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November 2006 Archives

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November 1, 2006

Gallery: Seattle Fall

Gallery:  Seattle Fall

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November 6, 2006

Midterm Elections

From xkcd today comes this tidbit of truth and wisdom:

xkcd: Canada

Yeah, that kind of sums it up. Now I don't need to write a "pre elections angst" post.

November 8, 2006

Elections that don't make me want to shoot myself...

Oh, my god. I hardly know how to deal with actually being pleased by election results. It's a whole new world for me.

November 11, 2006

Migrated over to TextDrive

My second pre-paid year of web hosting is coming to a close this December, so I figured I should re-evaluate my choice of service provider. Two years ago when I first investigated buying hosting for Sasha to put up Tapir Type I chose, somewhat at random, to go with OLM. When I say randomly, that isn't entirely true because I agonized over the choice somewhat, never having signed up with a hosting provider or registered a domain name before and having for the most part dropped out of exploring the nuts and bolts of Internet hosting before the bubble had even peaked. But they had a good recommendation from CNET and seemed to offer a lot for a little (but not so much so as to be too good to be true) so I jumped on them feeling they were a safe bet.

And they were. They've served me well over these first two years, never giving me much trouble and generally allowing me to do what I wanted to do. But they weren't very exciting or flexible and the few times I did want to do something different or figure out how something was working on the servers I didn't feel I had good options to turn to. And in general they didn't seem to have given too much though or put much interest in how they had things set up, they just made it work--a perfectly valid business model.

But since I got more involved with Tapirtype after setting up this blog, I became interested in going with a host that seemed to have a little more spirit and flexibility. Fortunately, naive as I was when first signing up for hosting, I did get the message that it was a good idea to register your domain name with a different company, so I had the flexibility to jump ship. When I started researching alternatives, TextDrive seemed like a good fit from the beginning. They don't offer the most raw numbers for the money, but on the other hand they were more than just an upgrade in power. Several things got me excited as I explored their website:

  • They have a focus on free software and web standards and have a good Mac OS X community.
  • They have a strong community with forums where people can and do help each other hash out their problems.
  • They have clearly put real thought and pride into how they have set up their systems and have already thought of and come up with solutions to most common and many uncommon problems.
  • There is a decent amount of documentation about how things are set up.
  • Finally, while I might not need it now, they have many powerful options and are staying on top of the most current advances, giving me many opportunities to play with new technologies and expand my horizons, should I, say, get the desire to write my own app in Rails.

So I copied my files and databases over, tweaked things a bit, and pointed the domain over to their nameservers, so this is now being served up from Textdrive.

The move went pretty smoothly. I'll write more about the process and my impressions later, but I got it all done in under a week (and it was a very busy work week with only a little time every day to pay attention to hobbies) and I've only got one strange lingering issue--not TextDrive's fault--that doesn't seem to cause any real problems (for some reason the Movable Type summary screen thinks I have two identical weblogs even though in all other lists there's only the one).

I've already benefitted from the move in one concrete way. One of the problems that I had earlier while decrufting my links was that I was getting some strange behavior related to doing URL rewriting from the sub domain (probably to be expected). At TextDrive I was able to set up blog.tapirtype.com as an independent virtual domain from tapirtype.com giving me the ability to do redirects from mod_rewrite without bouncing back to www.tapirtype.com instead of blog.tapirtype.com.

So my rewrite rules now look like this, as they should, neatly funneling requests to entries in 2006 that might link to the old ".../basename.suffix" to ".../basename" and bouncing direct requests to the index back to the directory:

RewriteRule ^(.*)/index$ $1 [R=301]
RewriteRule ^(.*)/index\.(.*)$ $1 [R=301]
RewriteRule ^(2006/[\d][\d]/)([^/]+)\.(.*)$ $1$2 [R=301]

November 12, 2006


Thanks to Textdrive, I've now got my Movable Type application running under fastcgi using lighttpd. All the normal serving of the pages generated by Movable Type is still going through Apache. More about what I had to do to get it to work shortly...

Update: I'm just testing out a new feature... Nothing to see here... Move along... Did it work now...?

November 14, 2006

The sad story of lattes and lids

One unfortunate thing about Seattle coffee culture--at least the part that I'm most tied into--is that for the most part it isn't about people sitting around in coffee shops, it's about people running from place to place and grabbing coffee on the way. And that means that whether it's a disposable cup or your own 99% of the time you drink your latte through a lid. But the good thing about a latte is that it comes with a head of foam so fine that it doesn't come off so much as foam but thickened essence of coffee. Then you slap a lid on it and the tiny bubbles start colliding and merging and by the time it gets to your lips it's either thick foam or coffee, the equilibrium destroyed. I can't say how many times I've been presented with a beautiful latte, leaf design and all, only to have a lid slapped right on top of it.

Today I got a latte on my way to work and grabbed three quick sips, thinking about how I should really buck the convention and go un-lidded. But my desire to avoid a wet sticky wrist won out and by the fourth sip I was back to the land of the lidded.

It’s just chai

Chai means tea, people! You can't say "chai tea." Especially when you're on the radio and doing a segment on trends in tea. I don't mean to be snobby, but this one just bugs the heck out of me for some reason. If you must qualify the word "chai" because you are worried that people don't know that it is a style of preparing tea, at least say "chai style tea."

Pagliacci: Best Pizza Place Ever

So it's late and I've been working all night on getting something to work for Sasha with the computer and long distance troubleshooting is never fun. So I decide, blah, it's too late to cook and I'm hungry so I'm just going to throw up my hands and order a pizza. But when I run down to get it the guy tells me "You've been selected for a free pizza tonight." He hands me the pizza and on top of it is a card from them saying "Thank you and this one's on us" with three signatures in it. Now that's a surefire way to make my night better fast!

November 16, 2006

From Sasha Kopf:

What Real Men Drink

So, I was getting a mocha at Athan's this morning, and a guy from the hardware store across the street came in. He was watching the barrista make the mocha.

Guy: So what is that, some kind of chocolate espresso?

Barrista: It's a mocha!

Guy: Hmmm!

Barrista: It's milk and coffee and chocolate syrup.

Guy: You can't go wrong with chocolate syrup, I guess.

Barrista: You know what Andrew gets? One of these but with strawberry syrup.

Guy: I should really fire him.

Barrista: Yeah. But you know what? My boyfriend gets the same thing. But he thinks it sounds too girly, so he doesn't call it a strawberry latte... He calls it a "Super Coffee."

November 20, 2006

San Francisco Tomorrow

I'm heading off to San Francisco tomorrow to visit my Aunt and Uncle for Thanksgiving. It'll be the first time that I've been out to there to see them since a trip we took when I was in 3rd grade, I think, which is really too bad and kind of embarrassing since they've been out east to visit us. I'm looking forward to it. I haven't had a good chance to visit with them for a long time and it'll be nice to see San Francisco as an adult. I'll try to take some pictures while I'm there and write a post or two.

November 21, 2006

C Class Citizen

Southwest has decided that they are not interested in my business. They informed me today that there is no way, short of my coming to the airport 24 hours ahead of time, for me to get anything better than a "C" seating designation: The group of half a dozen or so people who got last minute tickets and are all guaranteed to have only middle seats available to them.

The problem is that I'm on the Watch List. Normally this is just a mild inconvenience. I've never had any extra security screening or hassles once I've got my ticket, they just tend to insist that I see an actual person to check in for my flight rather than using a computer. Seems a little silly since I'm going to show my ID anyway, but not a big deal. Sometimes this means extra delays, but the people at Continental just told me in that case to get in the 1st class line and tell them that I'm a selectee. Works for me.

Southwest, however, bases their seating on when you check in, giving priority to those who check in online ahead of time, something they will not allow me to do. Naively, I assumed that since this is a problem that has been going on for several years now, and every ticket agent that I've ever dealt with has expressed frustration and sympathy about it, helping me to navigate my way through, that the Southwest ticket agents would have a way around this obvious problem, making me an exception since I had no other choice. Not so. They even seemed a bit put out that I asked about it, telling me "You know you're on the Watch List, right?" and acting as though I should just assume that flying would be a painful experience no matter what airline I chose or what I did.

But if I really was a security risk, how would forcing me into the middle seat help anyone? Not a bit. Seat assignment is irrelevant. They just want to check my ID but don't want to take the effort to design a system that would allow me to get in line for a seat without completing the check in process. I mean how hard would it be to just give me a number when I tried to check in saying that I had started the process of checking in, but simply needed to do one more thing at the airport to finish it. Viola! Now I'm treated like a normal person except for the fact that they need to verify that no, I don't fit the profile of whoever it is that is making things suck for Michael Boyles everywhere.

I don't mind a little sensible inconvenience in the name of security, but do not force me into permanent second class status because you're too lazy to adapt on your end.

November 22, 2006

PC Design “Innovation”

Ok, I just have to comment:

I don't mean to come off as an Apple zealot. Love Apple as I do, it certainly has no monopoly on the innovative and interesting, but a quick scan through a New York Times article on PC case design revealed this gem of contradictory logic about Apple and it's role as an innovator computer case design:

Apple Computer is widely credited with long ago shattering conventions that had for years dictated how a computer had to feel and look. Windows-based personal computers generally lagged far behind in fusing function with form in ways that consumers found exciting. But that is changing, executives from mainstay computer companies like Dell and Toshiba say.

Gotta love how the sentence contradicts itself. So... Apple is no longer the leader in PC industrial design, with the Windows-based makers lagging behind because, now, long after Apple started innovating, PC makers are coming up with innovative designs?

I'm not sure that sentence means what you think it means...

(And I'm not even touching the obvious question of what the hell else the executives of the competition would say.)

November 23, 2006

Visit to the de Young Museum

Observation Deck at the de Young

The Observation Deck at the de Young

Masks from Oceania


On Wednesday my Aunt Mary and I went to the de Young Museum at Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. The museum was damaged in the '89 earthquake and has only recently been rebuilt, I believe. We saw an exhibit of Ruth Asawa work. Most of the exhibit consisted of intricate hanging woven wire sculptures with many layers inset in each other. I liked them quite a bit, but I was even more fascinated by a small set of pages from her notebooks. The exhibit did a really good job of focusing on her development as an artist through the years as she discovered and invented various techniques and then came back to revisit them years later. It's not the kind of art that I usually seek out, and it was nice to have an opportunity to see a really good exhibit of it.

After that we wandered up through a large section of Oceanic and Affrican art. I gather that in the old space they never had the room to keep all of it on display, but here it was one of the largest collections that I've seen and some of it was really fascinating.

After that we caught the exhibit on Gee's Bend Quilts and headed up to the observation deck at the top of the tower. I really appreciated that because I haven't been to San Francisco since I was little and it provided a very nice overview of the city. I'm a big fan of stepping back from the edge at decks like that and watching the people standing in front of the city sweeping out below, rather than staring directly out the windows. I've put up a few more pictures on Flickr starting here.

November 29, 2006

So cold... So, so cold...

Ways that I know that it is far colder and drier than any self respecting Seattle weather pattern should aspire to be:

  1. It hasn't broken freezing in the shade two days running.
  2. My electric heat is working full time to keep the temperature five degrees below the set temperature.
  3. I've turned on the heat in the bedroom for the first time in two years.
  4. I'm wearing my fleece and my east coast blizzard worthy parka.

    And most of all:

  5. For two days running when I've swung my messenger-bag around to the front to sit down on the bus, the static electricity generated by it as it rubs along my coat has bee sufficient to generate audible crackling in my iPod earbuds.

It's not that I've gone soft... It's just... disorienting!

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