Outstreched arm

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Got my AppleTV today

I picked mine up at the Pioneer Place Apple Store - as soon as the folks who had pre-ordered it, it seems.

It's still syncing, and it's gonna take a while since I'm still on wireless-g, but it doesn't seem to matter anyway - I can stream stuff immediately, and it runs smoothly after 2-3 seconds of pre-buffering. I love it so far. There was less setup than with an iPod.

Here's the Appleporn:

Unboxing gallery

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Thursday, March 15, 2007

The Lives of Others is captivating

Ever since Dana Stevens called the excellent German movie The Lives of Others "the best surveillance movie since The Conversation" my cognitive muscle has been itching to see it. Coppola's The Conversation, its inspiration, Antonioni's Blow-Up, and another homage, De Palma's Blow Out are a fascinating trio of films about Hitchcockian characters who find themselves entangled in something more than their obsessive, nerdy natures are prepared for. Watch them back to back, starting with Coppola, who puts together a minimalist character study; move on to De Palma's entertaining bit of film-student/slasher/audio geek nerdvana, and end with Antonioni's post-everything meta-trip. Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck's - don't you just love that name? - The Lives of Others would make a decent addition, but it's a different movie: political and psychological to a degree none of the above three gets into.

I can't add much to Dana Stevens' excellent summary and notes, so go read it. The film is quite expertly done, with that effortless European gravitas. It's not afraid to go big when the themes warrant it - you just know a shot of crying over a piano piece would seem cheap in a Hollywood flick. Not here - Germans are known for holding back their emotions when they probably shouldn't, so showing them works better than expected. Even the last scene's triple pun is endlessly likable.


Wednesday, March 14, 2007


Happy Pi Day, everyone.

Neven at Work: happy Pi day
Will Crowe: u too
Will Crowe: forgot about it until u mentioned it
(10:20:53) Neven at Work: well, i hope you made reservations. restaurants will be packed tonight.
Will Crowe: 4 sure

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Anchovy Penne recipe

This is not just for anchovy lovers - you'll be using the fish mostly for its saltiness, so those who always object to this delicious food may not even notice.

Anchovy Penne

1 lb Penne rigate
4 ounces anchovy fillets in oil, removed form oil, reserving some oil
ΒΌ cup olive oil
2 tbs. parsley, chopped, to taste
3 cloves garlic, chopped
black pepper, to taste
Parmiggiano, grated, to taste
Boil the pasta per packaging instructions. Drain.

Add about 3 tbsp of olive oil to the same pot and lower heat to medium-low. Add the anchovy fillets and stir, breaking them up some until they get very soft (about 1 minute). Add the garlic and stir.

Add the penne and stir to coat. Remove from heat, add more olive oil (to taste), add the parsley and black pepper, and stir some.

Serve immediately with grated cheese.

MacGourmet recipe file

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A hand vac that totally sucks

We've just recently moved into an old house with wood flooring, which is quite nice... except for all the dust bunnies and hair balls that magically assemble in corners all day. Sure, a carpet would be just as dirty, but at least it would hide the nasty stuff. The room I spend most of my day in also happens to be small and packed with furniture - two desks, a bed, two tables, and a large bookshelf - so there are lots of nooks and crannies to get clogged up with nastiness, and they're not easily accessible with standard vacuum cleaners. Enter the hand vac.

A good, small, handheld vacuum cleaner will make you clean more efficiently and more often, because it's so little trouble. Grab it from its charging base, hit the button, and watch the dirt disappear. It's instant gratification. Today I bought a new one after some research. Here's what I've learned.

Stay away from Black & Decker vacuums. I would extend that recommendation to all their small household appliances, though some would disagree. Stay way from Sunbeam and other totally cheapo brands. Go for something in the 10-15 V range if you expect to do any real cleaning. Look for brush and precision attachments. Here's what I came home with today:

This thing sucks. Literally. When I first used it, I thought it was going to warp the floor boards. It bucked and twisted in my hand like an energetic bronco stallion. It roared and purred and got its job done very, very quickly and effectively. I can't speak for its battery life or longevity as I've only had it for a day, but the thing definitely cleans.

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A interface makeover for Twitterific

A lot of people are really impressed by Iconfactory's Twitterrific, a Twitter client. I like it myself, but I think it's small and cute UI could be even smaller and cuter.

Here's the original Twitterrific:

And here's my idea:

The changes aren't huge, but I have reasons for them. First I wanted to drop the embedded rounded boxes which just added to the window size. I also didn't like the unnecessary rounded horizontal rule that would show up in "short" mode. The entry box needed to be bigger and stand out more.

The "characters left" counter is surprisingly literal in Twitterrific. I replaced it with a Safari-style text box/progress bar which fills up with blue from the right as you type.

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Things Windows users don't say

And you know what? He was right back.


Thursday, March 08, 2007

Spicing up iPhone's black background

I was wondering why the Home view on the iPhone features a flat black background. It saves battery, I suppose, but it's also a little boring. Here are some quick mock-ups of what it would look like with background images.

Click for full-size.

iPhone with blue swoosh "desktop" background
Nice, but feels like bastardized Mac OS X.

iPhone with Nemo "desktop" background
Colorful, but too busy.

iPhone with my "desktop" background
Way too busy.

I actually prefer the black. Can you do better?

All images here are Apple's. No hard feelings?

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