Entries for July 2000 (August 2000 »    September 2000 »    October 2000 »    Archives)


I don't think the folksJUL 31

I don't think the folks at modernauction.com are doing too well. When I checked a few minutes ago, there were no items up for auction on the site. Ouch.

Herman Miller redesigned. I likeJUL 31

Herman Miller redesigned. I like the big splashes of color and the use of photography, which shows off their products nicely. The DHTML they're using is sluggish and uneven in parts, detracting from the overall user experience.

As opposed to the misdirectedJUL 31

As opposed to the misdirected response to Mozilla's tardiness by the Web Standards Project, Suck's response is appropriate, funny, and has some good points. One minor quibble: feature-rich software and bloated software are not necessarily the same thing. Photoshop has tons of features, but I wouldn't call it bloated...I would call it flexible and powerful. I'm hoping against hope that Mozilla will be the same.

Perhaps it's just me, butJUL 31

Perhaps it's just me, but shouldn't the sitemap on the Argus Associates site be a little more, well, information architected? I would expect more from the company whose principals wrote the "definitive book on Web architecture".

The real truth about Blaine,JUL 30

The real truth about Blaine, boy DJ, as opposed to Mattel's pleasantly white-bread fiction.

I had a nice tripJUL 30

I had a nice trip to Austin...it was good to see old friends again. I did some consulting for Trilogy; it was an interesting experience. Novel things are usually interesting. Stayed at the Four Seasons...very nice.

San Francisco, despite its reputation, has nothing on Austin when it comes to food. I had two meals this weekend that surpass any meal I've had in the Bay Area. Mmmm...boy!

RealNetworks continues to crank outJUL 29

RealNetworks continues to crank out some of the crappiest software on the Internet. I downloaded the newest version of RealPlayer yesterday (which is to say that my old version of RealPlayer downloaded it without my consent), and the "improvements" I noticed included: new round beveled buttons that take up more space than they should in the interface; increase in general interface clutter; the inability to play Quicktime videos after RealPlayer's installation, even though I specifically gave RealPlayer no permission to play or associate itself with any non-RealMedia files; the installation made me restart my Web browser; it didn't re-connect me to the video I was trying to play before the installation occurred; and the program installed itself back in my task tray and made me jump through hoops to get it removed. In short, RealPlayer is programmed mainly for the benefit of RealNetworks and not for that of their users. If at all possible, I'm going to avoid using their player in the future.

I'm in Austin for theJUL 28

I'm in Austin for the weekend, consulting up a storm and visiting friends. Backslash dot com, &c.

I started at b-swing aJUL 27

I started at b-swing a year ago yesterday. I can't believe it's been that long. My friends can't believe I stayed at a job for more than 2 months. Also, I was just noticing how different my posts are now from what they were a year ago. Damn, when did I get to be such a windbag?

Barbie's moving into the yearJUL 27

Barbie's moving into the year 2000 with her newest boy toy: Blaine, the DJ. Blaine comes with a set of turntables, headphones, and box of records, his "fave eats" is a double cheeseburger, and when he grows up, he wants to be a radio DJ. Unfortunately for Barbie, Blaine is always hopped up on coke and is probably more interested in Ken anyway.

In response to my postJUL 27

In response to my post on onomatopoetic words, Neel sent in this wonderful word: abecedarian. It refers to either an alphabet enthusiast or to a list of words in strict alphabetical order (like Apple, Be, Compaq, Dell, &c...), and when you say it, it sounds like you're reciting the beginning of the alphabet. Abecedarian is my new favorite onomatopoetic word.

Don't get me wrong, IJUL 27

Don't get me wrong, I like Napster, but whatever happens in the RIAA's suit against them doesn't have much of a bearing on me or anyone else who uses the software. People can already use Scour or Gnutella or a generic Napster client that works with OpenNap to find their favorite MP3s....nobody needs Napster. The RIAA can't go after all of them....when they shut one down, another one will spring up. With Gnutella, there's not even a company or group to go after...it's just out there and the architecture is distributed, meaning that there's no service to shut down. What Napster hath wrought is here to stay.

Sigh. I've got a lotJUL 26

Sigh. I've got a lot of work to do on kottke.org. I was fiddling around trying to put a search engine on the site when I noticed that all the pages on the site have the same <title>. I also need to fix the stylesheets on the site, tweak the modify section, design a new interface that's more flexible, get rid of some of the seldom-used items in the sidebar, and generally clean things up.

I've noticed that the lastJUL 26

I've noticed that the last couple issues of many of the tech/biz magazines (Fast Company, Wired, Business 2.0) have been slimmer than in months past. Could this be due to all the recent criticism of their ad-bloated girth? Or do advertisers typically run less ads in the summer? Or has the downturn in tech stocks curtailed tech sector ad spending? All of the above?

I'm disappointed in the WaSP'sJUL 26

I'm disappointed in the WaSP's latest letter to Netscape. I don't see the point in chastising Netscape for shifting their focus from a limiting browser strategy to a strategy involving a robust, standards-compliant Web platform, no matter how bad we may want or need a replacement for the extremely sucky Netscape 4. If Mozilla turns out to be as promising as it sounds, we might be better off in two years time with Mozilla than we would have been with Just Another Web Browser. Stick to the standards, WaSP, and let companies worry about product development timelines.

From the LA Times: LocalJUL 25

From the LA Times: Local Web Publisher Stoops to Theft of Site Design. Industry analyst says, "Mr. Knauss could have at least picked a better design to steal. I mean, yellow? Come on."

End of Web Design: ReadingJUL 25

End of Web Design: Reading Nielsen's pieces - and the (over)reaction to them - is frustrating for me. I see what he's trying to say in his latest piece (that it would be more useful for Web users if interfaces on the Web were more consistent with each other, just like those of desktop apps), but he takes a very hardline stance on the issue, with proclamations and laws rather than heuristics and suggestions.

This really isn't Nielsen's fault; he has to do it that way. Large, clueless companies aren't going to pay Nielsen thousands of dollars to come in and say "maybe" and "it depends". They need answers, not suggestions. Nielsen has to have the answer and it has to be the correct one. Microsoft (as an easy example...there are others) handles itself much the same way: any problem can be handled by a Microsoft product/tool and they would never admit otherwise.

Now, I'm not endorsing this approach, but both Jakob and Microsoft have done well by it. In my view, almost nothing in life is absolute - especially when you're dealing with how people interact with things - and to say so just to elevate yourself and make lots of money is a little icky. A smart play perhaps, but icky. Of course, denouncing Nielsen absolutely (like so many people (sheep?) do every time an essay of his comes out) and calling him an idiot is just as bad.

I watched this Star Wars:JUL 25

I watched this Star Wars: Episode II trailer and thought, "wow, I want to see that movie!" Of course, the trailer is completely fake, composed of footage from previous Star Wars movies as well as other movies like Braveheart, Stigmata, and one of the recent Natalie Portman crapfests. Excellent work on the part of the author. (from MF)

Does anyone remember Stim? HowJUL 24

Does anyone remember Stim? How about Spiv?

Cirque du Soleil will beJUL 24

Cirque du Soleil will be performing in Mpls. from August 17th through September 11th. I was driving down by the river on Saturday and they are already setting up the tents...4 weeks in advance.

I've been wearing rubberbands asJUL 24

I've been wearing rubberbands as jewelry since high school. I just put one on my wrist one day and have worn one there ever since. I didn't think they would ever become popular.

I like words that soundJUL 24

I like words that sound like what they describe, you know, onomatopoetic words. Bleep, fling, splat, glisten, rattle, gurgle, shimmer, and slurp are a few of my favorites.

I'm all in favor forJUL 24

I'm all in favor for some fresh text for greeking copy in designs, but among the reasons the lorem ipsum text is used is so that people viewing the design don't get caught up reading the copy. I used to write my own dummy copy for the designs I made - as a creative exercise - but gave up after being burned several times by the client focusing on the copy and not on the design.

Kottke.org: Now with Kitchen Logic!JUL 21

Kottke.org: Now with Kitchen Logic!

Once again, I don't whatJUL 21

Once again, I don't what all the fuss is about. I already have a full-sized keyboard and precise optical mouse for my PC. Of course, it'll be nice for the Mac users to catch up. Now, if only there was more than one button and one of those scrollie deals on that mouse....

The new Apple G4 Cube, however, is a thing of beauty. I'd love to have a computer that small on my desk. A downside of the Cube is that it's not all that expandable. In this Failure Magazine interview, Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple, points out that one of Apple's early strengths was the expandability of the Apple II:

Woz: "Tandy, like Commodore with their Pet, was non-expandable. You would buy it with 4k of memory and you'd have 4k of memory for life. Early on we came out with our floppy disk drive. How do you add a floppy disk drive to a Tandy? It turns out there was no designed way built in. So the Tandy machines and the Commodore machines, because of their lack of expandability, lost out in the early exciting things, which were floppy disks and VisiCalc. They had to go back to the drawing board. They tried to make their products go for a while longer, which was another mistake. They would have been smarter to get to the drawing board sooner. That's really where Apple won out."

Now, the situation with the Apple II then and that of the Apple G4 Cube now is not really the same, but I think there are some interesting parallels and lessons to be learned there.

You can surf esperanto.com inJUL 20

You can surf esperanto.com in German, English, Spanish, and French, but - oddly enough - not in Esperanto. However, there are sites that are written entirely in Esperanto.

Also, there appear to be lots of Js the Esperanto vocabulary. The J tile in the Esperanto version of Scrabble would have to be re-valued...8 is clearly too high a point value to assign to such a common character.

A friend of mine cameJUL 20

A friend of mine came up with a new bit of geek jargon a while back:

Flashturbation n. The practice of using Macromedia Flash on Web sites for nothing more than demonstrating its cool "whiz-bang" features.

Sample usage: Did you see all of the Flashturbation going on over at KPMG's Web site?

Go ahead, use "Flashturbation" in your next conversation or rant about the misuse of Flash. (thanks to Dack for the truly Flashturbatory KPMG link)

How did I miss this?JUL 19

How did I miss this? There's an excellent discussion between R.U. Sirius and Justin Hall about the early days of the Web (via mikel.org). Best line:

"Meanwhile, I think many of the Internet people are still having fun working hard at stimulating jobs, unless they were in it for the money, in which case, they deserve the bitter dissolution of their consensual Nasdaqian hallucination."

I *heart* CDNOW! They alwaysJUL 19

I *heart* CDNOW! They always seem to have my needs in mind. Yesterday, they sent me an email (which I specifically opted out of when I purchased one thing from them almost two years ago) saying that they were "on the hunt for NEW MUSIC from your favorite artists". Intrigued, I scrolled to see what music they recommended for me. Among the offerings were:

- Jimmy Page & The Black Crowes, Live At The Greek

- Motley Crue, New Tattoo

- Powerpuff Girls, Heroes and Villains

- Kathie Lee Gifford, Super Hits

Is it really any wonder they're having trouble staying in business?

Make Greg steal my siteJUL 19

Make Greg steal my site design next week (vote by clicking on kottke.org in the sidebar). Why? My site design is so overly complex (can you say quintuply nested tables?) that it'll take him a long time to figure out how it works.

I finished A Mathematician ReadsJUL 18

I finished A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper, recommended (in a round-a-bout sort of way) by Jessamyn. It's an excellent book about how to become better at deciphering what the media tells us about the world. A sample excerpt from the book (reprinted without permission) concerning the leading causes of death in America:

"Heart disease and cancer are the two leading killers of Americans. Of the approximately two million Americans that die each year, for example, almost half die from cardiovascular diseases and about one-fourth from malignancies of various sorts. But accidental deaths - falls, car accidents, drownings, poisonings, fires, gun mishaps, and the like - result in slightly more lost years of potential life (subtracted from the conventionally chosen age of sixty-five), according to the Centers for Disease Control. The average age of accident victims is much lower than that of victims of cancer and heart disease. Along this dimension, AIDS and murder loom ominously as well. For all such circumstances, the number of dead is smaller, but the number of years of life lost is greater." (pg. 139)

Makes you think about things from a slightly different perspective, doesn't it? This book is full of stuff like that; I highly recommend it.

A while back, IJUL 18

jason and janet in the house

A while back, I related to you the story of teaching my mom's best friend from grade school how to bounce to rap music. My mom captured the event on film. You'd betta recognize!

Digweed! Digweed in my hair! Aieee!!!

Poor little openlog is beingJUL 17

Poor little openlog is being neglected. Go play with the little dickens.

I saw fireworks tonight. IJUL 17

I saw fireworks tonight. I didn't plan to see fireworks tonight, it just worked out that way.

Cost of shoddy Burger KingJUL 17

Cost of shoddy Burger King meal: $3.50. Amount earned so far for my Epinion on Burger King: $1.87. Amount still needed to recoup the cost of the meal: $1.63....that's only 163 Epinions members that I need to click on this link. Please help me in my quest!

Paul posted his rafting picturesJUL 15

Paul posted his rafting pictures from last weekend. I'm in there somewhere...like here for instance. Hopefully I'll have some pictures from the trip to post soon.

I'm not supposed to talkJUL 15

I'm not supposed to talk about this (first & second rules and all...), but I watched Fight Club on DVD today. It was much better the second time around. In fact, I would venture to say that if you're going to watch this movie, you should watch it twice; once for the experience and the second time to really get it. Anyway, my opinion of the film has somewhat improved since posting this vitriolic Epinion about it.

I'm not a very goodJUL 15

I'm not a very good griller. It took me forever to get the damn thing going and then dropped one of my burgers down into the coals. I'm just not cut out for cooking....that's all there is to it.

Some old Amazon.com logos andJUL 14

Some old Amazon.com logos and screencaps. I don't remember the home page from August 1995, but I do recall the circa-1995 logo. It's interesting to note on the timeline how small Amazon actually started: it took them 4 months to get their first 100-order day.

I normally don't go toJUL 14

I normally don't go to movies to check out how bad they are, but I'd heard such negative things about The Patriot that I was drawn to it. If you find yourself in a theatre watching this movie, run - don't walk - to the nearest exit. Basically, they took the script from Independence Day, replaced the aliens with the British, added some bits from Braveheart, and sprinkled in a little Matrix and Return of the Jedi. The only difference is that those movies worked on at least some level (the blowing up of the White House in ID4 counts as "working on some level")...The Patriot did not. Ick.

Life is frustrating. You can'tJUL 14

Life is frustrating. You can't have everything you want. You just can't. But our society here in America tells us otherwise everyday. I'm generally pretty resistant to that sort of thing, but sometimes it's almost too much to deal with. It's a wonder more people don't crack under the pressure.

According to a friend ofJUL 14

According to a friend of mine that used to work there, there have been quite a few unpublicized accidents at the Mall of America, including drunken swan dives from the 4th floor (where all the bars are located) and suicides from atop the 8 story parking ramp. We Minnesotans, by and large, don't hear about these things on the news because of the powerful Mall PR machine.

From the always excellent siteJUL 13

From the always excellent site of James Lileks comes Minneapolis Past and Present: "Over 70 buildings and neighborhoods - the most complete account of Minneapolis architecture on the web. (I think.) (I hope.)"

I worked in the Metropolitan Center (formerly Lincoln Tower, now Anderson Consulting Tower or some such nonsense) for almost two years. It was really the only building downtown that had a lawn, and that was because they were originally going to build a companion building, but didn't. So, there's this huge lawn where a building should have been. The second building would have been a fine addition, but that lawn preserved my (and my coworkers) sanity on more than one occasion; it was nice to find a little nature in the city.

I need your help. I'veJUL 13

I need your help. I've got a concept here that's promising, but I need some assistance in fleshing it out. Basically, the idea is to relate typical bullshit dot com marketing copy to hardcore rap lyrics. Here's an example:

Razorfish might be "seizing world-class technologies" while Ice Cube would be "lootin' TVs from Big Brotha, muthafucka!"

Not a very good example, but let's see what you can come up with. Extra credit points will be given for the use of actual marketing copy and lyrics. I'll post the best entries in a few days.

And I've decided to pronounceJUL 12

And I've decided to pronounce Nutella as PEE-NUHT-BUH-TUHR and Gnutella as NAHP-STUR. Just thought you might like to gknow.

Wasn't the trend of wearingJUL 12

Wasn't the trend of wearing one's pants down about mid-thigh over about a year ago? I saw some youngster in the grocery store last night wearing them like that...they were practically around his ankles. Maybe it's just that I'm officially "old", that I'm not "cool" anymore, that I don't "get" it, that I don't "grok" what the "kids" are "into" these days. Then again, I'm "down" with the airquotes, so maybe I do still "get" it.

Oh, wait. Airquotes were never cool....they were always only merely "cool".

When I was in SFJUL 12

When I was in SF last week, I went into the Sephora store, playing sidekick on a birthday gift-buying excursion. Lo and behold, they're using Silkscreen for navigation on their Web site.

I've been getting quite aJUL 11

I've been getting quite a few different responses from yesterday's query about Gnutella, only one of which provided any sort of evidence (opposed to the speculation provided by the other responses). Here's a highly contradictory sampling of the responses:

- Drew Bell came up with some evidence (in the form of an audio interview on NPR with Gene Kan, one of the folks responsible for the Gnutella site) that Gnutella is pronounced exactly like the hazelnut spread: NUH-TEL-UH. I'm inclined to believe this.

- But some folks are convinced that the hazelnut spread is pronounced NEW-TEL-UH...and therefore the software product follows suit. I'm chalking this up to a difference between American pronunciation (NUH-TEL-UH) and European pronunciation (NEW-TEL-UH).

- Sticking a G in front of that, Gnutella would be pronounced GUH-NEW-TEL-UH.

- Supposedly, GNU is pronounced NEW. Not according to the GNU manifesto by Richard Stallman. Based upon that, we're back to Gnutella being pronounced as NEW-TEL-UH.

- Based on the correct pronunciation of GNU, some folks think that Gnutella is then pronounced GUH-NEW-TEL-UH.

Confused yet? I know I am. Two things are clear however:

- People love to speculate and opine, even when specifically asked not to.

- Primary sources are hard to track down on the Web. The newness of the product in question, the sheer amount of information on the Web, and the relatively poor search mechanisms for sifting through that data all contribute to this.

New music that I amJUL 10

New music that I am still digesting, purchased from the Virgin Megastore in SF:

- The new BT album, Movement in Still Life, featuring a track with vocals by M Doughty (frontman of the dearly-departed Soul Coughing) and samples from Defender (you know, Defender). I listened to this a couple times this past week and again on the plane trip home. Good stuff so far. I got this album partly because I like BT's stuff and partly because I wanted to bone up on his latest efforts before his upcoming Mpls. appearance. Unfortunately, due to a recently scheduled business trip, I can't go see the show. WAH!

- Paul van Dyk, Out There and Back. Two disks, yes, *two* disks for the price of one. Trance is electronica's version of sugary-sweet pop music, but I like it anyway.

- The Annual - Millennium Edition, put out by The Ministry of Sound. Haven't listened to this one quite yet, but I love the stuff the MoS puts out, so I'm excited to slip it into the CD player.

So, how the heck doJUL 10

So, how the heck do you pronounce Gnutella? I've heard people pronouncing it NUH-TEL-LA, but I thought that with its GNU heritage, it would be pronounced more like GUH-NUH-TEL-LA. Does anyone know for sure (the operative phrase here being "for sure")? I'll post the answer once I get it.

Pornographer probedJUL 10

Headline that isn't from The Onion but probably should be: Net Pornographer Probed.

Vacation Observation #427: You knowJUL 09

Vacation Observation #427: You know you have too much time on your hands when you start recognizing known contemporary actors in bit parts on bad TV programs. In the space of 24 hours, I recognized the actor who plays Meldrick on Homicide as the leader of the Lords of Hell in Adventures in Babysitting and caught Michael Dorn, Worf on Star Trek: TNG, as a cop on CHiPs.

Vacation Observation #285: You know you have too much time on your hands when you beat Super Marios 1, 2, and 3, all in the space of 24 hours.

The whitewater rafting was awesome. I'll have some pictures of the trip up sometime in the near future. It's good to be home, though. I have no idea what 9 days of laziness and goofing around is going to do to my work ethic. I guess I'll find out tomorrow.

As I was walking homeJUL 06

As I was walking home this evening, a little girl was riding her bike in the middle of the street. She still had the training wheels on as she wobbled and struggled to peddle. It reminded me of when I was little and how badly I wanted a bicycle but couldn't get one. My parents wouldn't let me have a bike until I was 12; my mom was too afraid I'd hurt myself. I'd pass the bike section in the store and just look, having given up asking my parents about it long ago. I eventually did get one after much pleading and begging. Amazingly, getting my driver's license at 16 and the subsequent borrowing of the family car passed without incident.

Two recent movie viewings: TheJUL 05

Two recent movie viewings:

The Perfect Storm: Good overall, with some solid action and special effects. There were a few cheesy parts, which is to be expected with the typical Hollywood movie these days.

The Right Stuff: I really don't know what to think of this one yet. I'll probably have to see it again to formulate a solid opinion. It was very uneven in places, but I couldn't quite figure out if that was by design or if it was just a bit of sloppy filmmaking.

Jason's 4th of July wrap-up:JUL 05

Jason's 4th of July wrap-up: made blueberry pie and potato salad, consumed world's largest hot dog at a party, took lots of pictures (none of them digital), got a bit of sunburn, made a *really* bad joke involving patriotic pinwheels (one of the pinwheels fell down and I said there had been a death in the family), and heard, but did not see, some fireworks.

Went wine tasting yesterday. AJUL 03

Went wine tasting yesterday. A curious experience, considering I don't like wine all that much. The vineyard was beautiful, though.

Eye Candy from the UndergroundJUL 03

Eye Candy from the Underground has some suggestions on where corporate Web site designers can look for some fresh ideas. It also breaks the indie/underground design sites down into 10 categories, including Paper Bag School and SuperTiny SimCity School. Keep in mind that this piece focuses solely on the visual aspect of design and completely ignores the 1000 other things that comprise design, something that is indicative of the indie/underground design scene in general.

Another Silkscreen sighting: the HermanJUL 03

Another Silkscreen sighting: the Herman Miller Store. Sweet! I wonder if they're going to send me an Aeron chair for my effort... (thanks, Meg)

Over the past few months,JUL 03

Over the past few months, I've noticed that I get email asking the same questions quite frequently. To that end, I've created a kottke.org FAQ with about 10 of the most commonly asked questions about me and this site. I want to incorporate the FAQ into the main nav, but I'm too lazy to make a new link for each of the three site designs I have. I need to figure out how I'm going to manage that sort of thing.

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