D.T.P. by Lee -- Daily Tales and Punditry

Sunday, August 31, 2003

Unexpected (Yet Welcome) Perk

So I’m now on my trip to Washington state and got checked into our hotel last night. Fully prepared to plug into the phone line to get online, I quickly realized that I was getting a good quality signal from someone’s wireless access point! I don’t know where it’s coming from, but the only guess my friend, Jeff, and I have is that it’s the hotel office. My room is practically next door to the office and the signal is full strength. Jeff’s room is at the opposite end of the wing and he can’t pick it up at all.

Suffice to say, I’m pretty happy.

We’ll be taking day trips this week and I’ll get pictures on my album soon. Stay tuned.

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Friday, August 29, 2003

Late-night Musings

It’s nearly 1:30am. I’m waiting for my dryer to finish so I can complete my packing. I’m headed to Washington state for a while. Yes, the PowerBook is coming along.

For some odd reason, I clicked to this MacSlash posting which was somewhat interesting, but not especially so.

What I did find amusing was the two comments (the second was a follow-up by the same person).

“Al Gore is on the Board of Directors for Apple. The U.S. Military just switched Army.mil to Mac OS X for security reasons. The various recent Windows worms have caused an estimated loss of 1 billion dollars in business revenue. Windows has been acknowledged to be full of security holes and “wide open” default configurations. Need I go on? It just occurred to me that one of Al Gore’s ‘accomplishments’ in office was to improve the U.S. government’s purchasing system—primarily in regard to technology purchases. Maybe hiring Al wasn’t such a bad idea.”

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Wednesday, August 27, 2003

Pre-vacation Observation

Has anyone named the phenomenon where, the day or two before you leave for a vacation, you get rushed by people at work with all sorts of quickie requests to do this or that—people who swear they didn’t know you were leaving?

I left the office at 8pm today. Tomorrow is technically my first day of vacation and I planned to spend it packing and doing laundry, yet I already know I’ve got to spend about an hour at the office. You can rest assured, though, that it won’t be before 11am.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2003

“They Paved Paradise, and Put Up a Parking Lot”

Back when I was attending Andrews Univeristy, the student newspaper once carried someone’s cartoon poking fun at the plethora of sidewalks that snake across the campus. One character is seen telling another character that these sidewalks make it easier to get from place to place. The second character has a drop-jaw expression as he gazes at all the sidewalks that twist before him.

Obviously, the drawings of the sidewalks were an exaggeration, and I completely understood the joke at the time. I did not, however, completely understand the scope of the joke until last night, when I found myself looking at an aerial photo of the AU campus from MapQuest.

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Solution for Safari-downloaded QFX Files

Blessed be “wscody” who submitted an invaluable tip to the Mac OS X Hints web site. Thanks to him, I’m one more step (oh okay, one more HUGE step) closer to dumping Internet Explorer completely. His Folder Action Script fixes the type/creator codes for QFX (WebConnect) files that are offered by bank web sites. IE gets them right. Safari doesn’t. Finding this post not only taught me how I could have been correcting it myself all this time (manually fixing the type/creator codes), but went a big step further by providing a script that automatically fixes the codes whenever I download a QFX file! I’m a very happy camper.

So, at this point, I believe I’m quite safe in saying that the only reason IE remains on my computer is to check web page rendering in that God-forsaken browser, and to access the rare web page that contains something Safari isn’t handling. So far, QFX problems aside, I’ve not encountered anything else IE could do that Safari couldn’t.

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Monday, August 25, 2003

NetNewsWire Update

NetNewsWire has been updated to version 1.0.4. This looks to be a pretty nice enhancement. Previews should render much better now that it uses Web Kit (Safari’s HTML renderer) and you can define a custom style sheet. A new HTML Differences feature that helps you see changes when an existing entry is updated—deleted text appears in red and new text appears in green. Performance has been substantially improved. TypePad support has been added, as well as gzip compression.

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ACK! Idiotic Mistakes

I’m such a DORK. I just spent the last half hour summarizing my interpretation of some of my stats. I thought a few of you might be interested. I was almost done with the damned post. Just preparing to add one more item. In the process of switching tabs to other pages I was getting data from, I accidentally hit the close widget on the tab containing the page where I was typing my entry. It’s all gone!

I could swear. A lot. And a lot more.

I’m not gonna try and redo it. I’m not that vain. Thus, if you are vaguely interested in a few details about my site visits, drop a line and I’ll share.

I will, however, retype that I’ve had something like 972 unique visitors since August 1. Kinda neat.

But I digress. I’m still pissed at myself.

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Raena Armitage -- August 29, 2003 10:18 AM

...I'm curious. :)

This is one of the things I like about Camino - I've done the accidental close on Safari more times than I can remember...

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Sunday, August 24, 2003


What an utterly lazy day.

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Saturday, August 23, 2003

Whose Rights Have Precedence?

I’m not trying to say my apartment neighbors are breaking any rules. I mean, I’d be happy if they were (it would solve my problem), but I’m sure they’re not. The problem is, they sit in the breezeway area for both our apartments, right outside their open front door, and smoke like a chimney. Naturally, their choice of location is, undoubtedly, to prevent filling up their living space with smoke—not to mention that the fire/smoke alarm would probably go off. Unfortunately, the front doors are, by no means, airtight. Consequently, my living room immediately reeks of carcinogens when they light up. Opening my door while this is happening and hollering is not an option, since the guy is a rather large, intimidating fellow. So, I’m deciding whether to confront them myself in a “sorry to bother you” type of attitude and explain the problem, or get the apartment office to do the dirty work for me. To my credit, I’m probably going to deal with it myself but, first, I’m curious whether there’s any generally applicable guidelines for multi-family housing I should add to my arsenal. I may succeed by simply (and politely) asking them to smoke on the other end of the breezeway so the smoke all goes outside. However, if that doesn’t go well, I’d be happy knowing I had something “official” I could throw at them.

Please sound off if you have any thoughts on this matter.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- August 24, 2003 11:22 PM

Just start smoking :)

Posted by Andy McConnell -- August 25, 2003 10:09 AM

If you've got the right to smoke,
I've got the right to chew.
If you don't blow your smoke on me,
I won't spit on you.

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…a Sling Pack and an i-Trac.

UPDATE: w00t! A Sling Pack is on its way to me! I’d love to share the events leading to my acquisition, but it’s probably in the best interest to sit on that information for the moment. I mean, it probably doesn’t matter, but I’m leaning on the side of caution. I’ll tell you all about it when the dust settles.

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Friday, August 22, 2003

It’s Probably About Time

I know most of my readers couldn’t care less, but I figured I’d just point out that the official Star Trek web site got a pretty major overhaul.

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Wow—central Florida is probably seeing just about the most intense thunderstorm I’ve seen in a long time. It’s pretty wicked.

With my various heavy-duty UPS devices, I’m not really inclined to unplug stuff yet, though I don’t have very many items turned on right now. My PowerBook is, of course, what I’m most concerned about.

It’s wonderful to simply unplug the power cable and keep on doing my thing using a Wi-Fi connection, knowing it’s 100% impossible for the lightning to damage my computer right now.

HAH—as if in total defiance, a huge bolt just struck nearby right after I typed the previous sentence!

Bring it on, mother nature!!!

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Instant Palette

Need a color scheme?

(Thanks, Raena.)

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Generalized Blocking Is Not The Answer

A new Road Runner Broadband policy “calls for the blocking of any incoming e-mails that contain contradictory domain-name routing information. That means Road Runner will block e-mails originating from people who have their own e-mail servers on top of an outside Internet service.” [News.com]

Fortunately, though I’m a Road Runner customer, I have a separate host to handle my web hosting and e-mail service.

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Thursday, August 21, 2003

Sobig.F Killer

To qualify for the rant category I gave this entry, I’ll just say this: in this day and age, if anyone is dumb enough to open attachments from e-mails that they weren’t expecting to receive, they deserve to have their computer completely trashed from the results. I just wish the rest of us didn’t have to put up with it, as well, by receiving all the propagation messages the virus sends.

Anyway, kudos to a fellow ATPM staffer for sharing this single commonality among the W32.Sobig.F@mm phenomenon—they all have the bogus header, X-MailScanner: Found to be clean. All you have to do is set a rule to look for that header and set its action to delete the message.

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Wednesday, August 20, 2003

Another Reason Why I Hate Windows

“None of us are infected/sending the messages. I think it’s about time to call a few friends still knee-deep in tech support and brag about the Mac :).” [I ♥ Mena]

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President Arnold Schwarzenegger?

“As Arnold Schwarzenegger launches his political career, it’s worth recalling a scene from the film Demolition Man, which takes place in the year 2026. As Sandra Bullock[’s character] attempts to bring Sylvester Stallone[’s character] up to speed on what has happened in the world in the last 30 years, she refers to the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library.”

Stallone: “Hold it! The Schwarzenegger Library?”
Bullock: “Yes, the Schwarzenegger Presidential Library. Wasn’t he an actor?”
Stallone: “Stop! He was President?”
Bullock: “Yes. Even though he was not born in this country, his popularity at the time caused the 61st Amendment.”

[About.com Political Humor]

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Sunday, August 17, 2003

The Eagle Has Landed

To follow up my entry about seeing Mission: Space at EPCOT, never mind on the pictures. there honestly wasn’t much to take pictures of. The web site shows the exterior, the waiting area had a moon rover (who hasn’t seen that) and a full-size mockup of a rotating space habitat that generates artificial gravity. If you want to see that in action, just watch 2001: A Space Odyssey.

As for the spoilers—what the ride consists of is a surprisingly large mechanism in a circular room. The whole thing has, I believe, 10 simulator pods on arms which all spin around the center section. When it gets going fast enough, you get the sensation of a couple of Gs pressing on you. The illusion that you are experiencing a vertical take off is pretty neat. There is the slight sensation that you are spinning, but it is slight. You’ve seen or been inside those rides that put you in a big cabin on hydraulics that lean the cabin back and forth and point the cabin as far upward as it can to simulate acceleration? EPCOT’s new ride simulates the acceleration with substantially more realism.

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Makes Sense To Me

“I think Macs threaten the livelihood of IT staffs. If you recommend purchasing a computer that requires only half the support of the machine it is replacing, aren’t you putting your job in danger?” [I, Cringely | The Pulpit]

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Saturday, August 16, 2003

Blast Off

I’m headed to EPCOT tomorrow with a friend of mine to check out the brand-new Mission: Space pavilion that opened yesterday. It’s nice to be able to choose to whiz off to a Ratland park, making use of a seasonal pass. I’ll have photos and spoilers posted later. Stay tuned.

(Not that you really care, but yes, I’ve intentionally backtimed this post to 10:30pm Saturday, even though I’m actually typing it after 1am on Sunday. That’s because I’d fully intended to make this entry at 10:30 and couldn’t because my web host was completely DOA for about 2 hours—web, e-mail, everything.)

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Thursday, August 14, 2003

Interesting Idea. Would It Work?

Suppose—just suppose—a conglomerate like Sony or Disney (anyone but Time Warner!) bought Apple and did for it what BMW did for the Mini.

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What Will They Think of Next?

Ignoring the obvious question of “why,” and assuming the printer ink isn’t toxic to your, uhm, yeah … am I allowed to make printouts of people I hate and then use the paper for its intended function?

Thanks, Andy.

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Boatmen, a Spam Poem

Clever. [kottke.org]

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Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Blurring the Line Between Analog and Digital

These pieces of interactive art are amazing—especially the Wooden Mirror and Shiny Balls Mirror. I wish I could afford to commission and own one.

By the way, the fact that a Mac 8600 AV drives the Wooden Mirror (I haven’t noticed what platform is used for the other pieces) makes it all the more cool.

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Stupid Photoshop Tricks

Here’s another item I’m blogging mostly for my own reference. Feel free to glean your own usage.

Scan enough images into Photoshop and, from time to time, you’re guaranteed to not get something squared up in the scanner exactly right. Due to the shape of some scannables, it may not even be possible to get it right.

Instead of spending lots of time doing trial and error with various tenths-of-a-degree rotations, you can get it right the first time. Simply select the Measure tool (click and hold on the Eyedropper tool to reveal it), identify something in your scan that should be perfectly horizontal or vertical, zoom in to one size of it about 200-300 percent, click on the end or corner with the Measure tool, drag to the opposite end or corner, then perform an Arbitrary rotation command. The angle is automatically calculated based on the Measure tool line you drew and filled into the rotation dialog box. You simply hit the OK button and, blammo, your scan is now aligned!

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Andy McConnell -- August 13, 2003 06:11 PM

I use this all the time, whenever I scan something out of alignment ON PURPOSE.

By tilting a halftoned image (like from a magazine) 5-10 degrees on the scanner bed, you will avoid the interference and moire patterns.

After doing the Measure Tool/Arbitrary Rotate straightening trick, just run a Gaussion Blur and Unsharp Mask, and your scan will look pretty darn good.

• • •

-- --- .-. ... . /  -.-. --- -.. . /  - .-. .- -. ... .-.. .- - --- .-.

Since I’m never going to memorize it, and since I actually have rare occasion to want to translate Morse Code (either to or from), I’m glad to have found an online engine to do the work for me.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, August 12, 2003

Pro Apps Update

Users of various professional Apple apps such as Final Cut Pro will want to check the Software Update panel for a plethora of upgrades to .0.1 versions. Be sure to re-run the Software Update panel after downloading the initial pro apps updater and restarting. You’re looking at about 50 megabytes if you pull down all five updates.

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Java Poop

I love it! [~stevenf]

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I officially dislike Persian food served at such establishments as Ali Baba’s Exotic Cuisine Gallery (yes, that’s its name).

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C’mon, MS—Make Existing Customers Happy

(A bonus, faintly related topic is included at the end of this post.)

“[Microsoft] is cutting the price of the standard version of Office for the Mac by $100, to $399. In addition, the company is introducing a ‘professional’ version of Mac Office v.X that sells for $499 and includes the company’s Virtual PC software for running Windows programs as well as the needed license for Windows XP professional. Microsoft acquired Virtual PC when it bought the assets of Connectix earlier this year.” [News.com]

Okay, naturally I don’t expect Microsoft to send VPC to existing Mac Office users who paid $499 for the product—even if they bought it very recently. But suppose there was a discounted price for VPC offered to current Office v.X owners? Say, $100? Tell me that wouldn’t convince a lot of people who’ve been “thinking about” buying VPC to go ahead and do it. I probably would. It certainly would translate to a lot more sales of VPC and, in the end, would probably mean more profit for MS. Maybe not. I’m clueless on how all that works. Supply and demand. If a product is cheaper, you generally sell more of it. If balanced properly, you can make more money by selling a product for less.

Now for the bonus topic. Microsoft’s web search engine bites the BIG one.

I went to look up the current price of VPC 6 for Mac ($219 for XP Home and $249 for XP Pro) and typed “virtual pc” in the search box on MS’s front page. I was presented with a generic search page with absolutely no indication any search was performed. Indeed, further tests revealed that it doesn’t matter what the hell you type in there. You get the same “let’s do a search” page every time—even leaving the box on the front page blank.

Undaunted, I typed “virtual pc” again on the “real” search page and actually got a list of links. Below the small section of related hits for “Downloads” was the larger “Product Information” section I wanted. The very first hit was “Virtual PC for Mac Information Page.” So, I click it. “Sorry, there is no Microsoft.com web page matching your request.”


Feeling rather daunted at this point, I finally realized that Virtual PC is right there, easily accessible, directly off the Mactopia site and I got the information I wanted.

But jeez!!

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by chris -- August 13, 2003 12:41 PM

And this shocks you that something from Microsoft really sucks?

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Sunday, August 10, 2003

Free Advertising Opportunity Lost

I think someone at Apple legal dropped the ball.

I’m sitting here tonight watching the Travel Channel’s Anatomy of a Shark Bite program. One hour and 45 minutes into the 2-hour program and I’ve seen Apple’s G5 commercial four times. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if I saw it one more time in the last round of commercials.

But I’m getting an extreme sense of irony that some scientists are using what is obviously an Apple iBook to play back DVDs of footage to several shark bite victims. One shot blatantly revealed the use of OS X and Apple’s DVD Player application. The iBook logo is even visible at the bottom of the display. Yet, when the camera swung around for a shot from the back of the computer to see the faces of the people, the glowing Apple logo was very conspicuously covered with a piece of black gaffer’s tape.

If Apple is spending the money to run their G5 ad several times during a show, it seems like it would’ve made sense to bolster the value with a little freebie advertising by not making the producers cover their trademark logo! In today’s age of commercial-skipping features, product placement is key!

Not that I’m any more of an advertising fan than most people—I just found the juxtaposition (or lack, thereof) amusing.

Comments: 2 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Eric Blair -- August 11, 2003 12:32 AM

Are you sure it was Apple who made them cover up the logo on the iBook? My understanding is the logos on products used in TV shows are typically covered unless the maker of said product pays for a product placement.

I assume this is laregely to keep from pissing off those who actually did pay for a placement - in the age of ad skipping, networks are always looking for ways to make more money.

Posted by Lee Bennett -- August 11, 2003 12:42 AM

Yeah, I know this is probably the case. I was just commenting on the irony.

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OS X’s Hidden Options

I know this was more relevant for OS X 10.0x and 10.1x, but it’s still funny and partially applicable. Now, who knows how to access the menu!

View image.

BTW, it’s a PNG image. If your browser can’t handle it, perhaps you can pay me enough to care.

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Friday, August 08, 2003

The URL Is Its Own Description


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Baby Retrophisch

A resounding congratulations to Chris and Kelly Turner on the (albeit early) birth of their yet-to-be-named son!

Chris is sure to eventually post some information on his blog but, at the moment I type this, his site is unresponsive. Check again later.

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Wednesday, August 06, 2003

Geek Code

All right, all right, I finally got around to writing mine. If you’re completely nongeek, a decoder is available.

Version: 3.12
GCC/O d-(++) s: a C++(+++) U@ P+ L E(----) W+++>$ N+ o? K? w(---) O- 
M+>++>$ V? PS(+) PE? Y+(-) PGP- t+(++) 5++ X-() R-(*) tv++@ b-(+) 
DI++ D G>++ e++ h(+) r->++ !y+ 

This entry reveals my code at this particular point in history. The code block is also found on my About Me page and that will be the one I update, as needed.

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Stop Buying From Spammers, Dammit!

“A New Hampshire company appears to be grossing close to half a million dollars each month by spamming people with sales pitches for an herbal ‘male enhancement’ product. The discovery may explain the intractability of junk e-mailers on the Internet.” [Wired News]

This is precisely why spammers aren’t going to give up. Ever.

As long as there are a few thousand assholes in the world who patronize companies that send spam, the millions of other internet users are going to suffer the consequences.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

The High and Low of It

Seems like every time something good happens or I find out some good information, something else later in the day always offsets it.

While it’s been on the calendar since the beginning of the year, it just occurred to me today that my office is closed both Friday and Monday surrounding the Labor Day weekend—not just Monday. This means I can start the vacation I’d already planned a day sooner, plus count two fewer days against my vacation bank. I sort of let that perk carry me through the day (with my work load, yes, stuff like that is a perk).

It would not, however, carry me all day. Even though I basically never cook, I still try to find reasonably healthy stuff. Sometimes, though, I’m just too rushed or needing something too convenient and tonight (for the first time in more than two weeks, I promise) I went through McDonald’s. After having to wait 4-5 minutes because they’d just started cooking a new batch of fries (at least they tasted good when I finally got them), I got out on the street and looked at the hamburger. Not only was the bun almost hard as a rock, but one pickle that was poking out the side of it had turned into about the same texture as a potato chip!

That I had to go back and get an order fixed wasn’t what pissed me. That some brain-dead employee actually served the thing, did.

Anyway, completely off topic—seen as I was typing this—Apple sighting: kid with iPod in an Ethan Allen Kids commercial. (Too bad the Yahoo! site I just linked here only generically refers to it as “an MP3 player.”

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Sue -- August 6, 2003 10:29 AM

I drove through a McD's once, got all the way home, opened the wrapping on the burger - moldy bun, cold burger. So I went all the way back and made the manager look at it. The immediately gave me another one. I opened it up at the counter - again MOLDY. I asked for the bag of buns to be thrown out, - DUH! - a whole NEW order (fries were cold at this point), and my money back. They obliged and then gave me the wrong size fries. Again, I was back at the counter. They were so happy to see me leave that night! I just couldn't believe the obsurdity of the whole thing. McDonald's was never my favorite anyway, so I haven't gone back to one since.

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A coworker/friend of mine scored a pass for two people to see an advance screening of S.W.A.T. The person who was originally going with him bailed, so I got a last-minute invitation. It was actually very good, I thought. Better than expected.

I had to laugh on the way home. The radio station I most often listen to was giving out another pair of tickets for their “exclusive” Orlando premiere of S.W.A.T. Isn’t that false advertising?

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Guaranteed Winner

Taco Bell has sort of a contest like thing going on. Its tagline is “Drink Big, Win Gas.”

Naturally, we all know it means that game pieces to win a supply of gasoline are found on large and extra large drinks, but we’re talking about (usually) carbonated beverages very often joined by pinto beans swirling around in your stomach.

I’m thinking “Drink Big, Get Gas” is more accurate.

Hey! That means everyone will be a winner!

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Someone Needs To Fix Their RSS Subscription

Whoever tried to subscribe to my RSS feed by using www.dtpbylee.com/blog/blog/index.rdf might be wondering why I haven’t posted anything in a long time.

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Sunday, August 03, 2003

ATPM 9.08

The August 2003 issue of About This Particular Macintosh has been published. As expected, Matt Johnson created some desktop wallpaper images based on his cartoon strip, Cortland.

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Laziness to the Nth Degree

“Wired has the scoop on a prototype fridge from a Swedish company that includes the ability for cell phone users to request an image of its contents via MMS. No matter how lazy you think we are, don’t expect this to make it to market soon.” [MobileTracker]

Even if this doesn’t reach the market at all, just the notion that someone thought of it proves humans are getting way too lazy.

Comments: 0 (Comments are now closed.)

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Saturday, August 02, 2003

Napkin Hoarding

Ever notice when you ask for a couple packets of ketchup or some other condiment at a restaurant, you’ve given about a gazillion of them, but when you ask for napkins, you get one—two if you’re lucky?

Comments: 1 (Comments are now closed.)
Posted by Jon Gales -- August 2, 2003 09:22 PM

You wouldn't need more than 2 if they didn't give you so many of those damn packets :P

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A. Lee Bennett, Jr.