Archives » January, 2005

January 29, 2005

Disneyland Comeback

Finally it seems like we’re getting nothing but good news coming out of Disneyland. I try to follow along with all the latest news coming out of the Disney parks, and it seems like there has been a long dry spell lately. For the last decade all the news has been grim; slashed budgets, ride closures, peeling paint, decaying buildings, “new” rides that are really just crappy reworkings of something better. A lot of this was because of Paul Pressler and his insistence on cutting costs above all else. But a couple of years ago Paul left to run the Gap, and everyone he had hired slowly left the company and some new blood finally flowed into Disneyland management. And with that new blood came a new commitment to spending money on things like preventive maintenance and upkeep, the things that keep Disneyland from grinding to a halt.

So now things look to be turning around, just in time for Disneyland’s 50th birthday. Al Lutz’s recent park updates really have reflected that. For the last year I’ve watched as just about every building at Disneyland got covered in scaffolding and repainted. New rides like Buzz Lightyear have been approved. The silly concept of opening less popular attractions late and closing them early has been done away with. The Enchanted Tiki Room, which was once dilapidated and on the verge of closing, is being fully restored to its opening-day condition. The submarines, which have been closed over six years, are seriously in consideration to be renovated and reopened with charaters from Finding Nemo. And just in this latest update, more good news. Space Mountain, which is being rebuilt from the ground up because the track was rusting and falling apart, was originally scheduled to reopen in September. But now a boatload of overtime pay has just been approved so it can be open by July. They’re also showing their commitment to preventive maintenance by completely ripping up and replacing the trackbed for the railroad that circles the park.

See? Nothing but good news. What a change. Unfortunately we’re stuck with some of the bad decisions made during those darks years. Like a Winnie The Pooh ride that could have been so much better with a larger budget. The creaking remnants of the “New Tomorrowland”, like Innoventions and the Rocket Rods track. And of course, the great albatross across the way, Disney’s California Adventure. Whose problems are so deep-rooted that they could only be fixed by tearing out 80% of the park and starting from new. But I’m confident that things are only going to get better at Disneyland, and that we’re finally out of the tunnel and in the light.

For more updates go read Al Lutz and Jim Hill, and tune in to the MousePod. Our family is holding off going back to Disneyland until Sammy is really old enough to understand what’s going on and enjoy himself. It looks like the next time we’re there we won’t even recognize the place!

January 28, 2005

Nevada Hauntings

In doing some research for a project I’ve come across quite a few web sites about ghost hunting in Nevada. So, just for fun, here’s the haunted Nevada linkdump.

January 27, 2005

Alway Slow Prices

Found in my referer logs:, the blogs that covers all things, good and bad, about Wal*Mart. I guess when you have more employees than many countries have citizens, you’ve earned this level of attention.

January 24, 2005

Yes, More Pictures

Supposedly today is the last day of the fog, as a storm system that’s headed our way will come in and break up this high pressure that has been sitting on top of us. It’ll be sad to see our old friend go. Here are a few last pictures to see it off:

Even the snow on the ground has been bitten by the pogonip. Since it’s less likely to melt here than on the trees, it’s built up over several days.

A closeup. We’re supposed to get rain this week, so all of this will be gone and just get soggy and slushy.

The afternoon sun tries to cut through the mist, only partly successful.

Chad West got a unique angle on the fog, looking down on it from Heavenly Ski Resort. Here is a thumbnail of one of his shots, looking down at Lake Tahoe completely shrouded in the stuff.

Click through to see the rest of his photo gallery. It’s great stuff.

:: And reader Pam sent in this photo of pogonip in Sparks. Thanks!

January 23, 2005

The Fog

We are still caught in the icy clutch of the fog. Every day it starts to settle sometime after dark, and it hangs around until the noontime sun burns it off. And even in the afternoon there’s a thin haze on the horizon, like the fog just can’t wait to roll back in.

The fog and the pogonip combine to make Carson’s old cottonwoods seem like frozen sculptures.

Just a few blocks away, everything starts to disappear into the mists.

Some cars haven’t even been unburied yet, even though we haven’t had a flake of snow in two weeks.

Blue skies and the sun’s rays finally make it through the thick soup of fog, just in time to light up the Capitol dome. Soon it will be dark again, and the wispy vapors will swallow the town back up.

This fog can’t stay around forever. But we’ve had it for a week now. I sure am going to miss it when it’s gone.

January 20, 2005


This week we’ve been caught in the grip of fog every day until late morning. And we’ve been running into pogonip – that’s where the conditions are just right for the fog to freeze, and for ice crystals to build up on all the trees. It doesn’t happen very often—even fog and snow don’t happen very often around here—but it’s pretty cool when it does.

Looking down the street, visibility is low and all the trees are white. The temperature is about 20° F.

It hasn’t snowed in two weeks, but things are as white as ever.

The trees are growing leaves again – leaves of ice.

A closeup of the tangle of branches, all coated in ice.

The tiny crystals form in all directions. Once the sun comes out, they slowly melt and fall away, creating a mini snowstorm underneath the branches. By mid-afternoon it’s all gone.

Even the icicles have ice!


The fight against comment spam has just gotten a little more heated. Google announced a couple of days ago that they now have a way for you to link to a page without giving it a “vote” under the PageRank system. What this does, in theory, is remove the biggest incentive for companies to spam your comments: they figure that a link to their site from you will bump up their Google ranking. But now, as long as the new magic attribute is present, Google will ignore the link. This renders the comment useless, and the idea is the spammers will give up and go away.

Over here in the real world, I don’t think a lot of spammers are going to care about this, at least not at first. I mean, Google’s part in this is only half the solution. Webmasters now have to go in and change their blog software to add the magic attribute, rel="nofollow", to all visitor-created links. The big hosted services, like Blogger, TypePad, and LiveJournal, have done this already. But that leaves millions of locally-installed and home-built systems unprotected. Now each of those needs to be individually patched, and that’s where the lag in implementing this is going to come in. Sure, the tool developers are trying to make this easy on you. Movable Type, for instance, now has a plugin that will do it for you: just upload one file to your MT installation. But what percentage of MT users are actually going to: 1) hear about this new method, 2) be able to find the plugin, and 3) bother installing it? And how many users of the countless other blogging systems out there will do the same? And plus there are people who know about it but have decided not to use it. The bottom line is that not every blog out there will be patched to take advantage of what Google’s given us. And as long as there are still a few sites out there where spamming will still work, the spamming will continue. And since it’s just as easy to spam 100,000 sites as it is to spam one, those of us who have applied the patch aren’t really going to see much of a reduction in the spam coming in. So I think the benefits of this new development won’t be seen for a long time, at least until some new, worse way of spamming has been developed.

But it’s good that Google has done this, and not just because of comment spam. Now people can link to sites they don’t like without giving them a vote of approval, which is a good thing. And you can link to parts of your own site that you might want other people to see, but don’t want to appear in Google. So even though this may prove to be a bust on the spam-fighting front, it’s still a major improvement in the way the web works and the relationships all of us have with search engines.

More from Scoble and the Smug Canadian, and the rest of the world.

Next job: taking care of referer spam.

It’s A Small Podcast

Why didn’t I see this one coming? The MousePod – the podcast about all things Disney. It unfortunately spends a lot of times on the movies, music, TV, and other media, where all I really care about is the theme parks. But given how many hundreds of Disney fan sites are out there, it was inevitable that someone would start a podcast. I expect to be seeing many more soon!

January 15, 2005

Another Mini

I’ve been one of the Windows Faithful forever. I’ve been using it since the 3.11 days, and I’ve really never used anything else. I have dipped my toe into the Linux waters, but I always lost interest. And Apple? I’ve always said I’d only buy a Mac if they dropped the price—a lot.

Well, what did those bastards at Apple do? They dropped the price. A lot. They’re selling this slick little Mac Mini for $500 now, and that just might be my price point. Well, the price point that I can justify putting on the company credit card, at least. Yes, I’d get mine on the company dime, which means it would have to stay in my office and be used for things like seeing how well Macintosh clients will integrate into our network and other thrilling stuff like that. That probably won’t stop me, though, from slipping it in my pocket (at only six inches, it’ll probably fit) and taking it home at night.

I’m one of the target markets that people are going to be watching, apparently, according to this article. A small company, one-man IT department, running completely on Windows. We wouldn’t buy a Mac at $1,500, we wouldn’t buy one at $1,200, so will we buy one at $500? Will this daring pricing move help Macintosh penetrate this market? Can Apple make inroads into a Microsoft stronghold? Stay tuned for the exciting story!

Of course, I’m not even sure I’ll get one yet. And apparently they won’t be available for another week, so I have some time to make up my mind. It is a nice looking little computer, though, especially since it reminds me so much of a sliced-up version of the Mac Cube. In fact, the Cube can act as a handy protective big brother to the Mini.

But the Cube cost two grand; the Mini is one quarter that. Which makes sense, since it’s one quarter the size too. And then of course there’s the name similarity to another Mini I’d like to have. So, one day soon I might be posting from Safari. And trying to figure out just how well Mac and Windows work together

:: I was listening to the Chris Pirillo Show (the one where he was chatting with Robert Scoble at his dining room table for three hours) and I heard an interesting point. The new “Tiger” update to OS X, OS 10.4, is due out sometime in the next couple of months. So, really, there’s no point getting a new Mac until after that’s released. So I guess I’ll sit tight and wait!

The Sun Cometh

Saturday morning at the office. Been here since before dawn.