29 June 2006

[linux] SCO Pancakes In Court

It would seem that, on June 28th, a magistrate judge took almost all of the gas out of The SCO Group's claim that IBM stole Linux.

Within a day, someone had bent an old Monty Python script into service.

Actually, it is quite funny.

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[blog_life, how_to] Zen and the Art of Hand-coded Links

Whether or not my idea in starting this 'blog was this thing, it has become an ongoing education in how to design for web–graphic design aspects as well as technical aspects. My blogroll, such as she is, is an ongoing instance of continuing education.

I hand-code my links. Oh, I tried Blogrolling.com for a while (and I still have a "Blogroll Me!" link in the sidebar) but I soon grew tired of it; having to do this over a dialup connection is irritating enough without also having to depend on a distributed service to do it, and the generated blogrolls have far, far too little leading between the lines and I don't know how to control it. And I'm designer enough that I detest not having that control.

In an assignment in school I opined that "I abhor settling for defaults". And it's true, but perhaps is better said that I hate defaults but put up with them when I must. I'm still not clear on how to control the leading in a Blogger template (the somewhat-ubiquitous Minima Black, for what that's worth) but I'm working on garnering that little bit of knowledge.

That digression aside, it's important to do some things like this by hand. You don't have to, of course, and programs like Amacrodobemedia DreamWeaver make it entirely optional (not to mention MS Front Page, which we shall no longer do this missive). The benefit of doing things by hand is that it just plain makes you smarter. Go ahead, use your browser and calll up a source display of this page. How soon do your eyes glaze over? If you hand code links and fix little things that way, I'm betting it's not as soon. Drop yourself into a situation where you have to fix HTML in a text-editor (even I once hand-coded a web page in MS Notepad...Notepad, for God's sake!) and you're less likely to freak out.

You'll be the web-version of MacGyver, or as near as everyone else will think you a miracle worker. Know the code!

My usual loquaciousness aside, here's the nut of it, based on my Blogger experience.

The Basic Link Tag

If you go Blogger and open up a brand-spankin' new 'blog, in the template's sidebar, you usually get three links as standard equipment:

The first link's destination is obvious. The next two go essentially nowhere, and suggest what you need to be doing with them.

The sidebar hyperlink is a case of what is called the anchor tag. An anchor tag is any tag which begins with "<a>;" and end with "</a>". Anchors form targets for you to aim and and places for your browser to land in your HTML. A hyperlink from anywhere to this 'blog (naked hint, people!) looks like this:

<a href="http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com">The Zehnkatzen Times</a>

For the curious, here's a dissection:
  • <a opens the tag, the "a" tells us this is the beginnng of an anchor.
  • href specifies the kind of anchor this is; href means "hyperreference" and requires that you specify a URL.
  • "http://zehnkatzen.blogspot.com" is, the URL you're pointing at, naturally. Nota bene the quotes surrounding the URL; in earlier HTML versions these were optional. The standard is evolving; in the future, as the standards become stricter, they will be required, and if standards-compliance is important to you, they need to be there.
  • The next > closes the front of the tag.
  • Any text can go next, of any length, but you want it to be descriptive, so The Zehnkazten Times it is.
  • And lastly, </a> to close the whole tag, like a closing parenthesis. If this is left off, the browser will intepret everything to the next </a> as part of the link. Your browser (and your blog) will look and act pretty funny.
A more concise tute can be found at Successful Blog, by Liz Strauss; click the hither if you wish. Then return here; I'll tell you how to use it.

Placing the Missing Link

Now that you know how to code the basic hyperlink anchor, here's the skinny on how you do it on Blogger.

We'll assume you've just created a 'blog at this point. Go now to the Dashboard (if you're signed in to Blogger, just typing the URL will get you there...hell, bookmark this whilst you're at it), click on the name of the blog to bring up the blog's main posting page, and then click on the Template tab to see the actual HTML guts of your blog.

Suit up, Dave; we're going in. Open the pod bay doors, Hal; we're going under the hood.

In the window in the middle, scroll down. You're looking at naked HTML blended with Blogger's own tag code (that's the tags with the big-money ($) inside, amongst others). Scroll down slowly until you see the following comment:
<!-- Begin #sidebar -->
You're almost there. Look very carefully, now, and in a handful-or-so of lines you'll see the following HTML, which rendered the display seen above (it's a screenshot-click on it to enlarge it):

Three links; one to Google News, and two to Blogger's own help on how to edit this. The structure of the hyperlink anchor tags themselves should now be fairly obvious, and how to change them to point to where you want them–and how to customize the text–should be fairly obvious as well. This is where you hand-build your own blogroll, where you take control of the sidebar.

A few further tips and cautions:
  1. The link list is contained inside something called an unordered list, defined by the <ul> ... </ul> tags. Each item in the list is delmited by the <li>...</li> tags. The basic user should leave these alone, but once you understand them, you can open sections on your blogroll organized by theme, as I've done here.
  2. A quick way to save a step in generating further items for your blogroll is to simply copy the last line in your current list, paste it right back in below the last line, and change what needs to be changed.
  3. Something one ought to do, if one is playing on the template code level, is to save a copy of your template. We all make mistakes, and one common one, from tyro to guru, is clobbering your entire template, perforce sending it off to alphabet heaven, never to return. Click in the editing window, select all (CTRL-A Wintel, CMD-A Mac) copy, open a basic text editor, paste, and save it as plain ASCII. If you hose your template beyond all rescue, open the saved text file, and copy and past it back in. You'll thank me.
I was going to close this out by detailing how I made my links into picture buttons, but this has gone on a bit longer than I thought it would. Stay tuned, I'll detail how I did this in the very near future.

Part 2, concerning adding images to your links, can be viewed her

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[terra_incognita] The SF Pubishing World Loses A Giant

Jim Baen, 62. (link to requiem at author David Drake's site).

If you've read science fiction, espeically military SF, anytime in the last 25-30 years, then chances are arout even that it was either edited by or published by Jim Baen–the bad, and the good.

David Drake's memorial is particularly touching and personal.

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28 June 2006

[design] Adobe Releases InDesign, InCopy Updates

Okay, digital design dawgs, fire up that connection and get over to Adobe.com.

We have updates for InDesign CS2 and InCopy CS2. These are point updates, and include all patches so far issued: it will take any version of either (InDesign 4 or InCopy 4–remember, "CS2" is a thing of marketing, not of actual versioning) and upgrade them to version 4.0.3.

Anywhoozle, here's yer links to the Mac versions:
Or, of course, you can go to Help>Check Updates..., and make it do it all for you.

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[distractions] Last Damned Post on Hell's Kitchen This Week, Promise.

When checking out what others on Technorati were yakking on this show, which just so happens to be the best TV in ages, I caught a post on TVgasm.com...it would seem that there might not be any such thing as a Gordon Ramsay Dog at all.

Read the sordid tale here: Gordon Ramsay Hot Dog Scandal!

While you're at it, just dang go over to TVgasm.com and take in the long, goofy, snarky review of Episode 4. Not quite gutbustingly-funny, but it comes damn close. It's the review I'd write if I had the time and inclination.

When you hear of and get to see in action someone like Chef Ramsay it's natural to get to know something more about him. He is a formidable individual in not just person but in achievement; remember how we wrote here that his restaurant, Gordon Ramsay, managed to get three stars in the Michelin Guide. This is pretty much the same as getting the Nobel Prize for Culinary Arts; the tale is told of a chef in France (Bernard Loiseau) who had heard that his restaurant was getting downgraded from three to two stars, and this man was so distraught that he actually committed suicide over it. True, the gent had a history of bipolar disorder, and as it turned out the rumor was in error, but if it drives an emotionally-troubled man to take his own life, imagine how important it is to the more even-keeled.

Chef Ramsay's commercial face on the web his here: GordonRamsay.com. Go and look. As well designed as the man's cuisine is reputed. Then I said to myself, self, I said, how much would it cost to sit down and get some eats at old Chef Ramdog's? A few moves got me to the page for his signature restaurant, from where I could find the a la carte menu. A three course meal (starter, entree, dessert) will run you...GBP 70.

And don't worry, they'll include a 12.5 per cent gratuity.

Not long after, me and The Wife™ dined at La KFC. The irony...oh, the delicious irony.

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27 June 2006

[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, Episode Four

The most welcome development from HK Episode Four was that the hackeneyed "Battle of the Sexes" subplot attempt was resolved and, as far as I can see, should trouble us little or not at all. On top of this they finally got a completed service out (regrettably, it was not dinner), and someone has his A ha! moment, but it does not redeem him.

Shuffle, Shuffle...

At the beginning, as mentioned in the last update, there were merely three Blue team members left to the Red team's five: Garrett, Keith, and Tom versus Heather, Rachel, Virginia, Maribel, and Sara.

Chef Ramsay, at the start of the show, solved two problems–the one of the uneven numbers, and the one of the trumped-up gender conflict–in one fell swoop, by giving Heather, who so far is the finest competitor, de facto membership in the Blue squad, and de jure leadership.

You could cut the surprise in the room with a cleaver. The girls won. Suck it up, cupcakes; we can move on now. Well, maybe not instantly; Heather was reluctant at first, not wanting to compete against "her girls", and you could just see the remaning women measure each other up and down with thier eyes, figuring out which pirahna was going to each which. But I get ahead of myself.

Field Trip!

Chef then announced that they were going to check out a renowned restaurant, the busiest in L.A. But which one? Spago. Sorry, kids, no dice. Rather, Pink's Hot Dogs. No matter–they had a nice lunch there and the food looked damn fine–they even had a "Gordon Ramsay" dog (spicy and hot, no doubt). The message was perhaps that service could be done; if this pedestrian, hugely popular restaurant could do it, so could they. Tom, who was made to put together a dog on his own, had an epiphany, observing that nothing they cooked in the haute-cuisine Hell's Kitchen was any more complicated.

Would they, and especially, Tom, carry it forward?

Chef Day Care

The chefs had to rush back to the kitchen; they were told that, for the first time, HK would be open for lunch. The menu–pizza, hamburgers, and fries?

When the door opened for lunch, a crowd of screaming kids entered. Reactions of the chefs were priceless and the best of the show so far; I will forever remember the nonplussed look on Rachel's face, and the look of glee on Chef Ramsay as he said "Aiyiyiyi!' on the filling of the now-chaotic dining room.

The teams got to work. The Blue team, infused with morale and discipline, buckled down and got in gear for the very first time. Heather clamped down on bickering, gave firm coordination, and once again showed how she had The Right Stuff.

The Red team got it done, too; but the power struggles between Rachel and Sara became all but naked, leaving Maribel and Virginia more or less to thier own devices. But, for the first time, a meal service was completed. The kids voted on the food, giving a 1-10 score. The red team: 9.84. The Blue Team: 9.85, awarding them thier first (and badly-needed) win.

The Daily Prize

The prize for winning the challenged of what Chef Ramsay termed "Hell's Kindergarten" was a day with the amusement park at Long Beach Pier, all to themselves. The three remaining men were savoring the taste of a victory, and even Heather was getting along with Garrett (and forging an alliance with Keith). Heather demonstrates with every step she takes that she's in her element, she has the passion for what she wants to do, and she can pretty much thrive where she gets dropped. While she did regret moving away from "her girls", she found a place where she could connect, unify, and drive. She does it so smoothly and positively that unless there's something wrong with you (or you're Sara), you'll have a problem with it.

The Red team was made to clean the dining room–which was in an appalling state (Maribel remarked that the floor was a rainbow of color). Relationships on the Red team became even more strained as Sara pretty much cut up throughout, and was pretty much on her own planet; the show seems to be setting up a nasty power struggle between her and Rachel, without the moderating and unifying influence of Heather. Maribel and Virginia are starting to pretty much dwindle to cyphers.

So obnoxious did Sara get that the lady sous chef, Mary Ann, threw a wasted cake on the floor just to get her to clean it up.

The Fourth Dinner Service

So then we come to dinner service #4; will the lessons learned be applied? Will the boost in morale generated by the successful lunch service carry them through?

As it happened, no. While appetizers went out and a few people did get served entrées, which went over rather well, the bulk of the HK clientele this week once again left hungry.

The Red side was a slow-motion train wreck, the overall performance of the crew doomed by the power struggle between Sara and Rachel, and the actual active undermining of Virginia by Sara, who looks very much like she's avidly trying to eliminate competitors. Sara informed Virignia that she was ready with turbot, but when Chef Ramsay came to get the meal, he found out that Sara actually hadn't even started the fish, allowing Virginia to hang out to dry into the bargain.

The Blue side knit together and got the mission but were pretty much brought to a standstill by Tom, whose A HA! moment at Pink's earlier made no difference. Juggling tickets he was easily confused, and when Chef Ramsay tried to ascertain what he was doing and he showed he was out of his depth–well, Chef has in the past been accused of forcing his reactions for the TV audience. But the rage he exhibitied at Tom certainly looked real; the kitchen was perforce shut down, with Chef angrily throwing off his apron straight at Tom, who cringed so sincerely that you cringed right along with him.

The Sad Sacks

Nobody won the service, not Red nor Blue. Thus Chef R directed each team to nominate someone for removal.

For the Reds, it was Rachel. For the Blues, it was, predictably, Tom.

Chef allowed each competitor to plead thier case. Tom came to the bar with a blunt, determined few words about he wasn't going to get "beat down". Virginia, who had really been something of a zero thus far, came up with an unexpectly impassioned handful of words about how this was what she was, that this was all she wanted to be and to do.

Virginia gave The Right Answer™. Tom was 86'd. However, Tom did get the only handshake from Chef anybody got. He will, of course need to find a job. He hopes for a recommendation from Chef Ramsay. We think he shouldn't hold his breath on that one; Chef Ramsay said Tom had a big heart (maybe that was why he was spared when Giacomo was axed) but, "sadly he’s a really crap cook. Why on earth he ever decided to attempt to become a chef I’ll never know".

The Sheep and the Goats

The thing about the show at this juncture is that we're getting a very good picture of who will likely get through to the end.

The finest players so far, and the ones I think will go farthest, are:
  • Heather is a given. With her natural talent for organizing and communication, she gets in the zone first and stays there longer than anyone else.
  • Garrett is maturing. He's just about left behind the "I'm all that" he came in with and realizes that there are some people he's not as good as–but can aspire to a higher level. Quite a metamorphsis from the snotty-ass ex-felon cook he was at the series debut: he's finding his fire, and becoming something better.
  • Keith is a real dark horse at this point but he's starting to make his moves. He has more experience than he lets on, tried to help Tom when he needed it (but Tom wasn't having it), and is smart enough to charm Heather into an alliance. If he'd just get rid of the Kewpie doll hair...
The ones I see not making it much farther:
  • Maribel and Virginia. Sure they have desire, but they don't have the passion, at least, not as much as Heather, Garrett, and Keith do. Thier fire's turned on low, and the pressure is starting to file them down. Maribel had her own homesickness drama, and Virginia only now is showing some personality. Sous chef, maybe. Executive chef, forget it.
The ones that are going to be wild cards:
  • Rachel. She has the fire but unfortunately read the great shuffle as a place to make her power play, which happens to be against Sara. She wants to be the big dog on the Red team, but it turns out that Sara wants it more, and as we saw with Virginia, is perfectly ready and willing to undermine a team member to get it, which brings me to...
  • Sara. In Sara we have the best Reality TV villain since Omarosa. I don't know about anybody else, but I not only want to see Sara 86'd, I want to see her humiliated. She is the opposite of what makes Heather, Keith, and Garrett so much joy to watch; she likey her power, and she just figures it's a matter of time before she can consolidate it. The personal traits we saw in the beginning which make her no fun to watch have only blossomed into a nasty, win-at-all-costs attitude. She should lose, she should lose big, and she should look bad doing it.
What looks like it's coming our way:

It looks like Gordon's going to be taking down someone in a big way next week. We all know who I hope it is, don't we? We also see hints that the toxic rivalry between Sara and Rachel will be coming to blows (not physical ones, we hope–we understand it's straight off the show for that). One only hopes there will be someone to collect the body parts and give first aid to Virginia and Maribel, who will take shrapnel, no doubt

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25 June 2006

[logo_design] Portland General Electric

Much has been written about PGE of late, but this isn't one of those missives.

No matter who's owned it, PGE is in the warp and the woof of Portland's history. It's been around, in one form or another, since 1888. Its first form was Willamette Falls Electric, which set up a turbine at Willamette Falls, extending the power line into Portland–coincidentally, likely the first long-distance power transmission line in the United States.

By 1932, the company reorganized into the Portland Electric Power Company–known as PEPCo. In 1948, the company assumed its current name–Portland General Electric, simply known by everyone it its northwestern Oregon service area as PGE.

Organizations that exist this long tend to redo their corporate look more than once, and PGE is no exception. The first logo, (Illustrated, right) probably dated from about 1948. It was dynamic with the obliqued bold typography, all-American with its red-white-and-blue palette, effective and recognizable. The circular footprint allows for a wide variety of applications. When PGE built Trojan, the emblem became the nucleus in an '50's-style atom with electron traces zipping around.

While I can find no extant versions of the logo to display, there is an example of the old logo on the side of a PGE shop building across the street from the main PGE shops on SE 17th Avenue, just north of the TriMet bus barns. It's visible from the street; I was able to make a quick sketch, so my rendering isn't completely exact, but it's very close.

In about 1970 (give or take) the company, presumably feeling the old logo seemed dated, updated thier look. I was unable to find any example of this logo (if someone could scan and send me one, I'd do it up and post it here), but I was never impressed with it. It was merely stylized majuscules of PGE, with a lane cut through above the centerline, and in stripes of orange and blue. Blah. Hardly as interesting as the earlier emblem.

But in 1997 (I think it was) PGE redesigned again, and this time, they got it right. I truly truly dig this logo. It looks good, has modern color and (dare I say it?) energy.

The company trigram has been rendered in what looks very much like Myriad. This is a very contemporary face, something that looks good in titles and headlines; it has the apt ability to exhibit a bit of human personality and warmth but not so much so that the businesslike attitude is muted. It's matter-of-fact, but approachable; maybe that's why I see it in so much communication these days.

The type doesn't perform so much as it supports. The true genius of the logo is in the colors racing around the outside. Energy seems to come from so many places these days–the sun, the wind, biomass (well, not so much yet but we hope we're moving in that direction). The colors themselves have connotations, which can be personal–I don't know about anyone else but the black could suggest company tradition; the red, the energetic nature of electricty; the blue, wind and solar power; and the green, the hopeful move toward more...well, green...sources of power.

Lets step back and consider the florid language I've used just now and consider why I used it. I've written before that logos are many times used to suggest the best qualities of the company it represents. Your mileage may vary on this, but what I'm trying to point out is that a logo can be used to, hopefully, inspire a positive perception of what it does represent.

Now, down to the nut; the real cleverness in this design–note how the outer margin of the symbol has rounded corners. Looking at it in terms of negative spaces, it looks very much like a square of a certain dimension has been placed in the void of the round-cornered square and rotated just a few degrees to the left. The result is a symbol that contains dynamic tension on a level one may not even realize at first: the tapering of the colored dashes suggests energetic motion, the rounded outer corners keep the eye engaged, running round in a widdershins direction; the very nature of the whole thing balanced on a corner adds even more dynamic tension. The idea seems to be to suggest a picture of a lot of energy in motion, with PGE at the center, tying it all down and anchoring it into a form that the customer can just dependably use–the outer margin not only keeps the eye engaged on the periphery, but the rounded corners also suggest the eye go into the middle, to the PGE, brilliantly connecting and unifying the whole design across the very open white space in the middle. It even seems to evoke that beloved logo of old.

This, to me, is simple brilliance.

PGE has an effective logo, well designed, feels modern and respects many solid elememts of logo design.

(Postscript to PGE: I have a bone to pick with you people as well–I wanted to find a contact who might or might not have some idea where I could acquire proper logo graphics for use by journalists. I even sent an email to someone in corporate (I forget who now) which was never replied to or obviously not even forwarded to someone who could answer. How I wish that companies such as yourselves would make such materials available to those of us who wish to write about it–you'd be doing yourself an enormous favor. Think about it, will you?)

(PPS to All: Last example of the PGE logo and type is as seen on the website. Interesting expansion. Apologies to PGE.)

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24 June 2006

[blog_life] Blogger Photo Ist Gefloogle

The machine that hosts pixs for this blog, photo1.blogger.com, seems to have been abducted by aliens. Any button or graphic that emanates from there has, for the nonce, been replaced by a corresponding black void.

Until they come back, I have two rough-n-ready email contact links in the sidebar.

Update: This looks systemic: Regular reads that use Blogger to host thier images (such as regular read Loaded Orygun) seem to be missing images too.

[design, advertising] Actually, iThinkistilldo

The iPod. Isn't it a cultural force? You bet. Do I still want one? Definitely. Is the world an unjust place because I don't have one? That's prima facie correct. That said, is it still on my wish list? Of course.

America is a land of people who like being different, but frequently one suspects that Being Different™ for the masses comes with an EULA that states that you can be as different as you want, but just as long as you're different just like everbody else does. Looking at the iPod in that wise, there may be some point to those who hold that the iPod is more a cultural virus–and not necessarily a good one.

Myself, I look at it as a toy, maybe the most fun one out there today. I do have a concern about a certain homogenization of culture however; I love vanilla, but I also like spice. So, when something surfaces that speaks to that concern, I'm almost compelled to check it out.

One may have seen about the numerous "iDon't" billboards and adverts. Dare to be different? Hey, I just might be up for this. Let's see if I'm wanting to sign up.

When I got to the site iDont.com, I was presented with a very nicely designed package: rough-n-tumble graphics against a stucco wall, trim, tight Flash that didn't take forever to load on my dialup connex (that, per se, is big points with me) and a consistent, unified look that created a "world" that the surfer visited. Nicely designed site that emanated revolution that was entertaining even though the revolution seemed a bit too polished and studied.

I particularly enjoyed the way the spray paint would drip down from the menu items when I moused over them. Nice touch.

But what's the point of iDon't? Fortunately, you can go right to "The Alternative" and check it out...what sort of power-to-the-people message are we sending?

The SanDisk Sansa e270 MP3 player, it would seem.

Excuse, please? Rebel against The Man who, up until now, has been unable to force an iPod on me due to price, by getting...someone else's digital music player. That I still can't afford.

Now, to give the competitor his due, the SanDisk looks like it has a hell of a lot going for it. CNet (see the link in the 2nd 'graf up) gave it an 8-of-10 on the editor's review scale, citing value for the money–12-preset FM tuner, well-designed interface, good form factor, good price points, big capacity, multiple formats including video, apt positioning against the iPod Nano.
Go ahead and read the review, and make your own mind up. It looks like a rather good little MP3 player.

But, for some reason, I feel a little bit cheated. It's not really an insurgency, is it, if someone just wants to get me to buy thier MP3 player instead? By leveraging interest by tugging on one's desire to 'not follow the herd', somehow if, at the destination, I'm not presented with something more than merely "check out Our not-iPod", the cover comes off the manipulation and I just feel like I'm being played with.

In an article in the news section, a gent named "Eric the Sheep Herder" cited the consistent criticism as thus: why not present a toe-to-toe feature comparison? I suppose saying it makes it so, on the virtual side. My critique is more along the lines of: why must everyone who comes up with a competitor to the iPod automatically position it as the anti-iPod? Think about it: every digital music player which has been marketed has defined itself by how it isn't like an iPod, and by this standard I find the iDon't campaign's biggest weakness. It's easy not to have an iPod; just don't buy one. Life has existed before the iPod; it will (I hope) exist after.

The iPod conquered the market by truly being unexpected and new. It stays at the top by reinventing itself. Somehow, Apple knows how to stay the lead dog. The other dogs want you to think that thier just as good as the lead dog by being like the lead dog but not being the lead dog, which is apparently the preferred choice of fashionable conformists. The also-rans will reamin the also-rans as long as they compete by the terms Apple defined with the iPod, or until such time as owning an iPod actually becomes unfashionable (and the way things are going, it's hard to see when that will happen).

I went to iDon't feeling interested; I came away feeling like iBeenhad.

And I still want an iPod.

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22 June 2006

[news] Katrina: The Times-Picayune Explains it All To You

Many people, myself included, had a hard time conceptualizing exactly how much of New Orleans was affected by the Katrina disaster last year. We of course had no trouble understanding the story of the photos, but most of us, I gather, have very little understanding about how much of the city was affected (to hear the news, the Lower 9th Ward was the only area that got hit).

The Times-Picayune, however, has done us all a service; an interactive flash graphic presentation that, through the use of maps and time, gives anyone a great idea of the sequence of events, how they contributed to the catastrophe, and exactly how much of the city was involved.

While NO is 100 river-miles from the Gulf, it must be remembered that the Mississippi is a very loopy river at this point, and you might have to go, for example 10 river miles to go 5 lateral miles (I'm just spitballing here to make the point).

And, while NO covers more land (345 sq. mi. vice 145 sq. mi), it also should be understood that the area of NO is coterminous with Orelans Parish, in the Oregon context, it would be as if the City of Portland extended from Sauvie Island to about Corbett. Significant areas of incorporated NO area include swamplands, tidal lands, and undeveloped lands.

What a most apropos comparison would be is population. Before Katrina, NO had a population of about 450,000 (a little more than 100,000 less than P-town). After the disaster, the city was all but completely depopulated, and even now, estimates of the city's population run between 195,000 and 225,000.

Magintudes in mind, then, go see the video, which is soon to be one of the most-linked-to out there.

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20 June 2006

[design] GDUSA Annual Contest Entry Deadline Approaches

For those of you just hankering to enter a design competition, we note that the publisher of the free monthly GDUSA is staging thier annual design competition, and the entry deadline is this Friday, 23 June.

For more information, go here: http://www.gdusa.com/contests/agda.php

Good luck.

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[distractions] Hell's Kitchen, Three Eps Along

There have been so far three episodes of the FAUX reality show, Hell's Kitchen, about which I waxed giddily previously. We'll make a brief textual pitstop to proclaim this an Official SunDial Earth Station Guilty Pleasure™ (along with syndicated judge shows and Cheaters) and move along.

The two teams this series are gender-specific; yes, the producers of HK have used that somewhat-dubious device, stale, and done-to-death, of "The Battle Amongst The Sexes" to add a level of tension to the proceedings. The XX-XY tensions seem just as staged sometimes, and turn out, now and again, to be a real distraction, when the producers let themselves dwell on it to a level sometimes just short of offensive. To understand the hackeneyed level of implementation, understand this: in the first episode, Chef Ramsay announced, grandiloquently, that "for the first time in the history of Hell's Kitchen, there would be a men's team and a women's team".

For the first time in the history of a two-series reality show that's but one episode into Series Two? Seems we're crossing Rubicons daily around here.

But enough digression. I just wanted to get that out of the way. It is, though sometimes a notable irritant in the specific, speaking in the overall it's not such a huge flaw, though I think it should be regarded as a badly done sideshow.

But enough. I promised I was done with that digression. The show, three episodes on, has delievered on many of its other promises; drama, crisis, victory, torment, and Chef Ramsay's inimitable motiviational stylings. If you take a side trip to FAUX's site, you'll find that out of the original twelve aspiring chefs, four are 86'd:

From the Red (Women's) Team: Polly.

From the Blue (Men's) Team: Larry, Gabe, and Giacomo.

That's right, you who are keeping score: From a total of six chefs on each team, the Red still have five, but the Blue are down to only three. Right now, it ain't easy bein' Blue.

Episode 2, more or less

Each of the 86's chefs had thier own reasons for being boosted. Larry's end, sadly, was self-enabled; either he's in a dear physical condition that needs to be diagnosed or he didn't have the will to press on, who knows, but by the end of the episode 2 he turned up missing and then called in from the hospital, an apparent victim of an anxiety attack that developed physical symptoms. Gabe was asked to leave after a magnificent failure of a dinner service that saw the Reds complete ten entreés, but the Blues not a one. Giacomo seemed to have the spirit but never, as Chef Ramsay implored him to do, quite "got a grip".

On the second show the Blue kitchen broke down when Tom and Giacomo couldn't get the communication straight between the meat station (Tom) and the sides station (Giacomo). That's not necessarily saying that Tom was a culinary genius there, but when Chef called on him for status he was able to say without hesitation that he had one chicken and one duck ready for sides, and Giacomo didn't know what he was doing, or what was going on, and it showed: arms flailed about, eyes darted about in the panic, and various words came out of Giacomo's mouth not connecting to any sentence whatsoever.

At the end of that episode, the Blue team (having not gotten any entrées out at all vice the Red's ten) were declared the losing team for the round. In what must be a working lesson in how to make the tough decisions an executive chef must make, Chef Ramsay chose Blue who screwed up the least as the "Best of the Worst" and charged him with making two nominations for elimination. The beneficiary/victim of the dubbing: Garrett.

There was much dithering on Garrett's part and politicking on behalf of the some of the Blues, they returned to the dining room and made his noms: Giacomo (which I expected) and...Tom? Like I said, Tom was no star but he was hardly the worst of the crew. Garrett ought to have chosen Gabe, who was a complete tyro in the kitchen. Chef Ramsay gave Tom a chance to defend his continuation on the show, and Tom stepped up to the plate, taking ownership of the comms probelms between himself and Giacomo. Won over, Chef asked him to return to the line, and then–to our pleasant surprise–called Gabe up, overruling Garrett's noms.

Garrett was thus 86'd.

The Reds, who had won the round, got the prize: a helicopter ride to a LA-area eatery that specialized in haute-cuisine based on wild game. The Blues got to stay behind to do preps work.

As far as the Red's only casualty thus far, Polly, since this happened there was so much drama under the bridge that I honestly can't remember why she was ejected.

And Through to Episode Three

The overwhelming feeling one gets from watching both teams operate, regardless of thier relative success so far, is that they all were pretty much used to operating solo, and they don't have that comms thing down. Most of the mistakes and embarrasments to date have come from bad communications.

And, actually, the service so far has been on the far side of shabby. Me, The Wife™, and most people on my socio-economic stratum wouldn't put up with waiting fifteen minutes for a cup of diner-grade coffee, never mind real haute-cuisine. The two teams, many members of which had much more than the average bear's culinary production experience and more than one of which claimed catering experience (Polly whose bio claims ownership of a catering business as well as feeding her six home-schooled kids in a setting reminding one of a restaurant, was the first ejectum on the Red team), were completely unable to competently serve even one diner in episode 1, and in episode 2, disgruntled aspiring diners deserted the restaurant before even the Red's ten entrées got through the pass (on which Chef Ramsay remarked "This is the death of a restaurant").

The second dinner service is not much better, but the Reds did improve as illustrated. The third service got better still–both teams had appetizers flying through the pass, but the Red team was the only one (still) getting entrées out. The Blues were the saddest of sad sacks, constantly getting on each other's nerves and still not commmunicating–with Giacomo still flopping about like a puppet without a hand in, especially. The team just was not knitting together.

That's not to say the Reds didn't have thier problems and flaws. Heather is the rising star of the Red team and, as far as I'm concerned, just about the only one who has been able to enter the zone at all during the play of the game (even to the point of delegating her station to the other members of her time whilst obviously in distracting pain, all the while being administered emergency first aid by Chef Ramsay after suffering a serious burn–a high personal moment that was not lost on Chef). Watching Heather work, you can being to see the same sort of concentration, focus, committment and passion that characterizes Chef R when he's in his zone. She has stuff down cold almost instantly and begins to direct the team–which is usually taken badly by Sara, the (in my opinion) worst member of the Reds. She gets directed by Heather smartly and efficiently and falls in line but, once the camera is on her for her reaction, moans and complaines about the respect she's not getting, which is stupid at this point: Heather is her better, and Sara needs to figure this out, or I think (hope) that when (or should I say if) the Blue team finally pulls off a victory in a challenge or a service, she's the one that needs to go.

Though on the Red side the pitiful story of the night of ep 3 was Maribel, who was in charge of the meat station and allowed herself to run out of Wellingtons, and then was so inept with getting a single lamb Wellington out that the diners walked out in disgust. Overwhelmed by one Wellington is certainly not an epitaph I'd like to have attached to me.

The victors of ep 3 were, once again, the Reds. They got a prize of an afternoon on a yacht, escorted out by Chef Ramsay (and beginning to develop schoolgirl crushes on him), and the Reds got to stay back in the restaurant and do the laundry–the women's laundry, by hand. And, had to 86 one of thier own.

Due to the reduced state of the Blue team, Chef R gave them a new winnowing procedure: each member was to nominate a fellow member for elimination. Tom and (once again) Giacomo were offered up for slaughter, and Giacomo was at last sent packing (surprising me) with Tom dodging the bullet once again. While Tom did do a huge bellyflop right out of the zone in the kitchen during the night's dinner service (which resulted in the Red team getting a hell of a lot of entrées out over the Blues none), Giacomo actually forgot to turn on the oven.

"Thank God" reacted Tom to not getting eliminated.

"No, thank Giacomo...for being just a little worse than you were" corrected Chef R.

The State Of Play at the end of Episode Three:

Red Team Members Remaining: Heather, Sara, Rachel, Virginia, Maribel.
Blue Team Members Remaining: Garrett, Tom, Keith.
Next Episode: The Kitchen opens for lunch–which is apparently a rowdy kid's birthday party. We also saw tantalizing glimpses of Chef Ramsay boiling over. This is one of the show's selling points, but he seems to be kicking it up a notch here. Yeah, BAM!.

Various High And Low Points I Missed Because I Tried To Cover Too Many Bases With This Post:
  • Just because Heather is the most promising chef we've seen so far doesn't make her a better person. She is too apt to rise to the "Battle of the Sexes" bait the teams have been given. In ep 3 Garrett made a gratuitous chauvinistic remark at the Red team, who was returning from the yacht outing. Heather spent the afternoon, apparently getting completely bent out of shape over it and gave Garrett the what-for over it–which he did deserve, but he just accepted silently, hopefully embarrassed for a)saying it at all and b)playing along with such a stupid plot device anyway.
  • Best Moment of Ep 2: A diner whining about the percieved lack of pumpkin in his risotto. Chef R agrees to give him it in one of two ways: either sliced or diced, but only if he sticks it up his backside.
  • Best Moment of Ep 3: A diner complaining about waiting more than an hour from and a half is sympathized with by Chef R: "For the first time in my career, I'm working with a kitchen full of Muppets"
  • The enigma that is Keith: So far, Keith has had to sit out a lot. He hasn't gotten to do a lot of cooking. Now with the Blue team down to three members, they'll have to depend on him. The catch is, of course, he has to bring it.
  • And A Question for the Ages: Just WTF is it with all this risotto, anyway?
Images: the HK logo was nicked from the FAUX site for the show, which has a bunch of foodie goodies as well as wallpaper for your lurvely monitor. The chefs jacket photo was nicked from an online shop for cooks and the people who love them called L'Connoiseurs. While not the same as the jackets used on the US version of the show, they do have a similar logo on, and can be yours for the international price of £69.00.

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18 June 2006

[design] The Employment of a Designer

Of course, one of the ideas about getting a design education is getting a design job. I do keep my hand in, but the search for permanent employ continues.

This last week I had a great interview. Talked with the hiring party for about 1 and a half hours, went over my resume, my knowledge, what they do. It looks good so far. There are other applicants, of course, but those of us who "make the cut" in the interview phase (and I have been intimated that I am one of them) will be invited to do a sort of assignment for them.

You see, they know I can use QuarkXPress, Illustrator, Indy, et.al. What they don't know yet is if I understand what I can do with what they have. To wit, within the next week, I expect to download a few files from thier ftp server, to create two pieces; one to thier design philosophy, and one to whatever end I want.

I'm pretty sure I understand thier philosophy (the stuff sells itself really) and I can have fun. I think I can pretty probably nail this one. Stay tuned.

In other SunDial design news, my pet volunteer project, the Sierra Club's Oregon Chapter, Columbia Group's newsletter, the Columbia Overlook, has had the Summer issue put to bed. This is not only rewarding but challenging. Four times a year, at the beginning of a given month, my Editor Mark emails me a list of .doc files and graphics and I forge this into a document with message and intent.

This is design at its best really. At the edge of the project there's a sort of vertigo, not knowing what you'll work with and what problems may (or may not) emerge. There is the employment of a certain Winnowing Shoehorn of Doom™. Edits here and there. PDFs mailed out for review. At the end of the process is a very tight product that improves each time I do it.

Designers–having trouble finding something to do? Find a non-profit with publishing needs. You get to contribute to a cause and you get to stretch your muscles and your mind. Can't be bad, trust me!

My Columbia Overlooks, except the current one (which isn't published yet) can be downloaded from here. I did the ones from Winter 2004 forward. A past classmate, Caty Kehs, whom I remember most fondly, did the ones before that; I'll always appreciate her for this opportunity. (Update and Correction, 2006,1906: My term as Columbia Overlook editor extends back to Fall 2004, not Winter 2004. Caty did Winter, Spring and Summer 2004 issues. The Times regrets the error.)

The tool: Adobe InDesign CS and CS2, FWIW.

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15 June 2006

[design] The American Package Museum

Design geeks know that package design is a particularly unique subschool of design. Package design influences what we buy, loads our expectations of what we'll find inside, and forms sentimental associations that we carry with us all our lives.

Peep, por examplay, the photo illustration of the old Dr. Pepper bottle...with the old 10, 2 and 4 clock positions, deemed ideal by someone in marketing Back In The Day to suggest people take a break with the Dr. These days if you drank a high-fructose-corn-syurped soda at 10 AM, 2 PM, and 4 PM I suspect you'd test positive for Type 2 Diabetes by 6 PM...but I digress (It was a simpler time, neh?)

The neat thing about the internets is (unless the big guys manage to steal them from us, of course) if you can't find a site documenting what you want to see you can put one up. This is apparently what the suspiciously-pseudonymously-sounding Ian House has done by erecting the virtual edifics of the American Package Museum, with a fair-sized armful already of historic packages that have graced American pantries and market shelves through the consumer age.

They are clearly authentic and delightfully enthralling. The collection isn't as big as I'd hoped it to be but I'll be he'll accept exhibit donations.

It's The American Package Museum, and we give it five stars. Sam Bob says check it out.

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14 June 2006

[philosophy] Unexpected Masters of Teaching Passion

We rather famously and smugly say we don't watch much television. With the broadcast fare across the vast wasteland getting of slenderer worth as time goes on there's just not much reason to turn it on, and when it comes to satellite or cable I just don't care for the feeling of having to watch the idiot box or I'm out money.

Some shows do get under our skins, however. One is the Fox series Hell's Kitchen, which just started it's second run. What it is that originally attracted me I'm not quite sure–perhaps it's the joy of watching a group of people willingly submit to the abuse of Gordon Ramsay, gleefully watching as all these people have thier "I'm all that" beat right out of them, and not having to feel guilty about it because they let themselves right in for this abuse.

They wanted it, baby, they got it. I won't be crying for them

But, as I've watched the show, I've begun to identify a vibe coming not only from Chef Ramsay but also from the contestants that make it the farthest. One might call it spirit, or maybe drive, or maybe ambition, or maybe just "knowing what one wants".

There's a better word for it: passion.

It's taken me a long time to know what passion is, and that it's more than just a convenient (and somewhat inexact) synonym for intensity. After I realized what passion meant (for this I thank Pariah Burke) it was a short leap to understand that without a passion for something, life is just really just a tedious passage from sunrise to sunset, about 22,000 times, depending on your lifestyle and genetic makeup.

Another way to think of passion is a fire that drives.

Take Chef Ramsay, for instance. To say he loves what he does (being a world-class chef, that is, not being, as my old Dad might have said, a "sunuvabitch"), is really being half-hearted about it. He has passion to prepare the finest food imaginable. It's the fire that drives him. This is why he's so demanding, and why he has such a short fuse; I imagine that, from his point of view, if you're there to be on his team, then you have to have the same committment, the same eye on the same goal, uncompromisingly. If you're not skilled enough, if you're faking it just to look good or get admired or get famous, then you're going to get the blunt end of his rage when you, inevitably, let him down.

I get the idea that he's not really there to be famous (although doubtlessly prosperity is its own reward–he is rather wealthy, and an international television star besides). Rather the fame and fortune came because he does what he does the way he does it. The passion made the fame possible–not the other way round. And it's this passion that makes him such a fascinating person to watch.

In as much as he's earned Michelin's three stars for his efforts, we'd have to admit that results, in this case, speak for themselves.

Personally my passion is now design. And a function of this view is that now I can't see myself without striving to do something in design. What successes I've had have been the greatest personal high I've ever known, and that high is worth repeating no matter how well one gets paid for it (naturally, I'm hoping for prosperity too).

And people doing things passionately are–no other way to say it–fun to watch. It's almost as though thier high from being in the zone is contageous. Already, on Hell's Kitchen, it's becoming astoundingly obvious that, whether or not they know it, some are there to act out thier passion, and others are there so, down the road, they can say "I was on a television show once," and get out thier discs and show people. Hell, maybe that's not so bad, after all–how many of us can say that? Some are striving for the prize and thier passion and the best is already coming out in some of them, and that too is fun to watch.

Impassioned people show us what we're like at our best. They teach by example; that just a little passion for something in your life–even if it's nothing that will ever make you rich or famous–elevates even the most mundane life.

Learn passion, and life takes on a certain color and depth that it didn't have before.

This is why I admire Pariah Burke, and why I admire Gordon Ramsay. This is why I prattle on about logo design and map design.

Now if I can only get people to acknowledge my overall genius...well, nobody said it would be completely easy.

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13 June 2006

[logo_design] Ubuntu: Communicating Commonality

After writing about how we have the new FreekBox from Free Geek, I began looking into Ubuntu. After all, if you've a passing interest in OSs, as I do, it's hard not to be interested.

Surfing to the Ubuntu web page, http://www.ubuntu.com, I found something even more interesting than that; a concret demonstration of how the message of relation and commonality can be communicated through three similar logos that leave a different impression.

Firstly, the Ubuntu logo itself (in the interests of disclosure, all graphics have been nicked from the Ubuntu website. Message to Canonical Ltd.: consider coming up with graphics for journalists. Please.):

The word ubuntu, as is by now well known, is a word with roots in the Bantu culture, which emphasizes community. It's most popular translation is humanity towards others, but my favorite (as well as one which communicates the software's apparent ethos to me best) is "the belief in a universal bond of sharing that connects all humanity".

Free, empowering community, people helping others. Pretty simple. Ubuntu Linux is, of course, free, and they'll even ship you a pressed CD of the current release if you ask.

The particularls of the logo are direct, simple and friendly. Warm colors seem to evoke a welcoming feeling; the graphic is a dead clever abstraction of community (three people in a circle linking hands), and the logo font is particularly apt; a simple, strong sans serif that looks almost hand drawn–it reminds me of a child writing in the sand.

There are allied projects: Xubuntu, Edubuntu, and Kubuntu. Here are thier logos:

The three tell individual stories whilst maintaining a strong and obvious alliance. The Xubuntu and Kubuntu projects are Ubuntu with focus on desktops other than Gnome: respectively, Xfce and KDE. Both communicate strong alliance through symbol (the rodent mascot of Xfce and the eight-toothed gear from the K Desktop Environment logo) and typography (the extensions of the word ubuntu) and individuality (for Kubuntu and Xubuntu) by the use of the signature colors of the desktops.

The simple change to the Ubuntu logo for Edubuntu (Ubuntu intended for a classroom environmment, naturally), though, makes me smile the most. Colors are maintained, meaning it's closer to the parent than any of its siblings, and the turned up arm of one of the abstract figures instantly evokes an image common to many cultures; a child in a classroom raising his or her hand to be called on.

Simple changes that preserve the family circle but which, unequivocally, evoke a different personality for each sibling. Clever, direct, and brilliant.

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12 June 2006

[net_life] Anyone Want a Job With A Print Design Junta?

Ahhh, Craigslist. Home of some of the funniest typos in the world. Witness, from this job posting, for a Graphic Designer, which company wants print design and a proven multi-tasker:

Company has 30 year history in its community and a 6-peron staff.

I'm wondering if 2 of the 6 go by the names of "Juan" and "Evita".

The Wife™ wonders also if people using other names can apply.

As do I.

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11 June 2006

[design] We Find Adobe Employees Quite del.icio.us

Employees of Adobe Systems, the graphical software powerhouse, have decided to show the world what they like; there is a new folder on del.icio.us they've just begun to populate.

Said John Nack on his own Adobe blog:
Adobe folks have started populating del.icio.us, the popular shared
bookmarking application, with interesting bits relevant to Adobe apps &
users. The root is http://del.icio.us/adobe, and from there you can go to
more specific areas (e.g. del.icio.us/adobe/Photoshop or
del.icio.us/adobe/AfterEffects). Luanne Seymour, a member of the group doing
this work, hastens to point out that this effort has just begun & the set of
links isn't yet comprehensive. That said, it's growing every day.
I just visited there, and it's up to 276. They aren't letting dust gather, that's for sure.

(Via João Carlos de Pinho on the OmniPilot InDesign mailing list)

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[design] Fabulous Freebies for InDesign and Blogging

If you design and blog, there are two sources you need to know about.

Rorohiko Ltd for spiffy Indy plugins

The first, and tattoo this on a body part if you have to, is a NZ concern called Rorohiko, Ltd. These people make the niftiest InDesign plugins this side of Slendro, and no kidding there.

Rorohiko, which means "computer" in Maori, means "lightning brain" (hiko=brain, roro=lightning), and they have lightning skills too. They originated the Sudoku InDesign plugin (which is free) and now they amaze with the Lightning Brain Story Parker, which allows you to shuffle text and picture frames off to the side and then snap them, precisely, right back to where you had them before. Saving this one step can only but lubricate the ol' workflow.

Another amazing thing they're doing is a beta test version of something you'll love if you don't like Bridge or don't have the Creative Suite; Image Library Loader. This installs a new item on your menu bar; with a document open you pull this down and get the dialog that allows you to specify a directory to load images from. Do so, and you get a small display that looks like an Indy palette that has all the images displayed–with hardly the overhead of the Bridge (which not even I need open all the time).

Image Library Loader is in beta; go to this link to get it.

One important thing to know about these is that Rorohiko calles them scripted plugins. They're scripts that act like plugins, but before you can use them you have to install the Active Page Item Runtime plugin; this allows Indy to interpret the others.

Rorohiko is mad brilliant, and I am in awe of thier considerable skillz. Bookmark'em, get the free goodies (not just free plugins but they have free PDF Sudoku puzzle books and other cool stuff) and then go back for the pay stuff.

Magical Sheep, the Magic Bookmarklet

I must say, I'm impressed by the innovation of the bookmarklet.

I'm sure that many of you already know what those are; I just found out about them. Apparently what you do, is in your bookmark, instead of having the URL where the URL is supposed to go, you put javascript. It lives in your bookmarks bar just like a hyperlink, except when you click it, the script runs and works its mojo.

At the end of this link is a bookmarklet/favelet archive by Improbulus, the British author of a blog called "A Consuming Experience". The archive at current has four freebies, and if you like tagging but are at the moment married to Blogger you'll want the Technorati Tag Magic Sheep Bookmarklet. It's the first item on the list.

Being identical in appearance to a hyperlink (as far as the browser is concerned), installing it couldn't be simpler: look for the link that reads "Technorati Magical Sheep Bookmarklet -- Baaaaaaaa!!" and drag it to your bookmark bar. That's all there is to it! After that, just click the link, type your tag terms in the input box separated by commas, and in a split second it coughs back another sheet with the whole HTML sequence autoselected for copying and pasting.

Since I've decided to tag my posts, this has made it a breeze. And, as an added bonus, it's auto-rapped in a class ("technoratitags") so that you can style it with CSS. And multiple term tags? It puts in the plus-sign for you!

So what are you waiting for? Grok these!

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09 June 2006

[oregon_transit] Bad News For Cherrioteers

Some months back, C-Tran, Clark County's public transit system, went through a period of marking itself up for deep cuts in anticipation of a possible levy defeat at the polls.

The levy was supported, and while C-Tran's service isn't exactly what it once was, it's much better than it could have been.

They've just been through the same experience down in Salem, but the story went the other way:the Cherriots had a bond measure defeated. This measure, which might have expanded service, perhaps even (at long last) added Sundays (I believe that SKT is the largest district in Oregon without it), means that Cherriots is going to have to cut to keep the budget balanced, and if you have to depend on it to get round Salem, doing so is about to get harder.

Check out this page at the Cherriots website. The cuts are rationalized along two lines: heavy weekday cuts only, or milder weekday cuts and complete elimination of Saturday service, for the time being.

It's sad, I think. Salem, despite her modest size, was always a tough town to get around in if you didn't have the automobile option–having spent all my teenage years there, I know this intimately. I remember, during the mid-1970s, Cherriots (then a department of the City of Salem) was forced to drastically cut back routes to just within the city limits. Not too many routes went beyond into the county (Salem has always had a very slender suburban area), but I lived on Abiqua Court SE about 1/3 beyond the end of the then-Four Corners line. Between that time and the establishment of the Salem Area Mass Transit District (which extended to the urban growth boundary, thus taking the suburban fringe back into the service area), it was tough to get round if you just had two wheels.

Hamman Stage Lines and a couple other private carriers established shuttle services for the fringe (me and my waggish friends at the time promptly dubbed them the "Hamman Eggs") which, in my area, carried me to the Lancaster Mall so we could transfer to the Chemeketa line. But as a substitute for transit service in Salem–which has always been thin, no more frequent than weekdays, half-hourly, and only till about 7pm)–it really wasn't much.

The un-carred in Salem need encouragement, not discouragement. Sunday service there would be nice, and it's something I wish I had when I lived there. Actually, transit funding overall is a broken thing, but since I have no suggestions to make it better, I'll leave it at that, for now.

In the meantime, Cherriotteers have a hard choice to make. The link to the Cherriots webpage above also has a public meeting schedule where you can go to make your voice heard. If you get round town on the bus, you really ought to.

That, and get ready to wait longer for your bus–what buses are left.

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[net_life] I have Google Analytics

That title pretty much speaks for itself. Finally got my Google Analytics invite today and I've enrolled ZKT in it.

Also people have varying attitudes about Google; I issue this as a sort of warning.

But I am interested in who reads this blog and where they come from. When I started it, more than two years ago, I was just playing around. As I got deeper into being a designer I want this blog to be more about my passion; about design, bad, good, and otherwise, and believe it or not, I understand there is a person or two out there who actually come by here to see what I have to say about it.

While ZKT continues to be a more unabashed forum for my design views than my writings on Designorati or QuarkVSInDesign, it will also continue to be more Oregonized (and more than occaisionally feature my personal reactions to being a Portland resident, Address Nerdery, and that stuff). So, its for me, first, but it's also for the tens of people a day who stop by and glance. I want the part that others come by to see to not be a waste of thier time.

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08 June 2006

[net_life] Google Search Hit of the Day

This came from Tehran, Iran: google earth pernography.

Gosh, I hope he finds some. Whatever it is.

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[pdx_life] Free Geek is Teh Cool

As your future Arbiter Of Taste™, it is of course incumbent upon me to tell you what's good.

FreeGeek is good. Of course, many of you don't need to be told this, but it's amazing what they get done down there.

My The Wife™'s old computer, a Pentium MMX 200 (I kid you not), checked out three days ago. Blown power supply, and, from our parts-is-parts backstock, we had exhausted all the old power supplies. Had to go out and get one, and we've had good experiences with them getting odd and interesting stuff before.

Going there in search of the power supply stock (we had planned on an excursion to Fry's if this didn't pan out) it became obvious that, despite the decent stock of power supplies of many ratings, the ones there didn't have the leads we needed. You see, we were looking for AT power supplies.

But wait! The fellow behind the counter simply went back into the...well, back area...and came up with two AT power supplies that were "semi-tested" (he said he plugged them in and the fans spun. Worked for us).

And while we were at it, we looked for a replacement CD drive. Found a tested CD-RW job that was IDE (The Wife™'s CD drive had been busted some years back in a fit of pique (hey, we all have 'em)). It works on the old fossil (the computer!) but we don't have the proper driver (and it's Win98 anyway, so we wonder if it's worth the trouble so it doesn't burn, but it reads, and right now, that's enough.

And I finally fell for one of the Freekboxes. For those who don't know, those are computers put together by the volunteers at FreeGeek, but we bought a StoreBox, which was one of the models put up for sale in the Thrift Shop: 197MB RAM, 56K modem, ethernet, ATI Rage 3D video card, and good to go with Ubuntu Linux 5.10. Now, we're home-representing Open Source, which is important because Linus lives in the area and has a day job in Beaverton now (as it was, we already ran OpenOffice.org (as it will be recalled) on the Macintosh here).

So what was the damage?
  • Two AT Power supplies (gotta have one for backup) at $2.50 each: $5.00
  • A tested (and working) 8x CD-RW:$4.00
  • A complete and working computer system with Ubuntu Linux, complete with The GIMP so The Wife™ can play with her Photoshop files without having to wait for me to move aside so she can work on 'em in my professional copy of Photoshop CS2, and a free trouble ticket for resolution of one problem of any description: $35.00
  • Having more cool toys and a working system back for The Wife™ without breaking the bank:Priceless.
And the trip to Fry's? Never happened. Didn't have to.

As your Future Arbiter of Taste™, we give thumbs-up (and continued patronage and active consideration of volunteering) to FreeGeek.

Did you know: if you want a computer and can't afford one, FreeGeek will train you to assemble FreekBoxes, and, once you get six put together, you get one of your own for free...and training in how to use it? You can also adopt a computer by doing recycling work for them.

Did you also know: FreeGeek is going national, with local versions in Chicago, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Olympia?

Update and Correction 2006,0608@2045: The Wife™ informed me that the 8x CD-RW drive costed $8, not $4. My bad.

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07 June 2006

[liff] Linking Park, Portand, Oregon

(Nota Bene: there is an offical "adult" cuss word in this post. You have been advised).

I'm going personal on this post. Hope all y'all don't mind.

Portland is pretty much the center of my universe.

I've always adored Portland. Though I'm a native Oregonian (one of only about 24, as far as I know) I was not born in Portland. I don't make a secret of it, but I keep that fact in the background, since I get this feeling it makes a dent in my local-boy mojo.

I was downloaded about 50 miles south-southeast of here, and grew up as a child of the teevee, waking up to Ramblin' Rod but never getting the chance to go (as I found out later from some people, it wasn't exactly an epochal experience–not a bad time, but hardly the tear-up we say on KPTV every day). I often have said that the only real mistake I ever made in my life was not being born here; somehow the worst day I have in Portland beats the best day I could have pictured having anywhere else.

Now that I'm a Big Boy™, and computer lidderate, and terribly impressed with my own words, I keep what my tens of readers peruse each day. Not too bad actually; I get to be a member of a community and even if my aim to be Your Arbiter of Local Taste™ doesn't play out, in 30 years (assuming there's still a civilization then) I'll be able to say "Remember the day? When we still had electrcity an' all? Yeah, I had a blog."

Anyway! The point of this whole thing (and I do have one) is that I had a very gratifying experience today, local-blog-linkwise. And I don't usually announce who I link to (though reciprocation is always a given), because...well, I'm actually not sure why not. Maybe I think I'm being too much of a braggart or something. I'll get therapy.

Anyway! I happend to, in my random reading of the digest list at OrBlogs, stumbled on this post on Metroblogging Portland (which I stop by occasionally because of its witty design and wittier contributors) and noticed that a bit of shameless self-promotion would have been a-ok.

Well, as Jeff says, if you don't toot your own horn, nobody else will. So I self-promoted, which is also something a designer just needs to do (see, I worked design in here! In Yer Face!!!...eh, 'scuse me. Sorry).

Yesterday was the most heavily trafficked day this 'blog's seen in a while. First of all, thank y'all for stopping by. Made my day (it was a pretty good day all round, but that was definitely a high point).

There have indeed been blogs I've added to my own blogroll (the local part is accessable under the heading "Blogging, Oregon Style"). There are a bunch there, and I get round to reading all of them by and by (dialup will force you to budget your time, you see), some, lately (Preemptive Karma, FURIOUS Nads!, for example) getting more reading than others (nothing personal to the rest of you–there are only so many stops I can make per day).

As a direct result of the Metblogging posting, I've added a few today:
In the last week, Miles at documented life sought me out and linked to me because he liked the cut of my jib (I was considering recutting the jib, but because if Miles, it stays the way it was for now). Naturally I linked back, and if you haven't seen his site you should; speaking of witty design, this is right up there at the top. Another early site that linked to me because he apparently appreciated my wit was Mover Mike, Pril reciprocated after I linked (lady bass players rawk, did you know?), and homopoliticogeek (who's site seems to be gone-wa in a paraticularly strange way) linked for no announced reason (which was incredibly flattering). Taylor Street Purple (one of the cleverer blog titles I've seen) also falls into this class.

I was particularly pumped when a local designer linked me: Jeff Fisher's Blog-oMotives. Jeff Fisher is one of my personal heroes; an article in TheO a few years back about him was one of my direct inspirations for attending PCC to get a degree in Graphic Design (I have other local heroes; you'd be surprised what a big design town Portland is. Or maybe you wouldn't, who knows, but these folks happened long before our now-vaunted addiction to "the creative class". Not that I'm totally against that; I'm trying to get some of this economy addicted to me, but I'm digressing again).

Ever notice how finding someone linked to your blog without telling you feels like finding a lost $20 bill ion the street?

And, to finish off (for now), a good review always lifts one's spirits; over in the comments of that Metblogs posting I got the following prop from dieselboi (who I've had in my blogroll for a while)
I think Zehnkatzen Times and Laurabush.info are the shit!
I understand the compliment, and I appreciate the association.

I love living in Portland. Word.

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04 June 2006

[font] The O RLY Font

We return to the O RLY owl just for a moment.

This cheeful, surprised fellow is captioned by the now-famously expressed question in a quite distinctive font. This font has been searched for (and this very blog has been search-pinged) in a search for what they refer to as "The O RLY Font".

In an attempt to add to the typographic literacy of everybody out there, I'll tell you what it's actually called: Kabel Bold (link to Monotype Imaging's page, where you can purchase it if you so desire), one of the Kabel range developed by typographic giant Rudolf Koch in 1924, and named for (and perhaps inspired by) the then-new transatlantic cables that were being laid ("cable" in German is das Kabel). Monotype Imaging has this to say about it:
Traditionally, German foundries have been more energetic in soliciting new designs from artists who are not specialist typographers. An example of this tradition was the career of Rudolf Koch, who designed Kabel in 1926, and which was named after the first trans-Atlantic cable. Kabel is a sans serif design of peculiar characteristics, suitable for short texts. It produces a striking effect on the page, providing modernistic feel. Although in many respects it resembles the simplicity of Futura, the unique shapes should help to identify Kabel from any other sans serif. The design was redrawn by ITC in 1975 under license from the Stempel foundry to create the ITC Kabel font family.
There're probably free versions available; you're on your own there. The late site orlyowls.com (which seems to have died the unexpected death) offered a link to a free version that caused my system to gag (maybe it was Windows TrueType?)

With respect to the late Mr. Koch, it is not known whether this has caused him to spin in his grave. For all I know, he may have been cremated.

There. Aren't you all glad you asked?

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