Wednesday, April 30, 2003

iTunes 4, iTunes Music Store, iPods [ 9:34 PM ]

A smattering of commentary and links about Monday's release of iTunes 4, the iTunes Music Store, and the new iPods, in no particular order:

As for me, I'm just happy that I've got AAC in iTunes 4 and my iPod. Much re-ripping taking place over here, taking advantage of higher quality and smaller file sizes. It's as though I just got a bigger iPod.

And while I can't buy any music through iTunes yet, I'm really impressed both with the store and the application itself. It's a great app -- the best of the iLife suite, hands down.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003

The Iraqi Information Minister, Part 3 [ 7:24 PM ]

The former Iraqi Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, of Internet fame and reknown (see previous entries: 1, 2), is trying to surrender to U.S. forces, but they don't really want him! He's not on the deck of cards -- i.e., he's small fry. (via MetaFilter)

SARS vs. malaria [ 9:22 AM ]

The Wonderchicken tries to put SARS into perspective. I suppose it's to be expected that people lose their heads over infectious diseases when they're just not used to them. (See "Virus, West Nile".) People scared of going near Toronto need to keep in mind that there are over four and a half million freaking people there, and I think they've got everyone exposed to SARS under quarantine. Everybody chill.

Sony Clié PEG-TG50 [ 9:06 AM ]

You might remember my first impressions of a Clié PEG-TG50, Sony's mid-range Bluetooth OS 5 handheld; Palm Infocenter now has a detailed review.

Monday, April 28, 2003

Copps criticizes [ 11:06 PM ]

Excuse me, but . . . has Sheila lost her fucking mind?

Corn snake feeding [ 11:42 AM ]

Finally, the last two recalcitrant corn snakes from last August's litter have eaten something besides live pinky mice. They ate thawed pinky mice sliced right down the middle. It's an encouraging sign: once they start eating prekilled mice, they usually keep going. And a good thing too -- always good to have last year's clutch out the door before this year's eggs start showing up.

Sunday, April 27, 2003

Children of Dune, with gratuitous Amazon links [ 11:44 PM ]

Managed to catch parts one and three of the Children of Dune (Amazon) mini-series on Space this past month, and was impressed by what I saw -- more so than the original Dune miniseries, though that was probably cognitive dissonance as a result of remembering the 1984 David Lynch movie (Amazon). The other issue is that, while I've read Dune at least half a dozen times in recent memory, I've only read Dune Messiah and Children of Dune once, and that was in my early teens. Chances are I'll get more out of them now, so I'm hitting the library to see if they make any sense now, because they sure seemed strange to my thirteen-year-old self.

Il Coppardo lives! [ 11:13 AM ]

Il Coppardo lives! And here I thought he'd been killed. E-mail from him for the first time in six months:

Hiya Crowe. I'm in Moscow right now. Just thought I'd say hello. My Dad and girlfriend are visiting the Kremlin, but I refused to pay the 250 ruble foreigner price. I'm drunk on "Hunter" beer, but I can still spell "foreigner"? Isn't that cool?
Sorry about your snake club, but, I mean, geez, it's a snake club. Settle down.

Yeah, yeah, I know, it's just a snake cl -- wait a minute. Girlfriend? Hold the phone . . .

And a little more venting . . . [ 12:20 AM ]

I'm amazed at how wound up I still am over this club business; it's wounded me far more than I originally expected. Mike thinks I'm difficult to work with; in fact, I simply won't put up with any of his crap, which other members have somehow managed to absorb with equanimity. If I'm difficult to work with, I'm also the one who's doing most of the work. But, typically in these organizations, the lazy and the disorganized tend to reward the nice rather than the hardworking.

Update 11:10 AM: Johnny writes in with some needed perspective. He thinks my resignation and shutdown of the club web page are petulant, and that I owe it to the others to stick it out through the remainder of my term. On the other hand, he thinks that, having voted for me (or at least not opposed me), people have an obligation to work with me regardless of whether they think I'm being difficult -- and my work has been valuable. This guy's worth having around, folks.

Saturday, April 26, 2003

Corn snake sex [ 11:46 PM ]

Looks like some mating activity is going on in the corn snake cage. No intromission as yet, but there's a big wad of goo on the base of the branch: somebody got a little excited, I think. Be careful when you name a male snake "Trouser" . . .

Naming names [ 9:47 PM ]

The club melodrama continues, as Mike, the person whose behaviour yesterday precipitated my resignation, has hardened his position. It seems that he resented my offers of help as an implied attack on his competence. Whereas I felt shut out of planning an event that I was, in the final analysis, responsible for. He's stubborn; I'm hurt. I put a lot of work into that damn club: the web site, the by-law fight, the promotional materials -- all of these I did more or less single-handedly (credit to Florence for translating the materials, however). All without much help from an old guard who seem to be above criticism themselves -- Anthony has called me an asshole to my face, Andrew has yelled at me over the phone, and Chantel deliberately excluded Jennifer from committee deliberations, and none of them have ever apologized for it. And I'm the one who's difficult to work with! That's rich. The club is a fucking clique, run by those who treat it as their personal fief, and even after three years as a member and a year and a half as president, even after all I've done for them, I'm still on the outside.

Groooooonk! [ 4:39 PM ]

At last, we have the mighty Chewbacca.

Sony Clié CF slot [ 7:57 AM ]

The Compact Flash slot on Sony's NX- and NZ- series Clié handhelds officially only supports an expensive Sony-branded WiFi card (presumably Sony wants you to use their Memory Sticks for data storage), but third-party drivers allowing any Compact Flash memory card to be used have been released.

Friday, April 25, 2003

Resignation [ 6:12 PM ]

I have just resigned as president of the Ottawa Amphibian and Reptile Association. My god, but that's a frustrating bunch to organize. The hell with them.

Feeling low [ 2:20 PM ]

Didn't get the job I referred to earlier. That, and the last-minute chaos as the club tries to get a show together, and the fact that [edit: I thought at the time that] the show's organizer is botching things up as usual, is putting me in a pretty foul mood. And my support network is, as usual, unavailable. (Thanks, everyone!)

Newspaper to editor: No blogging! [ 10:09 AM ]

It seems to me that unless travel editor Denis Horgan has a non-competition clause in his contract that prevents him from publishing elsewhere, the Hartford Courant has no business telling him to stop blogging on his personal site. (via Blogroots)

Vintage Apple computers on eBay [ 8:13 AM ]

I read John Ward's guide to buying vintage Apple computers on eBay with great interest, because I've been muttering about laying hands on an old Apple II or two for about a year now. I'd collect old computers -- or at least old Apples -- if I wasn't already collecting books and snakes and actually had any room left. (via MyAppleMenu)

Thursday, April 24, 2003

Havel [ 8:22 AM ]

Why Václav Havel is the Orwell of our era, an informed and interesting essay by Matt Welch. (via Instapundit)

Wednesday, April 23, 2003

Map Room tweaks [ 7:09 PM ]

Minor redesign over at The Map Room; posts have been few because I'm making it hard on myself to post -- trying to craft them too carefully, I suspect. I have a backlog so there will be more.

Job interview [ 2:06 PM ]

Job interview for a reasonably long-term IS-04-level position tomorrow afternoon. Cross your fingers.

Table of Palm OS handhelds [ 1:04 PM ]

Here is a list of the Palm OS handhelds available now or soon:

Handheld Name RAM OS CPU Speed Description Price ($Cdn)
Palm Zire 2 MB 4.1 16 MHz Budget, two buttons, no backlight, no cards or peripherals $150
Sony Cli� PEG-SL10 8 MB 4.1 33 MHz Hi-res monochrome, discontinued model $180
Handspring Visor Platinum 8 MB 3.5.2 33 MHz Discontinued model, uses AAA batteries $200
Sony Cli� PEG-SJ20 16 MB 4.1 33 MHz Hi-res monochrome, discontinued model $230
Palm m130 8 MB 4.1 33 MHz Colour, rugged, old model $300
Sony Cli� PEG-SJ22 16 MB 4.1 33 MHz Hi-res colour $300
Handspring Treo 90 16 MB 4.1 33 MHz Colour, small, keyboard, discontinued model $370
Palm m515 16 MB 4.1 33 MHz Colour, slim, old model $400
Sony Cli� PEG-T665 16 MB 4.1 66 MHz Hi-res colour, MP3, discontinued model $450
Palm Zire 71 16 MB 5.2.1 144 MHz Hi-res colour, camera $450
Sony Cli� PEG-SJ33 16 MB 4.1 66 MHz Hi-res colour, MP3 $500
Palm Tungsten T 16 MB 5.0 144 MHz Hi-res colour, Bluetooth $600
Sony Cli� PEG-TG50 16 MB 5.0 200 MHz Hi-res colour, Bluetooth, keyboard $650
Garmin iQue 3600 32 MB 5.x 200 MHz Hi-res colour, GPS, virtual Graffiti $750
Palm Tungsten C 64 MB 5.2.1 400 MHz Hi-res colour, WiFi, keyboard $750
Sony Cli� PEG-NX70V 16 MB 5.0 200 MHz Hi-res colour, camera, flip-clamshell (keyboard, virtual Graffiti) $800
Palm Tungsten W 16 MB 4.1.1 33 MHz Hi-res colour, GSM/GPRS, keyboard $825
Handspring Treo 270 16 MB 3.5.2 33 MHz Colour, GSM/GPRS phone, keyboard $850
Sony Cli� PEG-NZ90 16 MB 5.0 200 MHz Hi-res colour, Bluetooth, 2-megapixel camera with flash, flip-clamshell (keyboard, virtual Graffiti) $1,300

Note: All OS 5 handhelds are capable of playing MP3s. Prices are what I've managed to find today.

Feeding garter snakes [ 11:59 AM ]

On one of the reptile boards, someone asked about feeding their garter snake, and someone, in reply, said that mice weren't a good idea, which is bollocks. Other people pointed this out, but I had to add my two cents' worth, which turned out well enough that I ought to make a note of it here.

Conventional Jobs and Unconventional People [ 9:07 AM ]

A passage from Carol Eikleberry's Career Guide for Creative and Unconventional People that made me sit bolt upright:

For tasks such as filing, typing and accounting, which are Conventional in nature, it makes great sense that the worker does the work the way it has always been done. If you are Artistic, though, these kinds of clerical and business duties feel like death to the soul. Not only have you lost your freedom in the nine-to-five grind, but you have lost all personal freedom in doing the work itself.
A sensitive, intuitive, expressive nature is no advantage when the task is to handle everyday maintenance chores by established rules. In fact, you may find that you are less efficient and more tired by the work than other people would be. Because so many of the jobs that are available are conventional jobs, you may get down on yourself and think, "I just don't like to work." You may not realize that it's just that particular kind of work that's so distasteful to you, not all work.

It occured to me, when I read that, that Eikleberry just described the bulk of mid-level public service work -- and, on a more personal level, the work that I had the greatest difficulty doing at my last job: though the editing itself was something I quite enjoyed, the routine clerical work that accompanied it, especially the timekeeping, was something I always did poorly. It's certainly helped me to clarify what to seek out, and what to avoid, in future employment.

Weekend update [ 8:54 AM ]

Lots to say about the last weekend, so of course it's going to take a while to get to it. In the meantime, you can see this brief summary of at least my impressions of the spotted turtle census (and the subsequent entries by others), this frog report from Monday evening.

Two site updates as a result of the weekend's activities. The life list has been updated to reflect what we encountered at the survey site. And, on the way back, we stopped at the Indian River Reptile Zoo -- the first time for Jennifer, the first time in two years for me -- and I took the opportunity to take some photos.

Now I have to get some photos from the survey itself ready, but to do that I have to get the infrastructure in place first.

Two new Palm handhelds [ 8:45 AM ]

Two new handhelds from Palm this morning (see news coverage from CNet, InfoSync World, Palm Infocenter, Wired):

Interesting -- and annoying -- to discover that there is no OS 5 support yet for the Palm Bluetooth card.

Update 12:40 PM: Globe and Mail coverage (via Richard).

Update 3:14 PM: Zire 71 review at PDABuzz.

Keynote news [ 8:35 AM ]

Applelust has a review of Keynote up, and Filemaker has released a tool for converting Filemaker databases into Keynote presentations (via MacMinute).

Thursday, April 17, 2003

Spotted turtle weekend [ 10:29 PM ]

Off early tomorrow morning to drive to the undisclosed location for the spotted turtle survey this weekend, and I won't be back until Monday evening. In the meantime, read my report from the spotted turtle survey trip two years ago to get a sense of what I'll be up to.

The Dinosauricon [ 10:27 PM ]

The Dinosauricon, a list of all dinosaur clades and species, with taxonomic notes and revisions, is moving to a new site and design, but all the content is still at the old site. Great stuff if you're trying to keep track of it all. For example: Tyrannosaurids are coelurosaurs, not carnosaurs? Tyrannosaurus bataar is actually a species of Tarbosaurus? (See this photo album for T. bataar fossils.) And I thought Deinonychus antirrhopus had been synonymized with Velociraptor . . .

Jonas Salling interview [ 9:55 PM ]

MobileTracker has an interview with Jonas Salling, the guy behind Sony Ericsson Clicker, which you've seen me make such a fuss about on this blog lately. (via MyAppleMenu)

Garmin iQue: Palm GPS without Bluetooth [ 12:03 PM ]

Looks like no Bluetooth in the Garmin iQue 3600, which is now available for pre-order. Drat. Too bad that it's turning out that you can only get one thing built-in with Palm OS 5 handhelds: Bluetooth (Palm Tungsten T, Sony TG50); a small digital camera (Sony NX70V, the rumoured Palm Zire 71); 802.11b wireless (the rumoured Palm Tungsten C); or GPS (the Garmin). Other than the insane Sony NZ90 (built-in Bluetooth, 2-megapixel digital camera, made of neutronium and costs like it too), that is. Otherwise, you have to buy expansion cards (and that Bluetooth card is still running at $220). What if you want more than one thing?

Kottke on ads in hardcover books [ 11:54 AM ]

Pardon my cynicism, Jason, but I think that if ads started appearing in hardcover books, publishers would pocket the difference rather than lower prices.

Leaflets [ 8:05 AM ]

Articles about and reproductions of aerial leaflet propaganda (via Rebecca).

Piles [ 7:44 AM ]

There's a rumour going around (as usual) that Mac OS X 10.3 may implement "piles" in its Finder. What are piles, you ask? This little flash demo explains the concept very well; I wonder, though, just how scaleable it is. And I'd be surprised if it worked on my machine, because that conceptualization looks really OpenGL-heavy. (via D)

Cycling [ 7:28 AM ]

On Tuesday the temperatures hit ludicrous heights, people poured outside and the rice rockets came out, so I did what every good unemployed person should: get on the bicycle and bike around all afternoon running errands. Despite the usual Ottawa-Gatineau driver idiocies, getting around isn't that difficult thanks to the bike paths. In spite of my poor physique, exacerbated by winter sloth, I managed all right, but I'm going to need to get back something resembling conditioning soon -- I was wiped out when I got back. Oh -- the Citizen published something on Ottawa's bike plans yesterday without really saying much about them.

Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Safari tab titles [ 10:09 AM ]

Another neat little thing about Safari's tab implementation: it shortens the title of the web page (the text within <title> tags) by cropping "The" -- so, for example, "The McWetlog -" becomes "McWetlog - mcwetboy.c..." in the tab, squeezing in a few more characters than would otherwise be possible. That's a clever way of dealing with one of the documented problems with using tabs: when you have too many of them open, you can't read the labels.

KSR on adventure travel [ 9:14 AM ]

Kim Stanley Robinson writes about the future of adventure travel. The key word under examination here is "adventure". Sharp stuff. (via Boing Boing)

Monday, April 14, 2003

MacNN [ 11:54 PM ]

Damien is spot-on about the state of MacNN; if he had mucked around that site more, he would have been able to come up with many, many more examples. I am noticing an increasing trend towards critical commentary of Mac web sites, and I like it. Hardly surprising, since I do my share of it myself. The field needs it. (I sense a topic-centred weblog. Any takers?)

Safari Beta 2 (v73) [ 11:48 PM ]

Safari Beta 2 (v73) was released today. My initial thoughts:

Tabbed browsing is well implemented and very fast; tabs are slugs on Camino and Mozilla in comparison. I like tabbed browsing but was willing to do without them in exchange for Safari's speed; having both is, well, great. Learning to be more careful where you click on them will be a necessity; in other tab implementations, you can click anywhere to select the tab, but if you do that here you run the risk of clicking on that little X and closing the tab. Having a little X is a good idea, and necessary, but a new thing, and requires adjusting your spatial memory.

Tab groups are very neat -- I didn't understand what was meant by them before -- but incompletely implemented: it seems that you can only do them from the bookmarks bar, and not subfolders.

Some things are still unfixed. <abbr> and <acronym> tags are italicized and the title attribute is still unsupported except with <a>. The Globe and Mail site still looks awful. Blogger is still unsupported.

No corn snakes for you [ 3:41 PM ]

The reptiles section of this site has been updated with the same kind of CSS and PHP improvements that befell this weblog last week (see previous entry). In addition to more material on the FAQ page and other minor updates to the content, I've also uploaded, in an obscure spot, an announcement that I'm no longer selling corn snakes to the general public.

The reason is that several customers have been enough of a nuisance that I wasn't enjoying it any more, and I decided that it wasn't worth my time. I mention this briefly on the page, but didn't go into detail. This seems like a good place to go into a bit more detail.

Some people pestered me repeatedly by phone and e-mail for months, asking when I would have corn snakes ready, even before they were hatched, even before the eggs had been laid, even before the breeding pairs were out of hibernation. One even called my cell phone. One got snotty when I didn't respond to his fifteenth message right away. And then, when I announced that the corn snakes were finally ready, I have had people who bugged me for months suddenly disappear (I guess they waited until the last minute to ask Mom). One person, after buying a snake, demanded detailed care information (the sort you could find in books) and, when the snake died, months later (see my terms and conditions, and bear in mind that most pet stores offer a warranty of one week), demanded a refund, was offered a replacement (I was feeling generous), and then expected me to drop everything and deliver that replacement personally when I was extremely busy with other responsibilities.

In the end, I'd had enough; this was too much work and grief, I thought, to sell a snake for $35 to people whose prime interest seemed to be to save money over pet store prices (usually twice as much), but who expected me to provide service that, had they demanded it at a pet store, would have gotten them laughed at or thrown out. I suspect that corn snakes' broader base of interest is at fault here, since I don't have nearly as many problems with inquiries about pine snakes or garter snakes. (But then the demand for these other species is much less, and therefore easier to manage. And the prices are higher, which makes you more willing to deal with crap -- except that there isn't any for me to deal with. Go figure.)

Speaking of pet stores, that's where the corn snakes will be going, for the most part. They pay a little less but offer hardly any grief: they either need some or they don't. It's businesslike; they, on the other hand, get to deal with the 14-year-olds (and the people who act like them).

I suspect I have just pissed some people off. I must hasten to add that most of my customers have been a joy to do business with. It's the nature of this hobby that there are some people who are difficult and immature. Some breeders simply don't sell to the public because of such people. I didn't want to do that, so I arrived at this solution instead. Let's see how it works. I have to keep reminding myself that I can't avoid pissing off everyone; I just have to make sure I piss off the right people.

Rogers AT&T rural coverage [ 12:23 PM ]

One of the reasons I switched to Rogers AT&T Wireless was to get wider digital coverage than I could get with my dual-mode CDMA phone. My observations so far, using my Ericsson T39m:

  • Little Ray's Reptile Zoo: no signal, on account of a squabble over a tower in nearby Manotick (viz., they want service but not the tower itself). West of Manotick, a reasonably good signal, so the problem is clearly easterly.
  • Rockland and Clarence: good.
  • Kemptville and along Highway 416: good.
  • Bishops Mills: weak but possible outside; unreliable to nonexistent inside.

No doubt I'll learn more this coming long weekend, which, if everything goes well, will be spent looking for spotted turtles at an undisclosed location in southern Ontario.

The Iraqi Information Minister, Part 2 [ 12:03 PM ]

Wired has more on the wacky Iraqi Information Minister, Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, and the web sites that love him so. Me, I just can't get enough of the guy; I've been giggling all weekend. (see previous entry)

Friday, April 11, 2003

Bull Durham: censored by the Hall of Fame [ 7:28 PM ]

Joe McCarthy never died; he's just been biding his time. The Baseball Hall of Fame has cancelled a showing of Bull Durham later this month because its president, Dale Petroskey, a former assistant press secretary in the Reagan administration, objects to Tim Robbins's views on the war in Iraq. More coverage from The Futility Infielder, a baseball blog, here and here. (via Ceej)

The Iraqi Information Minister has a fan site [ 6:56 AM ]

"I now inform you that you are too far from reality." -- Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf, Iraqi Information Minister. This and other choice quotes may be found at al-Sahaf's fan site, (Or, as the Baron would say: "The town is perfectly safe!") (via Anil; more fun at MetaFilter)

Update 8:35 AM: CNN just mentioned the site on-air.

Update 7:30 PM: The site got hosed on account of insane popularity but should be back later; meanwhile, if you missed it, see CNN's coverage.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Redesign [ 5:28 PM ]

The changes are subtle insofar as the appearance is concerned, but I just redesigned this weblog: it now boasts a CSS-based, table-less design, and better use of PHP. It's basically cleaner under the hood, now that I've started from scratch and cut away all the hack work. And now I must go and install OS X 10.2.5.

Think Secret's iPod rumour doesn't smell right [ 8:02 AM ]

As rumour sites go, Think Secret is the best of a questionable lot (or at least among the least inaccurate), but this item on upcoming iPod models just doesn't make sense.

First of all, based on the illustration, the new controls would be a considerable step backward: putting buttons above the scroll wheel, instead of around it, makes the gadget harder to use. I imagined using that new layout: the thumb would have to travel a lot more under the "new" design, while the current design is much simpler. I much prefer what I have with my 5 GB iPod. Changing the current design would torpedo one of the iPod's strongest assets. I can't imagine them doing it without running some user testing, nor can I imagine simplicity gurus like Jobs and Ive mucking up a formerly clean interface.

Second, we have this statement, which doesn't bear up to scrutiny:

USB 2.0 support has also been added to the iPod, primarily for Windows users.

For "primarily" read "exclusively", because if you have a Mac, you don't have USB 2.0 unless you've installed it yourself in a Power Mac's PCI slot or a PowerBook's PCMCIA card slot. Now how would USB 2.0 support work? Would there be two ports, or would the docking station have two different cables to allow you to plug into whichever port? If the former, you're adding more stuff to an already crowded little box -- and they've supposedly added all those hard-to-use buttons already, remember -- and unless they have a separate Windows version with both USB 2.0 and FireWire (and a Mac version with just FireWire), the USB 2.0 port will be effectively useless on half the iPods they sell. If the latter, then you have to use the docking station at all times (a pain in the neck for laptop users) or use specialized, Palm-style, iPod-connector-to-whatever cables instead of standard FireWire cables.

And besides, isn't the iPod supposed to be a showcase for FireWire's abilities? I'd expect FireWire 800 before USB 2.0 on the thing.

In the end, I can't say that it won't happen; I can only say that it doesn't make any sense.

Update (7:53 PM): MacRumors says it's true (for what that's worth); and, based on the discussion in their forums, other mockups, and my reevaluation, fiddling with my own iPod, of what the new layout might be like, the new design might not be bad. The thumb wouldn't travel as much as I initially thought. And if this is true, it's probably executed in a better way than most of us are thinking. We can but wait and see; rumourmongering is a mug's game.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Mr. Barrett on tablet computers [ 8:30 PM ]

Damien has some thoughts about Tablet PCs and speculates about a hypothetical Apple take on the tablet form that would inevitably be more refined. Unlike my own musings about this subject (see previous entry), he figures on a hybrid system -- what Microsoft would call a "convertible" tablet -- with a hideable keyboard.

New URL for Languagehat [ 8:13 PM ]

Languagehat, who writes an eponymous (and terrific) blog about matters linguistic, has moved to

Mac user groups in the Ottawa area [ 1:23 PM ]

While MUGOO holds its meetings at the Nepean Sportsplex, which would take a long time to get back from by bus on a weeknight, the Club Macintosh de l'Outaouais holds its meetings right up the street, though it looks très francophone. Both charge ludicrous amounts for an annual membership ($40 and $50, respectively -- what, exactly, does that money pay for?). Location and money seem to be at least two of the problems that MUGOO has in attracting people; the rest seem to be the usual problems a volunteer organization inevitably has.

Blogs save lives [ 11:58 AM ]

AccordionGuy discovers his girlfriend is not who she claimed. Astonishing, heartbreaking and compelling. (via Anil, D, and Jerry)

Two Keynote presentations [ 11:52 AM ]

I've been working on two consecutive Keynote presentations over the last couple of days (which resulted in a dearth of posts here and at the Map Room). I'm getting quite quick at building presentations. One trick I learned yesterday. Keynote makes heavy use of the Finder for importing files: you simply go to the finder, select your file (image, sound, etc.) and drag-and-drop it onto the slide. Then I found that if you drag-and-drop an image onto the slide manager at left, Keynote builds a slide with the image centred on it. Fine and good. Then I dragged-and-dropped 12 images onto the slide manager; Keynote quickly built 12 image slides. Since the Inspector can handle multiple slides, I was able to add the same transition to all slides all at once, to make a really nice slideshow. That was fast -- the kind of thing that allowed me to build two 40-to-50-slide presentations in a few hours each.

Monday night's presentation was to the 2nd Gatineau Venturers, for which Jennifer acts as a scout leader. This bunch of 14- to 16-year-olds sat still long enough for me to talk about snakes, focusing on subjects that I figured would hold a teenager's attention: sex, violence and food -- i.e., reproduction, defensive strategies, and prey subjugation. Having live animals to make the point didn't hurt -- they got the idea when I showed them identically aged garter snakes, the females much larger than the males, but the hognose snake, which I had hoped would show the full panoply of defensive strategies, decided to be tame for the first time in a year. Fortunately I was able to piss off the female gopher snake. It went well.

Yesterday's presentation, which was for the OARA meeting last night, was finished early; I then went and installed Sony Ericsson Clicker 1.5 (see previous entry) to use my Ericsson T39 cell phone as a remote. Installation was a bit of a problem: it initially did not upload the menus to the phone's Accessories menu, and hosed my Bluetooth system-wide; then, when I tried to logout, I had to force a restart. But it got working eventually, and I was impressed. I paid my $15, uploaded more commands for Keynote, and arrived at Little Ray's to give the talk. The phone hung a bit at the outset, but it worked once the presentation got underway. And boy were people impressed that I was controlling a presentation with my freakin' cell phone!

Monday, April 07, 2003

Rumsfeld's Rules [ 8:56 AM ]

This long and interesting profile of U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld in Saturday's Globe and Mail refers to Rumsfeld's Rules, a list of insights Rumsfeld drew from his government and business experience. Here's one that seems particularly apt nowadays: "Don't divide the world into 'them' and 'us.' Avoid infatuation with or resentment of the press, the Congress, rivals, or opponents. Accept them as facts. They have their jobs and you have yours." Surprisingly even-handed and insightful, and a damn site better than my own kick at this subject. Rumsfeld's Rules used to be posted here (PDF) but for some reason are no longer available; fortunately, they have been mirrored elsewhere (PDF).

Saturday, April 05, 2003

Sony Ericsson Clicker 1.5 [ 11:05 PM ]

I haven't even uploaded version 1.0 to the T39 yet, but Sony Ericsson Clicker 1.5 sounds promising. (via MacMinute; see previous entries: 1, 2)

Girls in cliques [ 5:37 PM ]

Joanne Kates, the Globe and Mail's restaurant critic, draws on her summer camp experience to write about social exclusion among girls, and the methods, mostly ineffective, that have been tried to combat it.

Garter snake road kill study [ 5:35 PM ]

Florence forwards this study of red-sided garter snake mortality, and the methods used to mitigate it, along Highway 17 near the snake pits near Narcisse, Manitoba.

Bastards out of Costa Rica [ 5:33 PM ]

Here are some pictures of the bastards who went to Costa Rica. It was the dry season, so the bastards found many interesting snakes. Bastards. (via

Defending big snakes and lizards is counterproductive [ 5:31 PM ]

I can't imagine how it could be a good idea for a reptile organization to defend the right to keep large constrictors and green iguanas; it seems to me to be far better to limit your losses and argue for something defensible, rather than risk the organization's credibility, which you would need to defend against a total ban. This was the logic behind our strategy not to defend large constrictors and iguanas in Ottawa (see previous entry), which several people outside Ottawa weren't happy with. Anyone who argues that Burmese pythons or green iguanas should be freely available to anyone who wants one needs a pummeling with the reality stick (or a lengthy sojourn trying to find homes for the abandoned animals).

Wildlife festival [ 5:22 PM ]

The dearth of posts is as a result of my being insanely busy over the past few days, getting the OARA display at the Wildlife Festival up and running. Photos from the display will have to wait until tomorrow, as I forgot to take pictures yesterday and I've been told to take the day off today.

Wednesday, April 02, 2003

Shock and awe [ 10:18 AM ]

What "shock and awe" should have been; apparently what we saw wasn't it.

Tuesday, April 01, 2003

Current reading [ 8:36 PM ]

Current reading: Wayne Brady, The Bone Museum: Travels in the Lost Worlds of Dinosaurs and Birds, after just having finished rereading Robert Bakker, The Dinosaur Heresies. I seem to be in dinosaur mode at the moment.

Budget fallout [ 7:43 PM ]

Ernie Eves says that, after all the controversy (see previous entries: 1, 2, 3), he won't likely present another budget on television. That much is certain.

Meooglfilter [ 11:57 AM ]

MetaFilter has been bought by Google. April Fool.

Sneaky Windows Update [ 11:52 AM ]

What Windows Update sends to Microsoft -- or, Why I Switched. (via Richard)

Response to The Map Room [ 11:51 AM ]

Iconomy is enthusiastic about The Map Room. Somehow I thought she would be!