Friday, May 27, 2005


Just finished a great book. It's called Interface and it's by Stephen Bury who if you didn't know is Neil Stephenson in disguise. NS is one of my favorite people. He's an ok writer, but he's brilliant and he thinks the way I do, so I like him a lot.

Anyway, the book is about a presidential election but there's a slight twist in that one of the canditates has a biochip implanted in his head that is tied to a network of average americans. He has the ability to know instantly how something he is saying is coming across to the country.

The book is old and precedes most of NS more well known work. It was written in 1994. In some ways I was surprised that it was 10+ years old in others I wasn't. The surprises came from how profetic the writing was. I thought that often it was talkig about the current presidentiaal administration and the current state of politics. In other tech ways, it was a bit outdated, but that really didn't matter to the story that much

Overall it was a really fun read. I recommend it.

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Why I will never buy another mac : reasons 1,2 and 3

1) There is no easy way to move files across volumes

I have a server where I hold most of my files. But I can't move files from my mac to the server takes me 2 steps when it should take one. Assuming I have both folders open (which is a topic for another post), I can drag the files from one folder to the other. However, (using some strange Mac logic) they are only copied. This is unlike the behaviour when I drag from one folder to another on the same volume which turns out to be a move. Ok, fine, I'll accept that you want different behavior in this case, just give me a way to move the files in this case. As it is, after the copy operation I have to then take the same files and drag them to the trash.

In Windows (oh how I miss it), one simply clicks and drags the files using the right mouse button and then when they get to their destination, you can choose copy or move as your operation.. how novel. I tried the right click drag on the mac, can't be done..

2) delete files must be a drag to the trash

In Windows (oh how I miss it), to delete a selected file I could simply click the delete or backspace button on my keyboard, or if I was feeling like doing a hard way, I right click on it and select delete. Neither of these options work on the Mac. nope, I must click and drag the file(s) to the trash. Yay.. that's really useful and helps me out a bunch..

3) create new folder.

Yup, in Windows (oh how I miss it), you can be anywhere and be just a right click away from creating a new folder. This will only work on the Mac if you are hovering above the Desktop. It won't work in a folder, or anywhere else.. Why not? Who designed this interface and more importantly, how is it that so many people love this OS? What am I missing?

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Theme Park Maps

I thought this link was pretty cool. It's a compilation of theme park maps from all over from way back when I was a kid until today.. It's cool to see the old Great Adventure or Hershey Park maps from the 70's and 80's no?


Ok..I know I subjected you to blood and guts in the last movie, but this one is totally worth it.. It's a Smigel cartoon.. Don't watch if you are a red-stater...


maybe all wrestling really isn't fake....

Monday, May 23, 2005

Elton John

Well, Elton John is playing on the 4th of July here in Philly and I wanted to get some info about the concert for some friends who are going to be in the city.

Before I comment on my attemt can I just ask something? Am I the only one who finds it odd that Elton John, excuse me.. Sir Elton John is the headliner for a 4th of July concert? The day that we all celebrate our independence over the tyranny and oppression of the British government.. of which he is a knight? I guess most people don't even remember what we celebrate the day for anyway do they?

Ok, whatever.. so I type into google "4th of july philadelphia" thinking that I'd get some Philly sponsored website about the concert. Nope, no luck. I try other variations, no luck. I somehow remember that a few years ago the 4th of July concert was named the Welcome America concert (don't ask me why I remembered that) so I tried "Welcome America".. Hmn.. nope.. no luck.. I try "welcome america philadelphia" and finally I find something...the 2004 event schedule.

I decide, maybe the philadelphia website has something.. hmn.. gotta find that one now.. is it no.. that's the daily news site.. is it nope.. that's some commercial tourist trap site..'s some kind of .gov domain.. nope.. ok.. back to google (it shouldn't be this hard).. ahh.. the 3rd one down.. .. who would think of this address? anyone? As an aside, they should register and point it to the same place.. how hard is that?

anyway, I can't find it there either, lots of links on wireless philadelphia though.. that's useful.. So, lets see, its a concert with like 2 million people going to it, it's a huge boost to your revinue, so where would you promote it? You got me.

Friday, May 20, 2005


I'm not sure if I posted before how much fun the NJ Lottery cyber game Slingo is. Well, no worries since soon you won't be able to play it. Evidently the game is being discontinued due to a poor showing sales wise. That's sad.. It's the most fun I've had playing the lottery and before it I maybe spent $10 a year on lottery tix. I may have spent $75 on slingo aloone in the past 4-5 months..

It's also a good indicator of the fact that most of America (if you assume that NJ is a good enough sample size) is just not up to speed on the internet and the computer. Yea I know we all have one now and most are connected, but still.. how hard is it to play a lottery game on the net?

Oh well, guess I'll be saving some cash now...Oh wait, I still have an online poker account.. ahh..

the hacker

Yea, this story has been floating around for quite sometime, but I put it up for the following reasons:

1) it's totally plausable that someone could have a tool that hooks into windows and deletes drives by just an ip address
2) There are a shitload of moronic people out there in the ether
3) this conversation reminds me of the many genious level convos I had or overheard when I was playing WoW..

So, go here and check it out.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Kingdom of Loathing

I'm a huge gamer. I've played them all. Most reciently was World of Warcraft. anyway, I just found a new one that I'm loving.. and I think that women as well as men would like it. The nice thing is that it's free. The nicer thing is that it's purely text based (with some stick figure graphics) so all the 12 year old kids aren't there. Anyway, take an hour and play around with this one.. it's a browser game and you can find it at Enjoy!


Let me tell you all something. I've a Masters Degree in Software Engineering. I build big, complex programs like Mechanical Engineers build factory machines. Every day I deal with difficult to understand abstract concepts. So you would think that I would have no problem getting AppleScript to copy a folder or two on my harddrive. Well, it's been 3 hours now and I haven't gotten far at all. I'm trying to love the mac, but I'm not having much luck with it.

So, since I lost everything on my old mac when it went down (hours and hours of hand converted emails and contacts and quicken data and the like) I decided that this time I would be prepared. I decided that I would do a daily backup and move that over to my server.

I do this with my work. Every day at about 4:45pm I run a series of routines I created to backup the application I'm working on (usually thousands of files in hundreds of folders) to a synchrnoized folder which I then synch up with a CVS system on a server back at the home office. Basicly, everything I do every day is checked to see if it differs from yesterdays versions and any changes are uploaded to the work server. This way I can go back to any day and "see" my app as it was on that day. This is useful for a number of reasons, but that's not why I'm telling you all this. So I'll continue.

I was excited about the mac becasue they have had this AppleScript deal which I was led to believe would allow me to 'script' or emulate commands that I would normally do via point and click and typing. In most cases I have found this to be true, but not all cases and that's just not cool. Anyway, in Tiger (mac's new OS) there is this new tool called Automator that claims to reduce repetative tasks by simply creating these 'workflows' that do things for me. Kind of like a AppleScript for the masses. Neither of them do what I want to do.

Well, that's not true. They may, I just haven't figured out how yet.

So what do I want to do? I want to create a folder on my desktop with a simple name like "backup - may 15, 2005" and then copy a series of files and folders into it. I would love if it would move it to my server for me but that just seems way too complex so I've decided that I would do that part manually. My plan is that once I have the script, I'd make it run when I logged off every day.

Well, so far I've been able to create a folder with the name "backup" (can't get the date figured out yet) and I've been able to copy a file into it. And it has been 3 hours.

I thought this mac thing was supposed to be easy. Let me say that on the PC, I could spend 1 hour and create an ant script that will do everything for me with no hassles. Hmn.. that gives me an idea.. I may be able to get ant for the BSD OS under the mac OS..

Well, I'd still have to run it in some autmated way and that would require AppleScript.. hmn.. what a drag.. this shit should be easier than my job, not harder...

duh.. mac crap.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Ok.. is this one better?

Here's another trailer.. but I'm not sure this film will be better.. In fact, I'm not even going to see it.. Well, maybe I will...

As I alianate you all in one single post

Yea, this one will do it. Most of you who know me know that I have very high standards when it comes to movies. And a bunch of you trust me when I tell you that something is great or if it sucks. A few of you actually have been to films with me and or seen me watch previews. That few of you know that I'm pretty good at telling if a movie is going to suck or not pretty well.

Well, I just saw the preview for this movie and I have to say that the film looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. Watch the preview before you decide if I'm crazy or not.

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Springboard Media

There is a company named Springboard Media that I have to give a plug to. I bought my mac there and even though I've been a cranky baby, the people there have been totally understanding and have tried to help me get things working again. After my last mess, I wrote the owner and explained to him (in an embarrasingly angry tone) my situation and my discontent with the Mac they sold me. Mind you, today is Sunday.

In either case, an hour later I got a reply. He's going to send his top tech to my house to replace the entire unit and make sure things are running 100% for me. Now I'm sure he's not in the business of replacing Macs all the time, but in this case, this unit I've got is having serious hardware problems and would most likely be exchangeable through Apple had I bought it online, but the thing is that I didn't. I bought it from a local vendor and now they are being kind enough to send someone here to help me out instead of having me go back and forth to the shop.

That's what I call customer service. I haven't seen that too often in America today.

Long live the Mac

So, my mac is now dead. About 2 weeks ago it started crashing and locking up for no reason. After a while the guys who sold it to me decided that the RAM they sold me may have been bad. A guy came over Friday to replace it (After an hour long hadrware and software test reveled no problems). All seemed well until he left and I actually tried to use it. Now it crashes constantly and refuses to run for more than 2 or 3 minutes. Funny, this is the reason I switched to the mac over the pc in the first place.

Oh, I wish I could go back in time and not have started this mess!

I should admit that I was beginning to like it a little. Though I really didn't see much speed improvements and getting used to the OS was tough. I did like the BSD under the hood though!

Ok, well, I'll keep you posted..

Friday, May 06, 2005


Yea, bloglines is becoming an addiction now.. I spend like an hour a day keeping up with, updating and pearing down my list. I highly recommend it. I feel like I am more in touch with the world. This is good since I stopped watching TV news about 4 years ago...

Thursday, May 05, 2005

I hate local news

They are so lame and annoying.. and sensationalistic.. that's why I say:


when I see something like this:

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Update on the Supercart

seems I was beaten to the punch.. my friend David hooked me up with a lead on the progress of automated shopping carts..

IBM and Cuesol have the "Shopping Buddy"

and another similar product named Concierge, made by Springboard Retail Networks Inc. (coudn't find a link).

both noted in a recient Yahoo news article.

Really Simple Sindication

So I want you all to know about RSS. Yea, I know it's been around for a while, but it's starting to gain popularity and get to the Critical Mass point so it's time to explain it to you all that don't know about it yet.

Basically what RSS allows is a way to keep track of a websites changes. You use a RSS reading tool to subscribe to the website via a RSS feed address (more on these later) and when the website changes, it posts a message to the RSS reading tool. You can have any number of sites registered in the tool so what you end up with is one interface to all the sites you are monitoring.

The beauty of the system is that the sites not only send a message that they changed, they send the actual change as well. What this means is that for example a blog would send a message to the reader with a copy of the new post. This is what is driving the adoption of RSS, blogs.

And this is what I'm going to make you try. You're going to pick all the blogs you follow daily and you're going to put them into a RSS reader and then tomorrow when you go to read them all you will have them all in one place. It's quite cool.

So lets talk about readers first. RSS reading is being built into everything. The new version of Safari (for the mac) has it, Firefox (my favorite PC browser) has had it since it was released and of course there are other standalone RSS reading tools as well. I've tried them all and the one I like best is a web tool called Bloglines.

Bloglines lets you add and organize your RSS feeds via a simple to use web interface. So essentially, you browse to your Bloglines homepage and there are all your feeds. What's nice about this is that you can check it out wherever you have a browser and you don't need to be at your home PC like if you were using a browser or email plugin. So this is what I want you to do, go there and set up an account (of course it's free) and then come back here.

Ok, addresses. Most every major website has an RSS feed. You can find the link to it by looking for a tiny graphic labled "XML" or "RSS" or similar. What you should do is click on the link and then cut the address out of your browser address bar. This is the RSS address for this site. You go back to Bloglines, click on "add" and then paste the address into the address box. From there you click on "subscribe" and you are done.

Bloglines provides shortcut for Blogger and Livejournal blogs in that you only need to enter the username of the blog you are interested in (try "Trace2000").

Once you have the addresses in your account, it will continuously update itself so you will know when anyone posts into a blog (or website). It will also show you the number of posts. It's quite cool.

There are other features that you can explore like sharing your feeds with others and the like. For example, I've placed a section on the sidebar "What I'm reading every day" that is generated by Bloglines. Also you can see all of my feeds here.

Be careful, you may be birthing a new addiction!

Monday, May 02, 2005

the Supercart

You heard it here first! I've got this idea for a RFID/GPS shopping cart. So, here it is..

So, this is for a shopping cart to be used in a supermarket, but it can be adapted for other uses. But I'm going to explain my idea in the context of a supermarket.

First the simple specs. The cart has RFID readers on the edges so anything dropped into the card can be read. Secondly the cart will have some type of way to determine it's position in the store. I say GPS, but obviously that won't work since the cart will be used indoors. thirdly the cart will be able to connect to a central server in the store with some networking protocol (I guess TCP/IP over wireless can work). Lastly on the cart is a touchscreen LCD mounted in the child basket.

Ok, so why do we need all this? Simple.. to make shopping fucking cool as hell AND to make more money for the store.

Here's my vision:

You've just moved from San Francisco to New York and you need to go to the supermarket. When you were in SF you used the Supercart service and you hope that there is a supermarket here that has it.

You log on to the Supercart website. Since you've used the site before you've got your shopping lists already entered into the system. If you were a new user, you would be able to set up any number of shopping lists online using either the highly intuative and simple visual list entry system (photos of each item along with text details) or the 'pro' entry system which allows you to upload your list as an excel file or text list.

You are able to have multiple shopping lists stored in the system and they are stackable. For instance, you may have one that is your "basics" list that is stuff you buy every time you go to the market, then perhaps you have a few others that are for specific meals you like to eat. When you decide to use a list, you can have something like "basics + beef fajita + seafood salad + 2 apples + 1lb spaghetti" (with the apples and spaghetti added a la carte)

(note, the Supercart website has a bunch more functionality, but it's not germane to our conversation here)

So, you logged on to the site, chosen/editied/created your shopping list and are ready to go to the store. (There is a link on the site that would check for home delivery services, but you don't need the extra charge today to have something hand complied and delivered). You click on 'Find a new Supercart store', put in your zipcode, and up pops a list of stores in your area. Also noted on the list is the percentage of your list that is available at the stores. You pick the closest one with 100% of your items and off you go to the store.

You get to the store and find a Supercart. You push the cart into the store and as you are entering, you place your key tag under the scanner on the cart and it immediately recognizes you. On the screen pops your shopping list. Neat huh? Well, it gets better.

Since the cart knows where it is, it can tell you the best way to collect your items. It plans a path for you and guides you through the store on its small LCD screen. (note, the cart could be configured to walk a user past certain aisles or special displays, etc. but that's up to the store owner).

When you encounter the item on your list, you simply drop it in your cart. The RFID reader recognizes the item and checks it off your list, or adds it to your list as an 'extra item'. If you chose something close to an item on your list, the cart alerts you that you may have chosen the wrong item. There is also a running total so you know how much you are spending.

The cart, is smart however and it can help you shop. If you are a frequent user of this store (have a shoppers card, etc.) the cart will know this and can alert you to items that are similar to ones on your list that are on sale. Since it knows where it is, it can also point you to the similar items along the way.

Ads can also be included for special items. The appplications are endless.

So, how does this help the store? It adds goodwill, its an enhanced experience and users will more likely support a store that has carts than one that doesn't. It also allows the store the opportunity to directly target sales. It's like you handed your list to the manager and he personally is walking you through the store saying "I know you like Barilla pasta but our store pasta is freshly made.. why don't you try it? I'll give you a dollar off", etc.

How does this help the shopper? Are you kidding me? If you can't see that, you have no reason for living... seriously , it's faster, more accurate, more efficiant and just kicks ass!

So, yea.. if you are a supermarket or software company and you want to use the idea, feel free.. kindly offer me a job along the way if you could.. There is a lot more in my head here..