g r o t t o 1 1

Peeve Farm
Breeding peeves for show, not just to keep as pets
Brian Tiemann
Silicon ValleyNew York-based purveyor of a confusing mixture of Apple punditry, political bile, and sports car rentals.

btman at grotto11 dot com

Read These Too:

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James Lileks
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As the Apple Turns
Entropicana
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Capitalist Lion
Red Letter Day
Eric S. Raymond
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Aziz Poonawalla
Corsair the Rational Pirate
.clue
Ravishing Light
Rosenblog
Cartago Delenda Est



Cars without compromise.





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12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Sunday, October 1, 2006
12:11 - Move over, mammoth
http://www.calacademy.org/science_now/headline_science/T-rex_soft_tissue.html

(top)
T-Rex coming through.

Via Chris.
Friday, September 29, 2006
13:51 - Free as in beer... 24-bit beer

(top)
My friend David alerts me that: "Now that GIF is patent free, reckon we can let the world know that actually it does support 24-bit colour just fine?"

The mistaken belief that GIF has a limit of 256 colors probably comes from the way GIF was first used when it came out. In the late 1980's, PC video cards generally supported no more than 256 colors. Image exchanges were becoming popular among BBS systems and the Internet and viewer programs were quickly produced. No one tried or needed to generate images with more than 256 colors since they could not be viewed on anything less than high priced graphics workstations. Programs that converted images to GIF worked up a number of methods to reduce the number of colors to 256 or fewer. Some actually did a very good job. GIF files were constructed with just a single image block, even though the GIF standard placed no limit on the number of blocks. Since there was no use for more than 256 colors, there was no use for more than one image block. This practice became effectively ingrained into the computer culture and eventually everyone "knew" that GIF supported no more than 256 colors. The fact is, the programs that generated GIF files supported no more than one image block, and thus didn't have a means to deal with more than 256 colors. The top image shows that a GIF file really can have more than 256 colors.

The reason why it paints so slowly in Safari (and most other browsers too, I hear), apparently, is due to a bug/odd behavior in which the decoder doesn't allow a frame delay of zero. But aside from that, it works just fine.

PNG still gives you better compression results for 24-bit images. But this is pretty fascinating stuff, no?


13:29 - Let him count the ways
http://www.macuser.com/ihnatko/ihnatko_harsh_words_for_window.php

(top)
As a fellow member of the Had to Use Windows For A Few Months While Writing an iPod Book Which Damnably Has to Cover Both Platforms Club, I have a particular affinity for this article by Andy Ihnatko (via Daring Fireball) about what Windows looks like from the perspective of someone who doesn't have to live with it every day.

Granted, I was able to borrow time on a friend's machine for the purpose of grabbing my screenshots and researching what happens when you put a blank CD into the drive, so I was able to keep my sanity a little more intact relative to where it started out from. But still—I sympathize.


13:25 - I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords
http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&t=k&q=Germany&ie=UTF8&z=18&ll=48.857699,10.205451&

(top)
I'm sure there's a perfectly rational explanation for this.

Via Chris.
Wednesday, September 27, 2006
12:47 - Labor-creating devices
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M0ODskdEPnQ

(top)
Sam M. sends this video of a live demo of that "Piles" metaphor we've been hearing about since about when people said it was going to be a great new feature in Panther. (Remember that?)

The idea is that with a pen/stylus and a little bit of mental indulgence, you can turn the virtual desktop space into a collection of tangible objects with real physical properties like mass, inertia, relative size and orientation, and the ability to be swept up into neat and tidy piles—or sprawling messy piles, depending on what you want.

Neat idea (and clearly done by Mac-heads, judging by the prevalence of QuickTime files and other UI intangibles like the "fisheeye" browse effect); but what I kept thinking while watching was that while this might be a cool addition to your normal navigation paradigm, or even the primary one in which you might choose to operate on a daily basis, there's still no case to be made that this is a better way to organize your stuff than a hierarchy of files and folders that alphabetize themselves for you. It's great to come up with a desktop metaphor that mirrors your own physical desktop, on the assumption that the way your desk normally looks is the way you like your desk to look; but that doesn't mean we don't constantly nag ourselves to clean up our desks and put things into the file cabinet in neat folders where we can find them later.

If this were my desktop, and there were some other items in the workspace like an application launcher and a file cabinet into which I could send files I don't want on my desktop anymore (which would take be into a representation of the tried-and-true filesystem hierarchy), this could really be something.

It's certainly a lot better than all those well-intentioned but ill-grounded proposals to replace the desktop metaphor entirely with one that clashes head-on with the way the human mind wants to work, like the "time stream" one. The desktop works; otherwise we would have come up with something better in the past twenty years. But the desktop can always be improved.

As long as it doesn't end up creating more work for me than I had before I sat down at the computer...
Tuesday, September 26, 2006
16:20 - You're not as happy as you think you are!
http://www.extremetech.com/article2/0,1697,2020364,00.asp

(top)
"Apple's iPod Scrapes the Bottom in First Ever Screen Quality Tests!" blares the headline on this article as pointed out by ZDNet's Jim Louderback.

So you're thinking about picking up an iPod or portable video player. Sure you've read the reviews, but there's one area you probably haven't even considered - just how good is the screen on that portable player. IT's an important distinction, especially if you'll be watching movies or TV. And the results from the first round of testing are telling. Apple loses big-time: the iPod screen is washed out and has terrible contrast and color saturation.

O RLY? Who's having difficulty viewing things on the iPod screen, exactly?

I've grown accustomed to watching various TV shows on it in the gym, and just about the last adjectives I'd ever have come up with for describing the picture quality are "washed out" and "terrible contrast and color saturation". In fact, I'm usually struck by how vivid and bright the colors are, every bit as much so as on my TV. And that's on the original 5G iPod, without the new oodles-brighter screen they just introduced.

What kind of astronomical standards are being applied these days? Is anyone out there actually complaining about the iPod's screen quality? And are people actually likely to reconsider an iPod purchase just because they've read that the screen isn't quite as eye-searingly saturated as on the Zens and Zunes of the world? I know Louderback would love to think so, but he might have to prepare for disappointment.

Monday, September 25, 2006
10:49 - iTPSreport
http://youtube.com/watch?v=meVQqYNGzYA

(top)
Chris showed me this video of Steve Jobs addressing the Cupertino City Council—not the one where he proposed buying the land for the new campus, but this one (which I believe is less well-circulated) where he assures the city that he decided to keep Apple (the city's biggest taxpayer) in the area where it was founded 30 years ago, where everyone likes being, rather than in the open land on 101 down toward Gilroy.



What struck me about it, though, was how different Steve comes across when he's not in his "stage persona". Doesn't he sound just a little bit ...Bill Lumbergh-esque in this?

"We've just gone aheeeeeaaad and... acquired this property.... yyyyeeeeeeaaaahhhh...."

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© Brian Tiemann