Font Beauty in Firefox

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 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.



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.


Shorts into Features

Two short films, available to watch online, that have recently become feature-length films:


A New Blender in the Family

My niece Jade and her friend Hannah made a silent movie for the Blendtec “So you think you can BLEND” contest and won a Blendtec blender! The laugh-track was a nice touch:

I’m going to be coming over to do all of my blending. Maybe we can try it out on my broken iPod.


If I Gave a Tweet

Criticizing Twitter and its users is one of the lowest forms of shallow condescension – right up there pointing out that the things in the Alanis Morissette song aren’t technically “ironic”. The “why do I care what you had for breakfast” routine is one best relegated to bad stand-up comedians and 24-hour-cable-news hosts.

That said, I don’t think I’m cool enough to use Twitter (translation: I think I’m too cool to use Twitter). If I did, though, this is what it would be like:

  • Getting a new toilet seat is like getting a whole new toilet
  • Movies that I won’t see because they have numbers in the title: 3:10 to Yuma, The Taking of Whatever 123
  • Movies are too long.
  • Whenever I come from getting my teeth cleaned at the dentist, I feel like I need to gargle with CocaCola to get my mouth back to normal.
  • When do single-parents shower?
  • Shameful confession: I enjoy getting promotional emails from Dell.
  • Get off my lawn!

Before my friends helpfully point it out, I actually do “use” Twitter in several ways. I have an account to follow the posts of friends, and I have helped create Twitter to the Editor and Hungarian and Back. Twitter is actually a very cool service, but I’d prefer a more open system.


Introduction to New Urbanism

This 9-part lecture on New Urbanism (in 10-minute bite-sized chunks) is a pleasantly common-sense criticism of car-centered urban planning.


The Temptation of the Mobile Web

In all of the talk about devices that provide pervasive internet connectivity (like the iPhone, Palm Pre, and Android phones), I had yet to see anyone address what I see as the most significant drawback of such devices. Until, that is, Tim Bray wrote up his experience with his Android G1 phone and included this:

Temptation and Work-Life Balance

If you haven’t had a real Internet phone before, and you’re a wired kind of person, there are social stresses. If you can always glance at your email or Gtalk or Twitstream, the temptation to fill any otherwise-blank moment by doing so is considerable. Your mind may find itself classifying a lull in conversation with your spouse as an “otherwise-blank moment” which turns out almost always to be inappropriate. [Tim Bray, July 19, 2009]

I’ve never been good with self-discipline. I don’t have cable-tv for this reason. Not because I don’t want to watch it, but because I do. If I had cable, I would watch it – for hours – and not anything in particular. I don’t see any reason to think that my behaviour with an always-connected phone would be any different.

I’m not particularly concerned about inappropriate use (during conversations, etc.). The problem for me would more likely one of frequency and volume. I would probably be better off if I could only check my email and feeds twice a day, rather than any time I want. Adding the ability to do it while I wait in line at the grocery store might not be a net gain in my quality of life (and grocery-line magazine covers are my only life-line to celebrity gossip).

Neil Postman talked about how the dawn of electronic communication filled our lives with impertinent information, mostly due to the proximity (or rather lack thereof) of the information sources. It seems we’re about to start carrying that entire problem around in our pockets.

I certainly don’t mean this as any kind of judgment on others with such devices. You’re probably a better person that I am and can manage your impulses. If you have the discipline to use it wisely, then great. I’m not sure I do.