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The Words

So today’s Waypost of Progress on the new site design centered on just one word.

When I started up this redesign, the title “Celestial House of Binary” knocked on my door and strolled right in before I had time to say “Come on in” or change out of my Betty Boop wig. To be honest, I wasn’t in the market for a new blog name — the Colossal Waste of Bandwidth still had a certain jenny-say-what about it — but it instantly occurred to me that any title beginning with the word “Celestial” was pretentious and vague and both of those things would fit in quite nicely with my plans for the site.

Then a commenter pointed out that I was only one letter away from retaining “CWoB” as the site’s initials, and suggested that I find another word to take the place of “House.”

“Damn you,” I replied, though in truth I was delighted that my next site-related project would be to write one single solitary word instead of mastering the art of WordPress theme construction.

I needed a new “W.” Ideally one that could fulfill the same role as “House”: something that meant a container or controller or somesuch. Lying on my sofa and staring blankly at the spider on my ceiling didn’t work out as well as I hoped (mostly I worried what would happen if the thing started descending) so I downloaded a Scrabble dictionary and scrolled to the”W”‘s.

Early candidates:

  • Wagon
  • Waypost
  • Waypoint
  • Waywode – Slavic military leader
  • Wairua – Maori tenet of spiritual wellness
  • Wallow
  • Waltz
  • Walkabout
  • Warbler
  • Wardrobe
  • Warehouse

And then I got more selective. I made it all the way to “Wellspring” before I added anything new to the list. The trouble is that even among those who had made it past the cattle call and earned an actual audition in front of Randy, Paula and Simon, there were no real “aha”s. They were either rather lame and non-catchy (“Wagon”), or they transformed the ironic pretentiousness of “Celestial” into actual pretentiousness (“Wellspring”) or else they fell afoul of the dreaded Renfair Syndrome.

Renfaire Syndrome: Unfortunate neurological condition in which you pretend that you thought that everybody knew what a Wyvyrn is (duh!), when in truth you chose that word specifically for the arrogant pleasure of having to keep explaining it to people.

By the end of this little adventure, I concluded that I could just turn the Colossal Waste of Bandwidth into the Celestial Waste of Bandwidth and call it a day. I get to keep CWoB, I communicate that I’ve done something new to the place, and if anything, I’ve actually intensified the mission of the original site.

After all, a Colossal Waste is simply a tragedy. A Celestial Waste of Bandwidth, on the other hand, is a mission from God.

The Stars-At-NIGHT! Shine Big-And-BRIGHT!!!

I got back from Houston on Sunday night. It’s now Wednesday and I think I’m just about done digesting what I ate over there.

Barbecue, ladies and gentlemen. Real, honest-to-God, prescription-grade barbecue. You might have heard an unrepentant flesh-eater to say “If God hadn’t intended for us to eat animals, He wouldn’t have made them out of meat, would He?” Well, if you had the pulled-pork sandwich I had for lunch on Saturday, you’d understand that this is no glib, defensive rebuttal.

The sauce was wonderful but clearly, the chief source of flavor was the slow smoke. It was served on thick slices of coarse bread with slivers of cheese and chili peppers. with pork rice on the side.

Any sort of dessert was probably medically contraindicated but circumstances demanded that I add a slice of pecan pie to my tray.

It was a humble sort of barbecue joint, where you slide your tray across the counter before the kitchen cafeteria-style. I looked longingly at the range of desserts but then I remembered that a full mongoose is a slow mongoose. I was giving my talk right after lunch, and I was on just a few hours’ sleep as it was, so I let the pies alone.

We reached the till, and I reached for my wallet. But my arm was slapped…slapped!…by the user-group member who was acting as my Seeing Eye Texan at this venue.

I shot him a look. “All right, you son of a bitch,” I said. “Just for that, I’m getting dessert. And if you hit me again, I’m getting a tee shirt, too!!!”

But as so many people who post ads on Craigslist will agree, pleasure often accompanies pain. The pie was astoundingly good. I’m not a diabetic (yet) and I don’t test my blood glucose levels but if a dessert is so sweet that it temporarily causes your vision to go a little orange, that can’t be good, can it?

Anyway. The Houston-Area Apple Users Group talk was emblematic of the reasons why I love coming out to talk to user groups. The people were terrific, I got to swap my messy house for a nice hotel for a couple of nights, the food was out-of-this-world-ish in nature, and I got to spend a couple of days in a new city.

What did I talk about? The title came to me when I realized how unhappy Mac people seem to be with Apple all of a sudden. Behold, the first slide in my presentation:

Festivus In September

Yes, I did perform Feats of Strength. But the point of the exercise was indeed the Airing of the Grievances.


…Because this writing thing blows. Really. Today’s the last day I can make serious changes to my iPhone/iPod Touch book. Let’s review the ways the world changed today:

  • Apple released a firmware update. Adds one new feature that should go in the book somewhere (media files as mail attachments are playable within Mail; great way to spontaneously put a podcast on your iphone) but breaks third-party apps.
  • Yahoo! has decided to shut down its podcast directory. And here I went and talked about it in the “Podcasts” chapter.
  • Rogue Amoeba released an awesome radio-capture app. Actually they released it a day or two ago. But I had no idea that it existed until I was reviewing the chapter on capturing streaming audio and just needed to quickly double-check the price of Audio Hijack Pro. Well, **** me; this Radioshift app is multiple instances of awesome.

So sometime before, during or after my flight to Houston tomorrow I need to deal with all of that, plus a bunch of little things, before this manuscript turns into a pumpkin.

Again I salute the fine men and women of the United Parcel Services. Every single time something about my job bums me out to the point of changing my skin color temporarily, I realize that package sorters and drivers don’t have to deal with this sort of stuff.

A Pitcher of Gimlets

A Pitcher of Gimlets

Originally uploaded by andyi

Another HDR. I seem to be in some sort of color-profile hell. I wanted intense colors, but while it looks great on my desktop. in Safari it’s a little too intense and in Firefox it’s too weak.

Why is it that Firefox doesn’t give a damn about profiles? There’s that. The Safari problem, I think, lies with the fact that the image went from 16 bits to 8 when converted to JPEG.

I really hope this “digital photography” technology catches on some day, but unless they finally iron out some of these fundamental bugs I really can’t see much of a future in it.

(Update: But on this brand-new iMac, it looks perfect. Go figure.)

Shimmy Shimmy Shake

Shimmy Shimmy Shake, originally uploaded by andyi.

“NO! BAD dog!!!” I heard from behind me.

And I hadn’t even paid the lady $20 or anything.

No, she was calling after her pooch, who had bolted away and lept into the pond. I helped her haul the beast out and gave him an approving glance as he shook his fur and went on his merry way.

Anyone who’s ever been a little kid can appreciate his thought processes. “She can yell at me for jumping in the pond,” he was thinking, just before going airborne. “But she CAN’T order me to feel as hot and miserable as I was before I hit that cool, cool water.”

Disturbingly, my next thought was “You know, the cops can yell at me…”



Originally uploaded by andyi

“No, no…that’s terrific news, General. Really.”



“Spit it out, son.”

“Okay. Stand in front of this mirror and strike the pose you’re going to use for this grand monument to your bravery and heroism.”

“Done. Man alive, that kisser’s going to look fantastic in gold leaf, wouldn’t you agree?”

“I’m sure you’re right, sir. Now just bear with me and hold your head steady…”


“Do bear with me, sir. Okay. Now how do you look?”

“I look like a git with a duck decoy balanced on my head.”

“Precisely. Only it won’t be one of your hunting decoys, it’ll be a live pigeon. For the next 500 years it’ll be Winged Victory leading you onward, as you confidently ride a wild war-beast into battle…with a live bird on your head.”


“If I might suggest, sir, there is an abstract sculptor in Kensington who’s been getting some highly favorable notices for his public commissions…”