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4 May, 2003

Google Stuff

This site has links to lots of information about Google. Nicely organized, and up-to-date.

(Thanks Zaine)

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Fatal Facts from OSHA

This site, from the U.S. Department of Labor, has details about fatal accidents in the workplace.

The illustration shown here depicts Caught by a Rotating Part:

A three-man crew was installing an underground telephone cable in a residential area. They had just completed a bore hole under a driveway using a horizontal boring machine. The bore hole rod had been removed from the hole. While the rod was still rotating, the operator straddled it and stooped over to pick it up. His trouser leg became entangled in the rotating rod and he was flipped over. He struck tools and materials, sustaining fatal injuries.

I hate when that happens.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Broken Faces

I really like these face images, by Takahiro Kimura. Weird, disturbing, and very captivating.

The main motif of Kimura's artworks is Faces of Human Beings. The faces with vivid colors and dynamic forms will excite viewers various emotions, joy, sorrow, rage, love, etc.At the same time, those faces will show Kimura's own emotions, which have been concealed in his artworks.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

White List Spam Filtering

In the past few months, I've received 4-5 emails that start out like this:

Hello, you recently sent a message to us at xxxxx@xxxx.xxx.

We are now using a mailbox protection system called ChoiceMail One to block unsolicted junk mail. Because you are actually reading this note, it is highly unlikely that your message to us was in fact unsolicited. However, we regret that we do not already have your email address in our whitelist. That is why this note has been sent to you. Please click on the link below to verify your identity.

Sorry, but I refuse to participate. The people who use this service are basically telling me that their time is more valuable than mine. They don't want to waste their time deleting spam, but they think nothing of making me waste my time by "verifying my identity."

By the way, all of these email exchanges were initiated by the other party. I was simply responding to their original email to me!

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Dissecting a Flash Site

A few weeks ago I wrote an item about a web site called US Bunkers. I also noted:

Unfortunately, this Flash-based site is terrible. It could be on the cover of Bad User Interfaces magazine. Whoever designed this site should be locked up in a bunker while they learn how to write standard HTML code.

Over the weekend, I received an email from the site owner, Jorge.

...my website was criticized, and I would like to know if there is any truth in the comment. I would really like to know why they think the html of the person that did it is bad. Why is the flash based site terrible? Can it be done better? some people think it is pretty good, but would really like to know if It can be done better and how?

OK, here goes. My goal here is to be constructive, not pick on Jorge (who seems like a good guy). My comments are from the perspective of an average web surfer who happens upon the US Bunkers site.

  • The site's main entry page contains an "Enter here" button. This extra click by the user is not necessary. Looking at the source, I see that this page tries to use JavaScript to pre-load some images. I keep scripting disabled, so it didn't work for me.
  • After clicking the Enter button, I'm taken to a page that consists entirely of a Flash presentation. This is accompanied by a whooshing sound effect. Many people (such as myself) like to listen to music while they surf, and they have little tolerance for gratuitous sounds.
  • The size of the Flash presentation is designed to fit in an 800 x 600 window. My monitor displays 1600 x 1024, but I have to view this site in a tiny window with lots of wasted space. Even worse, I'm forced to scroll a small window vertically in order to read the text. The vertical scroll bar consists of a non-standard rectangle, so it's not even clear that the window can be scrolled. I'm accustomed to scrolling with my mouse wheel -- but it doesn't work.
  • Fortunately, the text at this site is large enough to be legible -- something that can't be said for many Flash sites. But if someone with poor vision need to enlarge the text, they would be out of luck.
  • The site shows a series of images in slide-show fashion. If someone would like to capture one of these images, it's not possible. The normal right-click "Save Picture As" action isn't available.
  • There's an inconsistency in the text display. In some cases, the text in the window can be selected. In other cases it cannot be selected.
  • Moving the mouse over the horizontal menu items causes more sound, and clicking a menu item results in that whooshing sound. Again, this is not necessary and gets annoying very quickly.
  • Clicking a menu item displays a progress message while the content is being downloaded. This is fairly annoying, even with a broadband connection.
  • Clicking the logo in the upper left corner takes me back to the opening screen. Why would I want to go back there? So I can click the useless "Enter here" button again?
  • And, of course, there's the basic assumption that all visitors to this site have chosen to install Flash. Those who haven't won't see a thing.

Bottom line? I see absolutely no reason to use Flash at this web site. Using plain old HTML would work just fine, and would offer quite a few advantages to the visitor. And it would probably cost a lot less to develop.

As a side note, just because a site is coded in HTML, doesn't make it good. For example, I've seen several references to Gnome-Girl's blog. I checked it out, and discovered that I could barely read it. And the tiny type cannot be increased in size.

Update: I'm pleased to report that Gnome-Girl is now legible. Thanks!

Posted on 4 May, 2003

An Odd Warning

We bought some new non-stick cookware. Inside of the box, was a warning message, printed in three languages:

CAUTION: For safety, please keep pet birds out of the kitchen. Birds' respiratory systems are sensitive to many kinds of household fumes., including the fumes from extremely overheated non-stick pans.

I suspect that there was a law suit...

Posted on 4 May, 2003

A Substance Call Aerogel

What is aerogel?

It is 99.8% air. It provides 39 times more insulating than the best fiberglass insulation. It is 1,000 times less dense than glass. It was used on the Mars Pathfinder rover.

Aerogel is not like conventional foams, but is a special porous material with extreme microporosity on a micron scale. It is composed of individual features only a few nanometers in size. These are linked in a highly porous dendritic-like structure.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Women Named Esther

A few Esthers. They range from famous to virtually unknown.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Camel Photos

If you're looking for pictures of camels, look no further than camelphotos.com.

Come on in to enjoy fantastic photos along with fun stories about camels. Did you know there are numerous breeds? also hybrid F-1 and F-2 camels. Have you ever seen a snow white bactrian or dromedary camel? How about a spotted camel? Would you like to read some great camel stories along with beautiful photos? Have you ever seen eight camels pulling a wagon? Do you know what a nose peg is or what a modern camel saddle looks like?

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Topics for Arguments

If you ever run out of ideas for a domestic argument, you can consult this handy list: Things my girlfriend and I have argued about. A few examples:

  • Margret enters the room. The television is showing Baywatch. Margret says, 'Uh-huh, you're watching Baywatch again.' I say, 'I'm not watching, it's just on.' Repeat. For the duration of the programme.
  • Wherever I'm standing is where Margret needs to be standing, and vice versa. Doesn't matter where we are - the kitchen, the bathroom, Scotland - we each infuriatingly occupy the space where the other one wants to be, urgently.
  • Hanging Things. Margret simply cannot stop hanging things from every defenceless lampshade, rail or drawing pin-able piece of ceiling space.
  • When I'm driving the car, Margret reaches across and operates the indicator. How annoying is that, ladies and gentlemen?

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Your Name on a Belt

Order a custom belt, with up to nine characters on a sturdy chromed buckle.

(Via The Presurfer)

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Wanna Buy an Island?

Private Islands Online is...

the Internet's largest directory of private islands for sale. We invite you to browse through our listings of hundreds of available private islands from all over the globe. Whether it's a tropical island washed by the warm Caribbean, or a pine-covered hideaway in a northern lake, you're sure to find a private island for every taste and budget.

Assuming, of course, that your budget is at least $1 million.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Cheap Thrills Cuisine

Recipes presented as comic strips -- and the home of Chef Peppi.  This one looks pretty good.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

News Quakes

A graphical way to read the news headlines.

...world news for the lazy. Hover over the quakes to see the headlines, click to go to actual news article.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Twenty Years of Microsoft Mice

The celebration is under way.

When Microsoft Hardware released its first mouse in 1983, little did we know the "green-eyed mouse" would evolve into over 35 product offerings in four different categories.

Two decades later, our research, design, and development teams are still working hard, delivering new products that strengthen the connection between you and your computer, and give you more control over how you work and play.

I must admit, using an optical mouse is the only way to go.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Transistor Radios

This site boasts more than 350 pages of graphics and information about transistor radios.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Secure Computing

Jim Rapoza at eWeek: Microsoft Aims for Protection -- From Users

The word "security" is used a lot by Microsoft officials when they discuss the company's plan for Next-Generation Secure Computing Base, formerly code-named Palladium. However, if you think NGSCB has anything to do with keeping your future Windows systems more secure from viruses, worms and other security problems, think again.

NGSCB's main purpose is to make sure users such as yourself aren't pirating Microsoft's or partners' software or any other copyrighted content -- even if that means taking over your system remotely and removing or disabling the offending untrusted software.

Posted on 4 May, 2003

Roxanne Wolanczyk

Conceptual art, very nicely executed. Roxanne turns medical data into art. For example, you can see her EEG, her EKG, the sound pattern of her laugh, an MRI of her brain, and so on.

I seek to communicate personal experiences (in their most basic form) that are at once current, timeless and echo a collective human experience. However, I also see humor in the human experience. I often laugh and cry at the same time, seeing the silliness in my grief or rage, which is none-the-less, real. I try to reflect this sense of absurdity in my work.

(via Reenhead)

Posted on 4 May, 2003