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Exit ArchiveArchive for August, 2007

Here are some things I’ve been looking at to make today’s installation of Windows on two Macs bearable.

(Via FSJ)

Button for Bacon

(Via Hi-ReS! Feed)

WTF Mac Store by Jeff Carlson

(Via Daring Fireball; photo by Jeff Carlson)

In Case You Have No Style

(Also via Daring Fireball; click picture for larger view)

Permalink Comments Off on Enter the New Digital World of Paint!Comments Off on Enter the New Digital World of Paint! By

Yes, I got this reading FSJ’s blog.

Permalink Comments Off on Fake Steve and Fake Steve Take a MeetingComments Off on Fake Steve and Fake Steve Take a Meeting By

Real Steve here to remind you, in case you need it, that there’s this great blog out there written by the Fake Steve Jobs (who’s actually some Forbes editor named Dan Lyons). Considering how embarrassed I was about Steve the Ballmer, I thoroughly enjoyed FSJ’s post today [NOTE: I forgot to post this, so it was really last Tuesday] about his meeting with FSB. You should read it, too, and enjoy it.

Permalink Comments Off on Powerless PostComments Off on Powerless Post By

The power just went out in our entire building. I was on my Mac, but it’s a laptop, so nothing was lost. Thankfully, I finished my laundry a couple hours ago, and not long after that, I stopped building my new Lego Star Destroyer set (a random purchase from Downtown Disney last night to lift my spirits—which is a post for, perhaps, tomorrow). So really, this isn’t terribly inconvenient at all. But I can still post, you see, though the DSL modem is down. How, you (don’t) ask?

I am sitting here in the sexy glow of my iPhone, posting this just because I can.

The power should be back on soon. A transformer in the alley caught fire. But of course no one came and told us this. I had to go out and ask the guys with the big important trucks what happened. I think maybe every emergency crew needs to travel with a PR agent to go door-to-door and explain what’s happening. I mean, the trucks had been in the alleyway for nearly an hour before the power was cut (it must have been a very tiny little fire that did its damage very, very slowly), so a roving PR schmo would have had plenty of time to come around and warn us to shut down any mission-critical computers before the power was cut. My mission-critical sexy gay man underwear merchant browsing could have been properly terminated!

I guess really what I should be doing is getting my contacts out and going to bed. My alarm clock won’t wake me in the morning, and nor will my trusty iPhone if I drain the battery with Wren business.

Oh, well, what timing. There’s the power. So much for ending with a little bit of drama.

Permalink Comments Off on They’re Back!Comments Off on They’re Back! By

It only took me forever, but I figured out the new code to use to bring back Wren Peeps (now cleverly called Wren Fwrends) and Linky Link Links (both in the sidebar)! Now maybe I’ll update them with new and exciting content. Or maybe I’ll wait a year or two do do that.

I also replaced my old RSS logos with the new, approved feed icon. The official icon color is orange, but it seems to glare out with so many of them on one page. How about blue? Which do you think is better?

Orange or Blue?

Permalink Comments Off on No Copies! No Copies! No Copies! No Copies! No…Comments Off on No Copies! No Copies! No Copies! No Copies! No… By

Ars Technica once again has posted a very interesting article full of wonderful loathing for the industry in which I work. And, of course, I couldn’t agree with that loathing more. The article is about AACS and how it has to be implemented within an OS for that OS to “legally” play back Blu-ray content.

As Ars has also recently pointed out, DRM needs to be circumventable so people don’t end up with useless media. AACS is the messiest DRM yet.

Oh, sorry, is all this too esoteric and geeky? Then this should be more your speed.

Permalink Comments Off on Oh, God, This Guy’s a Steve?Comments Off on Oh, God, This Guy’s a Steve? By

I am so very embarrassed to share this guy’s name. I’m sure we’ve all seen this clip before, but it’s worth revisiting.

Look at this man! He’s a nutjob! Look at those scary, crazy eyes! That tilted-head look is what I’d expect my own eyes to see right before an ice pick is rammed into my heart by a woods-dwelling maniac.

Steve Ballmer, a woods-dwelling maniac. Seems about right.

Permalink Comments Off on “Dinosaurs with Jetpacks”Comments Off on “Dinosaurs with Jetpacks” By

This great post, “Dinosaurs with Jetpacks,” talks about Universal’s decision to keep its online DRM-free music off of iTunes. Hmm. Universal is perhaps not as stupid as it appears.

Or maybe it is. For, you see, Universal has said that it supports HD DVD and not Blu-ray because the format war helps the consumer. Holy smokes! Universal is as stupid as it appears! Yes?

Well, when you get into conglomerate shenanigans like this, words like “stupid” and “moronic” are of no relevance. Only “greedy” works.

Permalink Comments Off on Lots of Words on ClearviewComments Off on Lots of Words on Clearview By

FHWA and Clearview

I have before bemoaned the change, currently in progress, from the original highway font to the new Clearview font. Seeing the new font in action in Austin during my last two trips there, I have to say… I do not like it any better. Yes, it’s very legible, but it’s still dull, dull, dull. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s “ugly,” but I’m very close. Some lobbying money from Friends for Fabulous Fonts could steer me to that conclusion.

The New York Times published a long article on Clearview and its creation. Perhaps it’s because this article was published in the Times Magazine section, or perhaps it’s because journalism is pretty much dead, but interesting as the article is, it suffers from many maladies of poor writing. Take, for instance, this:

Looking at a sign in Clearview after reading one in Highway Gothic is like putting on a new pair of reading glasses: there’s a sudden lightness, a noticeable crispness to the letters.

True, the Clearview’s letters are crisper, but so-called Highway Gothic is not illegible. It is not muddy. It is incredibly clear and wonderfully designed. Since all our highway signs in L.A. started being replaced a few years ago, I’ve been seeing if I ever find them hard to read. Almost never. I do have good eyesight—meaning good contact lenses—so perhaps I’m not a target demographic for clearer sign fontage. Which is not my overall point. My point is that looking from Highway Gothic to Clearview is nothing like putting on a new pair of reading glasses.

What started as a project to organize information for tourist routes in Oregon would soon turn into an all-consuming quest, and one that marked the first time in the nation’s history that anyone attempted to apply systematically the principles of graphic design to the American highway.

Anyone who’s paid attention to the signs on our highways knows that they were, in fact, carefully designed. Their colors, shapes, and placement are very specific. The statement above is mere popsicle writing.

The text that did appear on these early signs was largely hand-painted and all in uppercase, simply because no one could effectively draw lowercase letter forms by hand.

Preposterous. Assumptive writing at its best. “No one could effectively draw lowercase letterforms by hand”? Who made that up? Heck, I can make up stuff, too. For instance, did you know that the quality, tone, and content of most news articles are sloppy and sensationalistic simply because no one has the means to effectively research and confirm details and sources? It’s true!

Now how about mismatched points? Toward the beginning, the article mentions how the understanding of type has turned from an “esoteric pursuit” into one that marketing has made more front-and-center. “Fonts are image, and image is modern America,” an argument for how badly the font on our highway signs needs to be changed. However, later on, Highway Gothic is said to be exactly that kind of font to many people.

The quirky appeal of imperfection does give Highway Gothic its fans, who share highway lore and trade vintage road signs on the Internet. To highway enthusiasts like Richard Moeur, who runs a Web site devoted to traffic signs, the existing highway typeface has become evocative of the wonder of the open road.

So yes, we need to spend all this time and money on a new font in this era of marketing, a font that can improve legibility but also create a new, cohesive image for America’s highways! Forget that FWHA Series E is already that, and that Highway Gothic is being used by marketing campaigns willy-nilly these days. Why make reporting accurate when it can be fun? Oh, and re-read the first part of that quote: “The quirky appeal of imperfection.” How perfectly symbolic of this story’s propagandistic slant and “by golly, it’s swell” uselessness.

I completely agree that the proper use of fonts more important than ever today, thanks to the computer. Computers have made fonts more accessible for everyone, and so the general public is more aware of what fonts are. At the same time, I’d argue, fonts have never been more misused. Back in the days when FWHA Series E was created, there were people creating typefaces such as these who knew what they were doing. It was difficult work. Highway Gothic is not a product of haphazard creation or accidental need. Fonts were made and used by people who knew how to make and use them. Now, fonts are made and used by everyone. I need not explain the consequences.

I don’t mean to imply that Clearview has been made by morons. It has obviously been carefully designed, with much thought put into its every curve. I admire the goal to create a font that will be legible in any condition, night or day, wet or dry, in slow or fast passing. It’s not surprising, though, that one of Clearview’s creators says that he wanted to take the “goofiness” out of the Highway Gothic design. Clearview is the dull result; it is too dull to be something that will become romanticized as the new American Spirit of the Open Road.

“Highway Gothic conjures the awe of Interstate travel and the promise of midcentury futurism; Clearview’s aesthetic is decidedly more subdued.” That’s exactly the problem with Clearview, but not something the article realizes might be an issue. It’s so strange to have a propaganda piece written for a highway font! I wonder if someone paid someone off. Friends for Fabulous Fonts could pay me off to write an anti-Clearview article. Or they can just send me a check for this post. Hello? You guys out there?

Permalink Comments Off on Security, Security Everywhere, but Not a Decent MealComments Off on Security, Security Everywhere, but Not a Decent Meal By

I’m here at LAX, waiting to board a plane for Denver for my 20th high school reunion. What better time to post a link to an interview with Kip Hawley, head of the TSA? It is a good interview, with some no-nonsense questions.

Now, when can we get those yummy meals back that we all used to enjoy so much?

Permalink Comments Off on Boom Boom! Ooo! Google Me, Censored Naked Man!Comments Off on Boom Boom! Ooo! Google Me, Censored Naked Man! By

Well, now, this is a little strange. Not too terribly surprising, but strange.

In reading that Google changed their indexing algorithm, I decided to see what pops up now when my last name is Googled. The fifth main result down was this strange link.

Adult Entertainment Industry, Holt Gardiner, and me? Together in one link? Is Holt wary of this association? He is, after all, an important, interviewable investment banker.

How did Wired find Censored Naked Man? Considering he’s all over the place, they might have just nabbed him. But I doubt it, for, as you saw, they did kindly credit me for my picture and did link to my homepage. Maybe they found it via… a Google search? Hmm. Could be. There it is on the second page of the image search results for “censored.”

Egad. Not only am I associated with the adult entertainment industry and (GULP!) investment banking, but I’m a top hit if anyone decides to look for an image of something censored!

The Web. Is there anything it can’t make bizarre?

That I can recall, I have received two phone calls from my mother that, thanks to surrounding events, had me panicking in the seconds between the “Hello?” and the moment I was finally told what the call was about.

The first call was some years ago. I had just gotten back from Vegas with my boss. We’d been there to do one of our A/V events, and my folks just happened to be staying there. They delayed their departure for one day so they could watch me do my job, which, even to this day, is not easy to explain to people. Upon leaving, my boss and I drove back to L.A., and my folks drove back to Colorado, planning to stop in Mesquite overnight.

Soon after I got back to the office, my cell phone rang. It was my mom, hysterical. Hysterical. This was the first panic.

Days before, my sister’s husband had told her he wanted a divorce. It was horrible. She was sad and depressed, as were we all, I think. I remember getting her call about it. I was driving into work, and when she told me, I almost literally burst into tears. It was a sight, I’m sure, me driving on the 101, crying and talking into my headset, trying to pay attention to traffic, which suddenly was the least important thing in the world.

So I panicked when I got my mom’s hysterical call post-Vegas. My mind went to all kinds of horrible places. Was my sister okay? Had something happened? I couldn’t understand my mom. She was incoherent. Panic. I finally had to yell at my mom to shut up (yes, I think I actually said that!) and tell me what happened, and once she calmed down, she told me some… rather excellent news. Very excellent news, in fact. News that I have promised not to write about on my website. Bummer, because it’s a doozy!

First panic unjustified.

Yesterday, my sister went in for gallbladder surgery. My parents are in Nashville now. They got to spend some time with sis on her boat, then helped her with all the logistics of the surgery. Everything went well, and my sister returned home, out of it thanks to the pain killers.

This morning, not long after 6:00, my iPhone rang with the new old-fashioned phone ringtone I’d just assigned to my family. Odd timing. Fuz had already gotten up to get ready for work, so I was already partly awake.

I poured out of bed to answer the phone, and the second panic was now starting. Had something happened in the night? Was Laura okay? I answered and my mom was shaken. Not hysterical, but shaken, holding back some tragedy. I could not think of any good reason she’d sound this way, but I had been wrong last time. Maybe this was a good call…? No. The only thing it could be was complications with my sister’s surgery. Full panic time.

I did not have to yell at at my mother or tell her to shut up this time, but I did have to ask her what was wrong.

My sister’s townhouse burned down in the night. (More coverage here.)

My sister got up to use the restroom at 4:00 this morning. Or did she subconsciously sense something? Whatever it was, she noticed an orange glow from downstairs, went to see what it was, and saw her back deck on fire.

Man, I don’t know how she did it, but in her post-surgurey state, my sister ran around, yelling and screaming, to get my folks and her dog awake and out of the house. Then she ran to the connecting townhouses and woke her neighbors. Everyone got out okay, and no one was hurt.

My sister’s house is destroyed. What is worse, beyond losing the home, is all the memories that are gone. The pictures and videos and all those things you can never replace. My folks lost all the stuff they’d brought: clothing and glasses and ID and credit cards and teeth. The things you kind of need.

On the second call this morning, just as I was getting on the 405 to go to work, my mom told me that the hydrant water pressure was so bad, the firemen could not get the fire hoses working properly. Upsetting. But she also got teary telling me about the Red Cross’ help. They gave my family care baskets, a hotel room and car rental for three days, and vouchers to go buy clothing and necessities. I actually get teary thinking about that because I thought we were beyond that kind of aid in today’s America.

At 6 this morning, because my mind was turning to the worst, hearing that everyone was okay actually made me calm. My absolute worst fears had not materialized, and I was immediately relieved for that, even though a different and very surprising tragedy had taken place.

Second panic justified, but, thankfully, not fully.