30 June 2007

[liff] The Friction Brothers and Our First Patron Saint

853 I, as many people whose lives are small and desperate enough that they think they should blog bout it to a bunch of people who they'll never see, have prattled on about music. Essentially my opinion is that decent popular music died in about 1990; almost all my favorites either date from the 80's or are extension of 80's style.

There is one local act that I'm actually interested in, though. A cow-orker introduced me to the music of the Friction Brothers, a local quartet that plays what they term "Indie/Rock/Folk Rock" (at least that's what thier MySpace page is notated) There's some samples of thier music there, and d'you know what–it's quite listenable and not at all hard on the ears.

Two of the group (dubbing themselves the Friction Twins) are having an acoustic (The Friction Brothers-Unplugged) show this coming Thursday, 5th July, at The Red Room at 2530 NE 82nd Ave. It sounds like its going to be like the last time we saw Celtic folk songs live except there are two dudes and they're singing modern music.

But it seriously sounds different enough to be a whole lot of fun, and hey, it's free–what's not to like about the price?

If I didn't have a drudge job to go to that evening, I'd sure go.

A New Face

Viewing the sidebar, we might notice a face in that assemblage–we decided it was high time that this 'blog has a face, and since, in our opinion, our face could stop an 8-day clock, we decided that we should name a patron saint–a person who, if we could recombine our genes, we'd remake ourselves at. And, since we admire musicians, we've decided to go with a musician for now...From the Aussie band Icehouse, we give you the current Patron Saint of ZKT, Iva Davies:

This might be recognized as a shot from a video posted on MySpace (since removed, no doubt due to copyright concerns) of thier 1987 international hit "Electric Blue" (from the album Man of Colours). This was thier only American success, which from this continent makes them look like one-hit-wonders, but Icehouse are one of the quintessential Aussie bands, hugely popular Down Under, with Iva a constant draw in his native land (and with musical credits such as the soundtrack to Master and Commander, in demand internationally in scoring and production).

We specify at this time the mid-80's Iva, with the black-leather-and-mullet look. There was a time when mullets were considered high fashion and this was the thick of that time; I am of the opinion that Iva pretty much rocked the mid-'80's mullet, big-time.

All that, and Icehouse were (and are–Iva makes records as Icehouse still) one of the great overlooked bands of the 80's, at least here in 'Merrica.

Business up front (music business, not shirt-and-tie, in this case) and party in the back. Word.

All hands up for Iva Davies, The ZehnKatzen Times' new patron saint, who shall not use his powers for good, but for awesome.

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29 June 2007

[design] Dreamweaver CS3 Reviewed @ Designorati

852 The next review of the CS3 apps I'm going is up at Designorati. Today: Dreamweaver CS3.

Short form here: I enjoyed putting it through its paces. I'm familiar with Dreamweaver; words like Ajax and Spry fly about my head and I know they are Things You Must Know but I've never learnt Javascript so they are still a bit beyond my grasp.

DWCS3 brings this stuff home, or near enough; Ajax is made less scary via the Spry framework, which boils down to just selecting objects and assigning them behaviors. Nifty. And lots of chances to improve your CSS knowledge (like it or not, CSS is where the web is going).

Oh, and also, native import of Illy and PS files–what's not to like about that?

My personal and professional-editorial opinion: Dreamweaver CS3 is upgradeworthy.

Read me at Designorati here.

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28 June 2007

[liff] Upside/Downside: Canned "Air"

851 Those cans of "compressed air" (which, as it turns out, ain't really air) that you use to clean out your computer keyboard and dust off your printed-circuit cards...
  • Upside: Contains 1,1,1,2-Tetraflouroethane, street name HFC-134a, which, though being derived from flourocarbons, does not harm the ozone layer.
  • Downside: One 10-ounce can does, however, have thousands of times the global-warming punch of simple ol' CO2.
Eric DePlace at the Sightline Institute confronts the ugly truth here, with a follow up here.

This has been another edition of Upside/Downside.

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26 June 2007

[hk2007] Hell's Kitchen 2007.3 & .4: I'm So Phoning This One In

850 I got lazy last week and didn't get a recap posted.

Then I waited, and waited...now, here it is, time I recorded the history, and I haven't even done last week's yet. I was thinking about that and I think I know why:

None of the contestants really light my fire much at all. And the challenge reward for this week's epi was just weird. Maybe it's because I'm just so...well, prole...who knows. So let's hit the high points of the last two epis, shall we?

Good to go.

Episode 2007.3: Breakfast and Lunch with the Military

The high point of this epi was the teams serving breakfast to two groups of America's finest; the Blues served the Navy, the Reds, the Army. In another Thing That Has Never Been Done Before In Hell's Kitchen™ (they are fond of those catch-phrases), HK opened for breakfast.

Now, I've had the privilege of serving this country in a military capacity. Soldiers and Sailors, perhaps conditioned by boot camp food, are amazingly easy to please. Have it hot, have it edible, have it ready to go when they get there.

And the cuisine was amazingly suited toward Julia's workday style–omelettes, pancakes, and the like. And, predictably, the Reds united behind Julia and pulled off a stunning breakfast service. Thier reward–a catered lunch on the museum ship USS Midway (CV-41) (and the concomitant LA-San Diego whirlybird ride) whilst the Blues had to peel onions and potatoes for a day's service at a military base–about 1/2 ton of produce.

At this point, Aaron finally lost it. Fainting he was taken to the hospital, which turned out to be his exeunt from HK, at long last. There was one thing we all agreed with him about, and that was he didn't deserve to be there. That such a low-hanging fruit stayed on the tree so long only proved that fortune favors the feckless.

The dinner service proved uneven as usual. The big signatures from this travesty were Brad's scraping of an overcooked Wellington (I just don't get the culinary affection for those, but I'm a gourmand, after all) and Jen's rescuing of cooked pasta...from the garbage (even this gourmand knows better than that...or if you're really compelled to rescue food from the dumpster, just eat it yourself). Joanna's serving of rancid crab was also on the nights list of hits (the way Mary Ann recoiled from it, you'd think an invisible friend had forgotten the "you can pick your friends, and you can pick your nose" rule).

El Ram had the more-losing team (the Reds, this time) think out of the box for elimination this time, making of it a group thing...no best of the worst. The conclusion at the elimination ceremony was Joanna (predictable), and...Julia, who they just won't stop hatin' on. Fortunately for the sake of the fabric of the universe not splitting and swallowing the Reds whole, Jen's conscience whispered loud enough in her ear that she offered herself up as well.

Julia was quickly put back in the line by Chef Ramsay, which put things down to Jen and Joanna. In the end, it was apparently judged that Jen's bin-diving was trumped by Joanna's poisonous seafood. Our palettes are decidedly street-level, but we concur.

At the end of 2007.3, one from each team is jettisoned, leaving us with even numbers-four on each; the Reds have Bonnie, Jen, Julia and Melissa, and the Blues have Vinnie, Rock, Josh, and Brad.

Except for Julia and maybe Melissa a bit, nobodys impressing us much.

Episode 2007.4: Offal is Awful, and Dining in the Dark

This episode's challenge was a favorite of ours from last season: the palette test. A chef, it's taken as read, must have an 'educated palette'. If one compares a chef with other artists–oil painter, for instance–it seems axiomatic that one should have some mastery of the attributes of the ingredients they are combining if one's to get a certain effect.

On the challenge, the Reds performed very well–and our darkhorse favorite, Julia, nailed all the food she was to taste. A controversy emerged when it became unclear that Bonnie was being completely truthful when she was under the headset and failed to respond to Chef Ramsay's test of whether or not she could hear him.

The Reds won the palette challenge hands down–and were treated to a most unusual dining experience, at a restaurant called "Opaque". This place apparently specializes in serving food in the pitch-dark, apparently to heighten the tast experience.

This was so bizarre I thought it had be be a fake–like how HK's customers are actual customers, not extras and Q-List actors between roles–but no, the place exists. Far be it for me to comment–to me, the acme of dining rests somewhere between Burgerville and The Berlin Inn. So, this leaves me scratching my head; they'll separate $99 from your back pocket while they're saving on things like decor, presentation...and lighting. So maybe they're cleverer than I thought.

Anyway, the Reds come back to the dorms and kick back for the rest of the day until dinner service–catching up on missed sleep, that sort of thing. The Blues have been prepping both kitchens for the night's service, but that's not all.

You all know what offal is, don't you? You know, sweetmeats, "chitlin's", organ meats...offal. Yum. Well, in order to further educate thier palettes, Chef also directed them to consume this foul stuff for lunch. Rock went from black to green.

It was as unpretty as it sounds.

The gimmick of the evening's service was the comment-card competition. What's always surprised us is that despite having to wait amazing lengths of time, the 'customers' in HK almost always enjoyed what they finally got. As it turned out, the comment cards bore this out; most people enjoyed the food that was prepared, but if it were a real restaurant, they wouldn't come back–because they had to wait so damned long for thier food.

It seemed very trying on El Ram, and his patience was chipped away at every returned entree. Need it be said that the restaurant was shut down with an uncompleted dinner service? Between Vinnie's 'personal trash bin' where several Wellingtons and one whole chicken resided and Bonnie's near-meltdown, neither really won, regardless of what the comment cards said. The elmination was to be one from each team; Rock (who Chef called 'solid') and Jen (who Chef damned with faint praise) would nom.

Rock chose Josh, while Jen chose Melissa. Chef Ramsay had sent them off to prune out their weakest links, and was summarily unhappy with their choice, promptly overruling them in favor of Bonnie and Vinnie (who were so weak it didn't take anyone with culinary skill to single them out).

We were not surprised to find Vinnie doing the walk-of-shame. The machismo had long gone, and he was surprisingly insightful and diginified in his exit.

But Chef Ramsay had the right of it: he was a crap cook.

The ones rising to the top seem to be Julia and Rock, with Melissa close behind. We just aren't into them this time around, nothing like we were into with Heather last year. While there are some mad skills working, they just can't get it together on the team level, and it shows...in spades.

We're starting to thing we're going to see Julia in the final, though...and you can quote us on that. We like her pluckiness and the way she believes in herself.

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22 June 2007

[liff] I Sell A Photo; My Words To Be Embannered!

849 There are a couple of decided bright spots in the recent miasma.

First, I've sold use rights for a certain favorite photograph of the Portland skyline. It backs up this 'blog's masthead, and a smaller version (quite unsuitable for printing, I assure you) is exhibited to the right of this paragraph.

Consolidated Federal CU is going to be using it for print and other illustrative uses (perhaps a wall-photo?). We shall see. But this is a good thing, and contributes to my happy; it has long been a favorite of mine, and it gets more than its share of hits. Brandon at CFCU was very open and honest in negotiations, and I enjoyed dealing with him. If he's an example of CFCU employ, then I should think anyone who went over to the CU would get good and honest service.

I'm hoping they use it on the web page, but that's just me.

Does this make me a semi-professional photographer now?

Another in the list of People Who Like Me™ is Adobe Systems...yes, that Adobe. Or at least thier PR arm, A&R Edelman. They want to use a total of three quotes from my InDesign CS3 and InCopy CS3 reviews on the review page for each product. Which is a total feather (as in cap) and leaves me rather pumped, and no doubt.

And, it must be said, that I stand by what I said about those programs. I like InDesign CS3 and InCopy CS3, and if there's any faulting I have on Adobe's part, it's that they don't promote InCopy with a shout, like they should. It really is an astoundingly useful program.

And that's my true opinion.

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[net_life] The Thin Chipmunk

848 I have gathered you all together to name the killer....it's someone in this room...and it's...


(I understand that if I don't post this, they take my blogging card away. So, at least I'm keeping up here).

And its actually a prairie dog, but who am I to poop the party?

And, also in course, whether you wanted it or not, it's been YTMND'd.

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21 June 2007

[my_happy] Attack of the 80's: Daryl Hall, "Foolish Pride"

847 As we face the weekend (which most of you will play whilst I work) I go into it equipped with a bit of my happy: one of the more underrated videos of the 80's: Daryl Hall's "Foolish Pride", from his 1987 solo effort Three Hearts In The Happy Ending Machine:

I love the song and like the imaging and the pacing of the video. The dark background and the blue neon are, of course, all that's needed to distinguish this song as Live from the 1980's (1986, to be exact. This was a Billboard #1. If it weren't for "and Oates", Hall would be a one-hit wonder). That, and Daryl Hall's hair, anyway.

While I do love this video and the music gets under my skin in the good way, it's loaded with 1980's stylistic conceits that verge on the OTT. You'll
  • Gasp as you gaze on the coordinated yellow jackets of the backup singers!
  • Palpitate at the stern looks of the backup singers!
  • Attempt to initiate a fight-or-flight response when you see the hexagonal electronic drum heads!
  • Giggle uncontrollably when Daryl gives that little hiccupy "Uh!" about halfway through his first verse!
  • Be Stunned (like a clubbed baby seal) at the incredibly wide range of emotions portayed by Daryl Hall's face–all the way from Over The Top™ to Waaaay Over The Top™. Accept no substitutes!
Still, I wish I had that hair. It's been long...but never that good.

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[bloggage] RSS Problems Again?

846 Just a gentle reminder to my RSS feed that it should work maybe.

[net_life] Silverton Redesigns Online Presence, Adds Information

845 My little town as stepped up its net-game.

Silverton, Oregon (birthplace...of me) had an adequate website up until just recently. But now, while probably not winning any design awards, has made itself more informative, easier to navigate, and just plain prettier.

The town, located about 15 miles east of Salem along Highway 213, has a website that now has Java-enabled menus and a new, more unified graphic approach. A sepia-tone predominates, which is appropriate for a town which trades, in large part, on its history as The Typical Oregon Small Town, and a quaint atmosphere, as befits Oregon's Garden City.

What I find interesting, given my public-transit bent, is that Silverton finally has one. The Silver Trolley. This is not a fixed-route service (Anyone of average hardiness could cross the majority of the town, still, in an hour) but rather a dial-a-ride service, operating Monday through Friday from 0830 to 1630...which, I am obliged to say, is a far sight better than I had in Silverton back when I was a neat thing, which is to say, no public transportation–at all.

There was the Silverton Taxi, a one-car operation that ran out of a one-room office on North Water Street across from the Palace Theater, that got me and my brothers home from a town adventure more than once, with bikes in the trunk...but that was pretty much it.

But the new site's worth a check out...http://www.silverton.or.us.

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[tech_life] Master of My MySpace...and other things.

844 Wonders technological, and, for better or worse, they're mine for now.

The biggest give that the Tree of Life has dropped lately is an iPod. Yes, a long-held dream has taken shape. I've known I've wanted an iPod ever since I saw the first generation models, and have never been able to get me one. Never in the budget, you see.

Well, this last weekend me and The Wife™ stopped in at a little store on SE 82nd Avenue at Otty Road called "Stuff". Those of you who knot about it know what they do there. It's the pawnshop that geeks love, it's the place where there's "nothing you need, but everything you want".

We walked out of there with a 30GB 5th Generation video iPod. I have been getting drunk on using this thing. I now have something that will hold every song and album I've ever loved and carry along also videos like Is There Something I Should Know and podcasts.

I quite realize this makes me look like some naïf who's been living in a cave for years. In a way, I think I am. A great many of you may be indeed privileged to live in a world where a cool gadget or thing is just something you throw a few bucks away on. We do not live in that world. It is not something I am proud of or ashamed of, it's just a basic physical law; what I want is not something I can just go out and get. Frequently, I have to wait years for it. We just got DSL from Qwest, them having made me an offer we finally couldn't refuse (and we are also drunk on DSL...after years on dialup, it's...well, beyond words, kind of. Our first modem was an Anderson-Jacobsen 300 baud acoustic. Savvy?).

Anyway, I'm having as much fun as I thought I'd of had with it. It's not Firewire, of course, just USB, so you can't boot from it, but that's what the 60GB LaCie Brick is for. I can, if I so chose, mirror my desktop's home directory on the iPod, though, and keep it there, for safeties.

Music and video make my happy. Now I can have my happy wherever I go...even in the middle of the night, on a very dreary job.

I am rambling big time. The blame must be laid at the feet of Vitamin R. What I actually meant to prattle on about is that I decided to get myself a MySpace account (which, if anybody could possibly be bothered, is http://www.myspace.com/zehnkatzen). This was primarily to make myself a facilitous contact channel between myself and two very inspiring cow-orkers from my night job.

It's interesting, what you find on MySpace. I've avoided it for the longest time because a MySpace page usually equates to dog's breakfast as far as design goes, and most MySpace pages make me want to yank my eyes right out.

That much is, unfortunately, true. I'd say that right now the two biggest gripes I have about MySpace is 1)Gratuitious use of eye-crossing backgrounds (in most cases, overwhelming the page content), and, 2)MySpacers are incredibly fond of this music-having plugin that starts up when you load the page. I don't mind the music so much, but I'm usually listening to music of my own, and it's irritating to have that music play at the same time as I'm listening to somethng else.

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20 June 2007

[us_politik] So, this is Digby.

843 The enigma that is Digby reveals herself (video and transcript here).

I thought Digby was one of those gestalt entities, like Wonkette or Ellery Queen or the dude that wrote all those Robotech novels.

We likey Hullaballoo, FWIW.

And a political BTW: Rudy Guiliani proves that once you can fake sincerity, the rest is easy.

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19 June 2007

[net_life] No Matter How Small You Are, Some People Just Can't Resist Hatin' On You

843 In the course of blogging and creating content online, one encounters a great many people with different attitudes, different ways and standards of "playing well with others".

Herein, an expectation of something that happens to anyone who aspires to have a well-known name on the 'net; no matter how big a fish (or how small a fry) you are, there's going to be someone, somewhere, who takes one look at what you've done and cannot suppress the compulsion to smear your good name.

This, of course, is hardly a new discovery. BBS sysop after BBS sysop, and sitemaster after sitemaster, and blogger after blogger, have found this out. And, surprisingly, although my status in the bloggin o'sphere is hardly notable (sadly–I have worked to make myself a bit more admired than I'm getting), I have actually had mud slung my way more than once.

In my perambulations (real and virtual) in carving myself a niche in that lavalite world that is graphic design, I have had the extreme good fortune to make the acquaintance of Pariah S. Burke. This fellow, early on, saw something in me that sometimes I do not see in myself sometimes, and asked me to write something for a site he was starting, which I link to frequently perforce, Quark Vs InDesign. This has since increased into participation in Designorati.

Someone Farts in My General Direction

Recently, intrigued by a marketing campaign Denver-based Quark Inc. (the publisher of erstwhile DTP king QuarkXPress), I wrote an article about it on Quark Vs InDesign. Titled "Quark Gives You Its Top Ten", it recounted Quark's top ten reasons to upgrade. A continuted subtext is the Adobe-Quark layout competiton is "who's better?", a designation that can paradoxcially be equally subjective as well as objective: one application can be shown to work better than another, however, one's view of whether functions serve them could mean the qualitatively-better app is not the quantitatively-better app.

Or, put in simpler terms, something mustn't only work, it must also "work for you" (or maybe "work with you"). Parenthetically, this is one reason why I think software developers add so many features–the more features they give you, the more ways there are to do a thing, the more likely you'll find that way that suits you. But I'm digressing here.

Anyway, I posted the article and it began to fade into the background of recent history. Eventually, some commenter attached one that wondered where someone could find more information on the differences between Quark and InDesign. A couple of follows ensued, and then comment number four was posted.

Apparently There's A Pox Upon My House. Hopefully It's Just A Small One.

The comment began thusly:
The first thing to do is go to a more impartial site, If you want hard facts, it’s very hard to get from this site, more of an Adobe backed marketing tool, so very good for getting details on the CS suite but not for DTP tool market comparison.
That bothered me a little. I'm not so young that I can simply look upon an obvious smear of the good name I've worked hard to craft online and not wince just a little. Someone from somewhere (I know not and care not who and where), not knowing me or anything about me, sees fit to impugn my honesty, no doubt because they think that little, still-trying-to-find-design-work me, have been beating unfairly up on poor, multi-million-dollar-income-having-multinational Quark, Inc.

Well, really, you can't stop someone from thinking fool thoughts. And Pariah has taken pains to encourage me to let things roll off my back in this wise; and, to be sure, I was quite ready to do so here. I say this in all truth–despite my extremely mere stature as a design/tech pundit, I actually have been perceived as a secret-Adobe-backing-having syncophant.

I like putting the word "having" on the back of those silly word contstructions. Me think it funny! Anyway.

I let it go, as I said. I'm bigger than that; that I would not myself leave such a remark proves me a better person (also that I'm not including his name in this here missive, and will not). But, apparently not happy with making the slander once, it's made again. Scrolling down to comment number 6, I find the comment ending with the following bon mot:
From what I see the US is behind in seeing this due to the Adobe marketing machine, this website is a classic example. Only provide the information needed to get the result you want, and that’s the results that is the most profitable for the individual. They look for where there pay day is coming
Spelling mistakes are all the posters (as well as the lack of a full-stop at the end of the 'graf).

They say sticks and stones may break one's bones and names will never hurt them. Not true. This hurt. For me to be struggling at what I really want to do and to still have to live with the fact that there are apparently people who are so sure that everyone has a hostile ulterior motive that I would sell the one thing I do have that's truly valuable online–my integrity and honesty–that really wounded.

Well, I'm not necessarily one to bicker online, but due to a number of centrifugal forces in my own life, I was compelled to respond. I did so via email. Not surprisingly, no response. I don't really expect one. To be honest, I don't think I'd really know what to do if one came, but I'm not worrying over that point.

My pay day? I wish. I'd say that my life is withal best exemplified by a remark made by a character in Norman Sprinrad's Bug Jack Barron: The saddest day of your life isn't when you decide to sell out. The saddest day of your life is when you decide to sell out and nobody wants to buy.

One of the happy things of my current life is, as a member of the media (shirttail or otherwise), I am accorded the privilege of receiving software for reviewing purposes, of course. It is a right I've earned, however, just as surely as any wage, and I believe the reason I've earned it is, in major part, because I write well and with insight, and when I present myself as a reviewer, I produce reviews. This is standard practice in reviewery.

And, for what it's worth, I think my reviews are damn' good ones.

A Manifesto, of Sorts

I write this not necessarily to moan and whine and complain or get sympathy (although I will once again remind everyone that I'm not above begging; I need a job doing design for someone, I know QuarkXPress, Creative Suite, Dreamweaver, etc...this has been a message from our sponsor, who needs to pay his bills) (and sympathy don't hurt, let's be honest), although it is, I suppose a note of complaint.

Well, I'm entitled. This is my 'blog, after all. And one of the unspoken missions of it is to chronicle my growth as a designer, in whatever form that takes. And, to be honest and true, it really ought to chronicle, to some degree, the ups as well as the downs, and the successes as well as the failures.

This is probably the most honest entry I've ever done. It reveals a little more about me and my feelings than I'm comfortable doing, but I feel like I'm gaining from it, and it's an account I'm compelled to write.

As far as the slights against my character and the content of Quark Vs InDesign, I can now let those go. It hopefully need not be said that they are patently false; moreover, I feel no need to defend myself against an accusation someone should have known better than to make.

And this isn't a defense. It's more of a manifesto.

Above all, all content I create for Quark Vs InDesign (as well as Designorati) is driven by the experiences I've had with what I'm doing. That goes for any experience I have with QuarkXPress as well as any experience I have using any part of Adobe Creative Suite.

I stand by everything I've said on both sites. They were uttered in the service of honesty, and when you write for network consumption, honesty (and its particle aspect, integrity) is the only commodity you have that is really worth having.

That's why I post as I actually am, in name and in deed; what you see with me is what you get.

If, on the other hand, if nothing but praise for your sacred cow is what you want to see...sorry. Can't help you out there. If I have to take my lumps, so do you. C'est la vie.

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[design] They Like Me, They Really Like Me

841 CreativePro.com is featuring my Quark Vs InDesign article on QuarkXPress's "Text-To-Box" command again.

Hey, it's nifty. I don't blame them.

Read it, y'all.

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[tech_life] Fish, Barrel, Shooting; Telemarketer pwned by Chris Pirillo

840 Via UtterlyBoring.com, a clip which most of you may have already seen:

I comment on this only because, in the many jobs I've held during my lifetime so far, I have tried telemarketing. Horrid business. I'm polite (but firm, as I clearly enunciate the words "Add me to your no-call list") with them only because I've been there; if you're earning your daily bread by telemarketing, you don't need any more grief (unless, of course, you simply talk over me whilst I tell you to add me to the no-call list, or continue to inveigle me, then, of course, it be on).

The phrase "telemarketing professional" is the definition of an oxymoron.

Unforntunately for this telemarketing professional, she called Chris Pirillo on his call-in show. The experience was painful...having been there (and having f*cked that), I couldn't last the whole thing. Pirillo pwned her, and big time. My sympathy toward her only went so far, but when it was clear that she was hyping the same thing (enhanced access to the Seatlle Times/Post-Intelligencer website) over and over and over but just not quite understanding what it was she was selling.

I hope she finds a better job, though it sounds like she needs some intelligencing herself. Her diligence should count for something though, as well as credit for the newest Intertube meme:

This is better than Google. It’s the complete newspaper.

So, that's something, anyhow.

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18 June 2007

[design] Da Bomb, Apparently: InDesign CS3 Gradient Feather

839 Via Tim Cole's InDesign BackChannel, We find that the buzz is that InDesign CS3's new Gradient Feather tool is more popular than expected. CreativeTechs Tips has this to say about it:
For situations where you want to fade a photo into the background, this tool saves you a trip back into Photoshop — for some designers this is a great time saver.
They've provided a neat, short little article and a very nice little animation that drives the point home. See it here.

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16 June 2007

[design] Pirated Creative Suite 3, or, How To Zombify Your Production Machine

839 While hardly a major name in the fight, one of the things I feel passionately about is not succumbing to the lure of pirated or cracked software. The reason range from the principled (software developers deserve to make a living) to the practical (I don't want to go to jail). One can agree with these or disagree.

But what one shouldn't disagree with is that one doesn't want one's machine to become a member of a zombie network. Yet, according to Softpedia, this is just what might happen if you download a certain free key generator to circumvent the protection in Photoshop CS3 Extended:

SophosLabs analysts encountered a Trojan (Troj/Mdrop-BPE) that came bundled with a password key generator and a worm with IRC backdoor functionality. When run, the Trojan not only drops the password generator crack for Adobe Photoshop CS3 (Troj/Keygen-BI) but as an additional freebie, it potentially turns your computer into a IRC zombie machine (W32/IRCBot-WA) as well," Sophos added.
Also peep the referenced Sophos bit, here.

Talk about the gift that keeps on giving. Crack a copy of PSCS3 Ext., join the worldwide spam assault. Bonus!

Or, to hijack another overused joke: Getting an evaluation copy of Photoshop CS3 Extended: Free. Getting a keygen: Free. Sending out Spam whether you want to or not: Priceless.

Yes, it's hard sometimes to scrape together the funds to pay for those tools; they aren't cheap. But it looks like the trouble one could let themselves in for is even more expensive–or will get there.

(Via Adobe's John Nack, of whom I am merely a crumb in the breadbox that is his life, I'm certain).

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[ping!] RSS Kicker

837 RSS Sees bwoken...

15 June 2007

[liff] Gary, Indiana

836 Apropos of nothing else, save that it caught my eye, this post at Loaded Orygun really affected me. I'd heard that Gary, Indiana was something of an urban wasteland and a forgotten place, but I really had no reality on such a thing; after all, I'm a child of Oregon, where some downtown districts may be gone but never really forgotten.

The photos that really got me are over at this site, that LO referred to. They suggest–no, baldly depict–block after block of neglect and despair, where nobody-not even locals-ever go. Gary is a town of about 105,000–can a place of such size really have mostly abandoned its downtown core?

Apparently. Wanting to see what what truly what, it was off to Google maps to get a satellite piccy. Here's a view of Broadway, Gary's main address axis as well as what seems to be the downtown core. Clicky to embiggen and make your own judgement:

Even in this day, some pictures still don't lie. The few remaining businesses line one side of the street only; beyond, cleared-off, vacant land. This is a city with an empty heart.

I hope that Gary finds a way to fill in that heart; it's truly sad. And, while I feel like Portland and Oregon are actually resting on our laurels and these days more reputation than reality as far as urban growth and planning go (what else can you say about a state whose populace will pass Measure 37 with no hint of irony?) we still have it better than many places, and I'm counting my blessings.

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14 June 2007

[design] Adobe InCopy CS3, Reviewed

835 Live, now, at Designorati.

I love InCopy CS3. Why Adobe doesn't promote this more throughly amogst the CS3 customers is mystifying to me–it's better than Quark's Composition Zones, as far as I'm concerned (that's my personal opinion).

Anywhozzle, read it.

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[liff] Upside/Downside: Air America Radio

834 Air America Radio:

Upside: They broadcast Randi Rhodes, Thom Hartmann
Downside: They broadcast "Lion-O".

This has been another edition of Upside/Downside.

(NB:We do not link to Lion-O approvingly. An entire website in Comic Sans (not his AAR page, his homepage–you're on your own on finding that.)

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12 June 2007

[hk2007] Hell's Kitchen 2007.2: Roe, Roe, Roe Your Boat; Eddie Eliminated

834 This week's Hell's Kitchen was a very nautical-themed epi. So belay that line, seaman, we have some recapping to do.

Aaron's still looking weak, by the way. Perforce, a surprise.

Also, the first uttering of the word donkey this season, though there's no signature pejorative as of yet.

The day after the first service began early, as the second epi did last season but, instead of the chefs dumpster diving to get an idea of the immense waste they'd generated (which surely must have been as bad this time around as last time) they were rousted to "catch fish".

To the parking lot, Fishboy...to meet up with a cold-storage van delivering, well–fishies. Pulled off the heap of ice in the back and tossed to the chefs, it was catch, catch, catch...all dumped into red and blue buckets (strangely, this didn't translate into a challenge). Once back in the kitchen, the true nature of the challenge was revealed.

Sole Food

Dover sole are an interesting fish. They live about 45 years (at least the version we Merikans call Dover sole, which is actually a different fish from what the Yurpeans cook with; the kind harvested from the Pacific, Microstomus pacificus, is what we usually see; Solea vulgaris, or the common sole, is what gourmets mean when they say Dover sole.

If you import the true Dover sole, you'll pay up the nose for it, it is said. And the chefs perforce got a nose-full.

The challenge was preparing the soles for the evening service, in particular, the most team who skinned and prepared the most Dover soles over a thirty-minute period. As demonstrated by Chef Ramsay (and undoubtedly edited-down by the wizards on series production) it seems fairly quick and simple if you know what you're doing, a two-step process: strip the skin from the flatfish, then run your finger along the lower margin of th meat to extract the roe.

It's simple, of course...but when you're Chef Ramsay, you set a very high bar.

What was the most surprising was that after the thirty minutes, so few soles were prepared–between the two teams (of which five chefs each participated–no Aaron, who was having another panic attack or something) I think there were less than thirty fish done. I'm thinking that there are some steps to the process that we weren't told about.

So, thirty minutes up and what was the result? A classic cliffhanger. The Blues, up first, were chumps-until Josh stepped up to the plate with his product–five soles, all perfectely done, for a total of eight. It was looking sad for the Reds, until Julia, our dark horse, came up with mad skills and delivered big-time and Joanna's three soles batted 1.000 on the El Ram scale of sole preparation–the Reds won with 9 perfectly prepared soles to the Blue's 8.

The prize and the penalty both involved fish–to the Blues' dismay. The prize, for the Reds, was quality time with Chef Ramsay on a chartered fishing boat, along with lunch (we saw Chef land a big ol' flounder, and the ladies enjoying lunch with the requisite interview shots with at least one school-girl crush (I think it was Jen)–don't these women read Chef's bio? You know? The one where he's happily married with children?

I've been wanting to say that for a while. Anyway.

The Blues got to stay behind and clean and prepare much more than just the soles for the competition. They prepared the whole day's catch. Here's hoping everyone but Josh and Rock...learned a thing or two.

There's Always Time for Some Female Skin

After the Reds returned from the boat there was the requisite scene involving sunbathing, and, of course, that means swimsuits. The Blues chilled in the dorm after cleaning the fishies, but the ladies suited up (and we got a lot of views–some of them are modestly hot). The victim here seemed to be Jen, who wore what looked like a tankini with very closely fitting bottoms, which the boyz under da range hood got good looks at by getting her to pointedly bend over and reach up for things.

The Slow-Motion Train Wreck that is Aaron

Before getting into the service, a few words about Aaron.

That fellow's a mess.

At the beginning of the sole-skinning challenge, he started to crack up. There was no obvious pressure, but he was losing it. We have been getting hints that he's not taking care of himself and actively neglecting his own needs even while on the show (he was berated by one of his Blue colleagues in a clip for only eating an apple; he replied that he didn't want to slow the team down because he's fat).

Aaron may have brought his A game, but he's playing it with B game pieces. Me and The Wife™ are getting the idea that he's got more problems than just on the psychological level, and maybe more than just not taking care of himself. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

During the morning challenge, Chef Ramsay told him to take a 10-15 minute break, collect himself, and come back. It's hard to say exactly how long that break was; the editing suggested that he snoozed in the dorm common area for quite some time. He missed the entire sole-skinning challenge, but did show up for the fish cleaning.

Chef Ramsay, who sees something in Aaron that I don't, continues to patiently try to find a place where he can function. I think he's taken him on a special project.

The Sole of the Matter

The dinner service in HK was notable this time for completing a service. This should not be discounted; in HK 2006, it was several shows in before they completed a service. What was notable was in how it happened.

The sole requires table-side deboning (it's grilled on the bone), and, as part of the penalty from earlier, one member of the Blues was designated to provide this table service. That would have been Aaron, and should have worked out famously for him: one relatively simple task repeated, not as much pressure. And, as we intimated earlier, Aaron had another attack of...something. The Wife™ thinks he was having a blood-sugar event, which makes sense inasmuch as we've observed that he's not taking care of himself. While psyching him up for table service, Chef wasn't getting any responses for him. He had blacked out and quit responding for a few minutes. Got his legs back under him, fortunately, but...

The dinner service went two ways; one for the Reds (up) and the other for the Blues (down). Eventually, after getting tired of Eddie's mistakes on appetizers (too much spaghetti being cooked and peppery risotto), Josh's lying to him (saying the Wellingtons were cooked when they weren't), got fed up and ordered the Blues out of the kitchen, instructing the Reds to complete the Blues' tickets.

Despite the penchant of overstatement on the announcer's part, this much is true; that was an unprecedented move. This was the Reds' night to dazzle, even though they started weak and had their flaws (Joanna's incident with not preparing enough lettuce stands out) they completed their service and really knitted together as a group, enough to complete everyone's jobs. By the second show of this year's series, they had completed a dinner service, which, compared to last year, is a stellar achievement actually.

Meanwhile, on the dining room floor, Aaron was making an absolute mess of his job. First he went about introducing himself to all the diners, as though he were a concierge, upsetting El Ram. He also was fairly inept about deboning the sole; the first one he made a mess of, taking 15 minutes (the narrator took pains to tell us) and leaving bones in nearly every diner's filets (I'm to understand that a skilled boner (never mind, you people) can get this job done in less than a minute).

Counting the Cost

The losers: the Blue team (after getting essentially nothing out, you think?). The best of the worst: Rock (which is really no surprise; so far, he's the only Blue who seems to have the full skill set in effect at all times), after which, the obligatory lobbying.

The Nominations

Josh (apparently for the Wellingtons) and Eddie (for handling of the appetisers station).


Eddie. Retired with dignity.


The nominations remain inscrutable. I predicted last week that if the Blues lost, Aaron should be on the chopping block; he's a wreck-up from the neck-up, as portrayed in the series so far. Perhaps they gave him a pass because he's really not contributed in the kitchen; maybe they see him as expendable in the future as an ace-in-the-hole. Rock's people skills are really being shown off in the way he encouraged and propped up Aaron during the fish cleaning. During moments like this, the Blues show a little of what they can do as a team.

The women were probably as proud as hell of what they did; they earned this victory, 100%. Gone was the dissing of Julia (though Chef did put the spur in during service with a Waffle House crack); after an uneven start, they were swingin' and clickin' like the pros. They've gotten their act together, in a major way all of a sudden; such sudden gelling has the potential to ungel just as fast. We'll have to wait until next week to find out.

We Make the Call

Next off The Reds: in terms of the overall strength of the team, which suddenly came to the fore, it's hard to tell who's the weakest. Even Joanna shed her femme fatale for a little while and developed. It was quite interesting to see. But if we had to pick a potential goat from the Reds for next week, we'd have to say it'll probably be either Bonnie or Jen. Sure, they're hawt chyxors, but they seem to freeze in the clutch.

Next off The Blues: the Blues demonstrated a signature trait–unevenness. They have powers in Josh and Rock, but we can already see they can't ride on that–no clear leaders are emerging, as with the Reds' Melissa (and even Jen showed more leadership). We still think Aaron is on his last legs (even though those last legs have more stamina in them than most people's regular legs), and we need to see Vinnie gone. He thinks he has bravery; what he has is the economy version of that, bravura.

Number of times "Donkey" was heard in the show: once, when Chef Ramsay noticed that Aaron was introducing himself about the restaurant.

Best Line of the Night: said by the announcer, before the chefs were woken for the fish: "The chefs wanted a good nights sleep, but in Hell's Kichen, you don't always get what you want."

And Lest We Forget: Interviews in the blogwindow from first-off Tiffany, second-off Eddie, and Red team-member Bonnie (as well an extended clip of Chef's bawling-out of the Blues before dismissing them for the night–its always interesting how quiet the background is in the clips) is available at the official show site. Click on "Beyond Hell" for the clips-o-the-week and the official show blog with interviews.

ZK-One, OUT.

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[tech, web_design] Hey, Windows Users-Ever Wanted To Try Safari?

832 Well, now's your chance.

Safari 3 public beta is a good look at the version of Safari that will ship with Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard, and it touts skookum fast browsing. The graphic has it even faster than the Fox and new features that I don't need quite yet. However, on its basis it's quite nice: it is very fast, and lets me use the CMD key rather than the CTRL key to shift from roman to italic and back again...definitely a plus.

It's a public beta, so standard disclaimers and all that, but when I installed it, I noticed there was an "uninstall Safari" package on the unpacked disk image, so I apparently can back out of it.

It looks pretty solid right now. It seems to have some problems handling the HTML code I usually input for the Technorati tags, but I trust that's to be fixed in the final version.

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08 June 2007

[pdx, pdx_media] Some Call It Tradition?

830 So now it's something we've done for ever and ever.

According to the clock on the wall, at the time of this writing, the Mercury's Civic Clean-up Crew should be hard at work taking up the tape along the Grand Floral Parade route. This tape, apparently, is now something that has just been done for years and years and years. One person in the KGW report I was able to peep at their report exulted in how proud they were at adopting a "Portland Tradtion"; a person in KATU's report mentioned how some ladies had been reserving a certain spot on NE MLK Blvd that way for thirty or forty years.

I'll lay my card on the table here: I wasn't born in Portland. I've often said if there was one big thing in my life I'd change, it's that I was born elsewhere in Oregon. But I've lived in the Portland market (media-wise speaking) all my life, and have lived in Portland for what's going on the majority of my life.

I certainly don't remember a festooning of pavement with markings and tape up to a week before the event happening. The more I read about it, the more I find comments like the ones made over at the Merc, in response to someone telling Matt Davis to leave if you don't like it here (go to Blogtown's post here to drink in the goodness). Putting the "get out of my city" aside (which, no matter how politely put, is out of line: I live here, and I certainly don't hope that Davis leaves my city, in which I pay property taxes (paying property taxes in Oregon makes you God and gives you the ability to shut down any debate in your favor, remember)) for the moment, there seem to be many more comments about how, No, friend, this actually isn't a hallowed Portland tradition than there are about how it all of a sudden is.

People, get a grip. Taping up sidewalks to reserve spots for the Grand Floral Parade isn't a longstanding hallowed Portland tradition. Back in the day, what people did was go down early in the morning and stand there in person. I remember some adventurous souls putting up a tent.

Matt Davis put it very aptly indeed when he said that you wouldn't tape of a spot in line at the DMV. It's selfish, rude and arrogant. It's unfair to people who have no chance to come up and tape up thier own spots. It goes straight against another Portland tradition; being nice to people who come and visit.

If this narrative can stand one more anecdotal variation, (fair's fair: if someone can pretend that someone else has been doing this for thirty-forty years, I can do this) last night a cow-orker told me of when they tried to see the Parade one year recently. They came from Salem, so forget about them running up here some time during the week before to tape out a spot. What they found was that there was absolutely no decent place to watch the parade, so they went to the Zoo...which was quite good in as much as the whole town was out watching the parade.

Let's take this to the next level: so what if I have my recollections out of order–what if it was a long standing Portland tradition? It's not something we should be proud of. It's a bad tradition. It says "screw you, visitor". It's unfair on people (visitors and Portland residents alike) who don't have the time or the inclination to mess up the pavement with tape that someone else is just going to end up cleaning up (and spray paint...since when was that part of this misguided "tradition"?).

It's a tradition that I think needs to end. It certainly isn't the Portland I know.

All Matt's saying (and many commenters) is that if you want a spot on the parade route, show up early and stake it out in person.

Randy Leonard is saying the same thing (and has apologized for his Burb-hatin', which is the right thing to do).

I agree with 'em. This is my city, too. You're welcome to stay as long as you want, Matt.

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07 June 2007

[pdx] LOLPortland

829 'Cos thats just what I did.

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[design] Kinko's Now Has A Branch On Your Desktop

829 Love using Adobe apps? Love going to FedExKinko's? Hate actually going to FEK in the middle of the night to do your copying/printing/whatever?

Adobe and Kinko's have allied and the result is a new menu choice in Adobe Acrobat Pro 8.1 and Reader 8.1 that allows you to send your job to FEK directly from the application. Peep the illustration to see just where it shows up.

I've done a quick writeup at Quark Vs InDesign; it's apropos because Acrobat Pro is part of the Creative Suite 3. Read it here. Long Story Short; it's a shortcut to FEK's online Print-on-Demand service, and you can arrange delivery (via FedEx, of course) to you. When Adobe Updater asks you to update to 8.1, go ahead and do it to get this service.

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[pdx] Liberating the Parade Route from the Duct Tape Oppressors!

828 This has been irritating more people for longer than even I had figured...via Lunar Obverse, it would appear that those lovable scamps at The Portland Mercury are out to clean up the streets.

The only official reaction this blog has is that we had no idea ay-tall that the thing had gotten to this ugly a head.

Back to watching Colossus: The Forbin Project...

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[pdx] Commissioner Randy Has A Point, There

826 At first I didn't give Randy Leonard's opinion on the taping of spots in the parade route too much thought...after all, me and The Wife™ never really think about going down to the Grand Floral Parade.

But for some reason, the thought wouldn't leave me for several days. The Grand Floral Parade has actually been a turn-off for me for the longest time, and the more I thought about it, the more I realized that...hey, I kind of agree with Commissioner Randy. It's an incredibly selfish thing for people to do...and that thing, the taping off of viewing areas days in advance, is actually one of the main reasons we make no plans to see it.

Why bother when you never really even had the chance to get even a halfway-decent spot to watch it from?

Did I hear it right–some people actually spray-paint thier spots on the ground? How very rude and un-Portland like.

We're with Randy on this one.

Except maybe for the public 'Couve and Gresham-hatin'. Can't there be peace in the valley?

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05 June 2007

[or_politik] The Triumph Of The Will Of The Voter

825 Now, I know public policy is a tricky, tricky thing. I have, as I'm sure many have, occasionally had fantasies about being a courageous elected official, but then I usually lay down and relax, and eventually, the feeling goes away.

Someone around here has to be the citizen.

So, I vote yes for what I care about, what I think makes good sense, and what is moral; it's what I can do. Now, in our highly-flawed but (ideally, anyway) best-of-all-worlds system, we as a group get asked to decide on some pretty absurd things every once in a while. Some of them are worth answering and some of them make me think that we don't need that handbasket any more; we've arrived. So, I answer the question.

Voting is a popularity contest; the winningness of any given ballot measure depends, unfortunately, not so much on whether anything is a good idea but how many people can be talked into thinking it's a good idea (or, how many people's idea that the idea is a good idea can be reinforced). So, lately, some pretty stupid stuff has become the law of the land.

Now, I believe that, with some exceptions, inside of many stupid ideas are parts that are good or, at least, worth working on. Nothing that gets sent up to Salem by We The People ought to be inviolate; from the crooked timber of mankind, no straight thing ever was made. At least we should expect the Leg to take anything we come up with that his half-baked to put it back in the oven and bake it the rest of the way.

Pity is, we don't live in that world. There's a tyrant walking the landscape; it has the power to shut down discussion and brand those who don't agree with it as traitors to the common good (or worse). It's called The Will of the Voter, and all you have to do is breathe its name. Woe betide you if you decide to take it on.

I've had occasion to consider Will lately in the het-up over Measure 37. M37 is a typical popularity-contest winner; flawed and not such a good idea, but so many people believed the campaign in favor of it that sanity never really had a chance. It has the ability to allow subdivisions to sprout where none ought to be; it creates a new class of landowner who has more rights other people; it has the power to stretch limited county budgets even farther; it seems to solve a problem that really didn't seem to exist before people were asked to vote on it.

Latterly the Leg is trying to make it so that maybe it won't bankrupt the country governments or ruin the Oregon I was born in and grew up in. Watch in predictable dismay as the Republicans who base their reputations on being seen in the street with M37 bring old Will into the discussion. Will's always by their side; he's their big buddy, their defender. Don't touch it! It's the Will of the Voters! It's been blessed; there's nothing broken about it. They fiddle while Oregon's livability (and profitability...Oregon's success in agriculture has a lot to do with the fact that we've controlled urban sprawl) burns to the ground.

Another thing that Will seems to like an awful lot is gay people...but not in the good way. We will all recall Measure 36 from the same year, a vote we should pretty much all be ashamed of. Gay people aren't threatening marriage so much as straight people are (I think marriage ought to be protected from certain Hollywood celebrities, not to name names. Such people should have a mandatory 30-day waiting period. But I digress).

But, even though this is really the last thing we need to worry about, some people fought to make us all decide. And, since gay people are icky, people voted it in. Now, some wise people in the Leg have managed to get civil unions into the law; it's second-class citizenship for gays, which I still think is something we shouldn't be so sanguine about, but it's better than nothing. But already I hear rumbling about Will's ire being aroused.

Actually, it's not so much The Will of The Voters anymore as it is The Tyranny of the Majority. Latterly, The Will of the Voter has been tainted in the same way as patriotism has been; it's become the last refuge of the scoundrel. It's a convenient place to hide and retaliate from when a dumb idea has become law by referendum but the proponents of said dumb ideas soon discover that just because they won the war doesn't mean that the losers are going to just shut up and like it; what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

We live in a society where The Will of The Voters is confused, frequently, with justice, sense, sanity, leadership, and courage. That's not to say that Will isn't important, but he's been made God...and that's a problem now, and it's going to be a problem in the future unless we have actual courage, which means facing up to bad decisions and have the true bravery to fix our mistakes.

I have dim hope that this will happen as long as people are willing to vote their hearts and feelings rather than their brains. But this is a place where I (perhaps foolishly) believe that anything could happen, including the good thing.


[hk2007] Hell's Kitchen 2007.1: Let The Tears Begin: The First Victim

824 It's on. And the chefs couldn't hold it together if you gave 'em training wheels.

Tonights season premiere had to prove to be entertaining if nothing else. On that, it certainly delivered.

Just as in last season, the victims were delivered to the HK dining room (which, in case anyone didn't know, is apparently the same converted television studio in Los Angeles, CA, at the corner of N. La Brea Avenue and Willoughby Avenue, that was used last year), allowed to settle in for about a minute or so, show time, and were lulled into a false sense of security by the inimitable Jean-Phillipe.

Then El Ram appeared and started playing his part. Into the kitchen with you all...with noses to the grindstone for what's becoming the traditional opening: The Signature Dish..."You, on a plate."

Dismissing the various degrees of savory image we can come up with on that one, the dishes were perforce prepared and arranged for the Chef to taste. We have long been impressed with the idea of this test; we think we understand the indicative power of the skill set that obtains when you ask someone to prepare their specialty at the drop of a hat.

Now, we know you saw impressive culinary skills, masterful creations, and a range of inspiring dishes. We also know that you didn't watch our version, which takes place on the planet Earth.

El Ram was, naturally, very unimpressed with the range presented. Actually, on balance, the general level of the production seemed to be higher; no Undone Foccacia this year, to be sure, and one...a production from someone who's looking to be the early Heather (Melissa) recieved unqualified thumbs-up from Chef, which didn't happen at all last year.

The Signature Meal Offenses
  1. Vinnie: apparently wants to go mano a mano (which we know we use incorrectly, but we love the way it sounds) with Chef. That boy, as we said back where I was born, he got himself an attitude.
  2. Joanna: Provided a drink–a raspberry bellini (WhateverTF that is supposed to be). She sampled it whilst El Ram was tasting her dish. We swear we saw her have to try to choke some of it down. I can't remember what she cooked, but the fake sincerity she served as a side could be cut with a knife.
  3. Rock: frozen gnocchis. Fortunately, doctors know what causes this now. There is a cure.
  4. Bonnie: served a cheese-based something-or-other. Requires an instruction manual. Forgot to provide said manual.
  5. Eddie: great palate–but scallops are undercooked. Same for Brad.
  6. Josh: take his cooking with a grain of salt-Chef Ramsay had to. Also uses tired sexual metaphor for the food experience.
  7. Jen: dish is a-swimmin' in peach schnapps.
  8. Julia: chicken-fried-chicken penne (which sounds tasty), in which the chicken was great...but there was too much pepper.
  9. Aaron: Cowboy attire. at least he didn't cry.
The balance of the cheffing was found wanting (really must that be said), and the teams (Red for Girls and Blue for Boys) were dismissed to the dorms to get to know each other, bond, have really dirty sex and get psychologically ready for the next day.

The First Service: Oh, The Humanity

Early on it looked like they were going to have it rough. The Reds immediately began to bicker and clash; it was at the end of the show that El Ram termed them "Hell's Bitches", and that blunt sobriequet was ever so deserved. When they weren't busy snappily telling each other what they were doing wrong, they were busy treating poor Julia like crap.

She's going to have to work harder than everyone else, Julia is. She's a short-order cook; they just don't respect her much. Well, at all, really; she tried to inveigle her way into everyone else's graces and they just weren't having it; all the ladies were cliquing up against her. And it was to thier detriment; after boosting Tiffany from the appetizer's station because she apparently couldn't fry a quail's egg, they actually got some starters out.

Sure, her cooking school was the Waffle House, but she at least knows how to fry an egg.

The Blues, on the other hand, hit the teamwork vibe early on. That's not to say they weren't frightful; they were only less bad than the Reds, but it was by an order of magnitude. They were turning out spot-on risotto and getting customers served. Things began to work out better after Vinnie was sent off to wash dishes and Brad was installed there, but it was all for naught, of course, because both teams broke down when they were trying to get the main course out. The low point for the Blues came when Aaron was caught wiping his nose while he was preparing chicken (although one might argue that Aaron provided even lower low points when he mentally broke down twice during service...once, memorably, before even the service had started!).

After about four hours with no apparent main courses in evidence (and diners walking out in disgust, which is pretty uppity when you consider they're getting paid as extras), Gordon shut it down. Time to count the casualties.

The Elimination, Week One.

There were, as El Ram correctly opined, no winners; the Red team were the saddest sacks of the bunch. Gordon appointed Melissa as The Best Of The Worst, going with it the responsiblity to nominate two for sacking.

The nominees: Sarah Joanna and Tiffany. The two nominees were expected; Joanna's obnoxious, and Tiffany's too inept to fry and egg (even we can do that!). In the end, while both knew how to work hard, only one had anything approaching skillZ (m4d or otherwise), so it was Tiffany who was out. This was a classic switcheroo surprise; in the behind-the-scenes dorm cam, Tiffany was being told by Melissa that she wasn't going home so early. Well, that's Hell's Kitchen for you.

Give Tiffany credit for this; nobody wants to be the first one eliminated but she walked the Hall'o'shame with her head held high, and in the exit interview (held appropriately back of the Dumpster) she'd admitted that Chef's judgment was, at its heart, correct.

The Early Favorites:
The Early Villain:
  • Joanna (do you doubt)?
The Early Dark Horses:
Who's Most Likely To Get Sacked Next Week...
  • If the Blues Lose: Vinnie, Aaron
  • If the Reds Lose: Bonnie, Jen
Our gut guesses are based on who can hold up under pressure at this point. Aaron...that's a given. Am I the only one who watched who just wanted to slap him? I'll give Gordon this–the man really knows how to talk someone "off the ledge". Vinnie? Please. That man needs a backhand, is what he needs.

Playing The Crying Game

Can anyone else believe the sheer lack of a backbone of some of these people. Even Sara from last year had more courage than some of these people. I don't know why Aaron just didn't spontaneously explode; Bonnie is so easily intimdatable it defies description; Jen almost fainted under the apparently nigh-inconsiderable pressure of being called forward to defend her signature dish.

Well, that's the epi, those are our picks, and that's the show. See you all next week.

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01 June 2007

[design, cartography] Revisiting The Cherriots Redesign

823 In the incredible series of bonehead moves that caused me to erase my own work hard drive last year, one of the things was undergoing is a redesign of the look of the online map for the Cherriots bus system down in Salem (being my route to and from high school most of the time, I have a sentimental connection to it.

The hard drive problem and a series of minor personal setbacks caused me to drop a lot of projects. This was one of them, which was sad in as much as I was quite enjoying it.

I did do a series of backups, though not to the completion level that I actually had gotten to, though I do have enough of an Illustrator file version (this is/was being done in AI) that I can start it up again.

For review, here's the current online version of the Cherriots system map:

I found it less than ideal for a variety of reasons (I'm not saying it's bad, I'm saying it doesn't work for me: most every designer looks at something they'd like to do and wonder if they couldn't do it better, or at least differently, and I love maps). Here's the last version I was able to recover out of the file dump:

I revised and expanded the visual grammar on this one, coming up with a standard route number symbol and convention as well as increasing the net informational throw weight by providing simplified geography as a background and keeping that graphically dialled-back (primarily by depending on grays) allowing the route network to stay "up-front" while providing a real-world reference.

The version I had worked up to had Park-and-Rides and public parks, and I was working on a downtown inset, amongst other things.

I don't have the time to do it right now, but at earliest I'm going to be doing a search of this blog for the other posting I did on the subject and tie them into this post (at least to provide the history, and mostly to give myself the chance to get a bit of perspective on what I did do, and to help me to determine where I need to next take the work).

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