Hissing Beast of Death, a.k.a. the can of compressed air.

Knowing anyone who stopped by here would be utterly fascinated by it, I was going to post a list of a few dozen of the hundreds of acronyms I encounter in a typical day’s work. Mercifully, I’ve forgotten most of them tonight, and I don’t have a license for iTunes Catalog on my laptop, so I can’t update my music library postings until I rectify that.

Now I’m just babbling. 23:00, maybe time for bed?

You have to speak anyway, JUST CALL THE PERSON DIRECTLY

New cell phone takes dictation | CNET
By Ben Charny
Staff Writer, CNET

South Korean electronics giant Samsung unveiled the first of two cell phones that translate speech into text, in the latest attempt to make it easier for cell phones to surf the Web or send text messages.

Rather than typing, consumers just speak into the phone, telling it the e-mail address and the content of the message. The phone does the rest.

No. 1 U.S. cell phone operator Cingular Wireless sells the Samsung P207 for $80 to those signing two-year service contracts. Its manufacturer's suggested retail price is $180. The second Samsung speed-to-text phone, the A800, is set to debut in the next two months.

Anyone who has tried to peck out a text message on a phone's dozen keys or on miniature versions of QWERTY keypads knows the inherent frustration, not to mention thumb strain. Especially in the United States, the irritation is a primary reason for the tepid, albeit growing, use of new data-oriented cell phone services, which operators are counting on to bring in new revenue.

For now, speech technology is expected to be used mainly for text messages. But it's just a short step from there to using the same software, provided by VoiceSignal Technologies, to "type" in a Web address and more easily surf the Web. The two Samsung phones use a VoiceSignal Technologies application called QuickPhrase, which lets people send pre-programmed short messages like "call me" or "will call you later" by simply speaking the words.

More Frites linkage

Was browsing through the recent referrer stats and came across a link from The Stranger, a Seattle alternative weekly. It's from 06/17/2004—no one can accuse me of being remotely timely on this site.

I also saw that Frites gets a nod in the Nosh Spots section of Seattle Weekly's 2005 Dining Guide.

I still haven't made it down to see Corey and taste the damned fries. Dammit!

Both stories after the cut; Frites on Google Maps for easy reference.

Continue reading "More Frites linkage" »

Don’s Music Tuesday: On my iPod shuffle

A couple albums I picked up from the in the last few months (I received a $30 gift card for Christmas and I just used the last $9 and change two days ago), along with a selection of my all-time favourites and some songs of the moment.

In the order the shuffle’s playing them as I type.

Continue reading "Don’s Music Tuesday: On my iPod shuffle" »

Songs I can never hear too loud

Was just flipping at random through my music library (now 10,283 songs strong, egad) when Vienna Teng’s song “Between” (link is to album page on her site) started playing.

It’s one of a handful of songs—well, 34 so far, so a double handful (and I’ll probably find more as I range through my library over the coming weeks, now that I’ve recognized this type of song among my selections)—but anyway, it’s among a group of songs that I like to hear at high volume no matter what.

I’m not generally a fan of loud music, mainly because at high volume a lot of music is just noise to me. But these songs, provided they’re played on decent sound equipment, can never be too loud. The volume helps me feel the songs; they reach more deeply into my soul somehow.

Without further ado, here’s the list I’ve started, alphabetical by song title.

Song – Artist, Album

Continue reading "Songs I can never hear too loud" »

Stock-image weirdness

I've been looking at various stock-photography sites for images that might tweak design ideas for this site, and I happened across Getty Images from an old link in my bookmarks file from a couple years ago.

They've redesigned their site pretty radically from how I remember it when I visited it in 2003, but that wasn't what grabbed my attention. Instead, it was the series of images that appeared—they rotate randomly through images in their catalog every time you load the page—so of course I whipped out the screen-capture utility.

Flickr photo sharing: Getty Images main page rotationOn the first load, a lingerie advertisement for the furries:

Flickr photo sharing: Getty Images main page rotationReload No. 1 produces a refugee from the surreal Sony or Toshiba ads of the late 1990s.

Flickr photo sharing: Getty Images main page rotationSecond reload brings up a pretty cool shot of an owl at rest. This gives me some ideas.

Flickr photo sharing: Getty Images main page rotationThis one made me wonder if all Elvis impersonators ride Vespas on the way to their gigs.

Flickr photo sharing: Getty Images main page rotationYou know this man's wondering where the hell The Little Woman is with his cocktail. After all, he's had a hard day at the office and she's only been at home with the rug rats.

Filmed in Salt Lake City

I'm a bit distressed because, while I was viewing an episode of Whose Line Is It Anyway? from ABC Family on my TiVo just now, I saw a promo for An ABC Family Original Movie, Everything You Want. I may have to record it—no idea who's in the movie or what it's about, but I did notice during the promo what looked a lot like part of the Salt Lake City skyline as a character walked across a street, and sure enough I was right. And I like seeing movies, no matter how lame, that were filmed in cities or buildings I know.

Salt Lake City in Everything You WantThis screen capture from the promo shows the actor walking across 400 South somewhere near 1100 or 1200 East. (Salt Lake City uses a grid address system that radiates out from the LDS Temple downtown, so 400 South and 1200 East is 4 blocks south and 12 blocks east of the Temple.)

If this image offered greater detail, you'd be able to make out the TRAX line running from Main Street to the University of Utah, and the low curved structure you can just make out on the left side of the street in the background (directly left of the actor's head) is part of the Salt Lake City Public Library's main branch, a beautiful building (and non-traditional, by which I mean "not a concrete block but an organic-looking structure") that looks almost hysterically out of place in downtown Salt Lake.

The tall building on the left is the former First Security Bank building at Main Street and 400 South.

I remember back in the early 1980s when the Hotel Newhouse was scheduled for demolition. The building, which had been standing empty for several years by that point, was located directly west of the First Security Bank building you can see in this image. Since it was close to demolition—not absolutely sure of this, but I think that was the first time a building demolition used the controlled-implosion technique in downtown Salt Lake—it was used in a made-for-TV movie about a hospital in a mid-rise building which is set on fire by a deranged person. We residents of the downtown and Avenues districts got to witness the spectacle of a huge staged fire in a downtown building a few weeks before the implosion went off. And when the movie was on several months later, I was right there to see it, because I'd been *in* the Hotel Newhouse and how cool was that?

Mac OS X 10.3.9 update

I saw Mac OS X 10.3.9 appear in Software Update yesterday, about 27 seconds before I saw it mentioned on MacInTouch and right about the time several AIM and iChat buddies let me know it had been released.

I decided as usual to wait a day or two before installing the 10.3.9 update, partly to see what problems other users encountered and partly because the OS X 10.4 "Tiger" release is less than two weeks away and I didn't feel a pressing need to do two upgrades in such a short time. But I relented today and backed up my files before letting Software Update go to town on my PowerBook 12-inch.

It went very smoothly, and now after a few hours I've noticed only one problem. In Safari, I'd previously been able to go to most sites just by typing their names without the www. prefix or the .com or other top-level-domain endings; Safari would automatically guess the full URL and take me to the site in a matter of seconds.

Now, however, I'm seeing the endless spinning-wheel-of-death and my CPU gets pegged at full usage while Safari goes completely non-responsive, and I end up having to force-quit to get anything working.

A minor annoyance, such that I haven't bothered troubleshooting it beyond making sure it's predictably reproducible. And it's easily enough fixed: I just have to remember not to try the shortcut-to-URL trick for the time being.

MacInTouch has more info about the updates and readers' initial reports of experiences on its main page (I'll update my link as the MacInTouch content location changes). I'd recommend checking those reports out before you install, and as always, make sure you have a good (recent!) backup of your important data before you undertake any major OS update.

Salt Lake Tribune: Hacking deal looks likely

Occurred to me I hadn't followed any news on this case for quite a while. I was hoping there'd be a trial so we might get some insight into the workings of the mind that decides killing a person is better than divorcing her, but I see that's unlikely now.

Not that much more likely with a trial, sure, but the chance is a bit greater I think.

I hope if Mark Hacking pleads out that it provides the Soares family with some comfort.

Entire Tribune story below the cut.

Continue reading "Salt Lake Tribune: Hacking deal looks likely" »

WSDOT: I-5 James to Olive Pavement Rehab: By the Numbers

Some interesting factoids on the project starting this weekend to repave a stretch of southbound I-5 through downtown Seattle.

The part that grabbed my attention:

How far could traffic back up on southbound I-5?

with one lane closed: 7 to 9 miles (as far as 145th Street in Seattle)

with two lanes closed: 9 to 12 miles (as far as the Snohomish County line)

with three lanes closed: 14 to 15 miles (as far as 44th West in Lynnwood)

I think I'll be avoiding the I-5 corridor for the next few weeks.

UPDATE Thu 04/14/05: Work postponed beyond this weekend because of forecast rain. See the WSDOT traffic and detour info page for details.

My poor electronics, or: How Cats Celebrate Their Birthdays (Or Tuesdays Or Breathing Or....)

September 2004
Annie relaxing on my bed
Annie, the younger of my two cats, is one year old today. I don't know the actual date she was born; I merely calculated backward from the date I adopted her, September 11, 2004, based on the age estimates I received at the adoption event and from the veterinarian in Salt Lake City.

I don't observe my pets' birthdays, but I do place the dates on my calendar and note their passing so I can answer without thinking if anyone asks me how old they are. So while I'll probably give Annie a skritch on the head when I get home tonight (I only remembered the birthday angle after I got to work today), she won't be getting a little "cake" fashioned from canned tuna or whatever, because that's just strange.

No, it turns out she has her own method for celebrating the milestones of life:

She chews up the cords attached to electronics.

I went to bed last night wearing a pair of Altec Lansing OYOYO behind-the-neck headphones Katharine gave me last week ("I never use these, do you want to try them?"). I use these headphones with my iPod shuffle at work to tune out the random noise around the desk, and at home on nights when I want to hear some music as I drift off but don't want to use the stereo in my bedroom. I stuff the shuffle and the headphones cord under the pillow and all's well.

Except that Annie found the cord sometime during the night. She really went to town on it. When I woke up there were little bits of copper wire scattered all over the upper right side of the bed (if you're at the foot of the bed facing its head), near the bedside table. Also small plastic chunks all over the place, because apparently those only offer good texture when they're still attached to the cord; once chewed off, they're discarded.

This was the fourth pair of headphones Annie has managed to chew into uselessness in the three months I've lived in Mill Creek. I thought I'd taken adequate precautions but I guess not, so no more headphones for me except when I travel.

Happy birthday, ya damned cat!

Nothing to say. So I think I’ll write a bit!

The last couple of weeks have been fairly routine. Nothing really odd has happened, I haven’t seen any noteworthy oddball events or read anything that’s raised my ire or seemed postworthy.

Then this morning I noticed something a bit annoying.

Last time I bought toilet paper was at Costco in Kirkland. Katharine and I went there for items we can get in bulk a few times per year and keep in storage, the better to avoid last-minute trips to the store.

So I picked out a 30-roll package of Charmin Ultra’s Double Rolls, which the packaging helpfully informs me is the equivalent of 60 single rolls (!!!). I still had a few rolls of my previous brand, whatever it was, so I only cracked open the Charmin Ultra a couple of weeks ago.

It’s really quite nice. Sinfully soft, almost, and the Double Rolls do last forever it seems. I live alone, so I tend to go through such products pretty slowly—I bought a 12-bar pack of Irish Spring nearly a year ago and I’m just now on the last bar; is a bar of soap a month slow? fast? just right?—but this Charmin Ultra is extreme that way. I think I’ll be using this product until December or so, and I’ve never been stingy when it comes to bathroom hygiene. You know, to be squeamishly euphemistic about it, in the way of all Americans.

But anyway. I noticed something this morning and I’ve been pondering it since:

Charmin Ultra generates obscene amounts of lint.

I noticed this because I was cleaning the bathroom and saw the chrome-plated toilet-paper holder arms were covered with what looked like dust. I first thought it must’ve been, well, since I moved in three months ago that I’d wiped the TP holder down, but I remember doing it a couple weeks ago. Right around the time I opened up the Charmin Ultra.

This morning I wiped enough lint off the TP holder and other fixtures in the bathroom to knit a whole other Double Roll of Charmin Ultra, with enough left over for a sweater for the dog. If I owned a dog.

I also received an email dated 12/09/2004 from Comcast, informing me that if I turned my cable modem off for 60 seconds and then plugged it back in, I’d now be enjoying 1/3 faster download speeds. Up to 4MBits/second, with upstream speeds increased to up to 384KBps. So I rushed down to the living room and yanked the modem’s power cord and then ran back upstairs to try out the faster speeds and I discovered I couldn’t connect at all, because I’d forgotten to wait the 60 seconds and then reconnect the damned modem. Back down I went, plugged everything back in, and so far my average speeds are exactly the same as before.

All that aside, I’m wondering why Comcast’s email took four months to get to me, or why Entourage is interpreting the date as four months ago if it really went out today. When I log on to my web-based account access for my Comcast email, the email shows today’s date. And so do its headers in Entourage.

Display case modification

Flickr photo sharing: Display case modificationGift shop's display cases modified to accommodate the PC-based cash registers my mom began using in Nov 2004. She had a carpenter extend the under-counter space out by about 6 inches so the register PCs would fit entirely under the counters instead of sticking out several inches into the work area behind the counters.

Those figures in the upper left aren't sailors, as I assumed from the image on my phone's smaller screen. They're resin angels with intricate country-art-style designs all over the skirts.

Geekery gone wrong

Gotta love the die-hards. - 'Star Wars' fans wait at wrong theater

LOS ANGELES, California (AP)—"Star Wars" fans will have to find the right theater before they can leave for the dark side.

Seven weeks before its release, "Star Wars" fanatics started lining up outside Grauman's Chinese Theater for the sixth installment of the popular George Lucas movie series. The vigil began Saturday.

But there's a problem: "Star Wars: Episode III—Revenge of the Sith" won't be showing at the Hollywood landmark when the movie is released May 19. The studio, 20th Century Fox, opted instead to open the film a mile away at the ArcLight theater.

Still, the resolute "Star Wars" die-hards aren't moving on. Beneath a makeshift awning, 11 people refused to relinquish their spots in line.

"We've heard all this before," fan Sarah Sprague said, noting there were plenty of rumors in 1999 and 2002 that previous "Star Wars" movies weren't opening at the Chinese Theater. The rumors were false and the films were shown there.

Fox and the ArcLight haven't completed their "Star Wars" deal, but executives on both sides told Daily Variety "Revenge of the Sith" will play at the ArcLight, not the Chinese.

Yet Sprague was adamant the line wouldn't be moving to the ArcLight.

"This is still the epicenter for 'Star Wars' fans. For the big iconic pictures of the 1970s, people lining up were here. They weren't at the Cinerama Dome (at the ArcLight)," Sprague said.

Lucas' final "Star Wars" chapter spells out the last dark steps the once goodhearted young Anakin Skywalker takes to become the villain Darth Vader.

Time changes

I spent about 35 minutes putting clocks ahead an hour this morning before I went to bed, and I still missed a few.

I was thinking about how many clocks I'd had to change when I happened across Beancounters' clock count of 24. My first thought was, "No way I have anywhere nearly that many clocks," so of course I started listing my own clock counts:

Clocks I have to change manually:

  1. Television (living room)
  2. VCR (living room)
  3. Wall clock (living room)
  4. Nintendo GameCube
  5. Microwave oven
  6. Stove
  7. Television (bedroom)
  8. VCR (bedroom)
  9. Wristwatch
  10. Car stereo

Clocks that change themselves:

  1. Cell phone
  2. Old cell phone which I keep charged for some unknown reason
  3. PDA
  4. TiVo
  5. Laptop
  6. Desktop computer

Sixteen timepieces. Way too damned many.

Feast or famine

The management of my apartment complex communicates with residents mainly by inserting notes around the weather seals of the units' front doors. Since I arrived here in January, I'd received just one note informing me that the management had arranged for discounted carpet cleaning for the residents.

Today I've received three notices in just the last five hours, in order of their arrival starting at 08:12:

  1. Notice of management's intent to enter the premises on either Apr 04 or Apr 05 between the hours of 10:00 and 17:00. No reason was given for the entry; none is required, apparently, under RCW 59.18.150. But I found out it has something to do with structural inspections for a refinancing.

  2. Neighborhood..., the property's brand-spankin'-new newsletter. From this two-page work, it's plainly evident why the leasing folks aren't employed by the newspapers or the design firms.

  3. A notice of expiring lease and offer to renew for Debbie in apartment U3, because the messenger person didn't notice he was at Don in V3's door.

The best in people

Yesterday, one of my coworkers experienced a horrifying trauma. Anne and her husband John awoke around 01:00 to flames and smoke surging through their house. They got out safely, but the house is a total loss and their dog and two birds perished.

We found out about this in an email from her boss at about 09:00. About two hours later, my sister Katharine started organizing a collection to help Anne and John with their immediate need for personal items, clothing, groceries, whatever they might require.

By 16:00, the 40 or so employees on the day and swing shifts had come together with donations totaling nearly $600 in cash and checks, with promises of another $200 from employees who were out of the office Friday.

Most of us don't get to know our coworkers very well. We see each other nine or 10 hours a day, five days a week, but our interactions stay within those limits. Until yesterday afternoon I had no idea that I passed within a half-mile of Anne's house every day on my way to and from work. I knew she was married, but I didn't know her husband's name; didn't know they had a dog and birds.

Unfortunate to find out about a person this way, but such a pleasure to see the lab's staff come together when one of their coworkers needs help.