Friday, October 28, 2005

Is It Fitzmas Yet?

Treason's Greetings

I agree with Jonathan Schwartz: the anticipation is killing me, too. Will today finally be Fitzmas?

Maybe I'll play Fitzmas Bingo to pass the time.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Do the Climate Mash

Climate Mash Keg Party

A short, funny and pretty biting (for environmentalists) Flash movie: The Climate Mash.

Friday, October 21, 2005

Get Your War On #50

Get Your War On

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

The Clock of the Long Now

Clock of the Long Now Prototype
Via slashdot, a good write-up on about the Clock of the Long Now and its just-completed second prototype. I love this project - it's one of the coolest things I've ever heard of.
What kind of machine can, for 10 millennia, accurately reconcile hours, days, weeks, months, leap years, leap centuries, the precession (wobbling around an axis) of planetary orbits, and, grandest cycle of all, the 25,784-year precession of the equinox?

Answer: a digital one. A calculation that extends to 28 bits is accurate to one in 3.65 million—or in clock terms, one day in 10,000 years. Bits and bytes are typically rendered electronically, but Hillis says he "rejected electronics from the start. It would not be technologically transparent and probably not durable. I could quickly see that the clock had to be mechanical."

For more information, details and philosophy, I recommend Stewart Brand's book, The Clock of the Long Now: Time and Responsibility: The Ideas Behind the World's Slowest Computer

Jakob Nielsen on Blog Usability

From web usability expert Jakob Nielsen, some good tips specifically for blogs. Seeing how this blog you're reading with your grubby little eyes has been around for almost whole year, maybe it's time to spruce the place up with some of his pointers.

The Top Ten Design Mistakes for Weblogs
  1. No Author Biographies
  2. No Author Photo
  3. Nondescript Posting Titles
  4. Links Don't Say Where They Go
  5. Classic Hits are Buried
  6. The Calendar is the Only Navigation
  7. Irregular Publishing Frequency
  8. Mixing Topics
  9. Forgetting That You Write for Your Future Boss
  10. Having a Domain Name Owned by a Weblog Service

Sunday, October 09, 2005

MacMall Sucks

MacMall sucks, I hate them, and I will never order anything from them again.

They're crooks and liars and worse, they provide bad service.

In an effort to spare you the entire long story, here's the synopsis. Several months ago, I ordered an iPod mini from MacMall. Their deal was to throw in not one, not two, but five accessories, plus shipping, for "free*". That asterisk, of course led to a little phrase that said, "after mail-in rebate". So you'd pay the $72.24 for all that junk up front, then send in rebate forms for all of it.

The deal was similar to this one that MacMall is running right now, as of this writing.
MacMall iPod ad

I know rebates are designed to scam people who aren't diligent enough to send them in, but for 72 bucks, I can be diligent. And I hardly cared about some of the stuff in this package deal, like a pair of $10 Logitech speakers, but since they'd (eventually) be "free", I figured what the hell.

Not to ruin the ending or anything, but guess what. I didn't get all my money back from those bastards. They gave me the works; long lead time before I got anything at all back; a rebate status webpage that didn't work; long hold times (totalling almost 2 hours across all the calls I made to them); bureaucratic stone-walling; rude service and ultimately, blaming me for not getting the rebate I deserved.

My key mistake was that I mailed in all six forms in one envelope. The instructions said not to do this, there were six of them, all going to the exact same address. And I called them to ask, first - this was before I knew the depths of their deception. Which was perfect for them, that I set myself up in this way. Some helpful and anonymous evil minion there assured me confidently that it would be perfectly fine to mail them all together, which was of course a lie. Fast forward to several months later, when I'm still $25 short on rebates, and that's what they finally shut me down for - sending all the forms together.

I've spent too much time on MacMall already in this lifetime, so let me wrap this up with Key Learning Points for you.
  1. Don't ever buy anything from MacMall (or their sister site, PCMall)
  2. If you choose to violate point #1, don't expect to get all your rebates back. Ever.
  3. If you choose to violate points #1 and #2, realize that they are working their hardest to screw you. Be sure to get the name and phone number of every MacMall/PCMall flunky you ever talk to there.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Car Talk Credits

I caught a little of an old favorite on the car radio today: Car Talk. Funny yet informative, I'm surprised every time at how much those guys make me laugh. At the end they read their spoof/wordplay credits, with some new ones I hadn't heard before. When I got home I looked them up on the web, and was rewarded with a full credits page, including many I've never heard on the show.

Following are a few favorites - I much prefer the wordplay names over the faux-celebrity names. (If you're slow like me, saying them out loud may help you get the joke.)
  • Appointment Secretary II - Amadeus O. Early
  • Bail Bond Provider - Freida Gogh
  • Caffeine Addiction Counselor - Bruno Moore
  • Chief Procurement Officer - Emma Chizzit
  • Conflict Resolution Specialist - Yvonne Apeesamey
  • Director of Gender Studies - Amanda B. Reckondwyth
  • Director of Pollution Control - Maury Missions
  • Ebay Specialist - Selma Junkoff
  • Fact Checker - Ella Fynoe
  • Head of Working Mother Support Group - Erasmus B. Dragon
  • PR Director - Bea Esser
  • Staff Activities Coordinator - Dewey Hafta
  • Staff Cat Feeder - Ken Opener
  • Table Saw Operator - Les Digits
  • Town Criers - Nina Clark and Alice Well