OK, Now I’m Worried/Excited About HTML5

Starring: Jonah Hill, Michael Cera, Seth Rogen, Christopher Mintz-Plasse

Perhaps “SuperMediocre”- at best.

I dunno, I’ve seen this movie a dozen+ times before. Dork dudes lust after hot chicks, strange events occur, dork dudes almost/do get hot chicks.


The “McLovin” bit is shout-worthy, but this movie left me cold/tepid otherwise. I just couldn’t get into the whole “separation anxiety” issue that’s part of the core of this movie. Not – in my experience – a guy thing.

Oh – Michael Cera: In this flick and Juno, he’s about as convincing as an Eggo “Waffle.”

All movies

Apple had an HTML5 site first (http://www.apple.com/html5) but it – idiotically – forced it to work with Safari only. (Works best there, but optimized for same.)

OK, now Google has a site/demo for HTML:

Works in Firefox, Chrome (best), OK in Safari.

But awesome stuff.

I’m worried and excited.

Worried because this is another tool I’ll have to learn (that I don’t have time for??).

Excited because this is another tool I’ll get to learn and leverage.

A WebMonkey’s work is never done…

Art Fair Weekend

Trumpet Vine

OK, went to the Arlington Heights (IL) art fair today.

Always a pretty nice art show – not great, but worth the walking (and close to home).

Hot out today – in the high 80s/low 90s, with all that wonderful humidity. What the hell, it gets our asses out of the house!

Nothing memorable about the show this year; a couple of new, fun things, but nothing “I must have!” or “Wow!”

As always, however, an art fair leaves me – a photographer – depressed. Because I so suck in comparison to the vendors (not just the photographers, but compared to the creativity of many of the artists, regardless of the medium).

One bright spot: As I’m writing this, I see my “Pic ‘O the Day” is a trumpet vine blossom. From our backyard, after a rain.

I dunno, this is an awesome picture – maybe the depth of field could have been a little deeper, but this pic just works. Color/contrast, the refractions in the water drops and so on. Thumbnail doesn’t do it justice; click through for the larger image.

I’m my harshest critic, but this is a non-sucks pic!

NPR – Giving Good Customer Service

NPRI’ve been an NPR subscriber for several years now, just to support the network.

Yep, I’ve gotten T-shirts, subs to (this) or (that) magazine as part of my subscription, but that’s not why I do it. Again, to support the network.

One of the things one gets with my level of support is a dining card – $x/%x off the bill from these restaurants.

Romy used the card a couple of times recently, and it was “What????”

So we hit the NPR site, submitted the issue (not really a complaint – well, a complaint that informs, not to get some $$$ back).

NPR followed up with contacts with both restaurants with which we had issues, emailed about progress on same, and called me to detail its findings (NPR: “They just received the NPR info;” Us: “The restaurants are fibbin”).

And it wasn’t boilerplate: It said “I talked to the manager of (restaurant #1)…” (who fibbed or not)

Today – sadly – that is commendable.

An actual follow-through on a complaint, and a more thorough follow-through than I would have expected.

NPR has impressed me. Why can’t other companies do the same?

The Vonnegut Way


Just finished reading Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country this evening (as close to a memoir as we’ll get from Vonnegut).

The book came out in 2005; I just became aware of it a couple of months ago (thanks to Dave at Scripting News), and I finally got around to reading it.

It’s not a memoir – it’s just a collection of reminiscences and things that are on Vonnegut’s mind. I believe many – if not all – were published elsewhere and collected for this book (while Vonnegut was still alive – he died in 2007).

It’s a quick and refreshing read, full of candor, humor and – to a degree – pessimism. Vonnegut touches on his experiences in Dresden during WWII (he was a POW, and somehow survived the firebombing of that city), the state of current affairs and about how that whole world seems to be going to hell in a hand basket.

At the same time, Vonnegut is not just a grumpy old man. He admits he may have lost some of his sense of humor as the years have passed (he was 82 at publication), yet is adamant that there were no Good Old Days. Today is just our version of the whole hell/hand basket.

So he’s a realist.

The book is a breezy read – really more a series of vignettes than anything else – but packed with wonderful quotations, both funny and observationally spot-on. Make no mistake about it – this guy can write.

A couple of examples, the first one funny, the second disturbingly accurate:

I am one of America’s Great Lakes people, her freshwater people, not an oceanic but a continental people. Whenever I swim in the ocean, I feel as though I am swimming in chicken soup.

There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don’t know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. This was true even in high school. Only clearly disturbed people ran for class president.

The latter quotation refers to the 2nd President Bush (about whom Vonnegut writes about in a very unflattering manner), but it’s something I’ve wondered about lately, especially in our now 24-hour news cycle, where the beast needs continual feeding: Why would someone put themselves and their families through all this to be Representative/Senator/President? It’s almost pathological. What does this say about our candidates?

Vonnegut is our era’s Mark Twain; I don’t know who is left to fill in this blank: A humanist, a humorist and an astute observer of the human condition. E.B. White – like Vonnegut – was a Cornell University product who wrote and observed well, but he’s gone, too. And his humor was more New Yorker than Vonnegut’s sometimes profane and matter-of-fact approach.

Some might invoke names such as Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert, saying the medium has moved. This, to a degree, is true, but Stewart and Colbert are more heirs to Will Rogers than Twain. More topical, more hyperbole. Twain and Vonnegut often understated matters, and shared their own feelings instead of just echoing the zeitgeist. I’m not knocking the one approach vs. the other; just noting they are different.

We need voices like Vonnegut to help keep us grounded, to show us that the things we are taking for granted (“trust the government”) might not be true and so on.

I’ve liked Vonnegut ever since devouring – in one night – Slaughterhouse Five.

I’m not the guy who has read all of Vonnegut’s books – and some I’ve read haven’t done much for me.

But I always liked his (written) voice, and especially liked his non-fiction efforts, including interviews and so on. He seems so grounded. I think that’s what separates Vonnegut/Twain from the politicians: The politicians keep trying to convince us they are something they might not be (whatever it takes to get [re-]elected); Vonnegut/Twain just are, and are trying to get you to smile, to laugh and to think – not to vote.

That’s the Vonnegut Way.

SCSI Issues

The Hangover
Starring Zach Galifianakis, Justin Bartha, Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms

Finally got around to seeing this 2009 hit.

Pretty damn good.

Good setup: Four guys go to Vegas for a last weekend of fun before one of the four gets married. What could go wrong?

They wake up the next morning, and no one can remember what transpired the night before. And the groom is missing. And there is a live tiger in the bathroom. And a baby in the closet.

Could have been bad, but they pulled it off. Nice, offbeat comedy.

All movies

Had a nightmare this past weekend: I installed a SCSI card in my computer to run an (old) SCSI scanner on my computer about a week ago. Worked fine on my old Win2000 box in the day; seemed to work fine on my WinXP box now. Scanned and all that.

But then – about a week later – I was just noodling around on my computer, and accidentally hit the wrong TWAIN source in PhotoShop.

Blue Screen of Death (BSOD). A first on this box.

Rebooted blah blah, went to the control panel to see if stuff was installed correctly…



My computer still worked fine, but it was incredibly flaky. “This” would work, but “that” would BSOD things.

I finally – after many hours – did a full system restore, Windows Updates etc…and I think all is well.

But, hell.

That was a lot of work for nothing.

Damn you Windows!

And damn you SCSI (USB won’t [today] give this kind of trouble).

Lies, Damn Lies and Sarah Palin

Yes, the mess that is the result of the April 20, 2010 explosion – and subsequent collapse – of the BP oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico is probably the worst environmental disaster in US history.

That said, Sarah Palin – of “Drill, Baby, Drill” fame – has put a spin on her many remarks supporting drilling for oil.

Via her Twitter account:

Drill, baby, drill

Sounds like she only supported ONSHORE drilling, right?

This is the age of Google; why try to cover your tracks in this transparent a way?

Here’s what I found that was interesting:

On March 31 – about three weeks before the BP rig exploded and sank into the Gulf (and, to date, still spewing oil at an unprecedented rate; unplugged/unfixed) – Palin had an article on the National Review‘s website; specifically, “The Corner” section.

Stall, Baby, Stall.

In this bylined article, Palin mentions the following, all of which support OFFshore drilling, the kind that, unfortunately, blew up in the Gulf:

Today the president said he’ll “consider potential areas for development in the mid and south Atlantic and the Gulf of Mexico, while studying and protecting sensitive areas in the Arctic.” As the former governor of one of America’s largest energy-producing states, a state oil and gas commissioner, and chair of the nation’s Interstate Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, I’ve seen plenty of such studies. What we need is action — action that results in the job growth and revenue that a robust drilling policy could provide.

As an Alaskan, I’m especially disheartened by the new ban on drilling in parts of the 49th state and the cancellation of lease sales in the Chukchi and Beaufort seas.

And let’s not forget that while Interior Department bureaucrats continue to hold up actual offshore drilling from taking place, Russia is moving full steam ahead on Arctic drilling, and China, Russia, and Venezuela are buying leases off the coast of Cuba.

These are remarks in support of offshore drilling, ja? And well off her run as VP, so it’s not “well, that’s the platform’s view, not necessarily mine….” and so on.

Here, I’m not for or against Sarah Palin.

Here, I’m not for or against drilling (wherever).

Here, I’m against the unspinnable spin Palin is attempting (and may well get away with her base).

It’s like Orwell’s Ministry of Truth…..

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Printing the news
Flickr © photo; looking for attribution…

As in, I read a couple of articles about “journalism” (yes, with air quotes) this past weekend that were just, WTF?

The first was Nicholas Carr, arguing for Experiments in delinkification. I.e. don’t put links inline in your online stories/blog entries, put them at the end (like footnotes in a book).

  • On the most basic level, this is idiotic because the web is about linkage. That’s its power. Read the same article in (for example) the print version Vanity Fair and do the lookups after reading the physical article. Not pretty.
  • I respect Carr, and he got the idea from Steve Gillmor – I respect Steve and Dan (his brother) Gillmor about tech and journalism. NOTE: No link to Steve’s original column that I can see.
  • I can see the argument for same: Takes (potentially) reader away from article. That’s the point of links. If I’m distracted by a shiny object (link), my bad. But why not offer same to me, and let me decide? Why not put a link to Steve’s article so I can decide that he’s a tool or that, while I respect him, Steve has left the reservation on this subject? Or that Carr has misrepresented Gillmor’s intent or whatever? That’s part of journalism that linkage makes easy/powerful (link to source – let reader decide if you’ve interpreted correctly etc.).
  • Overall, I disagree with this online “linkless” writing, but that’s me. I can see the merits of the counter arguments; I just don’t buy into them.

The other article I read this weekend – on TechCrunch – was Sarah Lacy’s take on whether print journalism is dead or not. After talking to managers of a Southeast Asia print empire, Sarah says this corporation has the keys to keeping print media alive.


They recruit the best – and have more applicants than positions. Kudos!

And then things got weird – both with the print (and TV) empire, and with Sarah, the so-called journalist.

The Jawa Pos will only hire someone if they are under 25 and you must retire when you hit 50—no matter what your seniority.

The company’s network of more than 150 publications and television stations is designed to avoid the exact problem that plagues old-school media: An overpaid preponderance of senior staff that doesn’t do much. [emphasis added]

Does experience and seniority have advantages in the work place? Of course. That’s why the Jawa Pos lets you work there until you are fifty.

I understand what the company – Jawa Pos – is trying to do (save money on salaries). Why would an American – a woman – buy into this? (Sure you’re OK until you’re 50, but if you’ve had a kid…).

And how about Sarah’s comment: Does experience and seniority have advantages in the work place? Of course. That’s why the Jawa Pos lets you work there until you are fifty.

1) They “let you work there” until you are fifty? Thanks!

2) At 50 years + one day, does my experience and seniority have advantages in the work place? According to this article, nope – and that’s a good thing! This’ll keep print alive!! (It’ll help. At 50, nuke that editor and replace with someone half-aged/half-priced.)

And – yep – the reason print is dying is because of “An overpaid preponderance of senior staff that doesn’t do much.”

Nothing to do with declining classified sales.

Nothing to do with younger people reading non-physical news (ah, the interTubes…..).

And yes, more so [NOT!] than any other industry, an “overpaid preponderance of senior staff that doesn’t do much.” Not true in any other industry: Sales, retail, marketing, Congress etc.

Those lazy blokes with ink-stained fingers…

Sarah Lacey’s article is – to me, a one-time journalist, an avid reader – disturbing.

The logic here, simply put, is that news is a young person’s business.

Really? Tell Studs Turkel, Bob Woodward, Roger Ebert and others.

You’re out.