Thursday, August 23, 2007

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

it takes a village.

Time for my story about how when I was a kid I lived in Pakistan for a year, and saw that road crews consisted of a lot of men, some donkeys pulling wagons with truck tires, lots of gravel, and a few shovels.

There was this technique they had where one man would hold the shovel normally and do the downstroke, and a second man would then pull on a big rope attached to the shovel shaft, to actually toss the gravel.

Seemed odd but I'm sure it makes sense in a world with more men than tools.

This picture takes it to a new extreme. I found it on a google search as I was trying to explain the concept to a team mate.

The particular circumstance that led me to be sitting in air conditioned comfort, using Lotus Notes to compose an explanation of the "two man shovel" technique is not interesting enough to be described here, but I do find enough need for the picture to keep it around.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

desert of the real, part two

Same story in Italy; In 1997 and 1998, olive oil was the most adulterated agricultural product in the European Union... Even Carapelli; I quite like the Carapelli.

We'd just have to fix it all the time

That's the story about why IT won't tell people that they know why Illustrator gets the "can't find any linked images in any of your documents anymore" error periodically. This is a very annoying issue, as it means that one person on a team is creating files that nobody else can open without having to relink to all the placed images. And every file everyone else creates is similarly broken for them. It's kind of a waste of everyone's time. We've been dealing with it since we upgraded to CS2.

So the issue is that when a mounted volume disappears while Illustrator has files open, it recreates a "phantom" volume in which to store the files. This phantom volume is actually a subdirectory of the /Volumes/ directory. Then, when the mounted volume reappears, the OS says, "hmm, I already have a volume named "The Server," I think I'll refer to this one as "The Server-1." From that point on, an image that I put on /Volumes/The Server/will be linked in to an AI file at /Volumes/The Server-1/...

Obviously, that's a dumb thing to do, and it's related to the change in CS whereby you can't rename a folder containing a file that's currently open in Illustrator. If you do... Illustrator recreates the old folder hierarchy so that everything can be as it was when the file was first open. In a networked workflow, this sucks because you may not know what files your team has open at any particular time. The version control issues are nasty. Compare this to how a nicely written app such as Omnioutliner handles it.

It was kind of a surprise when I emailed IT saying I thought I'd figured out what caused the issue... only to find out they already knew how to fix it, but weren't publicizing it, because "we'd just have to fix it all the time."

So believe it or not, I'm not actually interested in making IT run from floor to floor manually fixing the issue. I don't want them to waste their time any more than I want my team to waste its time.

But until Adobe fixes the issue, somebody could write a simple little shell script to periodically check for and correct it on the user's computer.

Then all of us -- IT and the rest of the company -- could stop wasting our time today.

So somebody should do that.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

the desert of the real

There was a lot of chat about China in the office this week -- the Mattel recall, the melamine in the pet food, et cetera. Since this town is the former home of Hasbro, there are a lot of connections to the toy industry, and of course we make our living embellishing the brand promise for the Consumer Packaged Goods sector.

But the China story that got me was the one about the counterfeit NEC factory -- not just an anonymous building secretly turning out fake NEC electronics, a fake NEC factory turning out fake NEC electronics.

To the extent that consumer brands form the epistemological bedrock of a consumer society, this pretty much undermines everything. It's like the Ship of Theseus which sailed out on a long voyage, over the course of which, every plank and rope was replaced... with cheaper components of unknown origin... sourced from the global marketplace...

I also dug this one up out of my tags, the story of a simulated Disneyland in China. Funny that one of the complaints the Japanese had about this simulacra was that the talent kept taking the giant heads off of their costumes, breaking the fictive dream.

worst of both worlds

Here's the progress window from the printer software installer from Canon. It manages to combine 8-bit Windows 95 style iconography with OS X "Panther" style brushed metal. Icky.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Music Monitor

I showed someone at work the contents of a find . -name '*mp3' run on the contents of the server's transfer folder. It came back with about 500 entries... the new Public Enemy, some weird Swedish ultra-pop music, and a whole lot of David Gray... The idea now developing is to create a program that automatically notifies you when new MP3s are dropped into this folder. I'm thinking about hooking into Growl to provide the notifications.

It'd be kind of interesting to use this raw data to chart the company's musical taste over time. What seasons saw the most megabytes of Mogwai, et cetera (I'm predicting January).

For you system admins, I'll point out that this would be a great tool for automatically deleting these files as well...

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Rune Grammofon

Wow, emusic just added the Rune Grammofon label. That almost makes up for John Zorn taking all of Tzadik away. Check out Supersilent....

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Seals at Chatham

They silently bobbed up and down the beach after us, heads pointed in our direction.

Friday, August 10, 2007

Some interesting shell commands

-- these are pretty useful for folks who make a living pushing image files around (especially to and from remote servers).

And as I get more comfortable with the shell, I find I totally avoid using Spotlight or command-F and go right to
instead. I feel like it's faster, maybe partly because of that insane find-as-you-type behavior in Spotlight. Also, if I'm trying to page through a couple of gigs of stuff on the server, it's nice not to bog down the Finder while the search goes on. Of course, I don't actually live in the Finder much; jumping into the shell wouldn't be nearly as convenient if I weren't using Path Finder instead. The drop down Terminal pane is killer.


This is a pretty innovative Mac OS X utility for robotic filing which I've been using since the early 2.0 betas; it's great. I had already given up trying to get everything off my desktop by finding just the right cubbyhole for it. Instead I had started a chronological dump bin system for anything but obviously project-related files. There's a large middle ground of miscellaneous "Might want this later" attachments and ephemera which 120 GB+ hard drives seduce one into keeping around... but one can get pretty distracted with all that interesting junk on one's desktop. Now I'm letting Hazel clean it up for me.