Archives » October, 2004

October 16, 2004

Very Technical

“We have a technical term for what went wrong here,” one of Huygens’s principal investigators, John Zarnecki of Britain’s Open University, would later explain to reporters: “It’s called a cock-up.”

From an article on the Cassini spacecraft, and a problem they didn’t discover until three years after launch.

No sun

Woke up this morning and left for work in pitch black. It was 6am, which is not an unreasonable time to be heading to work. But it’s these last few weeks of Daylight Saving Time, when it seems like the sun is never going to rise. They’ll get you every time.

On top of that, there are a few fires up in the Sierra outside Tahoe, and the weather conditions are just right for a nice thick blanket of smoke to settle down in the valleys here. So when the sun does rise, we probably won’t even be able to see it.

October 15, 2004

Burger King for a Day

Yesterday was the opening day of the new In-N-Out Burger in Carson Valley. A while ago I started keeping a page on my website that followed the construction and put up pictures of how things were coming along. I never expected it to make much of a splash, I just wanted to get on the top of Google and keep people up to date. But then, probably because it was at the top of Google, it got discovered by Denny Warnick, who was coming over from the Bay Area to become general manager of the restaurant. And since he hadn’t moved here yet, he used my site to keep track of the construction. (It’s similar to the e-mail I got from a Bay Area engineering firm that was working on the Ormsby House, and used my site to cut down on their on-site visits.)

Anyway, to thank me for my efforts, Denny told me to come to the invitation-only pre-opening party, where all the food was on the house. And he also made me the official “first customer” on opening day, before they had even unlocked the doors. Again, with everything on the house. So the past couple of days have seen me stuffing myself with free burgers. We were also interviewed for “Burger Television”, which I’m guessing is some kind of in-house video newsletter for the company. I sure don’t have that one in my cable lineup. I’m always petrified that I’ll freeze up when a video camera is pointed at me; my mind always goes blank when I have to talk to more than one person at a time. Sometimes I don’t do so well even one-on-one. But my wife assured me I did a good job. I think she’s a little biased, and I’m glad I don’t have to watch the tape.

I guess it pays off to work on this website. A couple of free burgers isn’t much, but it’s something. And we’re not huge In-N-Out fanatics, not even close to some other people. Case in point: the first paying customer, who was in line right behind us. During his interview with BTV he described how he would drive to Vacaville, over three hours away, to visit the In-N-Out there, and order 40 burgers at a time. He was wearing an In-N-Out Hawaiian shirt (I didn’t even know they made those) and watching the counter while jotting something down on a notepad. It was apparent that this guy is a bigger fan than I am, but I have the website, so I got to be treated like royalty. I almost felt like he should have taken my place. But then again, he didn’t go around taking pictures and putting them on the web like I did. So I didn’t feel too bad. During his interview he kept referring to himself as the “first customer on opening day”. Every time he said that I had to make a silent footnote: first paying customer. Paying customer.

Now In-N-Out settles in to the realm of the mundane. It used to be a thrill to come across one while we were travelling. Now that we have one in our backyard it has become just an everyday part of life. And yet, maybe, isn’t that how it should be?

October 12, 2004

Permalinked comments

Doc says he wants to see permalinks on comments. And when I read that I thought it should be pretty simple, so I spent five minutes in Movable Type setting it up. So now all my comments are permalinked, not that I ever get many comments. Here’s a post that’s littered with them.

Here’s how to do it in Movable Type. Go into your Individual Entry Archive, and go to the comments section. For each comment you should have some kind of wrapper, like a <div> or a <p>. Add this id attribute to that element:

id="com<$MTCommentID pad="1"$>"

This will give that element an ID something like this: com000471. This sets an anchor point that you can link to. Next you have to put the link somewhere on the page. I chose to make the comment date a link, but you can wrap it around whatever you want. Here’s the code.

<a href="<$MTEntryPermalink$>#com<$MTCommentID pad="1"$>"><$MTCommentDate$></a>

Add those two pieces to your template, rebuild your site, and all your comments will now be permalinked! Now I can put out a link like this: that points right to a comment.

And since he brought it up, where are the permalinked comments at Doc’s IT Garage?

October 8, 2004

Ormsby, Ormsby Everywhere

Another big update to the Ormsby House gallery today. This project just keeps plodding along, month after month. 22 pictures this month, bringing the grand total to 350 photos spread throughout 23 updates. I’ve been doing this nearly two years now, and there’s at least one more left before it’s all done.

This update covers the month of September in three pages. OneTwoThree. We’ve got some fireproofing going on, some more wallboard, and some paint at the very tippy top of the tower. We also have twisted piles of steel and wanton destruction of shrubbery. Fun for the whole family!

Mess O’ Firefox

Thanks to Chu Yeow, I found out of that one of the reasons I stopped using Firefox 0.9 has now been fixed. And, for the record, I did start using Firefox 1.0 when the preview release came out, even though most of the stuff hadn’t been fixed yet. So anyway, in the newest nightly build of Firefox there is an option to open external links (like links in e-mail) in an existing window. Which is how it used to work in Firefox 0.8. But now you have the choice – either open it in the currently active tab, a new tab, or an all-new window. It’s about time they fixed this.

So that’s one gripe gone from my list. The second one is still there, that when you right-click and choose “Save Link As” a dialog box pops up instead of directly sending the file to the Download Manager. But that one doesn’t bother me, because somewhere along the way I learned that you can Alt-Click on the link to send it to the Download Manager. So I can get around that one.

My other two problems are pretty much fixed. The Winstripe theme has gotten better over the last few months, even though it’s still not as nice as Qute. But that was never a deal breaker anyway. And the fact that the PNH Toolbar didn’t work in 0.9 just forced me to try out the Web Developer Toolbar, which is a lot better anyway. So it looks like there will be a happy ending between me and Firefox after all, and I’m back to installing nightly builds again.

Things are progressing along the road the Firefox 1.0. There is now an official list of bugs that are left to be fixed. When everything on that list is checked off, 1.0 will be released. But of course most of those bugs are ones that practically nobody will run into, so by grabbing the nightly builds you can have something that’s really close to the final version.

Of course, there’s one big problem I’ve been having with Firefox all year, on multiple computers, but I can’t find anybody else who’s having it. Let’s say I’m using Firefox, and then I minimize it and go on to something else, like e-mail or a game or file management. Half an hour later I want to use Firefox again, so I bring it back up from the taskbar. But Firefox is frozen, and has to “wake up” before I can use it. Sometimes it will take thirty or even sixty seconds to wake up. During that time I can’t switch tabs, I can’t open bookmarks, I can’t scroll down a page, I can’t click on links. I just have to sit there and wait while it’s frozen. Slowly it will wake up, and parts of it will become unfrozen, and I can open a new tab but I can’t type in an address yet. And then, it can be as much as ninety seconds later, Firefox is finally unfrozen and working fast. What causes that? That pisses me off so much! Especially when we’re watching TV, and I want to look something up during a commercial. By the time Firefox has woken up and I can go to the site I want, the show is back on. Has this happened to anybody else, or is it just me and my two computers?

If they could fix that bug, I’d be forever grateful.

In-N-Out Opening

I got the message from Denny Warnick, general manager of the Douglas County In-N-Out Burger, that opening date is set for October 14th. That’s six days! Starting Thursday, traffic is going to be horrible around the Carson Valley Plaza. That, I guess, is the bad part of the news, since I have to drive by there every day. I have to go to the Wal*Mart right across the street. And the parking lot there doesn’t have quite the overflow capacity as the one in Reno. In Reno the drive-thru can be routed along behind the supermarket next door, out of everyone’s hair. Here in Carson, the drive-thru lane will basically end up blocking one of the main driveways out to the highway. So it should be interesting to see how they handle the traffic control around there for the next couple of weeks.

October 6, 2004

Drug Company Swag

Computer companies aren’t the only ones who give out swag. Although Google did give out these cool glowing cups at Gnomedex, in several chemically fluorescent colors.

But it’s not just computer companies. Today I went to a shindig at the Nevada Mental Health offices, and they had the best swag of all, drug company swag!

Lexapro came through for us with food, in the form of cups full of trail mix. Of course, it couldn’t compare to the agency-provided ham sandwiches and chocolate cake in the next room, but at least they tried.

Lexapro also gave out these weak little Post-It pads.

A variety of pens. Mostly Lexapro, but a nice little ReQuip snuck in there too.

Namenda took the Post-It idea and ran with it, offering up this two-inch slab of sticky notes, in its own attractive little holder. Take that, Lexapro! I’ll see your depression and raise you an Alzheimer’s!

That’s almost what a burger’s all about

Today there are a few more In-N-Out pictures up. The place is almost finished; won’t be long now until we’re shoveling burgers in our mouth!

October 2, 2004

Gnomedex VIII

And now, the final proof: Gnomedex really has gone to the dogs.

At the end of the day, I can say this conference rocked. Wil Wheaton got up for an hour and a half today to read some excepts from his two books, and to tell a few William Shatner jokes. William Shatner jokes are always a hit. And I’ll never be able to see Jonathan Frakes again without picturing him saying, “Shatner took a shit on the Teen Idol here.” If you have spare time, give it a listen over at IT Conversations. In fact, give the whole conference a listen. I know I will, since my swiss cheese memory has already discarded most of what was talked about there.

There was some music and some hotel hors d’oeuvres last night. Robert Scoble handed out a bunch of Channel 9 foamheads, and everybody immediately set about to photographing them in compromising positions. Those pictures should be popping up soon.

The panels today didn’t capture my attention quite the same as yesterday’s. There was a lot about podcasting in the morning, which from what I could tell is just audio blogging, only it’s called podcasting because people have their computers set to download the audio to their iPods overnight. I have neither an iPod nor the extemporaneous speaking abilities to create audio posts, so much of that discussion flew right by me. Give me another six months to get into it. Tonight was the farewell banquet, but I skipped that. Instead the family came up to the Lake and we went to the Hard Rock Cafe across the street. The conference is fun, but family is more important. And besides, who wouldn’t rather have dinner with this?

There will be a Gnomedex 5, and if it’s at Tahoe again I’ll be there.