Year: 2006

Christmas Shopping

Every year I tell myself that I’m doing all my shopping online since most stores are packed around the holidays. Each year I tell myself that I’ll do all my shopping a few months before the crowds hit the malls. Sometimes I swear off buying gifts all together. I’ve never planned to wait until a week before Christmas to start shopping, but I do just that consistently. Wake me when it’s over.

Borat Is Nice!

I finally got around to seeing Borat last night and it was glorious! I had heard good things about the film, but I didn’t expect to laugh that hard or as often as I did last night. What’s more amazing, is that it seemed everyone was laughing. It’s not for the easily offended, but the rest of us will love this movie. Believe everything you’ve heard about Borat—it’s probably all true.

Less of a Blog

Somehow, this site has become less of a blog and more of a quarterly periodical—and a thin one at that. In order to make me feel better, I’m going to quickly run through a list of things I wanted to talk about here but didn’t. It’s not definitive or complete, but it hits the main points. I think paragraph-format will suffice, don’t you?

Annie and I went to Baltimore’s book fair and to Cape May, New Jersey two weeks later. My car reached 200,000 miles and is still going. Red Bull Flugtag at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor was one of the strangest and coolest things I’ve seen. Sadly, Annie’s grandfather—a B24 navigator in World War II and a great person—passed away at age 85.

I’ve been driving a lot more than I’d like. Taking Gough Street instead of Fleet Street or Eastern Avenue to my apartment cuts my evening commute by 15 minutes. My new digital camera works even better than I had hoped (full review coming soon). The Plot Against America is a great book; it reads like Steinbeck to me. I’m looking for a new apartment because our new landlords suck. I’ve been trying to revamp Scranton Student, Northumberland, and start a new Baltimore site but I can never find much time to devote to them. Finally, Netflix is wonderful and The Wire is the best TV show ever; it might be better than 24!

Maybe I’ll start writing more often, but not likely. I have been posting more photos to Flickr, so there’s some new content. Pathetic, isn’t it?

Agenda: Digital Camera

My Kodak CX4230 has worked reasonably well in the nearly four years I’ve owned it, but my eyes wandered to smaller, more powerful models more times than I care to admit. There were significant limitations to my camera, but the picture quality was decent despite its 2.0 megapixels and slow processor. Learning the half-press shutter trick was instrumental in extending that camera’s life.

However, dropping prices and my rising income have convinced me to splurge a little for a camera that does more than the bare minimum. That’s not to say I need every idiotic feature available, but I have a few requirements that I’m not willing to compromise:

  • The camera must be small enough to fit in my pants pocket.
  • It must be 5 megapixels or more.
  • Have both a large LCD screen and an optical viewfinder.
  • At least 3x optical zoom.

It’s a short list of standards that leaves a lot of players on the field, but I was able to weed it down to one camera: the Cannon PowerShot SD700 IS Digital Elph! The SD700 exceeds these features with 6MP and a 4x stabilized optical zoom. It also boasts one of the best camera processors on the market (the DIGIC II engine featured in their digital SLR cameras), 16×9 widescreen mode, and a video mode with sound.

I’m hoping to order it within the next two weeks or so—possibly in time for my birthday—and I’d like to write a little review here, comparing my expectations with the results. Stay tuned.

Update: After reading my friend Joe’s post about camera shopping, I noticed on DP Review that Cannon now has a PowerShot SD800 IS. It’s about $60 more than the SD700, but has 7.1 megapixels, wide-angle zoom, a new, DIGIC III processor, and face-detection to increase the image quality of people pictures. Looks like my final answer just upgraded.

Update Two: Turns out, the SD800 IS isn’t available until November; delayed gratification for me.

Update Three: I received my new Cannon SD800 IS in the mail today! Despite the previous update, Amazon has been selling this camera for at least a week (Oct. 27).

XSL Interpretation in Mozilla

I was working on an XSL template to parse an XML feed at work this week when I discovered a strange error. Everything worked perfectly in Internet Explorer and Mozilla Firefox locally, but when I uploaded, Firefox stated that I had a “mime type declaration error” in my XSL file.

After an hour of experimenting with setting every possible mime type, content type, and syntax I found in online help forums and tutorials—and breaking the IE and Firefox interpretation in the process—we found a comment thread that suggested changing the “.xsl” extension on the XSL stylesheet to “.xml”. And everything was good in the world wide web.

Full-Time Design

A little over two weeks ago, I began working for the as a Jr. Web Designer. Obviously, it will take some time to adapt to my new position, but everyone I work with has been very friendly and helpful. I think that this job with this company is the best possible career step for me right now. Every moment that I’ve been there just feels right.

Whenever I’ve talked to friends or acquaintances in the design field, they told me that it took them six months, a year, or more to get hired. Over the past year or so, I doubted whether a web designer with an English degree was employable. I felt confident enough in my abilities, but felt that my lack of formal experience was going to kill my chances for full-time employment in web design. But my friends were right: it just takes time. Lots of it.

From when I found out I was hired almost a month ago, I’ve been happy. I’m excited that I’m getting paid to do something I enjoy; I’m relieved that my coworkers are as nice as they seemed when I first met them; and I’m looking forward to all of the possibilities that lie ahead.

Weezer’s Make Believe

Weezer - Make Believe

More than a decade has passed since I bought Weezer’s self-titled debut album, but I still haven’t grown tired of it. Two weeks ago on a mini-shopping spree, I bought Weezer’s newest album Make Believe to see what Weezer’s been up to these past 12 years.

Listening to the first track, “Beverly Hills,” I couldn’t help but smile; that song is rediculously catchy and reminiscent of “Buddy Holly” but with a more modern sound. Thinking that they hadn’t changed, the rest of the album came as a bit of a let-down. Perhaps my expectations were unreasonably high but I wanted something that rocked more than the Blue Album. Harder, catchier, better.

I’ve been listening to Make Believe a lot these past two weeks and my initial impressions were wrong. While this album is much more mellow than the 1994 Weezer album I’ve listened to hundreds of times over the years, it’s still an excellent record. The music is layered and the vocals are softer. Even on louder songs like “We Are All on Drugs” the edges are smoother than the sharp corners of Weezer’s debut, but like the Blue Album the songs reveal their brilliance with repeated plays. You might not love Make Believe at first, but give it a chance to really show it’s personality.

Summer CSS Realign

I completely missed the Spring CSS Reboot and I wasn’t really interested in redesigning this site as the design was only three months old at the time. However, I do think that the design could use a realignment for the summer. Mostly, I just tweaked the banner and brightened up the page with some new colors, but I have a few more things that I’ll be adjusting over the next two weeks.

In addition to new colors, I’d also like to reorganize the archives page, make the media directory page somewhat useful, update the about section, and bring the movie lists into the site template. A bit too ambitious, perhaps, but definitely feasible. Comment and let me know if there are any other features/changes you’d like to see here. Thanks!

Still Breathing

I haven’t written anything here in more than a month, but I’m still alive. I’ve been making subtle updates to the site and I have dozens of things that I want to write—or started writing—but I have little time to complete those thoughts. More on that later.

Orioles vs. Indians

Camden Yards, Orioles versus Indians

On Tuesday, Annie and I went to see the Cleveland Indians play the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards in a night game. Our seats were excellent, the weather was fantastic, and the tickets and parking didn’t cost us a cent (Annie’s boss provided the tickets). It’s always exciting for me when I emerge from the tunnel under the stands and the whole ballpark is visible; I’m not sure if it’s the bright sheen of the grass or the sheer expanse of the stadium’s interior or something purely psychological from my childhood, but the feeling is always the same.

The game was special for Annie too, as it was her first time at a professional baseball stadium. And despite the terrifying re-appearance of the Orioles Bird, she enjoyed the game more than she had anticipated. Neither of us had any emotional stake on the outcome of the game, but it would have been a little nicer if the Indians hadn’t crushed the Orioles 15-1. In any case, I uploaded some photos of the game that turned out nicely.