Posts from January 2002

More fuzzy economics from the White House, according to the Washington Post: "The White House spent nearly $3.5 million to buy two anti-terrorism commercials during Sunday's Super Bowl broadcast on Fox, according to a network source."

I'm not sure how handing a check for $3.5 million to Rupert Murdoch is helping our country during a recession. Besides, there is a system in place for airing these types of messages. They're called Public Service Announcements. (Here's a good description and history of PSAs.) Buying some of the most expensive air time for a 60 second political message is a terrible misuse of tax dollars.

More scripting madness. It's snapGallery!

snapGallery screenshot
adding a title/caption to an image with snapGallery

This script is a quick way to create a web picture gallery. (Here's an example created with the script.) Screenshots and more info here.

Now there are no more excuses for not posting those photos.

Mena also posted pictures of today's Bay Area blizzard. Those lucky Petaluma school kids got a snow day.

If you don't like the sentence "The quick brown fox...", you can open the script with a text editor and scroll down to the third section titled "set some variables". Then change the sentence to whatever you like and save. Maybe, "Jackdaws love my big sphinx of quartz." more.

Font Browser

The Short Font Story

I made this font browser thing that shows all of your installed fonts (along with a sentence in the face) on a web page. (screenshot) If you're on Windows 2000 or XP and you want a quick look at your fonts, check it out:

Font Browser
(right-click, "Save Target As...", then double click the icon.)

The Long Font Story

The other day I needed to choose a font and I couldn't find a good way to browse all of the fonts on my system at once. I could only look at them one at a time with Microsoft's Font Viewer. That was time consuming, but it worked. (I know there are probably programs out there to help me out, but what I want to do is very simple and I shouldn't need to install a big program just to browse fonts.) I decided WSH (Windows Scripting Host) could be my answer.

Windows has this fine scripting API, but they don't make it simple to use. The standard FileSystem object and the standard Registry functions were no help in reading font names so I delved into the world of WMI (Windows Management Instrumentation). It's a dark murky land where commands are cryptic and documentation is lacking. It did the trick, though. And along the way I learned that I can check the temperature of my processor and manually fire up the fan. And other neat tricks.

The Font Disclaimer

There's nothing out of the ordinary happening in the script, but it's always a good idea to take a look at the source before you run it. I tried to note what each function does in the code.

Tom Tomorrow blog! [via matt]

It snowed last night for the first time since I've been in California. I spent the morning outside taking pictures and enjoying the view as the sun came up. I was sure the snow would be gone as soon as the sun hit. But it was a pretty good amount, and it's still covering everything.

snow in ca
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Isn't this weird?


There's a mushroom growing in one of our houseplants. I won't be eating it. Any mycologists out there who can tell me what kind this is? And how it got in my house?

sxswb is back! (though at a slightly different location.) Stop by to discuss all things related to the South By Southwest Interactive conference happening in March.

Update: now points to sxswbaby!

I'm not sure why a national opt-out list for telemarketers is a great idea. Why should the burden of "opting-out" be on the people being annoyed? I think there should be a national "opt-in" list. If your name is on it, you can receive annoying sales calls...everyone else is opted-out by default.

Have you ever noticed that people outside the US say touch wood instead of knock on wood? It's so gentle. I think you have to knock to get the full luck going.

I'm sick like meg. And I was on that hike. And I also said, "I never get sick either now that I'm in California." Forgot to knock on wood. And I was surrounded by trees. Now I sound like Barry White. If Barry White had congested sinuses.

Here's an O'Reilly interview with Brewster Kahle about the Wayback Machine. [via evhead] I enjoyed this answer about using existing knowledge (which seems almost counter-intuitive in the tech world): "The first company I worked in was Thinking Machines. And we blew it. We built the fastest computer in the world that very few people could program. It required people to think in a new way. What a horrible thing to have to do to be able to attract customers. The idea is to be able to think the same and be able to do more." Think Different?

A question in yesterday's letters to the editor in my local paper: "Who hurt America more, Ken Lay or John Walker?"

Interesting article about Martin Luther King, Jr.: "If the King of 1955 or 1965 were alive today, he would be accused of treason for his pacifism, as he was reviled for 'Communism' then; instead of the FBI trying to bring him down, he, and most of his associates, would be prosecutable under new anti-terrorism statutes." I'm not sure that statement is entirely true, but it does show the contrast between an established national holiday and his once outsider status as someone bringing about fundamental unwanted changes in our government. Recent laws have been passed to make sure things don't change. And from what I've seen on the news today, this holiday is not a celebration of peaceful civil disobediance; King's most powerful tool for change.

His final speech always brings tears to my eyes, and I remember vividly where I was when I first heard it on the radio. If you don't have time to read all of it, scroll down to the section that begins, "It came out in the New York Times..." Of course it's much more moving to hear him speak the words. (The last audio file on this page contains a brief section of the speech.)

skp and I went for a nice hike along the coast near Bodega Bay. It was windy and muddy, but beautifully clear.

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Dinah articulates what many people (including me) feel about CNN's war cheerleading. In the long run it will hurt AOL/TimeWarner.

Andrew Stroehlein at asks, May We Have Independent Journalism Back Now, Please? [via sotd] An interesting quote: "CNN Chairman Walter Isaacson sent a memo to his staff asking them to downplay Afghan civilian casualties, saying it was 'perverse to focus too much on the casualties or hardship in Afghanistan' and demanding that when viewers see civilian suffering in Afghanistan, 'it's in the context of a terrorist attack that caused enormous suffering in the United States.' That is, take sides and bury bad news." This obviously shows that CNN feels it has to "dumb it down" for their audience, but I don't recall seeing any reports of civilian casualties or any estimates of the number killed in Afghanistan...on any newscast or in any publication. Is it unpatriotic or perverse to know what exactly happened over there?

falls in Armstrong Woods
falls in Armstrong Woods

bass lake, pt. reyes
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The pain, the pain of it all! I went for a good hike this weekend after months of non-training. (Non-training isn't the same as not training. It is the opposite of training.) My muscles are a bit upset today, but it was a good wake up call. It's time to get out and hit the trails again so I can enjoy days like Saturday without the hiking hangover.

After some initial trouble finding the trailhead, it was a spectacular day at Point Reyes. I've never felt the temperature so warm at the coast. We didn't see any whales as we hoped, but we saw fantastic views of the ocean. I took some pictures.

Matt posted his pictures from the hike too.

near Valley Ford, CA
Sonoma County countryside near Valley Ford

I bet the President is hoping for a big distraction to come along, because the heat is on. [link via] This Enron debacle makes his recent sweeping actions in curtailing government accountability very suspicious. This isn't a matter of private vs. public life or something that happened 20 years ago as it was with Clinton. This is about serious recent policy decisions that directly affect the public. Also check out: Joined at the Hip and Bush and Enron's collapse.

Defecating Figurines Part of Holiday: "When it's degrading, everybody knows it except the spin doctors who run the museums." For some reason this line made me laugh out loud. It paints an image of a vast army of lying, evil museum curators. You know, that society of art stewards secretly pushing their degenerate agenda through degrading art. [via FYI]

Some haunting night photos at Sylloge.

I've been without hot water for about a week, and without heat for a few days while they're putting in a new gas line. I'm trying to keep this Chinese proverb in mind:
Heat belongs to all; cold varies with the clothing.
You can't shower with proverbs, though.

I might just go ahead and get all of my 2002 news consumption out of the way in January. That'll free up considerable time in the year for other activities. All it would require is a subscription to Future Events News or Advance Media Information. Unfortunately, I don't have the resources of a corporate media outlet to get the scoop on the future. I'll have to settle for this summary of the future by The Economist. (Where I found the services.)

viewing san francisco

sf boats

This AP photo was a familiar scene in the game last night. Crouch played his heart out for Nebraska, but he couldn't do it alone. Miami was just too quick on the field. On the way home from a party, our spirits down because of the loss, we wondered why we were watching football in the first place. There would be no debate if our team had won, though. We'd be in streets turning over cars, lighting them on fire. The usual celebration. Oh well, it's a new year, time to start thinking about a new football eight months or so.

There's a big game tomorrow. And Nebraska fans have descended on Southern California: "In the states for a brief stopover on their way to New Zealand, the London couple suddenly found themselves surrounded by Americans - all of them dressed in red...'We thought it must be a New Year's custom here in the states.'"

a break from rain

winter pots