Archives for June 2005

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Google Old News

One of the searches I do regularly to see what's happening is a Google News search for downtown "los angeles". Just now I had quite a start when I clicked that link, sorted by date, and found the seventh story to be:

11 Die After Train Hits SUV KABC, CA - 1 hour ago ... That train had left Union Station at 5:48 am bound for downtown Burbank. ... Rick Godinez of the Los Angeles Fire Department said early on. ...

It was quite a relief to go to the linked story and find "last updated: 1/26/2005". I don't know what tripped Google into thinking it was a new story, but it scared me for a second there.

KCRW Podcast Listenership Up; Technical Problems Follow

Several different sites, including LA Observed have noted that the launch of podcasts in Apple's iTunes store has led to a huge jump in the number of people listening to the KCRW streams.

Unfortunately it also seems to have led to some technical issues on the station's side. My download speed has roughly been cut in half, but more importantly files are showing up in the podcast RSS before they show up on the server. Yesterday morning the 6/28 files for both Which Way LA? and To the Point gave 404 errors even though they were in the respective feeds. Today the 6/29 file for Which Way LA? did the same thing. As of right now, that's still the case.

Update (3pm): I just noted from the file timestamps that To the Point's 6/28 and 6/29 shows both appeared around the same time: 6/29 @ 3pm. Which Way LA?'s 6/28 show appeared 6/29 @ 5pm. In contrast, other shows have appeared on their air date, at approximately 6:30pm.

LAist: A Little Too Full of "Theirself"

I know, I beat LAist up a lot. But I swear it's just that "they" constantly give me a reason. Today the object of my ire is a piece on the LA Times' coverage of the slumping box office.

A story in the paper today which talks about the slump in box office for films in the USA and worldwide. The article blames the slump, in large part, on the poor quality product coming out of Hollywood. Too many sequels and other junk. Sounds familiar. Are we the first to say that most Hollywood films are not very good, especially lately? No. Have we been saying it recently and quite a bit? Yep. Does that mean the LA Times is reading LAist? Who knows?

Here's the thing: I'm pretty sure that everybody who's covered the "slump" has laid that out as a thing people are complaining about. In fact I bet you could go out on the street and poll people and come up with "poor quality product" as one of the top two answers. And I guarantee you that 99% of these people would have never heard of LAist.

Thirty seconds on technorati searching for box office slump found me plenty of month old entries blaming poor product. For instance, how about this one from 5/27:

As time goes on, Hollywood films get more and more inane, and as globalization continues, people are being exposed to films of a different, non-Hollywood nature. I think the public is beginning to get the idea that Hollywood sucks. It's time the movie industry adapted.

Or maybe this one from 5/12:

From other entertainment options to a lower quality of flicks to way too much Ashton Kutcher, all of the theories have been, well, theorized.

A month and a half later, LAist trys so desperately to hint that even though, yes, other people have mentioned the idea, the fact that the LA Times deemed fit to print it could just possibly mean that its reporters read LAist and found the not-so-unique idea there. Please, get off it. You're a group blog obsessed with the editorial 'we' that loves ads. Let that be enough.

Making the Grauman Rounds

We went and saw Batman at the Chinese tonight. Only at the Chinese can you sit four rows from the back and still be amazed at just how big the screen is.

Beforehand we ate at the Pig'n Whistle. Though it's a little overpriced when it comes to drinks (I ordered Coke and it turned out to be a $3.50 glass bottle), the food's really good and you can't beat the interior for character.

Again, A New Look

Ever since I did the redesign of blogdowntown a few weeks ago I've grown ever less enchanted with how this site looks. I'm not going to claim that that's why I've been so bad at updating lately, but it probably contributed a little.

In any case, the other day I started messing around with some mast ideas based on a couple sunset pictures that I took on Tuesday. Today I got serious about making something work and put my ideas into HTML. There's still a lot of cruft in the code that needs to be cleaned out, but I like this look a lot better than the old one.

Sometime in the near future I'll find examples for the different iterations the last look took (I think it had three distinct lives all as look 20.x) and post them up to my eWorld looks page (speaking of stuff still broken... those blockquotes are nice).

Some After Work Fun

I'm thinking I might ride to Manhattan Beach after work to catch up with Kathy and her sister, who are planning to go there to watch the Pistons/Spurs game. Bike Metro says it would be 37.58 miles. Sort of humorously the directions also take me directly by my apartment. That's going to be a cruel moment of decision -- "Ok, you've ridden 15 miles. You're tired. Your front door is right there. You could ride 23 more miles, or you could justgo inside and sit down." Of the 39 points in the directions, 28 are to get me home. The next 11 get me to the beach.

1062 feet of elevation loss over the length of the trip. That all comes before mile 26 or so, then it's mostly flat.

I'm sticking the Bike Metro map in the body so you can get a more visual feel for how this ride looks.

Update (10pm): I made it in about two and a half hours. My legs held up just fine, though I can definitely feel that they'll be a little sore in the morning, just in time to ride back to work. — Continue Reading...

Raw Numbers Mean Nothing

This morning Sean linked to a a comparison Triston Louis did of how Google and Yahoo report links to blogs.

Tristan takes a look at the number of links Yahoo and Google and Technorati report as pointing to a site and uses that to infer how well each engine is doing in covering blogs.

I skimmed it this morning, and then just went back and had a nice back and forth with Sean about it. My contention: the comparison is worthless. — Continue Reading...

Ditty Bops and Bike Summer

To clarify something up front: I'm not dead, just busy.

With that out of the way, here's something really cool... On June 30th the Ditty Bops have a show at Spaceland. But there's something special about this show. To quote their site:

Theme: Bikes. Please bring your bike and join us for a bike ride to our Spaceland Show. We will meet at at 9pm at The Bicycle Kitchen located at 706 Heliotrope @ Melrose (2 blks west of Vermont) in Los Angeles, 90029. We will depart from there at 9:30 pm sharp to ride to Spaceland for our show. This show is part of Bike Summer 2005. 50% of Ditty Bops proceeds will benefit The Bicycle Kitchen

That's awesome. I'm there.

Why Can't Open Office Delete a Hyperlink?

My girlfriend has been using Open Office for the past while, and every now and then these problems arise that really get me fed up with OO as a piece of usable software. For instance, the issue today is that she had copied and pasted a quote from the Internet into her paper, and OO had automatically made that text a link without giving her the choice. Since she didn't realize what was going on, that link style got carried through to the rest of the paper, and before she knew what was up she had a paper that was basically a big hyperlink.

Automatically making something a link is a UI decision that I absolutely hate, but whatever, that should be a silly little problem to fix, right?

No. It would seem to me that OO's word processor has no function to remove a hyperlink. I tried just deleting the URL (which it made me do on a per-paragraph basis, or it wouldn't apply), but no luck. Now the link just pointed to the document itself. I even downloaded the help package so I could look in the documentation, and while I see plenty of documentation for making a hyperlink, I can find none for deleting one.

I finally turned to AbiWord, which puts a "Delete Hyperlink" option into the context menu for the right mouse button (when appropriate). I think the paper is now ok, but my disgust for OO isn't.

Times covers Midnight Ridazz; Estimates 500 Participants

There's an article on the Midnight Ridazz in today's LA Times.

There were at least 500 of them, wearing angel wings, rubber tentacles, Girl Scout uniforms and other costumes. But in a city where freakish exhibitionism is as about as original as saying you're working on a screenplay, the more startling sight was seeing everyone pedaling a bicycle.

The cyclists commandeered three westbound lanes on Sunset Boulevard in Silver Lake late Friday night, forming a convoy a quarter-mile long.

The absurdity of the scene drew people out of bars, restaurants and even a hookah parlor. For a moment, it was as though the electricity had been shut off in Los Angeles and the streets had come alive with people wondering where the cars had gone.

I went on the ride Friday night, pedaling over to Echo Park to meet up with everyone. It was nuts. I'm definitely going back next month. The trip was a bit over ten miles each way, but it was a really relaxed ride, so it would have been easy for any level of cyclist to keep up. There was a photographer from the Times with us the whole way, but the pictures aren't online. I guess I'll be stopping to try and pick up a paper copy. Or maybe I'll get lucky and find one on the train again. Pictures posted to the Bike Summer site are here. I took a few, but haven't uploaded them to see how they turned out yet.

Note to Self

Note: It's not a good idea to connect a fan into a floppy drive power plug and then let the two wires touch each other.

It will spark, and the computer will shut off.

On the plus side, I now have a fan running air over my new drive.

More Fun With Computers

My mouse randomly stopped working tonight. It's a wireless Microsoft Intellimouse, and all of a sudden it just stopped. I figured I had done something wrong, so I rebooted, but still nothing. I went to the living room and grabbed an old SGI mouse to confirm that it was indeed the mouse and not something on the computer side. I think it could just be dead batteries, though. It still glows, but it doesn't change intensity when you pick it up and set it down. I'll have to pick up some new batteries tomorrow to test out that theory.

I used the downtime to install a new hard drive I picked up the other day. It's a 250gig drive intended to serve as a backup for the media server in the living room. Having 112gig of unbackedup content out there was starting to make me nervous. I'm manually running a sync right now, then I'll need to set up an rsync on a cron job or something like that. I also need to start backing some data from this machine up over to that one (plus another drive on here) to make sure I have all of my bases covered -- at least in house. Offsite backups are more than I have a plan for right now.