nullstream weblog - February 2005

Everybody download Firefox 1.0.1 now

Cool Tech

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.

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Nullstream Site

February 25, 2005 12:09 AM PST

iconfactoryDumpster.jpgYou 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 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.

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Cool Tech

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.

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Nullstream Site

February 24, 2005 10:14 PM PST

No Need to Click Here - I'm just claiming my feed at Feedster

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What are video games turning us into?


February 22, 2005 01:52 PM PST

I bumped into an interesting article on the increase of video gaming in our culture at 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.

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Napoleon Dynamite


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.

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Sin City Movie Trailer


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.

Sin City

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Damn This Game To Heck!


February 21, 2005 02:17 PM PST

Skull Stax1.jpg

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.

Comments (4)

Nullstream FAQ


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.

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Firefox Memory Leak

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:

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.

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Picasa 2


February 19, 2005 07:15 PM PST

Picasa 2Picasa 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"...

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Frag Dolls in Bellevue?


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.

Frag Dolls


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World on Fire


February 15, 2005 07:57 PM PST

world on fireI 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.)
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daily dose of imagery


February 15, 2005 10:47 AM PST

daily dose of imageryWe'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.

Update 2
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.
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Messenger 7.0b


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"...

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Biting my tongue

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:
“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.”

Continue reading "Biting my tongue"...

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Macintosh portables we're not likely to see

Mobile Tech

February 5, 2005 12:10 AM PST

The Powerbook 50"

Powerbook 50 inch

The Powerbook G5

Powerbook G5.jpg
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Star Trek Enterprise Cancelled


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"...

Comments (6) Part 2?


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 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?

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