2008 Sep 30, 12:11
"Before he was on The Daily Show, before he was the PC in the Mac commercials, John Hodgman wondered, just like you, about the very special world of famous people. Now he explains why being one of
America's best-known minor celebrities is even better than you imagined"
2008 Sep 8, 7:00
A brief history of user agent strings in web browsers, culminating in: "And thus Chrome used WebKit, and pretended to be Safari, and WebKit pretended to be KHTML, and KHTML pretended to be Gecko, and
all browsers pretended to be Mozilla, and Chrome called itself Mozilla/5.0 (Windows; U; Windows NT 5.1; en-US) AppleWebKit/525.13 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/0.2.149.27 Safari/525.13, and the user
agent string was a complete mess, and near useless, and everyone pretended to be everyone else, and confusion abounded."
2008 Aug 20, 9:48
Apple will or will not license the canvas tag? 'Apple Computer, Inc. ("Apple") believes it has intellectual property rights ("IP Rights") relative to WHATWG's Web Applications 1.0 Working Draft,
dated March 24, 2005, Section 10.1, entitled "Graphics: The bitmap canvas". At this time, Apple reserves all rights in its IP Rights and makes no representations as to Apple's willingness or
unwillingness to license these IP Rights. However, in the event that the Web Applications 1.0 Working Draft, dated March 24, 2005, becomes part of a formalized draft standard at W3C or IETF, for
example, Apple is prepared to address the disclosure/licensing rules of such organizations.'
2008 Jul 7, 5:26
"888-8888. This was his new cell-phone number, and his greatest philonumerical triumph. The number proved unusable. It received more than a hundred wrong numbers a day."
2008 Jun 9, 5:10
"Remember that great application that used to come with all Macs called HyperCard?" I do! Closed beta now but looks fun.
2008 Apr 23, 2:42
Web apps intended for the iPhone could easily be made into activities for IE8.
2008 Apr 7, 10:09
More of my thoughts have been stolen: In my
previous job the customer wanted a progress bar displayed while information was copied off of proprietary hardware, during which the software didn't get any indication of progress until the copy
was finished. I joked (mostly) that we could display a progress bar that continuously slows down and never quite reaches the end until we know we're done getting info from the hardware. The amount
of progress would be a function of time where as time approaches infinity, progress approaches a value of at most 100 percent.
This is similar to Zeno's Paradox which says you can't cross a room because to do so first you must cross half the room, then you must
cross half the remaining distance, then half the remaining again, and so on which means you must take an infinite number of steps. There's also an old joke inspired by Zeno's Paradox. The joke is the prototypical engineering vs sciences joke and is moderately humorous, but I think
the fact that Wolfram has an interactive applet demonstrating the joke is funnier than the joke itself.
I recently found Lou Franco's blog post "Using Zeno's Paradox For Progress Bars" which covers the same
concept as Zeno's Progress Bar but with real code. Apparently Lou wasn't making a joke and actually used this progress bar in an application. A progress bar that doesn't accurately represent
progress seems dishonest. In cases like the Vista Defrag
where the software can't make a reasonable guess about how long a process will take the software shouldn't display a progress bar.
Similarly a paper by Chris Harrison "Rethinking the Progress Bar" suggests that if a progress bar speeds up towards the end
the user will perceive the operation as taking less time. The paper is interesting, but as in the previous case, I'd rather have progress accurately represented even if it means the user doesn't
perceive the operation as being as fast.
Update: I should be clearer about Lou's post. He was actually making a practical and implementable suggestion as to how to handle the case of displaying progress when you have some idea of how long
it will take but no indications of progress, whereas my suggestion is impractical and more of a joke concerning displaying progress with no indication of progress nor a general idea of how long it
2008 Jan 16, 2:53
These are as bad as favicons! Boo on URI space squatting.
2007 Dec 26, 5:45
Miscellaneous thoughts I had that would have been relevant many months ago:
- A History Channel program had a reenactment of a 1920's archaeologist discovering a stone tablet, sending the tablet to a warehouse, etc. all behind the voice over giving the dry facts. The
reenactor hammed it up a bit and I would have rather had clips from Indiana Jones in the background. If they're already not showing me the archaeologist who discovered the tablet, they may as well
show me one who will be entertaining.
- There are many parodies of the Get a Mac ads and so when I saw a UK Get a Mac ad I payed attention to see what the joke was. I was
disappointed by the 'parody' because it was a conventional Get a Mac ad with different actors. Apple localized their Get a Mac ad campaign in this fashion in the UK and in Japan. I've got a
playlist of the US, UK, and Japan's version of the Piechart ad. Ranking the lovable bumblingness of the PC I give the order
UK, Japan, then US and ranking the sumgness of the Mac I give the order UK, US, then Japan. But don't take my word for it, view
the ads for yourself.
2007 Nov 28, 1:23
One of the new Zune features that had me the most excited was the claimed improved Windows Media Center integration which unfortunately turned out to simply mean support for the Win MCE video format
(with an exception for HD
). I wanted to be able to pick shows recorded by my Win MCE and have the Zune automatically sync up the
latest episodes. However, with the improved podcast support in the Zune software one can easily create a ridiculous hack to accomplish this.
The new Zune software has podcast support which does everything I'd want to do with a
Win MCE recorded TV series so the goal is to shoehorn a TV series into a Zune podcast. An overview of the steps: Create an XSLT that converts Win MCE data to a podcast, run the XSLT as a scheduled
task every few hours per TV series, setup a Web server pointed at the resulting podcasts and the Win MCE Recorded TV directory, and subscribe to the resulting podcasts in the Zune software.
- Reading through the Win MCE data stored as an XML file in "C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml" and the spec for podcasts I created an XSLT to convert a series from Win MCE data to a podcast.
- I added a new task to the Scheduled Tasks to run my XSLT using my xsltproc.js script. The task runs a handful of commands that look something like the following:
For each TV series I run a command like the above and that outputs a podcast for that series into my "D:\Recorded TV\" directory.
C:\windows\system32\wscript.exe C:\users\dave\bin\xsltproc.js C:\Users\Dave\Documents\trunk\development\mce-zune\mce-to-podcast.xslt
C:\ProgramData\Microsoft\eHome\Recording\Recordings.xml --param title "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart" --param max 4 --param baseURI "http://groucho/" --param thisRelURI "tds.xml" -o
- Zune only allows http URIs for its podcasts so I installed a web server on my Win MCE server. I'm running Vista Ultimate so it was quick and easy for me to install IIS7 but any Web server will do. Then I pointed it at "D:\Recorded TV\".
- Once all the above was done I just subscribed to the resulting podcasts via my Web server and viola! Since I'm forced to use a Web server I can even run the Zune software on a machine other
than my Win MCE server. You can see a screen-shot above of my Zune software showing my Colbert Report podcast.
2007 Oct 31, 10:41
Upload your data and visualize it in various interesting ways using Java applets from IBM.
2007 Sep 27, 11:20
A page demonstrating a java applet that produces histograms
2007 Sep 10, 4:29
Bookmarklet suggestions for the iPhone.
2007 Jun 17, 11:59
I expected more from Safari -- more like Opera. There weren't many exciting features to convert me.
2007 May 22, 3:22
I've created an update to the IE7 feed display
After working on my update to the XML source view
I tried running my resourcelist program on other IE DLLs including ieframe. I found that
one of the resources in ieframe is the XSLT used to turn an RSS feed into the IE7 feed display
My first thought for this was that I could embed enclosures into the feed display. For instance, have controls for youtube.com videos or podcast audio files directly in the feed display. However, I
found that I can't use object or embed tags that rely on ActiveX controls in the page or in frames in the feed display.
With that through I decided I could at least add support for some RSS extensions. Thanks to IE7's RSS platform
which provides a
normalized view of RSS feeds it was really easy to do this. I went to several popular RSS feeds and RSS feeds that I like and took a look at the source to see what extensions I might want to add
I added support for their RSS extension
which includes digg count, and submitter name and icon. I
added the digg count in a box on the right and tried to make it fit in stylistically. For the iTunes RSS extension
I add the feed icon, feed author, and descriptions. I was surprised by how much of the podcasts content was missing from the feed view. I also added support for a few other misc things: the slash RSS extension
's section and department, the feed description to the top of the feed display, and the atom author icon.
I wonder what other goodies lurk in IE's resources...
2007 May 17, 11:18
The spec. on the iTunes RSS extension.
2007 Feb 20, 10:29
"The recordings of a British concert pianist who found fame in the last years of her life have been exposed as hoaxes by Apple's iTunes music player."
2007 Feb 16, 11:23
2006 Jun 7, 3:15
Neat graph of the DOM of a webpage