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Thursday, September 26, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

ph33r my l33t iB00k h4x0ring ski11z!

Yesterday Mozilla over on the iBook developed this little problem where every window it opened was just a teeny little line, too small to show any controls or to grab the resizing corner of. This was a little problem in the "completely unusable" sense of "little". I was forced to use IE more than once (arg!).

On Windows I would have fixed the problem with alt-space-s (of course!), or as a last resort by searching the registry for a Mozilla-related subhive and twiddling any likely-looking values in there. But even quite a bit of Googling didn't find a keyboard way to resize a Mac window (if anyone knows of one, I'm still in the market), and of course OS X has no registry. I saw no likely-looking (i.e. recent dated) files in the directory that I'd installed Mozilla into.

But then a chance comment somewhere on Google Groups told me that Mac apps tend to keep their user-specific settings in the user's home directory; so I started up a terminal (a Unix command line, good fun!) and hunted around in /Users/davidchess/ (that's "Macintosh HD:Users:davidchess:" from the GUI), and there in Library/Profiles/default/9w7bpr17r.slt/ (naturally) was a file "localstore.rdf" that contained this little paragraph:

<RDF:Description about="chrome://navigator/content/navigator.xul#main-window"
   screenY="7" />

Now those "1" things seemed sort of suspicious, so I closed the file, shut down Mozilla, re-opened the file in TextEdit, changed the "1" things to "100" things, re-opened Mozilla, and viola! The window was just big enough to have a resize-box in it, which I grabbed with the mouse and dragged southeast, and now Mozilla is all fixed again.

Think swooshy

Isn't that fascinating?

In other iBook-related news, I've set the desktop background on the Windows 2000 ThinkPad here to the default Aqua blue swooshy image. I'm such a wag.

Readers write on the subject of Ms. Parton:

You just like the big boobs.

Oddly, the big boobs were not actually audible on the radio shows, so I'm not sure that's a very plausible explanation.

Yours is the second website I've read today that unexpectedly mentions Dolly Parton. So yes, I will think about her.

Lots of bloggers probably listen to NPR. So who was the other one? Nothing obvious in Daypop, although there are some possibilities.

Someone who might actually be Caterina writes:

dolly parton also said this hilarious thing I heard once.

When asked how she felt about dumb blonde jokes, she said, "Oh, they don't bother me because I know I ain't dumb and I know I ain't blonde."

Yeah, exactly! She seems to have humor and attitude enough to overcome any set of bizarre clothes.

(I still haven't actually ordered that CD yet, though.)

Wednesday, September 25, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

So I was listening to the radio the other month, in the car one evening on the way to pick up the little daughter from some school event or something, and I turned on NPR and they were in the middle of an interview with some singer of traditional mountain songs about her background and her history and her music and stuff, and I thought she had a fascinating voice and was saying neat and interesting things. And then near the end of the show they said her name, and it was Dolly Parton.

Dolly Freaking Parton!

Ms. Parton, by Ms. Leibovitz

Now when I was young, Dolly Parton was completely a figure of fun, a parody of an entertainer, with an enormous chest and enormous hair and absurd skin-tight outfits covered with rhinestones and a ridiculous accent and so on; entirely the opposite of an interesting or enlightened female artist.

So I thought, listening to that radio show, "whoa, that's strange; maybe I should revisit my opinion of her", but then I forgot all about it. (The radio show was likely this one.)

Then just yesterday (roughly) I stumbled on another NPR segment about / with Dolly Parton, and again she sounded like a really interesting and likable and smart person. So I'm writing about her in the weblog here, and I've got one of her albums on my Amazon wishlist, and I urge you my readers to think about her yourselves, and read stuff on the Web, especially if you (like me until yesterday) still think of her as just a sort of shallow hick sex-symbol that used to be on Hee-Haw.

(Note that the Parton album I've wishlisted is a bluegrass one; interesting as she is I have this problem with mainstream country music. I liked it lots in, I think it was, early high school, and I listened to it quite a lot, and I had my clock-radio play it to wake me up in the morning, and eventually I started to have dreams about going around smashing radios to try to stop the sound, and generally overdid it, and now when I hear an overtwangy steel guitar with rhythm backup I cringe. Sort of like my relationship to creme de menthe...)

Tuesday, September 24, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

Blog recommendation 'o the day: this Public Address at Visible Darkness. History, photographs, deep thoughts, u.s.w.

What to do when your computer works.

piano keys
picture of a nude girl suffering from
picture of a rotting log
picture of incent gay
picture of trees and logs
pictures in tragedy and comedy
pictures of Iris Chacon
pictures of RAGU sauces
pictures of bifocals
pictures of bread recipies
pictures of chess pieces
pictures of cloning vats
pictures of comedy and tragedy
pictures of gramma faces
pictures of medieval doctors
pictures of nicely shaped boobs
pictures of older tow trucks
pictures of snails
pictures of the clitoris
pictures of toy mazes
pictures of u.s.a. dropping food in afghanistan
pictures star trek 1600 1200
pie AND meat
playboy brazil triplets

Which just sort of sums it up.

Went to Meet the Teacher Night at the little boy's school this evening. Web-related fact: they're using this Buzzword of the Day page for their vocabulary building. I dunno if it's an official part of the curriculum, or just something one of the teachers found while surfing, or what. Seems like kind of a cool thing, though.

Installed the latest Opera (here on the ThinkPad at least). 6.05 seems (knock wood) to have fixed the memory leaks that 6.03 was having (the computer would get slow, and I'd see in Task Manager that Opera was using like 93 meg of virtual memory).

So I also gave M a Dock icon in her account on the iBook that accesses the shared folder on the main house machine, and she was able to write something for the PTA Book Fair in AppleWorks on the iBook and save it as rtf and copy it over there and print it without too much trouble except that the apostrophes vanish. How dumb is that? The apostrophes vanish! It's not like the apostrophe isn't a normal ASCII codepoint. Sheesh. (If saved as .doc and printed from Word Viewer, the apostrophes print as like Ö or something; even better!)

Anyone know how to transfer a printable file between an iBook and a Wintel machine without the apostrophes getting zorched?

0wnz0red, a half-way decent cyberpunk short story free on the Web. The premise is very neat; the story fizzles a bit (IMHO) at the end. The conflation of "hackers as really good coders" and "hackers as people who use words like 'hax0red' in casual conversation" was slightly annoying; as far as I know those communities are still pretty disjoint, and the "really good coder" kind of hacker only talks that way when e's being silly. Of course e's being silly quite often. But it's a good story (or at least the start of one); give it a read.

From abuddhas memes, another bit of interesting speculative fiction: The World in 2050:

[Broadcast by BBC Virtual Reality, August 14th, 2050]
It's amazing how quickly people have got used to the idea that everything they do can now be known by anybody who is interested in finding out.

And also from a.m., the Citizen's Dividend: a libertarian-smelling argument for a socialist-smelling program. Since the government gives so many services to corporations, it says, it should charge those corporations a reasonable fee for those services, and give the money to the citizens.

So will Google News become everyone's news source?

Lots of interest in this one! Some definite themes emerge (including at least one very enthusiastic reader). Wish I had more...

Iris Chacon
me left
true friends, and time for them
... toes. Don't you?
time. But then I'd just fill it up again, wouldn't I?
clever things to type into this little box. But I do not.
camel toe
time. money. brains. sex. money. time.
iris chacon (just kidding)
time to get ready for this baby.
tanya harding
tanya harding nude pictures
let it not be said
flashes (never enough boobs)
glass (what's with all the plastic these days?)
canines (I've had some unfortunate dental work)
felons (I'm a for-profit prison operator!)
felines (I'm a crazy cat-lady in the making)
k-9s (I'm a drug interdiction police officer)
k-y (I'm...well, you don't want to know)
patients (I'm a greedy doc!)
glasses (broke one, and now I can't entertain)
classes (I miss school)
clashes (I miss fighting)
lalons (I'm a hungry eagle!)
patents (I'm forgent!)
lalents (I'm chronically unemployed!)
kentucky bluegrass (who doesn't?)
grass (I'm the one that dog-loving cop is after)
latents (I'm a frustrated crime scene investigator!)
adventure and platformer video games.

washing up to do, now the dishwasher's installed, the meditative time of Sunday morning washing up with the Copland Piano Sonata is but a distant daydream...

Memory (I have 384Mb), Disk (I have 24 GB), $$$$, Young Lovers, time, children, processor speed (I have 266 MHz), kittens (the one I have will be old too quickly and the robotic kitten is not yet good enough for me), more things to want, more places I have gone to.

time. Money. Self-confidence. Self-control. But in truth, I'm blessed. I give my wish to someone who needs it more.

In other news:

"Today, representatives for Isa Chacon's advertising campaign announced that their unorthodox technique of submitting her name to weblogs had produced astoundingly successful promotional results."

A reader has switched universes:

And completely offtopic -- sometime in the past few months, Someone modified English. There used to be a word "solipism". I remember it clearly. It's been replaced with a nearly identical word "solipsism". I hope there aren't other changes planned; I get confused easily.

Best to get used to it; it shows no sign of stopping. See previous discussion.

And finally a reader does our heart enormous good:

Chinese rooms that have the same shape have the same purpose.

by showing that e has read and remembers, possibly the Novel, or at least a bit of it. It looks like they're going to do it again this year; I wonder if I'm going to also. It'd be fun to write another flash-novel...

Monday, September 23, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

The iBook continues to be fun. The little daughter loves having her own account on it; nearly-teenagers are very concerned about their own space. I had no trouble giving her a Dock icon pointing to a directory on the other house machine, so she can get stuff between them easily.

Interface whine of the day: the iBook keyboard has a key labeled "delete" that does what a Wintel "backspace" key does, and doesn't have any key (as far as I can tell) that does what a Wintel "delete" key does. My fingers get all confused.

On interface issues, a reader writes:

First of all - Why in $DEITY's name are you using the trackpad!? Unless you're actually using the laptop on an airplane or somewhere else where there's no room to use a mouse, there's no reason to hobble yourself with a trackpad and a single button. Get an MS Intellipoint wireless explorer. Four buttons and a scrollwheel.

I remember back when I first started tentatively asking if there was some way to connect my laptop to the Net without using wires (this was back before wireless was Cool; the orbital mind-control lasers stole the idea from me shortly thereafter), someone said "well, since you nearly always use your laptop in the same place in the house anyway, just run a cable to there!".

I'm perfectly willing to believe there are people who always use their laptops at their desks, where there is an Ethernet cable and/or a nice flat surface for a mouse, but I'm not one of them. In our house, smooth empty flat surfaces have a half-life of about ten minutes, after which they get covered with piles of books, mail, CD cases, stuffed animals, chilren's artwork, Yugi-Oh cards, and so on. I use my laptop all over the place; the two most common ones are sitting or lying on the bed, or slouched on the Big Comfy Couch in the playroom. In neither place is there a smooth flat hard surface for a mouse to play on.

It's so simple.

I suppose I'm just spoiled by the TrackPoint on the ThinkPad. It's the ideal pointing device for me, even for non-laptops; I'd love a TrackPoint keyboard on the desktop computer at home. (I had one of the first TrackPoint keyboards deployed outside the group that invented them; it was called a Pointing Stick then, and it was on my PS/2 running OS/2. I thought it was the greatest thing since something extremely great, and I still do.)

I'll probably get a mouse for the iBook, but it seems to sort of defeat the purpose; we'll see how useful it turns out to be.

Second, have you tried the Omniweb browser? It's pretty decent.

Nope, I haven't; thanks for the pointer!

Via Daze via la di da, a good anti-stupid-TV rant that suggests some alternatives:

Maybe a group of smart, well-educated, diverse yuppies dropped into Calcutta or Bosnia and they have one whole TV season to develop a program to help poor or war-ravaged citizens grow food. You know, just like "Survivor," but with a useful point.

Or how about this: Muslims, Christians, Jews, pagans, and Buddhists -- say two of each -- stuck in a big rambly house, and they have to try each other's religion for a week apiece while they all sleep together and share food and talk about sex and politics and agree on why Bush is the biggest threat to peace and the environment since the invention of gunpowder.

I might watch that. Except it'd probably still have commercials.

So is pediatric orthodontia a huge racket, or what? They bring self-conscious young people into their offices just when they're most insecure about their personal appearance, and they say "your teeth aren't quite the right shape, but you'll be just fine if your Mom and Dad pay me five thousand dollars".

I want this guy (note that I was restrained and didn't say "this goddamned slime-bucket") to tell me what percentage of the kids that he does an "initial evaluation" on turn out to "need" braces...

Friday, September 20, 2002  permanent URL for this entry

OMG: the little daughter points us at FanFiction dot Net, where eighty-seven gazillion ardent fans of "Baldur's Gate", "Serial Experiments Lain", "Cowboy Bebop", "Doom", and even (or especially) Scooby Doo can write their very own extensions to their favorite fictional world. Thousands and thousands and thousands of them. (And this is the clean kind, not that nasty "slash" fanfic involving hot threesomes between Princess Mononoke, Shaggy, and Pikachu.)

Microsoft Security Bugs o' the Week: two bugs in Windows Terminal Services / Remote Desktop can allow bad guys to read your desktop traffic and/or crash your machine; and three bugs in the MS Java interpreter (quaintly called "The Microsoft Virtual Machine"), at least one of which lets anyone in the world do anything they want to your machine if you visit their web site, etc, etc, etc, as usual.

30.4 trillion dollars is a whole lot of money; that's said to be the size of J. P. Morgan's "derivative position", whatever that means. Sounds terribly exciting and doom-laden. Funny that only slightly seedy-looking gold-investment sites seem to mention it.

Read about and listen to strange nearly-extinct languages, some of which involve novel (wrong word entirely) sounds.

From NTK, Says God dot Com. Also a pointed observation from one MARTIN BACON: "if Alan Turing was alive today, the homosexuality would be OK but he'd be in trouble for codebreaking".

So there will inevitably be quite a bit of iBook-related stuff in the log for awhile, as our previously all-Wintel household widens its horizons.

Magritte, Apple, get it?

Points at random:

  • The visual design is, of course, great. The glowing power plug, the avant garde power cable, the icily pulsing sleep indicator light, the way windows are graphically sucked down into the launch bar (or whatever it's called) when you minimize them, the little lights on the battery, the glowing apple on the lid. It's a great piece of art.
  • My first negative experience with the machine, which I forgot to mention last night, was that it wanted to register first thing (before the OS was even up), and the registration screen had a place for my phone number, and it would not proceed until I filled it in, and it gave me a snooty message and refused to proceed when I typed in "555-1212". Making it impossible (hard?) to use the machine without giving Apple your phone number seems like an unwise move in this privacy-conscious thingie. Remind me to write them a nasty letter.
  • The one-button mouse is taking some getting used to (the kids hate it; I'm reserving judgement so far). Our other computers all have a left button, a right button, and something (the wheel on the mouse, the big bottom button on the ThinkPad's TrackPoint) that does the mouse-scroll thing. On the iBook, there's just one button; if you want a context menu you hold down Ctrl and then click, and if you want mouse scrolling you're apparently out of luck unless you get an external mouse (which I may very well do, although it seems to sort of defeat the purpose of a laptop). Is there any magic software or keypress or anything that will let the built-in touchpad act as a scroller?
  • It's not putting its name out effectively onto the local LAN. 'hostname' thinks that the computer is 'magritte.local.' (note the interesting terminal dot), but neither of the other two computers on the subnet can see it by that name, and its name field is blank in the router's DHCP client table. Does anyone know how to set things up so that the rest of the subnet can see it as just "magritte"?
  • I haven't found a browser I like yet. Opera only has a "Beta 4" for OS X, and while it basically works and has the Opera features that I like (like the "show only images that are already cached" setting), it doesn't seem to know the OS very well (doesn't recognize and open StuffIt archives I download, for instance), and has some serious rendering problems; some of the buttons on my usual test site don't appear at all, making it pretty much unusable.
  • I downloaded Mozilla, and it also has some serious rendering bugs (sometimes I have to reload a page three or four times to get the whole thing displayed), it doesn't have my favorite Opera features, and there doesn't seem to be any way to turn off various annoying warnings (in particular the warning you get when you Reload a page that you got to via a form post).
  • IE is by Microsoft (freedom from whom is part of the reason I bought the iBook in the first place), and while I haven't seen any rendering bugs it also doesn't have my favorite Opera features, and I can't even find the switch that turns off image loading entirely (surely there is one?). Browser suggestions most welcome.
  • Having a Unix shell prompt, with Perl and the Java SDK preloaded, is great fun! I'll have to install the full free SDK and get a C compiler and stuff. But I haven't yet managed to make the Java classpath setting work, and I'm not sure what to use for a trivial text editor. I still haven't learned vi and amn't really interested in doing so (I think I was traumatized in my youth by accidentally running vi and being unable to get out again), and the "text edit" thing I found in some menu wanted to save files in RTF (which isn't great for, say, Java source).
  • It doesn't seem to have a Garamond font installed by default, so this here Web page looks more ordinary than usual, being in vanilla "Serif". Maybe I should include some other eccentric font name, so Mac users can share the thrill of reading this text in some whacko style.
  • I stayed up really late last night playing around with it, and didn't even get around to installing "4x4 Evolution". So it must at least be fun to fiddle with. *8) And it's so pretty...

And that's all that I'm going to write today.


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