nullstream weblog - February 2005
February 25, 2005 12:26 AM PST
Firefox 1.0.1 is out now, so go download it!
It's almost like the old days (1994-1995) when everyone rushed to download the latest point release of Netscape Navigator... software that is fun to use! It's seems like it has been ages since you could get excited about really great software.
I'm now adding Picasa 2 and Google Maps as a full time members to my list of Brilliant Code, they're that good.
February 25, 2005 12:09 AM PST
You may notice that the site now has an icon in the toolbar, and since you've bookmarked it, also in your bookmark menu :-)
The icon is a sandcastle, downloaded from Iconfactory (click pic for link). These guys have great quality freeware icons for "non-commercial use". It's really amazing how talented Mac
people are. And how roomy 128x128 feels for an icon.
The reason for adding the icon wasn't so much to make us "trés cool", but to ease the reading of common news sites. I like to store commonly visited news sites in the bookmarks toolbar folder by dragging the icon from the address bar into the toolbar (quick links bar for you IE users). This toolbar will rapidly fill up, and it doesn't wrap. I believe there is a Firefox extension to wrap it, but either way - it starts taking a lot of real estate. I realized that you could actually right click on the bookmarks and delete their names! So for sites with an icon, you just get a little icon up in the toolbar. I've managed to cram 8+ site links in a tiny space, and now you can too with the nullstream site!
A little background on how it's done. You simply put a Windows format .ico file in the root of your web server and name it favicon.ico. So our icon is http://www.nullstream.com/favicon.ico
. You can download these icons directly via sites like Iconfactory. You can edit them with VisualStudio on Windows, among others. In order for the icon to display in the browser, I had to delete all sizes stored in the file except 16x16x16 and 16x16x256 (the third dimension is color depth).
Adding a favicon is also good because nearly all modern browsers request it each time the site is accessed for the browser session. So your server will show lots of 404 errors for favicon.ico. I figure with web caching, it's actually better for performance to have the file than not have it! Checking for the file will send the request all the way back to a disk check.
Favicon.ico was actually started by IE, which is why the icon isn't a gif, or set of gifs. In classic Microsoft form, however, IE only displays these icons sporadically in their bookmarks or toolbars, and it wasn't till Firebird that I found it useful enough to actually use.
February 24, 2005 11:31 PM PST
Feedview is a 7KB Firefox extension that applies a very sweet XML transform on RSS and Atom feeds to make them easy to read directly inline. To see what I mean, click on one of the two RSS 2.0 icons in the navigation area on the right. The resulting xml isn't easy to read. Now install Feedview and click on one. Sweet, huh? You can still access the original XML code by viewing source. There's a cool little slider bar that shows up on the page too - looks like an interesting extension to dissect!
I've noticed that some xml files don't want to load in the browser. This is the case with or without Feedview, but I notice it more now that I've been clicking on XML links more often. I think it has something to do with the XML content type on those sites.
I'm actually a bit conflicted about XML feeds as a way to fully read news. I really like being able to read a site in the actual site layout, rather than having all sites look uniform and bland. Plus, I put considerable time into the design of the site, and that's all lost with direct feed reading. Of course many sites with ads, etc. don't supply full text in feeds so you'll visit the site - that's one way to solve the problem.
My review will cover an even better news reading tool that complements Feedview and shows the full power of XML news feeds.
February 22, 2005 01:52 PM PST
I bumped into an interesting article on the increase of video gaming in our culture at boston.com. Its a good read, pretty balanced on the subject. Of course like every article on gaming it makes at least one reference to GTA. I really like the comparison of 'gaming night' to what used to be 'poker night'. Kinda hits home.
February 22, 2005 10:21 AM PST
So I finally got around to watching this movie. I watched it twice in fact and then showed it to my youngest daughter. Some really nice quoteable material. My wife didn't really care for it though.
Now I can finally appreciate the sound links site that the O sent me.
February 22, 2005 01:11 AM PST
John was asking about this, so here's the link to the trailer. I don't know anything about the comic book, but it looks like it has a well known cast and an interesting style; like hellboy meets sky captain meets who framed roger rabbit. Might be a good action flick. If we go see it, we'll add a review.
I totally thought it was a preview for a Duke Nukem movie the first time I saw it.
February 21, 2005 02:17 PM PST
Curse you, Skull Stax! You have stolen 4 hours of my weekend thus far.
Last session's stats:
- over 7 million points
- level 152
- more than 27 minutes remaining on the clock
then I quit because my hand was crippled.
February 21, 2005 12:00 PM PST
Post any questions you'd like added to the FAQ as comments. It's like a "Live-FAQ", but not quite a Wiki!
You can access the FAQ in the new About Nullstream section of the site.
February 19, 2005 10:37 PM PST
I like Firefox a lot and have stopped using IE. BUT - FireFox has a huge memory leak
. I see the same problem as this guy. After a few days, with a couple tabs open, the memory usage grows to > 250MB. I actually had a "low on virtual memory" warning in XP recently. Even closing all tabs and having a blank start page doesn't solve the problem. I've also tried the "browser.cache.memory.capacity" trick and it doesn't help. Interesting points on this issue:
- A Google search of this issue turns up primarily blog entries with a fix that doesn't work, and subsequent comments of people arguing about whether the problem is real or not, eventually degenerating into an open source/Microsoft debate.
- I see no official acknowledgement from Mozilla about the leak.
- If this was a Microsoft product, it would be front page news on Slashdot.
- I did find an interesting thread on Slashdot. I was thinking: since Firefox is open source, how hard would it be to run Firefox under Valgrind? Yup - it leaks memory. As the poster says - this really isn't acceptable for a 1.0 and a codebase as old as Mozilla is.
- I've actually seen responses like "how hard is it to just shut down your browser and start it up again?" Well... besides there being no excuse for a leak this large, often I have 10 tabs up of stories I'm planning to read, but that don't merit a bookmark. I use tabs primarily as my "todo" list. So closing the browser is a real pain becuase I either have to read all the tabs, or bookmark each one and then delete the bookmark later. Plus, leaving Firefox up over the weekend and coming back to page file warnings isn't that great.
It is pretty ridiculous that I actually put up with this leak rather than switching back to IE. It just goes to show how much more I like Firefox.
February 19, 2005 07:15 PM PST
is a photo management program that has became a free download when the company was acquired by Google. It is a full commercial quality application, along the lines of iPhoto for the Mac. I felt that the initial rev of the product has some stability issues, but I have seen no problem with the latest version 2.0.
Image Management on Disk
The disk image management features are the best I've seen. Picasa can monitor arbitrary directories for images, and auto-update its index of thumbnails. You can move, add and delete images in explorer and picasa reflects these changes in real time. One of the only drawbacks I saw to the program, is that it will scan your My Documents folder or the entire hard drive for images and video files when first installed. There's no option to not watch your entire documents directory on install, but this can be changed once the program is up and running. Be aware that by default, Picasa won't scan the directories for PNG files, and you must explicitly enable this type of file in the program options.
Continue reading "Picasa 2"...
February 19, 2005 12:29 AM PST
Is it just me, or is this picture taken in downtown Bellevue? It looks like it's taken on the train tracks by BestBuy. I can make out the InfoSpace building and a few others. And the multitude of cranes and gray skies sure fit in the picture. But as far as I can tell from the article, these gals aren't located in Washington. Anyway, I was just reading the site for the articles... More pictures on the click-through.
HYPOTHERMIA, via [H]ard|OCP.
February 15, 2005 07:57 PM PST
I normally don't watch MTV, but I came across the best video I've seen in a long time. It's appropriate that I was in Vancouver, CAN since that's where Sarah McLachlan is from. This video shows all the alternate ways she spent the typical costs of a video on projects around the world, and instead spend $15 on the video. I felt bad for thinking "her makeup alone cost more than $15", but the important thing is that she took a song and a ridiculous television station and managed to get people to think about small ways they can help. The real impact isn't just the $150K she gave away - but the mindshare of the people this 3 minute video reached.
You may not ever donate to charity projects and then feel guilty about it when you see this kind of reminder (just like when you sheepishly answer the dentist's question about flossing). But don't feel too guilty about your huge salary or comparitively trivial tech expenditures. The lyric "Fortune in one - that means less for some" is not entirely accurate. The amount of wealth in the world is not fixed. You generate wealth greater than what you are compensated for, this is basic to capitalism. So the work you do on a daily basis IS helping to lift the world up.
It is, right? How?
(This video does require Quicktime to play, which in-turn forces an iTunes download on Windows, but it's worth it.)
February 15, 2005 10:47 AM PST
We've been a bit slow in posting lately... but several good articles are forthcoming. For now, head over to daily dose of imagery
. This guy takes pictures mostly around Toronto and posts one daily.
He seems to be able to capture interesting scenes in daily life, and gets me to think a bit more about the "little things" around me. I also like this site because the photography seems attainable, and something we could do with a little practice (and a digital SLR camera).
I came across this photoblog while browsing the 2005 Bloggies
awards. Of all the sites and all the categories, this was the one I liked the best. Take a look, you may find a new blog or two you'd like to follow.
I should also shout out to the yo-yodyne
photoblog. It is in the same style as daily dose of imagery, only updated less frequently by the creator of metrotronic
February 7, 2005 08:20 PM PST
The first thing to note about messenger, is that Windows Messenger is different than MSN Messenger. Windows messenger comes with XP and works fine. It doesn't have background images, custom user images and auto save conversations or games. What it also doesn't have is ads, tabs or a huge screenspace requirement. I upgraged to MSN 6.2 because of the autosave conversations feature, and the ability to see the XBox online status of friends.
I installed messenger 7.0 beta because I am already used to ads, tabs, etc., and this version added some cool little features that sounded fun to play with (once). There are obviously more cool features than the pros I list below, but these are the features I find important.
Continue reading "Messenger 7.0b"...
- Abilty to sign in with a status other than "online". Helps with stealthy "appear offline" signins.
- Past conversations are easily accessible in new IM windows to the associated contact, when message history is enabled.
February 5, 2005 01:10 PM PST
Mark Morford has written a little article on SFGate entitled = "Why does Windows still suck?”. Mark appears to be getting backed up by Ken Fisher at Arstechnica among others. In Marks article he complains that Windows is garbage because there is so many attacks against it, viruses, spyware, trojans and the like. Here are some really nice quotes:
Continue reading "Biting my tongue"...
“Why is there not some massive revolt, some huge insurrection against Microsoft? Why is there not a huge contingent of furious users stomping up to Seattle with torches and scythes and crowbars…” “…demand for Bill Gates' cute little geeky head on a platter.”
February 5, 2005 12:10 AM PST
The Powerbook 50"
The Powerbook G5
February 2, 2005 11:54 PM PST
So Star Trek Enterprise is finally off the air. The biggest problem with this show (besides the producers) is Scott Bakula. From the first time I heard he was going to be the captain, I knew it would be bad. He's just completely unlikeable and unrealistic as someone the crew would follow. It doesn't help that he's also "Quantum Leap guy". At the end of last season I really, really hoped that he wouldn't be back on the show. The rest of the crew actually shows a little promise if they could get out from his shadow. And the actual premise could be interesting. They just failed to create a sense of comraderie on Enterprise or Voyager, and it doomed them.
Given the choice, I'd rather have this on the air, than not. But maybe the cancellation of the show will force the franchise to reevaluate, and open up some space for much better Sci-Fi. I've been meaning to do a mini review of Farscape and Battlestar Galactica, so that will be coming up. It still really hurts they cancelled Farscape, but I guess it made it a year longer than Enterprise...
The inset photo is from the infamous "sonic shower" that was used whenever the ratings dipped. Another "titillating" photo after the jump. Trip's expression is priceless.
Continue reading "Star Trek Enterprise Cancelled"...
February 2, 2005 10:42 PM PST
As reported everywhere on the planet, Robertson is making a second attempt at the online music business. This time it is called MP3Tunes. While I'm impressed with his persistence I'm not sure I believe. For one I was a big fan of MP3.com and I'm still steamed that he screwed that up. But mostly I already think that anything over .50 a song is too much for commercial music. I'm pretty sure that .88 a song is too much for unknown, unsigned artists. What do you think?