Naming Names

This 1999 Salon.com article on corporate naming practices is a great read, even ten years later (thanks to Isaac for the link).

Disclosure: I preferred the name Cardinal over Firefox and I work for a company called silverorange.

 

Viewing PDF Files without Adobe Reader

I noticed an interesting feature at the end of the Google Chrome OS Demo video today. Apparently, you can pass the URL of any publicly available PDF file to Google Docs and it will act as a plugin-free PDF viewer right in the browser.

To view a PDF file without any plugins, append the URL of the file to the end of the address shown here in bold type:

http://docs.google.com/viewer?url=http://www.example.com/file.pdf

For example, here is the viewer displaying a PDF copy of a NASA publication.

I don’t think this is a new feature, but it’s the first I’ve seen of it. Google appears to use it to preview some PDF documents in search results (example).

 

15 Things Worth Knowing About Coffee

 

A Brief Guide to American Highway Fast Food

My friend and scotch-enthusiast, Ian Wiliams, has written a brief guide to American road-side fast-food for his fancy wife. Here are some highlights:

On Taco Bell:

“With a enough Medium™ sauce, pretty much everything remains vaguely interesting, even if the aftermath – especially in a closed car – can be somewhat Vesuvial.”

On Wendy’s (read the post for the footnote):

“[t]he quality control of this place has plummeted since owner Dave Thomas wriggled free of his mortal coil. Serves him right for shooting those kids at Kent State, huh?*”

On Subway:

“[i]t has always amazed me that Subway manages to make roast beef and lettuce taste exactly the same.”

On Burger King:

“[y]ou could stop at Burger King, but it better be an emergency.”

On Hardee’s:

“I have been starving, and not stopped at Hardee’s.”

It takes a special talent to make a Taco Bell / diarrhea joke actually funny. Extra points for using the term “Vesuvial”, which is even funnier when you read the definition.

 

If you’re a web developer, take a few minutes to complete the Mozilla Developer Network survey.

 

Font Beauty in Firefox 3.next

An exciting (to me) video walkthrough of the font control options coming Firefox 3.6 and/or 3.7:

 

Glaciers in Motion – the Extreme Ice Survey

The Extreme Ice Survey has been capturing time-lapse photos of the flow and retreat of glaciers over weeks, months, and years. I recommend taking fifteen minutes to watch the survey lead, James Balog present some of the remarkable image sequences at the TED conference.

If you only have two minutes to spare, skip into the 16:10 point of TED talk video. Here, Balog narrates video that shows 1 mile of ice, 3 miles wide, and 3/5-mile deep break up into the ocean in only 75 minutes.

The Extreme Ice Survey website has dozens of videos of the time-lapse photography. Highlights include a enormous collapse caught on video and the Ilulissat glacier in Greenland (video embedded below) as it flows like water. The scale is awesome.

 

Eastlink Injects Itself into the Internet Experience of its Customers

After having used Aliant (now Bell Aliant) as my Internet service provider (the term high-speed is useless in its relativity) for several years, I switched to Eastlink – the only alternative. My service with Aliant had been fine, but due to some bizarre Internet-topography, to get from my house (on Aliant’s network) to my office (a ten-minute walk down the street, but on the Eastlink network), packets were routed through Chicago (a 4,000Km+ round trip).

Having now been an Eastlink customer for a few years, the service has been similar to Aliant, in that it works fine, and I don’t really have to talk to them.

Some time last week, though, Eastlink began to stick its nose into my Internet browsing. They introduced a “service” they call Search Manager that picks up any mistyped host-names, and rather than leaving it up to your client (Firefox, etc.) to decide what to do when you request a bad host-name, they displayed an Eastlink-branded, Yahoo-powered, Google-look-a-like search results page.

From their Eastlink’s FAQ on the service:

Q. How does it work?
When a user mistypes an internet address or types a request for a non-existing website in the browser, our service will present you this page. The objective of this service is to present a page that can assist you in reaching your destination on the internet.

It doesn’t sound like such a bad idea. However, most web browsers now deal with a bad host-name quite well. Firefox, for example, uses Google’s “I’m Feeling Lucky” to turn a request like “Prince Edward Island” into an immediate jump to the Government of Prince Edward Island website. Eastlink has broken this feature of Firefox.

Of course, they also show ads on these search results pages (pages I never asked to see). Again, from their FAQ:

Q. How much do I pay for this service?
This is a free service. You will not be charged for using this service.

Of course it’s free. Eastlink is making money on it with ads – even though I already pay a healthy monthly fee for my Internet service.

To their credit, Eastlink does make it relatively easy to opt-out of the service. However, I find this “on-by-default” setup that requires me to opt-out to be an inappropriate intrusion into the content that flows through their network.

When I contacted Eastlink to complain about the service, I clearly stated that I understand how to opt-out (and already have), but that I wanted to register my complaint that the service exists at all. Eastlink’s customer service group responded by telling me how to opt-out. For bonus points, the response came from do_not_reply@corp.eastlink.ca. This is a bit like answering a question for a customer at a store, and then running away before they respond.

I’ve since contact Eastlink again with my complaint, and will share any pertinent updates here. If you are also an Eastlink customer, I would encourage you to contact them and complain.

 

@keithquotes

There’s this guy, at this office, and he says the most unbelievable stuff. Then, his co-workers post what he says on Twitter. It’s often not the kind of thing you’d want to read with your mother looking over your shoulder.

  • She’s not married and she makes penis cakes? What’s her number?
  • I wish my skin had a zipper so I could let it out a bit.
  • With my luck it would rain right over a camp of nudists who are exercising.
  • Had a restless night dreaming about a space station I had that was being attacked, by Edward James Olmos who was dressed up as Khan.
  • Also, Edward James Olmos as Khan was wearing a windbreaker.
  • Is there coffee around? I’m afraid of falling asleep with [redacted] next to me.
  • My brother was 6 before he sorted it out.
  • I prefer a full head of teeth.
  • I can’t eat Lobster. I once bonded with one.
  • I don’t know anyone who dresses like that who wasn’t disappointing in the end.
  • A man in possession of a single patty, must be in want of two more patties.
 

Virtual Hearts & Virtual Minds

Want to build a social network for the Middle East or North Africa? The US State Department may have $500,000 to $2,500,000 for you.