Entries for September 2000 (October 2000 »    November 2000 »    December 2000 »    Archives)


JSP isn't all that hard,SEP 30

JSP isn't all that hard, especially when you've got a couple of friendly Java programmers helping you out. I'm just excited at the prospect of, and I quote, "facilitating the separation of presentation from dynamic kottke.org content". Ok, so it wasn't a direct quote, but it's close enough.

I've written about the Rubik'sSEP 29

I've written about the Rubik's Cube here before, but there's always more to write about that wacky contraption:

- a "Challenge the Champion" advertisement from 1982, the height of the craze. The champ, a 14 yo kid who could solve the Cube in less than 50 seconds, is wearing a "cubists do it faster" t-shirt. Classic.

- a RealAudio clip (11m:32s, 18.1 Mb) from the 80s variety program That's Incredible showing a Rubik's Cube-a-Thon. I used to watch That's Incredible all the time, and I distinctly remember this episode.

- from the archives of the Cube Lovers mailing list (dating back to 1980!):

"I won the swedish championship with 40.48 (*very* hard cubes), and ended

4th in the world championships with 24.57. My personal best is 15.92, and

best average of 10 consecutive solutions about 23.50. Nowadays I'm 2-4

seconds slower, but (fortunately!) I don't do it nearly as much."

- and -

"I guess it's time to try to explain what I mean by 1152-fold symmetry

and 24-fold symmetry."

- directions for solving the Rubik's Cube

- art made by stacking Rubik's Cubes in specific patterns. Chess, anyone?

My favorite Jackie Chan movie,SEP 28

My favorite Jackie Chan movie, Drunken Master 2, is finally being released here in the US, with a new dub and a new soundtrack. If you enjoy Jackie Chan's fight scenes, the one at the end of this movie is the best there is.

Speaking of movies, I'm *so* looking forward to seeing Best in Show, the new mockumentary brought to you by the folks responsible for This is Spinal Tap and Waiting for Guffman. The movie opens in a limited area on Sept 29th and opens wide at some point in the future (I hope).

Incidentally, if you've never seen Waiting for Guffman, you should (especially if you enjoyed This is Spinal Tap). It's quite possibly the funniest movie of the last decade. High praise, but well deserved.

I will be posting yourSEP 28

I will be posting your E-Quill feedback on kottke.org (see below) in the next couple of days. Keep it coming. For now, here's one of my favorites so far.

Thank you for all ofSEP 28

Thank you for all of the birthday wishes yesterday. I appreciate it. :)

Does anyone know where... partSEP 28

Does anyone know where... part 2. I'm looking for an instrumental version of Radiohead's Fitter, Happier. Can any of you Radiohead fans help me out? Does such a thing even exist? You'll be my new best friend if you can find it for me. Seriously. Anyone?

Oh yeah, and today isSEP 27

Oh yeah, and today is my birthday. Sunrise, sunset, etc. In lieu of presents and birthday greetings (although you may certainly send the latter along), I would ask that you help feed some folks and save some trees by going to The Hunger Site & The Rainforest Site and clicking on the "donate" buttons. It only takes a second and it's certainly better than me grovelling for presents by linking to my Amazon wish list.

The E-Quill Web toolbar (IESEP 27

The E-Quill Web toolbar (IE 5+ for PC only) is the neatest thing I've seen in a long time. Basically, it lets you scribble, leave notes, and highlight text on any Web page you want...and then send the results to people, who can look at it without any plug-ins or anything. This would be a great tool for quick online design prototyping and such: the designer whips out a design, sends it to the creative director, the CD adds some comments, sends it back, and so on. Very cool stuff. Thanks to David for passing it along.

Here's an example of what E-Quill does: an annotated version of kottke.org. You should be able to view this on any 4+ level browser.

An E-Quill experiment: I want your feedback on my site design. So, if you've got the time:

1. install E-Quill on your machine (again, IE 5+ only)
2. browse back to kottke.org
3. scribble your comments about the site design all over the place
4. email me your annotated page

I'll post links to all the feedback I receive.

E-Quill also adds a new dimension to the process of online commentary (of which weblogging is a part). Online commentators like Dack, Peter, Jakob, Mark Hurst can use E-Quill to mark up pages and then post them to their sites. That way, while you're reading Mark's latest piece on how a site's design is hindering the customer experience, you can also click through and view some annotated comments right on top of the site design, so that you can see exactly what he's talking about.

As an example, I've marked up a page on dreamless.org with my comments from yesterday. A simple example, but you can see how useful this could be for commentators in general and webloggers specifically.

I went to the SFMOMASEP 26

I went to the SFMOMA this weekend and caught the Design Afoot: Athletic Shoes 1995 - 2000 exhibition. Walking through the exhibit was a little strange...bunches of shoes on shelves with little or no commentary about the designs, design processes, or anything like that. It was a little like shoe shopping at Foot Locker without being able touch anything or try anything on. No worries though; there was nothing there I wanted to try on anyway...modern athletic shoe design *sucks*.

Handheld Atari 2600. No, really.SEP 26

Handheld Atari 2600. No, really. (via robotwisdom)

It is impossible to readSEP 26

It is impossible to read the text at dreamless.org, an otherwise useful site. I know that the light gray on dark gray is a unique look and very pretty, but it's just not functional...which for a text-based discussion forum, is pretty important. Design = form + function. Don't forget the function.

Some new music purchased forSEP 25

Some new music purchased for the plane:

- Prototype 3, Seb Fontaine

- Communicate, Sasha & Digweed

- Live; Everything, Everything, Underworld

Underworld is also releasing a DVD of their live footage (produced by Tomato). That should be very cool.

Speaking of DVDs, Gladiator is coming out on DVD November 21st with the usual suspects: 30+ minutes of deleted scenes, director's commentary, &c. That's going to be a pretty film on DVD.

I was just looking atSEP 25

I was just looking at my Amazon Affiliates report from last month; someone ordered a 9 1/2-Inch Nonstick Tin Springform Pan using my referral code. Obviously, kottke.org puts people in the mood to shop for cookware. Who knew?

Matt has me hooked onSEP 24

Matt has me hooked on SFCave, this simple little Palm game. I scored just over 1200 pretty soon after getting it, but I can't seem to beat that score, and it's drving me a little nuts.

Readings from the Urantia Book,SEP 24

Readings from the Urantia Book, the third in a series:

"600,000,000 years ago the commission of Life Carriers sent out from Jerusem arrived on Urantia and began the study of physical conditions preparatory to launching life on world number 606 of the Satania system. This was to be our six hundred and sixth experience with the initiation of the Nebadon life patterns in Satania and our sixtieth opportunity to make changes and institute modifications in the basic and standard life designs of the local universe."

Reader-submitted link day, part twoSEP 22

Reader-submitted link day, part two in a two-part series.

anybody wanna peanut?

An explanation of those Andre the Giant has a posse images you see everywhere. It uses the words "phenomenology", "psyche", and "stimulate", so it must be good. Thanks to Shmuel for the link.

Step 1. Look at this picture that was screengrabbed from Hollywood.com

Step 2. Read the title of the second news item

Step 3. <insert your own joke here>

Thanks to Tony for the link.

And I saved the best for last. weird but true is a huge list of ideas, theories, scientic facts, oddities, pseudoscience, and the like. A lot of it is fascinating, and surprisingly, most of the snippets have references associated with them. A sample snippet:

"train wrecks: in train wrecks the number of passengers in damaged cars is less than average by so much and so often that it cannot be a chance occurrence. somehow we know not to get on them. (work done by william cox and reported by lyall watson)"

Thanks to Mark for that last link.

Thanks to all those thatSEP 21

Thanks to all those that wrote in about my Flash piece...I enjoyed reading the feedback and hope that I will have time to respond personally to it. I have some further comments to make concerning Flash, HTML, and a happy middle ground we can perhaps all agree on. Maybe I'll post those thoughts here, maybe elsewhere; we'll see.

The results are in for the Flash Usability Challenge. Someone suggesting the Ted Baker site won. I urge you to go read the results, especially John's comments on the Challenge. Excellent stuff.

Oh, here's another piece I wrote about Flash back in March 1999 for Alistapart: Harnessing the Whoosh: Using Flash and DHTML for Good, Not Evil.

I won a TiVo yesterday.SEP 21

I won a TiVo yesterday. No really, I'm serious. They're giving away 10 TiVo's a day until Oct 31st in a 250-word essay contest. Not bad for 10 minutes work. If you're interested, here's my essay: Revolution in the Living Room, A One-Act Play by Jason Kottke

I think it's great that TiVo is doing this contest, but they're making a mistake by not posting the winning essays on their site. I imagine they'll post them after the contest ends, but they're missing out on exposing all the contest traffic they must be getting to all those pro-TiVo essays. They'd get a lot of return traffic as well; people checking back daily for the new winners.

I'm going to be attendingSEP 21

I'm going to be attending Fray Day 4 in San Francisco this weekend. If you're there, be sure to find me and say hi. I'll be the human male wearing clothing of some sort...I should be pretty easy to spot.

Subject line of an emailSEP 20

Subject line of an email I just received: "Essentials for Globalizing your Website Webinar". I have a request for you, gentle readers: if anyone ever uses the word "Webinar" in your presence, beat them soundly with a large mallet.

A quick Google search reveals that there's lots of mallet action to be had. Good grief.

If there's one lesson we'veSEP 20

If there's one lesson we've learned repeatedly, it's that chicks dig writers whose lives are endangered by deceased Iranian leaders. How else would you explain Salman Rushdie's girlfriend?

I saw a sticker onSEP 20

I saw a sticker on the windshield of a Jeep yesterday that read "it's a Jeep thing....you wouldn't understand." What's there to understand...that pretty much says it all right there, doesn't it?

Did anyone read my commentsSEP 20

Did anyone read my comments yesterday pertaining to Flash? Probably too long, eh? Well, I moved the essay to its own page in the hopes that it will make it more palatable to read. If you do take the time to read it, I'd like to know what you think.

The Flash Usability Challenge ($150SEP 19

The Flash Usability Challenge ($150 prize!) over at WebWord.com is challenging folks to find "an effective and usable web site using Flash, from a company generating a profit", charging that "Flash produces web sites that are not suitable to e-commerce". While I agree there are a lot of sites out there using Flash poorly, it's not fair to blame the technology for the faults of overzealous designers and poor design decisions.

Read more of my response to the Flash Usability Challenge...

Apparently, the thread count ofSEP 18

Apparently, the thread count of one's bed sheets is of great importance.

I finally saw This isSEP 18

I finally saw This is Spinal Tap. Good stuff; I should have watched it sooner.

The thing that struck meSEP 18

The thing that struck me most about finally reaching the year 2000 is how similar it seemed to the years prior. Americans growing up in the 60s, 70s, and 80s were conditioned to believe in the year 2000 as some sort of technological (if not societal) utopia. Looking around at my surroundings, the computers are a little smaller & faster, but really, little has changed. Buildings are still square, new cars still look new, and my toothbrush, while differing slightly in design from its ancestors, still cleans my teeth the same as it always did.

But what about 20 years from now? Discover Magazine presents twenty things that won't change in the next twenty years. Included on the list are books, cash, religion, sex, and, regrettably, zealotry.

Discover's October 2000 issue also explores the end of the world, new knowledge, extinction, obsolescence, and ideas for the year 2020. Interesting stuff.

Is it me or hasSEP 17

Is it me or has Wired magazine been getting better lately? No, seriously.

Am I the last personSEP 17

Am I the last person to notice the cool DHTML flames on Monstro? Click on the "recently" link and unleash the magic of the dragon!

Some unannotated DVD links forSEP 17

Some unannotated DVD links for those interested in watching DVDs from any old region:

- http://www.codefreedvd.com
- http://www.raite715.com/
- http://www.mpegx.com/vdvdutil3detail.shtml
- http://dvddemystified.com/dvdfaq.html

Thanks to Ray, Nick, Frank, & Leonard for sending those along.

[SEX TOY] has a newSEP 16

[SEX TOY] has a new Lance. No, wait...I screwed that up. Lance has a [NEW SEX TOY]. Yeah, that's right.

I've had my design stolenSEP 16

I've had my design stolen before, but never the content. I guess there's a first time for everything. (The stolen design & content has since been removed...as has the link from the preceding paragraph. No soup for you.)

Well, here's part of theSEP 15

Well, here's part of the Deepleap functionality that I was missing a couple days ago: a bookmarklet that will convert an HTML document to a Palm document. (thanks Guy)

Those lucky Brits. They canSEP 15

Those lucky Brits. They can get DVDs that we can't get over here in America. A quick check of Amazon.co.uk reveals the following DVDs not available here:

- director's cut of Lock, Stock, & Two Smoking Barrels

- Citizen Kane

- six years of the Friends television program

I'd love to get Citizen Kane on DVD, but all of the DVDs sold on Amazon.co.uk are Region 2 encoded and will not work on the DVD player sold here in America. Well, except for this one.

First that Prince William tries to steal Britney away from us and now this. Why must Britannia take all of our best things? Why?!?!!

This is going to soundSEP 13

This is going to sound strange, but Family Guy is one of the funniest (and best) shows on television. I'm not quite sure where Fox is going to put it on the fall schedule, but I would highly recommend checking it out sometime.

In the past two days,SEP 13

In the past two days, I've done a couple things that don't normally fit into my daily regiment: exercise and cooking. I played basketball on Monday, and I pretty much sucked because, well, all I've been doing for the last, oh, 6 months, is sitting around on my ass doing nothing. And last night, I cooked tator tot hotdish, the food of my people.** For those of you that know me, you heard that right: I cooked a meal. We're having a potluck lunch today at work and I figured what better dish to bring to a potluck than a hotdish, the Minnesota State Meal.

** For those who are wondering, "my people" are white, God-fearin', Midwestern folks who consume hotdish.

OK, now I'm a littleSEP 13

OK, now I'm a little upset. I never used Deepleap when it was around (I know, I know...), but now that it's gone, I'm finding that I need it every couple days. This morning, I wanted to email a URL to someone without leaving my browser. Yesterday, I wanted to save the contents of a Web page to my Palm. <sigh>

Want to find out whoSEP 13

Want to find out who built a certain Web site? Try eConstructors' WhoBuiltIt? directory of more than 26,000 sites.

The SXSW Interactive Festival continuesSEP 12

The SXSW Interactive Festival continues to be the best value in new media conferences...by far. If you register before October 6, you can get a pass to the 2001 SXSW IF for only $135. I think I've got that much money in my pocket right now.** What do you get for that measly sum? People who actually care a lot about the medium they are working and playing in, not just a bunch of wanker business types who are in it for the money. It's quite a deal.

** Well, I checked and I only had a dime in my pocket. But still, only $135!

One of the reasons ISEP 12

One of the reasons I redesigned this site is so that I could make the site more usable for you, the user. Sure, you could change the look and feel before, but I want to add some features that are actually useful to make this site as user friendly as possible for folks who take the time to read my ramblings. To that end, I'm running a poll to see how you used the previous incarnation of the site.

Prior to the recent redesign, which kottke.org interface did you use?

If you wish, you can just view the results.

BTW, the cool <label> trick on the form buttons above (if you're on IE, click the text next to the form buttons...the radio button is automatically checked) is courtesy of Antenna. I'd seen it used on Expedia, but I was always too lazy to check out how they did it. Too lazy to view source....that's pretty damn lazy.

Peter writes: "Dave Winer hasSEP 11

Peter writes: "Dave Winer has posted yet another graphic from a site not his own and doesn't mention the source. I love it when people appropriate imagery, but I hate when they don't give credit. Thanks for listening."

Right on, brother.

Listen to "Twin Cities WebmasterSEP 11

Listen to "Twin Cities Webmaster Dack Ragus" on Minnesota Public Radio talking about his Web Economy Bullshit Generator.

The road most travelled isSEP 11

The road most travelled is jammed with idiots.

I can't believe this isSEP 10

I can't believe this is news. Humanity continues to discourage me.

Allergies suck.SEP 10

Allergies suck.

So far, the response toSEP 10

So far, the response to the "redesign" has been about 50/50: some want the old design back while some like the new version. Pretty much what I expected.

Oh, I hope this newSEP 10

Oh, I hope this new Crusoe-powered Sony laptop is stable. It's supposed to offer double the battery life and more room inside the case for stuff like RAM and bigger hard drives. And it's shipping in October. Resisting urge to covet....

Solar powered flashlight. Please supplySEP 09

Solar powered flashlight. Please supply your own joke...I'm laughing too hard to make one.

If you've visited kottke.org before,SEP 09

If you've visited kottke.org before, you may have noticed that it's undergone a slight redesign. I say "slight" because it's a lot like it was before...and because there will be a more significant redesign sometime in the near future. For now, I wanted to get rid of the old design because it was getting stale and to move the design in a new direction (because, as I stated a couple of days ago, the old design wasn't that flexible).

One casualty of the redesign is the loss the ability to modify the look of kottke.org. I really didn't want to remove that feature because people liked it, but it had to go...for now. The modify feature will return at some point, in a more useful incarnation.

Comments, feedback, or criticisms pertaining to the design are welcome (as always) at jason@kottke.org.

New tagline for Metafilter: "yourSEP 08

New tagline for Metafilter: "your source for political news, stories stolen from Slashdot, weblogger gossip, and links to major news stories that everyone already knows about".

I watched and enjoyed GhostSEP 08

I watched and enjoyed Ghost Dog last night, marking the first time in months that I've seen a new movie that I really enjoyed (the last one being Gladiator). The movie season just sucks this year. Guh. But I would recommend picking up Ghost Dog on video.

Today I start mySEP 08

pimpin' 2000-style

Today I start my new career as an ePIMP, with protection by the 37signals crime syndicate. Now all I need are some eHOs & a felt hat and I'm on my way.

Boom Box is an excellentSEP 08

Boom Box is an excellent article from The New York Times Magazine on the advent of smart television recording systems like TiVo and ReplayTV:

"The owners of the 100,000 or so black boxes that have already been installed have two distinctly unsettling new habits. The first is that they don't watch scheduled TV anymore. [...] But that isn't the worst news that TiVo and Replay have for the television networks. The worst news is that no one watches commercials anymore. Eighty-eight percent - 88 percent! - of the advertisements in the programs seen by viewers on their black boxes went unwatched. If no one watches commercials, then there is no commercial television."

Diarrhea Britannica is the bestSEP 07

Diarrhea Britannica is the best name I've seen for a Web site in a long while.

eXtremeModeling.org is probably not whatSEP 07

eXtremeModeling.org is probably not what you think it is, unless you're interested in "a synthesis of model-based processes and Extreme Programming (XP)".

Finally. Finally. Finally. I've addedSEP 07

Finally. Finally. Finally. I've added a search capability to kottke.org. This feature is still in a beta phase as I tinker with how I want it to work, but at least it's working. You'll find the search over on the left-hand side of the screen. Comments are welcome.

The above search is courtesy of Atomz.com. I really cannot say enough about how easy and flexible their search service is. Very cool.

I'm toying with getting rid of the modify feature of kottke.org. There are a bunch of features that I want to add to the site to make it more usable for visitors (like the search mentioned above), but the currently available interfaces aren't that flexible. So, at some point, I think those interfaces will have to go. I'll probably keep the text-only interface (modified to add the new functionality), but that will be it. As much as we'd like it to be, the information and the design are sometimes inseparable.

Some interesting stuff in theSEP 06

Some interesting stuff in the Communication Arts Interactive Design Annual.

Darby and Kelly, aSEP 06

hey there, big boy.

Darby and Kelly, a couple of my co-workers, kidnapped my Pets.com sock puppet and dressed it up as a woman. Yes, this is how we spend our workday here at B-Swing, playing dress-up with our dollies.

Jason Kottke, action hero.SEP 06

Jason Kottke, action hero.

Well, my first foray intoSEP 06

Well, my first foray into online banking isn't going too smoothly. Last week, I opened a checking account with Wells Fargo. One account. So far, I've received two different account numbers, two ATM cards, two boxes of checks, but only one PIN.

HP has done some reallySEP 05

HP has done some really great banner ads. The first in the series was this pong Java applet with the latest being an interactive 3-D wavy one. Mmmm...wavy.

"I waver between being depressedSEP 05

"I waver between being depressed by the sheer stupidity of the masses and being pissed off that I can't do more to change it. Someday, I'd like to be able to add "being bemused at the folly of mankind" to that dipole, but for now I still care too much."

New parking space. New desk.SEP 05

New parking space. New desk. New webcam view. Feels like a whole new job.

Cirque du Soleil was great,SEP 05

Cirque du Soleil was great, well worth the price of admission. If you're in the Mpls area, I recommend checking it out before their engagement ends on September 24.

The Minnesota State Fair was actually pretty cool as well. I thought I'd had my fill of it last year, but I had a good time. The best parts were the mini donuts, the bonsai tree exhibit, and the seed art (you haven't really lived until you've seen a picture of Elvis made entirely from seeds).

Avoid Whipped at all costs. Please take my word on this one. I wanted to leave three minutes into the movie and was upset that I didn't listen to that intuition. Gorgeous was bad as well...I'm less and less a fan of Jackie Chan's movies as time passes.

I'm fierce today.SEP 01

I'm fierce today.

Inspired by the MinneapolisSEP 01

avoid fecal fingers! or else!

Inspired by the Minneapolis Sign Project, Patrick sent in this sign he found in Iowa. It reads:

"avoid fecal fingers. use lift-it. available here soon. worlds only germ-proof toilet seat handle."

Germ-proof toilet seat handles. What an age we live in, my stars!

Pork is for everyone, evenSEP 01

Pork is for everyone, even kids! Teach children about the value of pork by building a sandwich with four, count 'em, four different pork products. It's porktastic!

Also curious is using the pig character as an aid in getting kids to eat pork. "See that cute little pig there with his curly tail? We're going to slaughter him by anal electrocution and then fry him up with some hash browns. Yummers!" It would seem that a natural extension to the farm tour would be the slaughterhouse tour, but maybe they don't want to subject the kids to that much, um, reality. (link via Nichol)

Speaking of pork: pork the one you love.

Also speaking of pork: Armour Fresh Pork online postcards. Pork chops on the beach and in China! What could be better? via the nubbin.

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