Cottonelle toilet paper
Like wiping your ass with a playful puppy
  2008-05-30 15:25 Z
One of my favourite little Google tools is Google Browser Sync. It synchronizes all your Firefox state between multiple computers; cookies, passwords, bookmarks, etc. Very handy when switching computers.

Sadly the addon doesn't work with Firefox 3. And worryingly, there's been no update to the project since August 2006. It's a Labs project (ie: less supported than the usual) and there's been no hopeful response in this Google Groups thread. It may be time for an old-fashioned lobbying campaign, see also this blog post.

  2008-05-28 14:39 Z
The online game industry has a problem: World of Warcraft so dominates the industry that it's hard to imagine any serious competition. There's room for niche players like Eve Online; it takes about 100,000 subscribers to break even. But everyone's angling to have the next million+ blockbuster, and it's not happening.

The latest competitor in the mix is Age of Conan. On the surface it seems a lot like WoW; high fantasy, RPG, quests and levelling and all that. They're trying to distinguish the gameplay by adding realtime combat elements and a serious PvP endgame.

But what really sets AoC apart is the intellectual property. The Conan franchise is a great starting point full of big dumb exciting heroes. And Funcom has embraced it whole heartedly with lots of gore, fast combat, and "mature themes". The first quest in AoC (pictured above) makes it clear this isn't WoW; you turn the corner and see a beautiful slave girl in chains, begging for your help. When you rescue her she tells you she's a "pleasure girl" and that while she can't pay you for helping, if you visit her at the brothel you'll "come to some arrangement". Hubba hubba. Oh yeah, the female models have nipples, too.

I don't think gore and boobies will be enough to make AoC a success. It might even backfire; a big part of WoW's growth is its appeal to people who aren't hardcore fantasy gamers. But it's nice to see something different and it's good campy fun.

What is best in life? To crush your enemies, to see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentations of their women.
  2008-05-24 18:41 Z
I'm not going to pretend it's a good movie. Speed Racer is a summer film with no redeeming narrative or characters. But it's absolutely beautiful and if the visuals interest you at all go see it very soon. Because there's no point in watching this film other than the sensory experience in a real theater, and it's unlikely to be in theaters for long.
The pleasure of the movie is entirely in the incredible visual language. The Wachowskis aren't shy at all in their formalism and the film is a triumph of oversaturated plastic colours, insane cartoon collage, and overwhelming motion sequences. Visually the whole film is kind of like the monolith sequences in 2001. Only instead of LSD infused cosmic transcendance it's MDMA fueled heart pumping sensory overload. It's absolutely exhausting, ridiculous, and beautifully conceived and rendered. Either you'll find it interesting or you'll hate it.
  2008-05-21 22:22 Z
I feel a bit bad about picking on Google Doctype's HTML on launch day. Having launched products at Google I know there's nothing more obnoxious than some know-it-all harping on some tiny problem with the product you've worked for a year to launch. But the irony of the problem was too much to let pass. It's fixed now, a plain ol' HTML link. Yay! Since I picked on Google's newest product let me pick next on their oldest product now; web search. And the ugly URLs it produces.

The first problem is the search page URLs are too big. If you go to the plain ol' home page and search for "RFC 1738" in Firefox 3 or MSIE 7 you end up at here:

More inside ...

  2008-05-16 15:40 Z
Google was very lucky to hire Mark Pilgrim, web standards expert and cranky genius. Congratulations to him on for the launch of Google Doctype, a website that documents fancy HTML, CSS, and DOM tricks that we all use. The current practice of rich webapps is way beyond the official standards and it's good to see Google take some leadership in documenting how things should work.

So it's a bit mind-boggling to me to find this bit of HTML on the front page (URLs elded) that breaks the most basic element of the web; clicking on a link.

<a href=""
  return false
">Browse Google <span class="doctype">Doctype</span></a>
What's that? Well, it looks like a link to the actual important content; "Browse Google Doctype". But because someone put an onlick handler on it, it's not actually treated like a URL when you click on it. Instead, when you click on it the Javascript is executed to navigate you to the URL. Unfortunately, when you shift-click on it the Javascript also navigates you. Rather than doing what the user would expect, open the link in a new window.

I know, it's a little thing. But it's a horrible little thing, the kind of thing that so many "smart websites" do wrong and break the web standard UI. My understanding of Google Doctype is that it's a whole project about helping developers avoid this kind of mistake.

Update: the site has been modified; just plain HTML links now. Hooray!
  2008-05-14 21:52 Z
I've had 4 email addresses for my personal life: (1989-1994), (1994-1996), (1996-1999), and (2000-present). I take some pride that all but the first address still works. But all the old addresses get is spam; 2600 in the last month. That's 2600 spam messages that got through my gauntlet of spam filters. Most are bounce messages for spam that was forged from my name.

I think it's time to stop maintaining those old addresses.

  2008-05-08 16:08 Z
The biggest computer game of the year is out and is of course being attacked by various advocacy groups. With some reason; the game is violent and ugly and entertains us by letting us do violent and ugly things. But it's a game, and American society has long since accepted that ugly violence is entertainment.

MADD has joined the call against GTA because there is "a game module where players can drive drunk". I wonder if they actually tried out the drunk driving simulator?

Driving drunk in GTA IV is awful. I tried it once; the camera goes pitching around at random so I had almost no control over the car. The view is so swervy I became a bit motion sick. Then the cops saw me. I tried to speed away but I was so out of control I crashed into a wall and got busted.

Maybe, just maybe, GTA could teach people that drunk driving sucks?

  2008-05-01 17:20 Z
My PC is 3.5 years now. It's been great but it's time to get an upgrade. What's holding me back is Windows Vista. The horror stories continue and now with the Windows 7 talk there's some evidence that Vista may be a dead end and XP -> 7 is the upgrade path.

Any advice? Comment here or email me. I actually like XP once you turn off the Aqua graphics nonsense. My PC spends 95% of its time running Firefox, Thunderbird, PuTTY, and games (mostly Warcraft). If it weren't for the games I wouldn't even bother upgrading. Arguments for Vista: DirectX 10, multimedia which requires DRM, and inevitability of the OS.

PS: if you tell me "buy a Mac" I will publically mock you. I don't want MacOS.

  2008-05-01 16:21 Z