All the good ones get abducted by the Apple mothership

It has happened twice recently. Two of my favorite web-designers/information-gurus/entertaining-bloggers have been hired by Apple, and after that… nothing. They announce that they have been hired, and then their blogs go silent. Occasionally they will have a post about their puppies, or a new haircut, but nothing even remotely related to web design, information design, or stuff I used to rely on them for.

Anyone else noticed this? Who will be next? Here are the two who have most recently been ripped from my feed list:

Paul Nixon < abducted on March 22, 2005 Dunstan Orchard < abducted on November 29, 2004

At least Apple is getting good people.

I will pay $100 for a screensaver module

Hello, enterprising software writers. In short: I want a .Mac-free version of the .Mac screensaver module. And I have $100 to throw at you.

I own a Mac OS X machine. I subscribe to Apple’s .Mac service. I do so for exactly one feature: the .Mac screensaver. This feature works thusly: I designate an album in iPhoto, hit “.Mac slides”, upload the photos, go to my screensaver in Mac OS X, designate my .Mac member ID, and voila, screensaver of the photos with complete Ken Burns Effect. Anybody with Mac OS X can subscribe to this screensaver if they know my member ID. Like the Grandmas.

This costs me $100 per year.

If you write a program to do this, I will pay you $100 (what .Mac cost me this past year) to be able to use it. Make it freeware, make it shareware, make it open source, I don’t care. Just give me a working copy and I will send you $100.

Here are the specs.

$100 for a screensaver module for Mac OS X (Tiger at the very least, older versions at your discretion), that will pull jpgs (add other file formats if you like!) from a designated directory on the web and store them locally on the user’s machine, then display them full screen using the Ken Burns Effect (or some other similar–but not copyrighted–effect, like the Bobby Joe Zoom Pan Dealio with Fade Transitions).

$25 bonus money for a Windows screensaver module that does the same thing, but on Windows XP.

$25 more bonus money for a plugin for iPhoto 5, so I can select an album and export it to the directory on the web that I designate. The plugin should automatically reduce the size/quality of the photos as they are uploaded, so transfer is quick.



Rob and Amber get lucky in Argentina

This episode of The Amazing Race took place in Argentina, where I was born. We left when I was eight, so all I really know about the place is what I have heard from my family, but even so it was fun to see Mendoza, Buenos Aires, and Tigre.

This is the second season of The Amazing Race that I have watched, and I am pretty much kicking myself for not watching it earlier. Though I have to admit, this season far outstrips the last one, and it is because of Rob and Amber. Their skill at finding the littlest foothold to get themselves ahead is only surpassed by their sheer luck. Last ep. they took a four hour penalty that put them far behind the first four teams, but they still made the early flight (causing much gnashing teeth among those first four teams) and then pulled out the win at the end of the stage.

I am in awe. Plus, they are wickedly fun to watch. I’d also like to note, for those people who felt that Amber displayed little personality in Survivor: All Stars, staying mostly in Rob’s shadow… same thing is happening here. If she has a personality, she’s hiding it very well. Rob, of course, couldn’t hide his personality if… oh, someone offered him a million dollars.

I look forward to this show every week.

What a smackdown!

Ouch. Last night on Survivor, the Koror tribe got the best of both worlds. They got rid of Willard, who was a nice guy, but had to go before they could get rid of Karen, who they just have to get rid of as soon as they can. Plus, they smacked the other tribe but good. First, Koror beat Ulong at the challenge, but only after making it look like they might just lose. Then, at Tribal Council they lip-smacked their way through reward stew and beer, while the Ulong stared at the hard, dusty ground. And then, to boot, they gave immunity to Ibrehem, Ulong’s marked man.

Beaten, hungry, and hopeless, Ulong voted a tie for Angie and Bobby Jon. Why they didn’t vote out James, annoying hillbilly that he professes to be, I just don’t know. In the tiebreaker, Stephenie changed her vote and Angie was out “unanimously.”

So now it is eight well-fed, rested, nattering players vs. four hungry, desperate, feral survivors. I know who I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley with a tub of KFC in my hands.

Review: The City of Towers

Product Image: The City of Towers
My rating: 0 out of 5

I should have known better, I know. I picked this book up because, every time I peruse the role-playing games section at Barnes & Noble, I yearn for those days. So I picked up the first book of TSR’s newest role-playing milieu, thinking to lose myself in a brand new, imaginative, fun world. And it was bad. I have made it through twenty-five pages, and I’m throwing the book away. The first problem? The font. The [picture of the first page]( doesn’t do it justice. It is awful. Tiny, jagged, too thick… hard to read. Though I could stomach that if the book itself weren’t slow, unimaginative, trite, and full of fanboy “coolness” that no longer appeals to the twelve-year-old in me. Perhaps because he is thirty-four.

Pop Rocks

Did you know Pop Rocks® are made in Spain? Well, they are. From the package, “Made in Spain by Zeta Espacial, S.A., Av. Olimpiadas, 79 / 08191 Rubi (Barcelona) SPAIN. Of course, the phone number for “questions about POP ROCKS®”–like, will my stomach explode if I also drink Coke?–is in the States. Or, at least, it’s an 866 number. It might very well be routed to India. Or Spain, for that matter.


Review: The Briar King

Product Image: The Briar King
My rating: 3 out of 5

After reading “real books” for a while, it was nice to get back to some high fantasy. Greg Keyes is one of my favorite new authors (new being a relative term) and this book was pretty good. But towards the end he fell into a trap that I feel a lot of fantasy hacks fall into, the fantasy world as amalgam of all European cultures. So our Middle Ages/Chivalry style heroine travels “weeks” or something and arrives in a Renaissance/Italo-French rapier society. That made me come up for air and examine the construct of his fantasy world, and that is never good. I have to be able to believe, to really get into it. That said, it was still a pretty good read (and fast) and I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

Time to clean out my office

I’ve been talking about finally getting my office clean since… well, since we moved in almost two years ago. On that day, we deposited boxes and boxes of stuff in the room that is my office. Just recently, we managed to open and unpack those boxes, so that now I have a floor (on which I can put more stuff!).

But the real work has yet to be done. My desk has several very tall piles of paper on it. Most of it, I’d say close to 95% of it, is just stuff that needs to be filed. Paid bills, instruction manuals, receipts of relative importance. But mixed in there every once in a while I am sure to find a gem of a lost document. Still, I’ve probably gone a year without that document, so it can’t be that important.

What’s pushing me now is the arrival of tax time. I don’t know for sure, but I need to find out if there are any relevant tax documents in these piles. I think there might be. Last year at tax time, I got away with it by making a list of the documents I thought we needed, then finding those. This year I feel like I should find all the documents first.

So it begins with…Aidan’s Nebraska Immunization Record. The last record in there is September 17, 2003. I’m pretty sure he’s had a shot since then.

Awesome painting tip from Wally

The other day (like two months ago) Tiffany happened to let drop a painting tip that (the much in demand Iowa City handyman) Wally had bestowed upon her at some point when we were living in Iowa. And I daresay it is an awesome painting tip. Like, more than awesome. It is incredible.

Here we go.

When you’re painting your walls, and you finish a coat of paint, and you’re going to

  1. wait for it to dry before recoating
  2. paint another, complimentary color or shade on an adjoining wall
  3. switch to a roller
  4. have a gin and tonic
  5. get out of the fumes so the purple elephants stop bothering you
  6. the Princeton Band

What do you do with your existing paintbrush? Do you wash it?


You stick it in a plastic bag, and you put it in the freezer. Awesome! When you’re ready to paint again, you get it out, let it thaw a minute or two, and paint!