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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12/29/2003 -   1/4/2004
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12/30/2002 -   1/5/2003
12/23/2002 - 12/29/2002
12/16/2002 - 12/22/2002
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11/25/2002 -  12/1/2002
11/18/2002 - 11/24/2002
11/11/2002 - 11/17/2002
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10/28/2002 -  11/3/2002
10/21/2002 - 10/27/2002
10/14/2002 - 10/20/2002
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 8/26/2002 -   9/1/2002
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 8/12/2002 -  8/18/2002
  8/5/2002 -  8/11/2002
 7/29/2002 -   8/4/2002
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  7/8/2002 -  7/14/2002
  7/1/2002 -   7/7/2002
 6/24/2002 -  6/30/2002
 6/17/2002 -  6/23/2002
 6/10/2002 -  6/16/2002
  6/3/2002 -   6/9/2002
 5/27/2002 -   6/2/2002
 5/20/2002 -  5/26/2002
 5/13/2002 -  5/19/2002
  5/6/2002 -  5/12/2002
 4/29/2002 -   5/5/2002
 4/22/2002 -  4/28/2002
 4/15/2002 -  4/21/2002
  4/8/2002 -  4/14/2002
  4/1/2002 -   4/7/2002
 3/25/2002 -  3/31/2002
 3/18/2002 -  3/24/2002
 3/11/2002 -  3/17/2002
  3/4/2002 -  3/10/2002
 2/25/2002 -   3/3/2002
 2/18/2002 -  2/24/2002
 2/11/2002 -  2/17/2002
  2/4/2002 -  2/10/2002
 1/28/2002 -   2/3/2002
 1/21/2002 -  1/27/2002
 1/14/2002 -  1/20/2002
  1/7/2002 -  1/13/2002
12/31/2001 -   1/6/2002
12/24/2001 - 12/30/2001
12/17/2001 - 12/23/2001
Thursday, May 17, 2007
11:01 - It was never our destiny to stop Judgment Day; it was merely to survive it

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In the middle of a cornfield in the middle of Iowa, there is a data center.

Not just any data center. It's InfoBunker, probably the securest data center you're ever likely to find. It's built in a decommissioned Air Force bunker that once housed hardened military telecom equipment, as the giant radio tower that stands above the parking lot—and can be seen for miles around—attests. But that's pretty much all there is that can be seen by passersby, aside from a small entryway hut and some storage sheds and old wire spools on a patched, 60s-era parking lot. The facility extends five stories below ground, with multiple data floors, employee areas, and living quarters (the 24/7 staff doesn't see the sun very much).

Because I'd mentioned InfoBunker in my book in the latest edition, on the recommendation of my tech editor, the president of InfoBunker invited me to stop by the place as I blew through Iowa on my trek to bring home my Lotus. I turned off 80 at Des Moines and made the slight hour-or-so detour to the site on the second day.

It's not my place to go into too much detail about what's housed in the bunker, as just to get inside under escort you have to agree to a strict no-photos policy (perfectly understandable); but suffice it to say that the simplex lock on the main hut door is only the very beginning. Many hardened, keycoded, and biometric-protected doors stand between the outside world and the NOC floors, including the self-sufficient power systems (six days' worth of diesel fuel; 17,000 gallons of water, for drinking and fire suppression; military-grade NBC air filtration). It's built to withstand a 20-megaton nuclear blast at 2.5 miles, according to the website, and I can believe it. Your data will be intact even if the rest of the Internet has been vaporized.

The photos on the website are mostly mock-ups, but I can vouch that they're not far off from reality, including the ultra-swank Critical Operations Room. The conference room is even better than the mock-up, in my opinion, with custom dark wood paneling and Japanese woodblock paintings and sculptures on the walls and tables. The staff is small, but it's dedicated to perfection in presentation, and even the bathroom tile is a high-grade rough-cut stone that brings to mind a national park visitor center. Though only employees and prospective clients are ever likely to see the inside of this place, it's aimed at the kind of clients who will appreciate the kind of attention to detail that my gracious subterranean hosts obsessively display.

From what I heard, this facility is only one of a few in the country that have been sold into private hands after being decommissioned, and the only one that has been turned into a data center. The operation is humming along with the first clients who have seen the importance of this kind of hosting, but the interested client list is a mile long, and these guys seem to have a corner on this rarefied and critical market—which might turn out to be less and less rarefied as more and more data-centric organizations realize what's at stake here. The best part is that the prices are really very reasonable...

A radio tower over a military bunker in an Iowa cornfield is a pretty incongruous sight, and adding to the mix a black Lotus Esprit probably pegged the freak-o-meter for the area for a day or so. But it's all for real, and I'm happy to tell anyone who's in the market for ultra-secure data storage that these guys are the ones to go to.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007
17:54 - I hear Engadget eats puppies
http://www.betanews.com/article/Apple_Stock_Drops_on_iPhone_Leopard_Rumors/117934513

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Oh, this is charming.

Apple's stock plunged over two percent Wednesday after technology news blog Engadget posted an unsubstantiated rumor claiming that both the iPhone and Leopard had been delayed.

. . .

Apple has a standard procedure of not responding to rumors and speculation, but within a half-hour of the original post, Block updated it saying Apple had contacted Engadget denying the report, saying the memo was a fake.

In defending the site's actions, Block posted the original e-mail it claims was sent out to Apple employees, and the redaction that followed. However, the original e-mail includes a key line that should have confirmed it was a hoax.

And now that everyone's seen how easy it is to do stuff like this...

Via Mark.


17:32 - Fat Guy Stuck in Television
http://www.adultswim.com/video/index.html

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Sunday night was a Cavalcade of Pilots on Adult Swim. I didn't see them all, but the ones I did see at least had a few things going for them—not least of which was that they were actually animated, bucking the trend wherein shows with less and less well-disguised live-action material are still billed as being worthy of showing on "Cartoon" Network.

Superjail, while violent and crude, I found oddly enthralling. Why? Primarily because of the Wonka-esque Warden, whose character design and movement is straight out of those white-background psychedelia/educational animated squibs from the 70s. Only this time it has the added sass that comes from the post-Space Ghost irony in which all animation is steeped these days. For some reason, rather than looking like me-too-ism after all the Harvey Birdmans and Sealab 2020s that have come and gone, it gives this show a certain exhilarating energy, like someone's Biology textbook cover come to life—someone who secretly nursed a dream of being an animator even though the art classes at his school had been cut in favor of football. The anatomical polish and draftsmanship on characters like the Warden are marginal at best, to be sure... but as John K. would no doubt agree, an ability to draw like a CalArts grad doesn't help if you can't make a character move in an appealing manner. And if you can, an ability to draw like a CalArts grad doesn't matter. In other words, he's a cartoon, not just an animated character—and he inhabits a world where he can toss his cane onto a hat rack and it goes limp as it droops over a peg, and he ties himself in knots to illustrate his past mental contortions. We haven't seen something so freely whimsical and traditionally cartoony in years.

Following Superjail was the pilot for the Drinky Crow Show, the TV-ification of Maakies. Now this one is what most people seem to appreciate most (judging by the ratings), but it's also the one that's the least true to its nature—and perversely enough, it's that way mainly through trying way too hard to be true to its nature. It's a CG-animated stream of consciousness whose writing and voice acting is a fine adaptation of the comic strip's pace and atmosphere, but the CG execution—which was clearly decided upon as a compromise to allow Tony Millionaire's gorgeously realized world of tall ships and Victorian architecture to make the jump to the animated screen—unfortunately ends up drawing too much attention to itself, and you're never unaware that what you're watching is, in fact, CG. Characters move just a bit too smoothly. 3D body structures are just a bit too symmetrical. The ink drawings that make Maakies what it is are near-perfect in their execution, but it's their slight imperfections that make them so real—and seeing all the rough edges smoothed out in the CG transition makes the sailing ships and sea monsters and hangin' trees turn from feats of wonder by a master of the pen into empty, Family Guy-esque backdrops and set pieces straight out of some digital prop catalog. Compare:



Call me crazy, but the latter steals my heart, whereas the former embezzles from my eyeballs.

Granted, it would have been literally impossible to actually animate Millionaire's drawings, in the traditional, pencil-and-paint sense; but this next-best-seeming solution, I'm afraid, is far from the next-best solution when it comes to the end product. Sure, it's funny; but the charm of Maakies is the art itself, and I'm not sure what the show will be without that. Some characters—like Popeye and Mickey Mouse—just don't make sense in 3D.

I didn't see the rest of the pilots. Were they any good?


09:10 - Good to know

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Seasoned digital photographers are well familiar with EXIF tags, which embed all kinds of useful information from one's camera into one's digital photos—time stamp, focal length, shutter speed, latitude and longitude, all kinds of stuff that makes digital photography just so damn cool.

EXIF tags also include things like the description that you enter in apps like iPhoto, and a field called "Photographer" (along with one called "Copyright"). This is great stuff for professional photographers who want to embed watermarks in their photos; but it's not so great for people who want to preserve anonymity in the photos they stick on the Web.



Fortunately, if you just import photos from your camera into iPhoto, the Photographer field is not populated with anything. BUT... if on the off chance that you should open an image in Preview, and then you crop out a piece of that photo (such as your face) using one of the functions in the Grab submenu (such as Grab, Selection), you'll find that Preview has helpfully filled in some of those extra fields for you, based on your OS X installation: the Photographer field, for example, is now set to your full name, and the Software field has your OS version.

This results in freakouts when someone who might not be expecting this wakes up one morning to e-mails from someone who has extracted the EXIF info from his uploaded photos, tracked the person down, and advised them to upgrade their operating system.

This didn't happen to me, but the person it did happen to was greatly relieved to be made aware of Reveal, a neat little EXIF-editing utility with some very slick interface elements. As I told him, it's generally not necessary to nuke-and-pave all your EXIF information (like by doing a "Save for Web" in Photoshop), but it's probably worthwhile to give things a once-over in Reveal to make sure there hasn't been anything "helpfully" added by an app like Preview without your knowing.

Meanwhile, I'd like to suggest to Apple that this is perhaps not the best thing for Preview to be doing, hmm? It seems to be only the "Grab" functions that do this; if you Save As a different filename in Preview, it doesn't add anything extra. (Nor, for that matter, does the Grab utility, or the Cmd+Shift+3/4 screen-capture keystrokes.) I contend that the Grab functions in Preview shouldn't volunteer to add any personal information that isn't already added by apps like iPhoto, or by other functions within Preview; the expectations that such apps set is that they present a certain level of risk of exposure (as it were) of personal information, and whatever that risk level is, it should at least be consistent within the app.

Just so ya know.

Monday, May 14, 2007
16:20 - That's one way to shave
http://timblair.net/ee/index.php/weblog/knife_taken_to_gun_fight/

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I'm keeping this story in mind next time I hear Billy Joe Shaver sing the theme song to Squidbillies.

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© Brian Tiemann