Category: Great Sites

Don’t Ask, Don’t Watch

The Onion A.V. Club has some of the best reviews of movies, books, music, and video games that I’ve read anywhere. Unlike their sister site, The Onion, the A.V. Club contains real articles about real nouns. I’ve been reading them for years and almost all of the reviews are well done. Regularly, they’ll deliver a gem; this one is for a review of Delta Farce, staring Larry The Cable Guy:

But instead of finally making the madcap cable-industry comedy he seems destined for [after Larry The Cable Guy: Health Inspector‘s questionable success], Larry The Cable Guy has instead addressed the issue of our time: war, and what is it good for? Like Paths Of Glory, Apocalypse Now, and Platoon, Delta Farce is a difficult, harrowing work offering little relief or humor. Unlike those movies, though, Delta Farce is supposed to be funny.

Well-played, Mr. Hyden. Extremely well-played. Yahoo!

It was announced that Yahoo bought today. For those of you not familiar with, it is a social bookmarking website that I use to power my “Worthwhile Clicks.” Basically, it allows you to add a URL, describe the link, and tag it with descriptive terms so that it’s easy for me or other people to find. It seems that Yahoo is buying all of my favorite web applications; first Flickr, then Upcoming, and now

It’s also interesting how Yahoo and Google are acquiring a lot of new features by absorbing innovative companies, but in very different directions. Google seems intent on adding applications—Picasa, Earth/Maps, Talk, and Desktop come to mind—while Yahoo seems focused on social Web 2.0 applications.

It’s a smart move for Yahoo. Their original feature, a human-edited directory, made the company what it is today. Obviously, technology is a driving factor for any search company, but adding an army of devoted, intelligent users may be what Yahoo really wants.

New Speed Web Design

I finished the newest version of Speed Web Design on Wednesday, but I have not had the time to mention it here. There are still a few minor quirks I need to work out of the code and I’d like to make complete project pages for each project I’ve completed, but the site is basically complete.

When I was working on the basic design for the site—way back in April—I needed some kind of pattern to really make the banner stand out. I found that in Mando Gomez’s Flightplan desktop image and he was generous enough to let me use it. He does amazing work and seems like a genuinely nice guy, so I encourage everyone to make a donation using PayPal and stop by Mandolux for some excellent desktop wallpapers.

I’m a Micropatron

I am a micropatron

It’s true. I put it off until the very last day, but I contributed my $2.50/month to help Jason make blogging his full-time job. For the sheer number of great links I’ve followed from his site, it would be worth it for me to help keep him in business. However, I really like the way that he went about the whole “micropatron” idea; it’s kind of like PBS doing their annual fundraiser in order to keep their channel commercial-free (or paying for HBO or satellite radio). It’s not a new idea, but bringing sponsorships to the blogosphere is just crazy enough that it might work. And then, there are the gifts. Mmmm… TextDrive “webhosting for life.” I’ll be keeping my fingers crossed.

Google Goodness

Yesterday, I noticed that Gmail has upped the number of invitations for my account to 50. Looks like they’re getting closer to completing their beta period and interested in how their servers will hold up under increased demands. Would you like to help them? Send me an email if you would like one of my invitations; make sure you include the email address you’d like me to send it to in the body of your friendly letter. Tell me if you have a website or a little bit about yourself: I’m interested to see who’s reading this site. Yes, I suppose your Live Journal counts.

But that’s not all, kids! Today, I checked out Google Maps, which made my head explode. It’s Google’s answer to maps and an interesting alternative to Google Local, which came out a while ago but focuses more on websites related to a business than to maps. The new Maps is slick; it’s smoother than desktop map software. I think it also seems to be the death knell for MapQuest and other online map services which suck worse than Sour Skittles; I put up with their annoyances because there wasn’t a better alternative.

I added a few lines to the code to print out a link to map each business’ location via Google Maps. I think it will be useful to visitors to Northumberland County. I also did it because the maps are just so slick. Did I mention that they’re slick?

Gmail Goodness

For much of the past month, there has been a lot of buzz about Google’s new email service, Gmail. I wondered about the features of Gmail, but it was by invitation only so I felt left out. However, all that has now changed. I’m happy to announce that I now have a Gmail account with an invitation courtesy of Joe Casabona! Great stuff has already been written about Gmail, so there’s no need for me to restate the obvious.

I would like to say that the Gmail interface is slick—it’s much easier to do the simple things like add contacts, search for a message, or compose a new message (or reply) than most other email services. It’s likely that I’ll be forwarding all my email to that account due to the 1 GB storage limit. Of course, Google probably has bigger plans than just email, as Jason Kottke speculates. I wonder when Google will become self-aware?

A South Park Weekend

Stephen as a South Park Character

I don’t know if it was the stress getting to me or just pure procrastination, but I watched quite a bit of South Park this weekend. I’ve watched the show before—many times, in fact—but it’s not something like 24 that I watch with quasi-religious devotion. I watched a few episodes of South Park on Saturday night as they were having a marathon of sorts; then I watched (and taped) South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut which was shown unedited at 1 AM. I can’t believe that I’ve missed out on something so funny for so long.

It’s interesting how a show that is so decidedly low-brow can manage to make so many valid points. I read an article from the New York Times that expertly summarizes the morals in South Park and does a much better job—than I would—of describing why the show is so likeable and strangely intelligent for a cartoon.

In a funny coincidence, I happened to catch the last bit of a Mad TV cartoon that featured a Peanuts-like gang of kids, but drawn (and behaving) in pure South Park style. I did a little research and found a video of South Parknuts, as well as a website devoted to South Park references in all mediums. I’ll bet Charles Schulz rolled over in his grave when Mad TV aired their version; Trey Parker and Matt Stone probably rolled over laughing.

The picture that accompanies this post is a South Park Stephen—or at least what I’ll look like this week as I write the 17 pages for my two English papers. I created it using the South Park “Create a Character.”

Fox News: Republican Television

Flag-draped Coffins of US Soldiers

The big story today happens to be the (accidental?) release of 361 images to the Memory Hole that show dead American soldiers’ arrivals and departures at air bases. Apparently, photos of these honor guards are not released to the press—nor are the media allowed to photograph these quiet non-ceremonies—because the Bush Administration does not want the public to see the images for fear of upsetting the families of the dead. However, the images are not graphic in any respect (flag-draped coffins) but rather sad testimonies to this unnecessary war.

More likely, Bush & Co. don’t want the public to see the real results of the war in Iraq. I’m glad the images were released under the Freedom of Information Act, but it should be easier for the public and media to show what really happens when we go to war. Sadly, the New York Times reported that Fox News reaffirms that it is truly the GOP propaganda machine:

Among the national television news organizations, only the Fox News Channel had no plans to use any of the photos or explore the issue of why they had been barred from use in the news media, a channel spokesman said.

Update: the Memory Hole site has been down for the past few days, most likely due to an overload on their servers. This mirror has been provided by Warblogging.

Better than Speed Weblog?

A few months ago, I decided that I was going to develop a weblog system and offer it as a free download like Movable Type. Unlike MT, the system I was going to create would be simpler, completely dynamic, and powered by PHP and MySQL. I’m not a big fan of Perl and I don’t like some of the problems that come about with MT’s comment spam and static page rebuilding.

I looked around (not very thoroughly) and didn’t find any PHP/MySQL blogging systems so I started some early planning for my system. Well, I picked out a name—that I later second-guessed because it was pretty boring: Speed Weblog. I wanted my system to:

  • Be entirely web-based
  • Allow easy posting and editing of entries
  • Allow categories and sub-categories for entries
  • Automatically date entries, but allow for posts to be dated in the past or the future and not appear until that future date/time came about
  • Allow “worthwhile clicks” to be added to a sidebar
  • Allow commenting
  • Generate RSS feeds dynamically for the recent entries

Well, this week I discovered WordPress. It does just about everything I wanted my system to do but it also does more and does it better. I’ve been running a test version to see what it’s capable of accomplishing and it really is quite impressive. I may still develop a CMS in the summer when I have more time to kill, but I will definitely be switching this site to WordPress sometime soon (within two months). It’s going to be a little sad to say goodbye to the system that is running this site right now—which I wrote from scratch—but this system is a crude mockery of a true CMS; it was my first dynamic site, after all.

I Feel Great!

I’m not sure how I found this site, but it’s definitely worth mentioning. As far as I can tell, Turnpike Films has done several commercials for major corporations. However, these aren’t your average, boring, or even mildly entertaining commercials. They’re rather bizarre. I recommend them all, but if you only watch one of them, make sure that it is the Nutri-Grain commercial. It’s absolutely hilarious. I don’t know how they thought of it, but I wish more commercials were like these.