About the Blogroll

May 25, 2007 at 8:52 pm (Cool Tech, General, Internet tech, Media, Rent Me)

Over there - the blogroll!It occurred to me just now that I have not drawn any attention recently to my Blogroll. (That’s the list of links in the right sidebar.)

There are a lot of useful links there for very good free security software, as well as some entertaining content. I just added a few more links, such as Belarc, and the Spyware Warrior page.

The Spyware Warrior page is especially important if you see a pop-up on your computer screen, claiming that you may have X number of infections and should “click here to buy CrapWare 2007” to fix the problem. This is never a good idea, in my experience. It’s like buying stock based on the recommendation of a spam message. Just don’t do it. And don’t send your bank account info to any so-called Nigerian princes, either.

If you are the sort who doesn’t heed these kinds of warnings, then may I respectfully suggest you keep your will updated, because you’re going to be found in the bathtub with a hairdryer one of these days for sure.

Be careful out there, okay?

Oh yeah, I almost forgot.  If you’re in the Portland / Vancouver area, and need a trustworthy geek to disinfect your computer, give me a shout.  I’m very affordable, and am available evenings, weekends, you name it.

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They call this a Jeep?

May 22, 2007 at 10:48 pm (Cars & Trucks, Die Rat Bastard) (, , , , , , , )

Somehow or another, this vehicle got completely under my radar until I saw one in a local parking lot. The Jeep Compass.

Jeep Compass

Ugh. One horrified glance at this pompous rig and it becomes apparent why Daimler-Benz wants to sell their interest in Chrysler. Styled (if the word can be tortured into applying here) as if it were some sort of Transformers action toy, it has every chance to become a complete embarrassment to the Jeep heritage.

The original (Willys) Jeep has an honest charm that derives from its utilitarian design. It was made specifically to go anywhere, as a workhorse for the infantry of WWII.

Willys Jeep - WWII Era - and no damn cupholders

The Compass can make no such claim – it’s dishonestly ugly.

Jeep Compass

It looks as if it’s smuggling acorns in its cheeks, and was obviously engineered to appeal to suburban posers who will never take this atrocity more than a hundred feet off-road. And I mean the Trader Joe’s parking lot.

It’s really sad. Chrysler has shown that they can do chunky and retro properly, if they put their minds to it. Just look at the Chrysler 300. Nice. Oh, nice. Want one. Want it baaaaad.

300C

But the Compass? It looks as though, instead of making a clay model of the design, they carved it from a bar of soap. Bah. It’s bad enough that Chrysler is selling a damn ugly car, but to call it a Jeep is an affront to the intellect.

Yes, it looks like people will not quit designing ugly crap, and other people will not stop buying ugly crap, at least not within my lifetime. But I can speak out. And I can dream. I can dream.

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What the heck is a “favicon”, huh?

May 10, 2007 at 6:15 pm (Cool Tech, Internet tech, Rent Me)

Why do I need one? How do I get one? Okay, Uncle Dave gonna tell you. Pull up a bean-bag chair, plunk your butt, and hearken to the experience, if not the wisdom.

WP LogoA “favicon” is that funny little teeny picture in the address bar of your browser, right next to where it shows the web page address (or URL). In the case of this web page, for example, it’s a white capital “W” on a circular black background, identifying this page as a WordPress page. And Google has a blue capital “G” in a white square.

Now that we have defined what it is, why do I need one?

If you are creating a web site, and you want to “brand” your web site with your company or personal logo, then a favicon is another cool way of doing that. It helps to identify your web page if people are surfing with a tabbed browser like Firefox or version 7 of Internet Explorer. Besides, it’s just plain cool. Okay, it’s cool if you’re a total nerd like me.

How do you get one? It’s easy! You can make one, with software you can find in your mommy’s kitchen computer. Here’s how I do it:

  1. My logoFirst, get or create an image file (JPEG, PNG, BMP, GIF) of the logo you want to have for a favicon on your site. Like this one, to the right.
  2. Next, use a program like Irfanview or Gimp to bump up the color saturation and contrast just a bit, using your calibrated eyeball. Colors in a smaller image are better perceived (at least by me and my CE) when they are made a bit more bold. (With this example, there are no colors, and the contrast can’t be increased, obviously. Your results may vary.)
  3. Still in Irfanview (or Gimp), resample your image along its major axis to 16 pixels. 16 pixels is the magic number for favicons. Your goal is to have a finished image that measures 16 x 16 pixels.
  4. Save the resampled image as “favicon.bmp”.
  5. Open “favicon.bmp” in MS Paint or Gimp, zoom in, and fiddle it about, pixel by pixel, until it looks like it will convey the sense of the original logo when seen at actual 16 x 16 size in the browser.You may have to zoom in & out a few times, squint your eyes, and take several passes at it until you get a good finished result. Hey, nothing good comes easy. This is also a good time to resize the image to make it 16 x 16 pixels square.
  6. When you’re happy with the looks of it, save the image and exit Paint. Rename the file “favicon.bmp” to “favicon.ico”.
  7. Bravo! You now have a finished favicon file, ready for the unthinking abuse of the web surfing masses. It gets placed in the root directory of the web site, i.e. http://www.mywebsite.com/favicon.ico

It took longer to write the how-to than it did to create the favicon. Certainly you can try other programs. I just wrote about what I know and use, and because the programs I use are free. (Those of you who know me in meatspace know that I am frugal, or “cheap” as I have also been called.)

UPDATE – 5/25/07:

I created a YouTube video to illustrate the process. Here it is, in all its amateurish glory:

I am ZIM!However, if you want a favicon or even a logo, and can’t be bothered with all this folderol, you can hire me. I’m quick and easy, as well as being cheap. Good qualities in a creative consultant, maybe not so much in a date, but c’est la vie.

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Unintentional humor is always the best.

May 9, 2007 at 11:17 pm (Damn funny, General, Internet tech, Media)

New technology, like the Internet, has unintended consequences. Accidental juxtapositions of two or more elements is increasing. This is what I saw on my iGoogle custom home page today:

Time Management for Strippers

Yes, you too can go to law school during the day, and shake your cakes at night to cover your tuition. Damn, I love America.

UPDATE – 5:45 AM PDT May 10th

No sooner than I write the post you see above, iGoogle and WikiHow do it again!

Do I make you horny, baby?

Do you think someone’s doing it deliberately? If so, I commend you, sir or madam. A tip of my chapeau in your direction. You rawk.

UPDATE – 12:35 AM PDT June 4th

Seems like everyone’s getting into the act. This time, it’s Google Ads:

Misplaced cracker?

Seriously, who needs this? I can’t think of anyone other than a parrot.

UPDATE: July 15, 2007

I’ve been waiting what seems like forever to see another really good “How To” juxtaposition to come along, and at last, my geeky devotion has been rewarded…

Mmm, yum!  Possum epanadas!

Hey, mom! These empanadas are great! Can I have some more?

UPDATE: August 3, 2007

I really do love WikiHow. Though some of the “projects” are kind of feeble, there’s still some good stuff to be seen, and some jollies to be had:

 

Another lame WikiHow project

Perhaps the best thing to learn to communicate would be “Stay the hell away from my office supplies, Wally“.

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Getting “faced” with Helvetica.

May 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm (Cool Tech, General)

Image of Helvetica type faceI’ll be darned. The world’s favorite font – Helvetica – is 50 years old today. Born a mere 7 months after I was, the Helvetica font (also known as Arial) is used on millions of web pages, corporate logos, and computers every day. A story on the BBC News web site brought its birthday to my attention, and you can read the story here. You will learn details the font’s history, and compare it with several other popular typefaces. You will find that it has inspired a documentary, and a whole lot of Helvetica Haters. You will see that its Swiss neutrality makes it a top choice when you want to convey clarity, simplicity, reassurance, and smooth function.

Yeah, it’s pretty geeky of me to celebrate the birth of a typeface, but I wear my geekhood proudly, like a modern day Masonic pin.

The other reason for me to blog about it was to share this joke that some wag posted after the story:

Two fonts walk into the bar, and the barman says, “sorry lads, we don’t serve your type”.

Look out!Yep. I am indeed easily amused. And this Lancastrian’s remark strikes a sympathetic chord with my life, too:

It’s Verdana for me. It has Helvetica’s clean lines, but with a modern sleekness. I like to think of it as Helvetica’s sexier sister. And yes, I really should get out more…

I’m going to go “get out” now.

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It continues to be a long strange trip.

May 9, 2007 at 12:50 am (Cars & Trucks, Die Rat Bastard, General, Politics)

Sorry to be so long to post, what with one thing and a few dozen others. Briefly:

  • Major leak in the water line to my house
  • Resultant digging in the yard (a lot)
  • Long time friendship disintegrated
  • Raiding the 401k
  • Lots of work and final deployment of ThoughtOffice web site
  • And many more little damn things too numerous to mention

Other than that, it’s been pretty good. My life is coming together in wonderful new ways, and I don’t regret walking away from Charter one tiny bit. Screw those incompetent corporate chimpanzees.ENRON DVD

Speaking of which, I finally watched ENRON: The Smartest Guys In The Room. Wow. This movie is a huge eye-opener. I keep saying the suits really don’t give a crap about any of us. This film backs up my contention with solid documentation. Everyone should watch it. Especially if you work for a large corporation. When the MBAs and accountants take charge at your company, run. Very fast.

It’s just a shame we can’t pry the gold out of Kenneth Lay’s teeth, or take away the assets he left behind. See, he died just after the verdict came in, but before sentencing. Because of his demise, the conviction was “vacated”. In other words, it’s just like he had never been convicted of the massive fraud that was perpetrated, and therefore his family gets to keep all the money that he stole from ENRON, which ENRON, in turn, had looted from its employees, shareholders, and customers. Keep your eyes open. It will happen again.

Minimum-Maximum [LIVE]Whew. Kind of grim, huh? Here’s something that may bring you pleasure, instead of dread. I have really been enjoying Kraftwerk’s Minimum-Maximum. The set was a gift last year from my Scottish buddy, Paul. The last several days, I have been playing the CDs in my 1986 Merkur XR4ti whilst I have been tooling about the area on my various errands. Sigh… listening to a live version of Autobahn while slinging my German-built Ford around corners. It’s the closest to heaven that I have been in quite some time. Even better since I found a cheap way to replace the rear speakers.

The OEM rear deck speakers in the Merkur were about 5″ round, and were – to be blunt – toast. I got the idea to raid the local Goodwill for a cheap boom box. I found a dusty old Sony unit (AM-FM-CD-cassette) for five bucks! I added some connectors from my junk box, and some Velcro (to hold the speakers in place) for $3. The sound is amazing, considering the price.

There was even an unexpected bonus to that trip to the Goodwill. I fell into conversation with a couple of other geezers like myself. The subject was – Portland radio. We had a great time talking about history, all the changes, the consolidation of the industry since deregulation… Is it just me, or does it also seem to you, dear reader, that whenever a lot of money gets involved in anything, it begins to seriously suck?

Go check out the movie, maybe some Kraftwerk, and enjoy your week, everyone. I’ll be back.

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