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February 24, 2006

Top ten ways to know that your business's web site sucks:

  1. You think people are actually going to download something or use a specific browser to see your dumb site
  2. You think that if your web site takes over the screen, uses 100% of the CPU, and plays loud music, that transforms it from brochureware into an Immersive Interactive Experience(tm) and will impress visitors big time
  3. You think someone actually might choose not to "Skip Intro"
  4. Email to any of your "role" accounts (webmaster, info, sales, jobs etc.) bounces
  5. Broken links, especially broken links going from your site to the web designer's site
  6. No email address anywhere (this includes hiding behind a "contact us" form)
  7. You had a third party register your domain with themselves as the only contact person, then they quit, so you never got the warnings, then it expired
  8. Cutesy artsy vague navigation titles that mean nothing to the user
  9. The whole thing is one little flash rectangle in the middle of the browser window — not searchable, not bookmarkable, not hotlinkable, not downloadable, just an animated brick with scroll bars that don't really work and a never-before-seen interaction style that you paid someone to build from scratch, because interactive user interface R&D is what you're all about
  10. Your photo gallery opens popups with images 10% larger than the thumbails, and the popup window doesn't fit the image in it, and you used JavaScript to make it impossible to resize or scroll

Can you tell I've been looking at restaurant web sites tonight? :)

February 23, 2006

I've been a Sony Trinitron weenie for more than a decade, but today that changed. I had upgraded from a Viewsonic 19" to a 22" Apple Cinema Display (another large widescreen LCD) but that was temporary as I had bought that at a dot-bomb auction with the intent to resell it. Since the street price at the time was about $2100, keeping it was out of the question. I've had a Sony Multiscan 520GS for years; I think I got it at that same auction, or maybe at the Sapient fire sale, I can't remember for sure.

Anyway I started to get tired of the relative blurriness and lack of contrast of the CRT display compared to my PowerBook's LCD recently. I had been waiting for LCDs to get cheaper; specifically, I was waiting for a 21" 1600x1200 LCD to get down to about $750. As it turns out, while I wasn't paying attention they got down to about $550. At the same time, I had been hearing nothing but good stuff about a Dell 24" display, which was a lot cheaper than I had expected.

I ended up buying the Dell Widescreen UltraSharp 2405FPW. I paid $837 including shipping, at CompuDirect (which has raised the price since last week when I ordered it). It uses the same LCD part as the Apple 23" Cinema Display but a comparison of the two displays by a pretty Apple-lovin' web site shows that the Dell display is much better. I have no idea what they're talking about when they say that the colors fade out when you view it from the side; they don't, not even a little bit.

The 1.33GHz 12" PowerBook G4 definitely can drive this monitor at full resolution, but sadly (even with DVI and USB plugged in) it doesn't recognize the rotation feature. This has already been pretty well covered in this MacInTouch reader reports page, but I was hoping that with a few OS updates and the USB cable plugged in that maybe it'd work. It doesn't. It's just a very big bright sharp cheap display, which is still great.

I took some sample pictures once I had it set up, which show it being large and useful.

And the rumors are true: it's very bright. Ridiculously bright. Far too bright, actually. I calibrated it at 100% brightness (because the calibration utility says to do that) but I couldn't stand to use it that way for very long even at 1:30pm on a sunny day with the drapes open in the window behind me. I turned it down to 50% but it still made my PowerBook's display look pathetically washed out and dim. Later today, as the sun set, I finally decided to turn it all the way down to 0% brightness, and it's still brighter than my PowerBook's built in LCD. I think it's probably brighter than the CRT it replaced. I'll probably leave it at 0% brightness.

February 18, 2006

Who needs Evanescence (or Axis of Evil, for that matter) when there's OTEP? The video for Warhead (pick a streaming flavor from the videos page) is so direct and to the point that it's laugh-out-loud funny. Usually I think art that's this nakedly political and centered on current-events is a bad idea (it gets dated pretty quickly), but that video just rules.

Likewise, who needs Aeon Flux (haven't seen the reportedly sucky movie but I loved the animated version) when there's Ultraviolet? (The official Sony Pictures site is here.) I think I'd go to the theater to see that, based on the trailer and the fact that Milla Jovovich has a track record of strong performances in sexy ass-kicking roles.

Here's an interesting Wikipedia page: Special:Mostrevisions.

Big News from VMware: this is a particularly bad use of VMware — a dedicated virtual server image for each server app you want to run, yeesh — but it's nice that it's free. I've been using VMware Workstation for years to run Windows on Linux but it's clumsy because the workstation version forces you to have a GUI running somewhere, which I've done on an xVNC display. Ugh. A headless VMware server that you can attach a GUI to occasionally would be much nicer. At the moment I have a 1U P3-1GHz server in my home rack with Windows Server 2003, but when VMWare Server is out of beta release I'll probably give it a whirl and just beef up my Linux box with another big disk and gig of RAM, and turn off the 1U server indefinitely.

Some interesting stuff about profiling as a security measure:

Funny: My first YTMND site, based on an ambiguous AP headline that made me laugh out loud on the MUNI streetcar: Cheney: If at first you don't succeed, try try again. Yes that's Barney, from iTunes via Audio Hijack Pro, so no I didn't fund the Barney empire. Lego suicides, the Sprint 'Locker Room' Super Bowl TV commercial.

February 2, 2006

Fun word: Metonymy.

From Bring Us a... Shrubbery! Jet Fuel, Alaska Air & Hedging comes this chestnut:

The difference between the price of a barrel of jet fuel and the price of a barrel of crude oil is called the "crack spread"

If someone has asked me to define that term yesterday, that's not the explanation I would have come up with.

Kim and I saw a busker in a subway station playing a super cool sax that was black. She asked about it and it turned out to be a Cannonball Big Bell, which looks more or less like this. Sweet.

I don't like hip hop generally speaking, but if you actually sing part of the time, and add some notes to the percussion, and write lyrics about something other than gangstas and bitches, that's a different matter. In Da Club? Tip Drill? C'mon. It's just as bad as pandering heavy metal bands that sing about Satan while chugging away on the E string, or hair metal bands singing about partying hard. Wow, how imaginative! I'll just put Red on again, thankyouverymuch. (User review average after 120 reviews: 5 stars. Wow.) But every now and then somebody sneaks something in that I like for reasons I can't really explain. This time it's the video for Loud and Clear that rubbed me the right way; the song is by One Block Radius. Apparently if you sprinkle a little bit of dance music or R&B on your hip hop, all of a sudden I can appreciate it. It might also be that the video is really clever (think about how tricky it must have been to actually shoot and edit it).

Funny: happy vs. pants Venn Diagram. From The Register: "Is Google the next SAP...? Quite frankly, the question is offensive for Google. It's rude to ask a broker of text ads if they plan to create the next middleware mass that takes months to install and teams of people to run."