Arrrrrggghhhh!!! It’s Late, Matey!!

And I’m dead tired. This is the fourth site launch in as many weeks for me, and each one has been a challenge in one way or another. This site was going great last night in my development partition on my live server, so it was time to push — and a few things are now a little wonky.

The Pages listing in the Rail (far right column) isn’t listing Pages. The navigation menu just below the masthead isn’t giving up its dropline with the subpages on hover; in fact, WordPress isn’t generating the subpage menu at the moment, so I’m not surprised the Pages listing in the Rail aren’t working — the two are somewhat related. The weather plugin in the right column has died as well.

The rest is going as it should. The Moblog column works as designed, although I wish I could res up the photos a touch; that would be nice. Archives, etc., are functioning better than I thought: no glitches from the nickel seats — so far.

Yes, I know the new design is a reverse, and I know there are some who despise the style… but there will be a style switcher coming soon, and the other choice will be this same layout, same color palette, same everything, except a white page with dark text and a different masthead image (and different RSS and “made on a Mac” footer image).

All in all, however, things being as they are, and as tired as I am, I’m content enough to call it a night — I just can’t do any more tonight, that’s for sure.

Anyway, come on back, especially over the next 10 days or so, as I get the issues worked out and some content added to both the Photography subpages and the Moblog (I think I’ll have some interesting stuff to show in the Moblog over the next few days).

I’ll let the tech specs wait until later. Sweet dreams!

Delays & Deferrals

First, Time-Warner Internet service to the ‘Bend dropped like a rock on Sunday.

Besides the frustration of not being able to go anywhere on the Net, check the weather to see if it would rain when I went to the golf course (it did), or catch up on my email, I was unable ot do any serious work. Oddly enough, I still had VPN, SSH, and FTP access, just no SMTP or HTTP — which hardly works when you’re developing on an online development site. TW’s EPIC FAIL also delayed the relaunch of this site.

Yes, I’m about to relaunch. The delays have prevented me from completing the alternative style sheet, and I will hopefully be able to add it to the site and make it active in the next week. My schedule, however, will force me to launch this week without the style switcher.

No big deal, you might say, and I agree — to a point: the primary style will irk some folks (hint: it’s a reverse), so the traffic might suffer for a couple of days. For this, there is nothing I can do, unless I want to wait another 10 days to upgrade — which I don’t. You’ll see why during the next week.

Stay tuned.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The ISP issues forced me to spend time with the folks at the Time-Warner/Roadrunner help desk — which forced me to disencumber my network, killing my laser printer in the process.

In getting the printer back online, I ran a diagnostic (it’s an older HP LaserJet 1200 that I got used — for free), and it gave me an interesting statistic:

Total pages printed: 41,736
Pages jammed in printer: 24
Pages mispicked in printer: 24

One in 1,739 pages printed have jammed. Not sure if this is a good ratio or not, but since only about 3 or 4 have jammed since I have had the printer, and I’ve printed a good 20,000 pages (giving me a ratio of between 5,000 or 6,600 to 1), I’d say it’s more likely that the previous owner had no idea how to operate the printer in the first place.

It’s been a great printer for me, with service even better than the old HP LaserJet IIIs and IVs from 10 years ago… you might remember: some of them are still around, in service today. As long as I can get toner and a current OS X driver for my 1200, it’ll stay right where it is: in my office, hooked to my network, where it gets used almost every day.

Now all I need is a photo-quality, multi-function (scanner, printer, fax is unnecessary), ink jet printer that will print from a roll to a long length (i.e., for hi-res panoramic photos) that will work on a network — and not lose Photoshop functionality — and I’ll be all set.

Any suggestions?

New App for Google Earth

Found in an interesting site for all you golf lovers out there: www.golfflyover.com.

Now before you head over there to be amazed, be advised: don’t bother. One silly fact: these guys are so paranoid about people stealing their stuff that you can only view one or two courses at a time!

Beyond that, don’t go to one course and then another and then back to the first one, because they won’t let you. I had to email them to let them know that I was having difficulty, and their response was polite enough, but I can’t recommend that anyone actually use their site until they get real.

Their reply:

…Several people have tried unsuccessfully to scan our website and download all our data.

OK, so if they tried, then you’ve looked at your server logs, no? Why not just ban the IP? It’s not all that hard… Beyond that, there’s all sorts of tricks you can play with the .htaccess file to prevent mass downloads as well — and they all work for the most part.

No, they want to make it hard on the end user — and that is what borks this site, not the application itself. Yeah, I could say a lot about inaccessible HTML, invalid markup & CSS and all, but it’s not worth it.

Then he gave me a link — and it didn’t work. I had to manipulate Google Earth to get me there (I was looking at Powderhorn in Madison; I wanted to look at Thunder Hill as well, but no dice), and it took some wrangling.

Seriously: if you and a friend are perusing courses, trying to decide what course you’d like to play, see the challenges that each course provides, then make a decision, you’re strictly S.O.L. — in the sincerest form of that term. And that’s too bad: this site has a nice potential.

There’s reasonable fear, then there’s unreasonable paranoia, and these guys crossed that line years ago.

But for the way it is right now, you’re better off with the golf course’s brochure — this site isn’t ready for prime time yet.

Rolling Down the Right Side

I’ve been lamenting the closing of Shinano’s Restaurant in South Euclid, of late. Open in the same place with the same crew (save for two people) since 1991, Shinano’s had just about the best sushi on the upper East Side of Cleveland.

Word is that they are looking for new digs, perhaps near Solon, which doesn’t do me a whole bunch of good: I don’t want to drive 25 miles for sushi — if I’m going to drive that far for sushi, I’ll go a few more and head to Ohashi’s in North Olmsted, which is probably (perhaps easily) the best sushi restaurant in town.

So what’s a guy like me to do? Suffer?

Not quite. Enter Young Lee, the former sushi chef at Lure Bistro in downtown Willoughby. Lee and his wife have recently opened Young’s Sushi on Clark Avenue in downtown Willoughby (old Willoughby). Clark Street runs parallel to Erie Street one block West of Erie.

OK, so I’m not exactly convinced by the location — I think I’d rather be right on Erie Street, but then again, the rent is higher there. Young’s location has its own parking lot, which helps out: parking in Willoughby can be a nightmare, especially during the car show.

Walking in, I was a little amazed at the decor; get this: black and white linoleum tile floor, a pale ash green wainscot-type bottom half and deep purple top half paint scheme on the walls, cantina-style tables with metal-framed plastic chairs, and (oh, wow!) country music playing in the kitchen.

I had my doubts…

…and was well rewarded for my open-mindedness. The sushi was outstanding: their white tuna is on a par with Ohashi’s any day of the week. I had the Fire Bird Roll, which has tuna, salmon, red snapper, white tuna, crab, avocado and cucumber; the Love Roll, which has white tuna, snow crab and avocado; and two pieces of white tuna nigiri. My bride had the Mexican roll (!), which has shrimp, avocado and cucumber; the snow crab roll, which has snow crab, avocado, and cucumber, and another which I can’t remember.

We both also had the Miso Soup and the house salad with ginger dressing. Both of these were excellent. In fact, I’d go so far as to say that both exceed any we’ve had yet (in Cleveland).

But the sushi was, as I said, outstanding: the fish was absolutely fresh, the rice perfectly cooked, the seaweed not too chewy, and the vegetables crisp and flavorful. And the ginger was so fresh it almost burned my tongue!

At first, I was going say that the wasabi was a little weak, but that would be wrong: it’s not weak at all — it’s what you would refer to as a “sleeper”: you get some flavor, but little heat… so you take a little more… then, all of a sudden…

WHAM! Your sinuses are under assault, your eyes can’t hold their water, and your mouth is going hooo-HAH! The wasabi is truly excellent.

I saved the white tuna nigiri for last — white tuna sashimi is one of my all-time favorite foods — and I was not disappointed in the least: it tasted almost like butter, and it melted away on my tongue slowly and evenly — and not a single hint of a sour note, which can happen easily with less-tan-Grade-A white tuna. My only regret here was not ordering two orders of white tuna nigiri (or maybe three — what the hell: when it comes to sushi, what can I say? I’m a pig… <grin>…)

All of this from what you would never think of when you think of a sushi restaurant. I only had one negative to the whole experience: the chop sticks were oval, and were difficult for me to handle. That is something I can definitely get used to, with practice.

I have to wonder about their timing, since opening a restaurant is never easy, especially in bad economic times, but if Young can develop and keep a loyal clientele (and with food like his, I see no reason he can’t do it), you’re going to be hearing a lot about this restaurant in the future.

The hours are 11-9 daily, and 1-8 Sundays; the restaurant is located at 4082 Clark Avenue in downtown Willoughby, about two blocks from the Willoughby Brewing Company (the other side of Erie Street), right next to the convenience store.

If you’re out and about on the East side, and you have a taste for sushi, try this place — you’ll be glad you did.

Ho Ho HoJo

Cleveland, you gotta’ be kiddin’ me.

I pass this amazing piece of crap twice a day, every morning and every evening, and I’m always amazed that it exists.

How long are you going to sit passively in your cars and pass this wretched hulk day after day? Take a good look, Cleveland, because this is the real face of our city:

What's left of Howard Johnson's Cleveland Lakefront Hotel. Nice, eh?

A real beauty, right?

The city could probably take this building by Eminent Domain, and for a song. The only problem is that this hulk has been sitting on this spot, just like this, for years: open, broken windows, open doors — the works. It’s probably going to cost a fortune to clean the hazardous waste out of this building.

What? Hazardous waste? What hazardous waste? In an empty building?

You bet: just about every bird living within 10 miles of the city has to know that this nice, little shelter is here waiting for them in bad weather. Just about every rat the size of Shamu does, too. And every stray dog, too. What about snakes? We have them in this region of Ohio. And I’ll bet there’s more bird shit and rat shit in there than Exxon has oil.

THAT hazardous waste. (It’s time to call in Mike Rowe for another episode of “Dirty Jobs.”)

The land could be worth a fortune — if it were habitable, which it’s not. Not by a long shot. You could build something very nice here: a housing complex, perhaps, or an aquarium, maybe, or an office building, possibly. Gee: maybe even — dare I say it — a casino? Not that I’m for having one in Cleveland, but if we did have one, this would be an excellent location…

The possibilities are endless for a property with an outstanding lake view like this.

But instead, we have this hulk just sitting here, taking up space, rotting from the inside out and the outside in, housing all sorts of vermin, rodentia, and the like. Just a thought: if mosquitoes are breeding there, and they are breeding in water polluted with rabid or diseased animal waste, you have to wonder what kind of diseases they carry with them — and what they can infect us with.

Our priorities are elsewhere: a convention center, a medical mart… not that these things are unimportant — they certainly are important — but you can’t forget about severe rot like this. Not in an area so visible.

So, Cleveland, there you have it: your fair city. This is the face of Cleveland, Ohio, like it or not: this is what every visitor to this city sees every time they go down to Progressive Field, or Cleveland Browns Stadium, or the Rock ‘N Roll Hall of Fame, or one of those supposed conventions our politicians want so badly that we never seem to be able to attract.

They blame the lack of hotel space (ironically — and laughably — this is an abandoned Howard Johnson Hotel!) for the lack of conventions here. Yeah, right. If you were hosting a convention, and you had a choice between just about any other American city — and this dung heap — what would you choose?

I’ve been meaning to get down there with my real camera and take some better photos; I just might tomorrow morning, if the weather holds. I will post more photos here as I take them, believe me.

Salty Milk

Spurred by a Twitter post by Dave Shea, I found out tonight that whole milk contains 98mg of sodium.

The serving size is listed at 245 grams, or little more than 8 ounces.

Also in that nutritional data: 146 calories (71 from fat), 24mg cholesterol, 13g carbohydrates, and 13g of sugar.

Non-fat milk, on the other hand, weighs in at 86 calories (only 4 from fat), 5mg cholesterol, 12g sugar, and a whopping 127mg of sodium — also for an 8-ounce serving.

WeightWatchers will tell you that non-fat milk is better for you — and from a fat and calorie standpoint it is. All else being equal, this is not a surprise.

But sodium? I know that 127mg of sodium is not going to give someone on a low-sodium diet (2,000mg/day) an instant blood pressure spike, and over the course of a day, that 127mg of sodium really won’t make that much of a difference — as long as you’re watching everything else: which means take it easy on those low-fat frozen foods, which are generally really high in sodium; I’ve seen some of these entrees come in at 1,300mg of sodium — or more.

And that much sodium per meal will spike your blood pressure — guaranteed.

I have to admit that I am just as surprised at the amount of sodium in milk as Mr. Shea is. My bet is that the increased sodium in the low-fat variety is to make it taste better — God knows it needs something. ;-)

When Will They Ever Learn?

I read a lot. I mean a LOT. (People, please take note: it’s “a lot” — not “alot,” OK?)

Lately, however, I have been just about tattooed to my computer, either at home or at work, and I haven’t had much time to go book shopping.

I love reading, especially books: there’s a touch, a feel, that you get with books that you’ll never get with a digital copy — I love the weight of a book, the resistance the binding gives you as you hold it open, the feel of a page as you turn it, the feel of the irregular edges of the pages as they rest while closed — all of the common, relaxing, tactile sensations one feels reading a book.

It’s why I think eBooks, while a great idea (and audio books, for that matter, but to a lesser degree), will never take the place of the bound paper book. eBooks have their place, and can be valuable to someone like me — busy, on the go, with limited time to shop (even on Amazon.com) — and their presence on the market is a godsend.

To this extent, there are a few notable solutions for this, namely Amazon.com’s Kindle,a $399 portable handheld book reader with EVDO (cell phone-style) wireless access and the ability to hold over 200 titles in storage. It’s portable at 7.5″ x 5.3″ and 3/4″ thick — easily carried in a briefcase or purse, and it only weighs 10 ounces.

Sweet device, eh? It gets better, and I think it’s probably the best bet for portable eBooks — you don’t need a computer to sync it with — the included power adapter and USB 2.0 cable are there for charging, not synchronization.

Have a computer, and a more limited budget, then reading on the computer might be more your style: eBooks are available for several platforms: Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, and Adobe.

Mobipocket is great if you use a Blackberry or the like, but not if you want to use your computer — and it doesn’t support all mobile devices (forget it, iPhone users!). It would leave me out, too, as a Verizon Wireless customer: Verizon is renowned for its de-balling of its electronic equipment. Utility is not one of Verizon’s calling cards.

Microsoft is… well… Microsoft: they think they are the only computer company worth anything on the planet. Wrong, they are, as we all know. But, as they say, you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink, right? After 20 years of using Microsoft products, I would still like to know what flavor Kool-Aid they drank…

Then Sony has the eBook Reader , a $299, 9-ounce version like the Amazon unit that can hold around 160 eBooks in internal memory, and a lot more with an extra memory card like you use in your digital camera. Probably the most versatile eBook reader, it’s 1/3 of an inch thick, and can also access other types of documents, like PDFs, Microsoft Word documents, and more.

I’d like to get the Sony PRS505, but there is only one small drawback to this unit: it only works with Windows XP, XP Media Edition, or Vista. And we all know what a bomb Vista has been, right?

One noticeable drawback — no support for someone who, let’s say, might use a different Operating System… like… well… Mac OS X? This unit must sync with a computer, and Sony has been too lazy to include the entire world — as if Mac users didn’t read.

Thanks a lot Sony: you have made me realize that you are trying very hard to live up to your acronym: Sales ONlY.

And then there’s the software-based option I didn’t list above, Adobe Digital Reader, a free eBook reader available from Adobe that will read PDF-based or XHTML-based (web page-based) documents. It’s supposed to be cross-platform, but: it doesn’t work in OS X 10.5 Leopard.

It’s been this way since Leopard came out, which has been almost a full year now. Adobe is officially the last major company that has failed to support Leopard for one of their projects. Maybe they don’t see the importance, or the urgency, but they have failed to come up with a solution, leaving Mac users out in La-La-Land.

Do Mac users not read? Are Mac users considered illiterate? Why are we not supported? Are we not an important part of the technology market? Let’s define EPIC FAIL, shall we?

It will be a great day when computer people start realizing that other people make choices, and they may not the the same choices they make for themselves, and they have the same responsibility for access for all — just as architects and building owners and store owners and the like have to allow access for all to their facilities.

It will be a great day when we realize that for a similar as we all are, we are all still different: we make different choices, sometimes based on how we live or how we think, other times based on how we have to live or think, and sometimes based on how we want to live or think.

It’s time we started thinking about others, especially when we start thinking about how cool our creations are instead of how many can actually use it.

Thinking Green?

All day Tuesday, April 22nd, the good folks over at TCP in Aurora, Ohio will be celebrating Earth Day with IllumiNation, a special Earth Day webcast about conservation, recycling, and ways you can help conserve our planet’s environment and natural resources.

Tune your browser to www.tcpi.com/earthday for more information.

While you’re at it, check out Help Our World to learn more ways to help the environment.

Ed Hammer, known as the “Father of Fluorescent Signature Analysis,” invented the Compact Fluorescent Light bulb (CFL) for General Electric in 1976. Ed eventually won the IEEE Edison Medal for his pioneering work in the lighting industry.

Ed currently serves up podcasts about his experiences in the business, and (pardon the pun) sheds some light on the true nature of fluorescent lighting from the first days to recent developments in the industry — including advances that help eliminate the introduction of mercury into the environment.

You can check out his weekly podcasts at www.drop-the-hammer.com.

I can tell you that we here at the Bend have changed about 3/4 of our light bulbs over to nVision CFLs in the last year, and we’re seeing a significant savings in our electric bill.

Check it out — and save a few trees.

UPDATE — You can also digg this at:
http://digg.com/environment/illumiNation_An_Earth_Day_Event_Brought_To_You_By_TCP

Rough Week…

…and it has been rough, let me tell you. I got a lot done, though, but if you look at the SPAM emails I received in the last 24 hours, you’d think I haven’t done enough.

To wit:

“Tracey Teague” thinks I am in search of a university diploma. I am not, thank you very much. I have more of a college education that she’ll ever have — and probably more than most people. Try me on this one…

“Monty Shaffer” says I can increase my… erm… you-know-what size by 3″ by using his patented technique. You really sure I’m that self-conscious about how big I am down there? In a day and age where people use plastic surgery, pills, and just about anything else to enhance their looks, you might think I might be interested. But I’m afraid not, pally: I’m fine just as I am, no more, no less. In fact, I’m probably better endowed than you are.

That’s not saying much, I know, as I’m not all that big (it’s pretty dinky, if you ask me — with the emphasis on “pretty”), but when you get into the territory that these guys are talking about, there’s only one way a guy goes, and I don’t go that route: uh uh, sorry Jack. Even a less-experienced woman knows that it ain’t the size of the gun, it’s the motion of the ocean. The only people who care about the size of that body part are guys that are… well… “a wee bit lavender,” (not that there’s anything wrong with that!) if you know what I mean…

“Euro Software” thinks I can speak German… ‘fraid not, pal, sorry.

“Stuart Page” wants to sell me a watch. Well, maybe not a real watch, but a “repl1ca w4tch.” I guess it’s a real replica of a replica watch. Something. I really don’t know, but I really don’t care, either; I no longer wear a watch: I can’t, as it prevents me from reaching all of the keys on my computer keyboard, which is essential to any Web-based job…

So, now, “Stuart” didn’t get the gist of my non-reply, so “Howie” thought he’d try as well. Sorry, still not biting…

Now here’s something I can really use: “Sylvester Walden” wants to sell me Viagra for US$1.41/pill, or Cialis for US$2.22/pill. Hmmm… that’s only slightly more expensive than my insurance company can get me those same pills, and I can get that prescription from my doctor with a simple phone call and have that prescription filled within an hour — let’s face it: at my “advanced” age, we’ve discussed it. I’m OK so far, so I think I’ll pass… for now…

“Hazel Dernovsek” wants to sell me bling. Not just any bling, mind you, but “fantastic bling of all sorts.” God knows I haven’t enough bling, so I gotta buy more, right? It’s really too bad I’m not into bling of any sort, let alone fantastic bling…

“Lori Hunter” just wants to say ‘Hi!’ I wonder what she wants… maybe I could take my accounts offline and open the email just to take a peek. It’s probably a call to another Web site that is going to either fill my screen with porn, or try to reset my Internet Explorer settings so that all I can ever see is their porn site.

It’s really too bad I use a Mac, isn’t it? Assholes.

Now “Lavern Guy” wants to sell me “waterproof replica watches,” as if I still hadn’t quite made up my mind. Hate to tell him (maybe it’s a “her”?) what I didn’t tell the other guy…

And then there are those idiots that send email in foreign languages, using Cyrillic or Asian typefaces. Sorry, but I am at a loss with this one. I’m an American. My family has been in this country for almost 400 years. REPEAT: 400 YEARS. English is my primary language, even though I have a German last name.

I sport the “Standard Midwestern American English Accent” so treasured by US broadcasters that in college I was trained in public speaking without my consent (I have a good speaking voice, so they made it an educational requirement by decree — they could do those things back in the 70s), so that I might have a future as a broadcaster one day. Little did they (or I) know at the time… ;-)

But, I digress.

So why send me a sales message in a language I can neither understand nor comprehend, let alone read? Cheap broadcast is one thing, but Common Sense is another.

But… wait a minute… we’re talking about spammers here… Common Sense is certainly NOT one of a spammer’s essential core qualities…

Silly me.

Darned Right It’s Good…

Whoa, relief…

I was just able to relieve myself from a difficult client’s expectations and go to another project at work this week. The initial client is a bit, shall we say, persnickety; everything has to be absolute letter-perfect, pixel-perfect, etc., all the way down the line.

Print stylesheets? Perfection need only apply. (What? We have lousy print CSS support across browsers? The Hell, you say!)

We have a bug tracker, of course, and I have been free for a couple of days now — that is, of course, if you ignore the client’s bug reports issued today, which were really a series of change requests…

All that aside, it was a pleasure for me to move from one challenging site to another, internal, site that is probably more like moving from the frying pan into the fire than it is moving from one difficult situation to an easier one.

Seriously.

But what I was able to do, this week, was to leverage some recent learning into the internal client’s site that saved me time, countless hours figuring out stuff, and plenty of headaches.

I used jQuery, my new heartthrob.

My superiors are impressed, and so am I — and the best is yet to come, as I have more wrinkles to expose in this project: the sky is my limit!

So I just got home, after numerous hours at the agency this week, slaving away, and I come home feeling… well… tired, yes, but…

…damned good.

It’s a feeling of accomplishment, but better: it’s knowing that I stretched myself to create something that should be; something that belongs where it is as it is. It’s a feeling that I created something that simply deserves to be. Something right.

It’s rare, because it’s a feeling that I did it.

It’s a good feeling, too: and I want more.