Odds ‘n’ Ends

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on November 29th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

Every time I visit New York, I have dinner with my friends, the illustrators Leo and Diane Dillon. Those of you who’ve been in my house know that my walls are covered with their signed prints and posters. They have won 2 Caldecott Awards, in 1976 and 1977. I have perhaps 40 of their illustrated childrens’ books, the complete set of the Ace Science Fiction Special books featuring their cover illustrations from 30+ years ago, and other assorted works. Leo and Diane’s son, Lee, is a brilliant artist and designer in his own right. Lee’s company, Fusion Designs, is “a Gallery of unique greeting cards, jewelry, prints and original artwork“. Please have a look, and perhaps order a few Christmas presents! The Dillons are international treasures.

Rustboy is a short film animation project of Brian Taylor. The film isn’t finished, but the site is worth investigating. It’s amazing stuff, and Taylor’s loaded 13 very short movies of the work he’s done so far. The finished project should be worth the wait.

It’s hard to believe this is real. I mean, check the lineup and then look at the songs being covered! The soundclips don’t work here, but they do on the CD NOW site.

I’m going to Mars. I don’t remember signing up for this.

The Onion, Fast Food Nation

Posted in Pop Culture on November 28th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

If you are a fan of The Onion, check out this interview with Rob Siegel, editor-in-chief, and Carol Kolb, senior editor. It was featured on the NPR program Fresh Air on Wednesday, 27 Nov 2002. When you’re finished, check out Team Onion. Then read Why Journalists Eat Up The Onion.

I have a stack of Onions at home going back 2-3 years, thanks to a friend who works at U Wisconsin Madison. He kindly sends me the paper copies every few weeks. Many people think The Onion is an online webzine, but in fact has always been a newspaper first. It began publishing in Madison WI in 1988. Its website came online in 1996.

Also of interest, a Dec 2000 interview with Eric Schlosser, author of Fast Food Nation. The book was a fascinating read, and may influence one’s decision on whether or not to eat at McDonald’s, for example.

Downloading Music

Posted in Music on November 27th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

A recent report by Microsoft suggests that efforts to stop music file-swapping programs is pointless. It’s interesting to read this, knowing of the efforts of the RIAA to fight it. And as a musician, I’m always conflicted somewhat over the copyright issue. Yet every struggling musician I meet wants nothing more than to make their music available over the Internet, and not necessarily for a fee. There’s even an boycott RIAA movement now.

It is fascinating to watch the record companies squirm, especially in light of the recent $143.1 US million dollars paid out by the planet’s five largest music companies and three largest music retailers to settle a two-year old antitrust case involving price fixing of CDs. And lest you think that successful musicians aren’t interested in this either, check out Janis Ian’s thoughts on the subject. Here’s her first essay, and the follow-up. Now I am going back to work, preparing my Materials Engineering 343 lecture…

Moblog, Colour Blindness Commentary

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on November 26th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

So what will happen when weblogs go mobile?

Two posts below, I discussed altering web sites for colour blind readers. Please see the very interesting commentary by the anonymous CB reader who offers further fascinating insights into that world.

Barring a miracle, the white flag was raised today re: Gallery. My webserver does not support NetPBM, nor does it run PHP in a non-safe mode. I will investigate other photo uploading programs.

From Anne’s site comes this hilarious take on self-help books, romance novels, computer manuals, and more. Bust a gut.

Reading on a Dream: A Library Musical

Posted in Library on November 25th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

I don’t know if this is the basis for a Broadway musical, but it’s a heckuva start, as they might say in Minnesota. This was staged without the other library patrons having any idea what was about to happen, so it appears; watch their reactions. I love it – it’s totally brilliant.

In other news, trying to load Gallery nearly reduced me to tears last night. Tonight I mucked around a bit more, downloading and unzipping binary NetPBM files (it’s ok, my brain hurts too), and I did some CHMOD shyte. Finally, I submitted a long message on their user forum. I’m beginning to wonder, is it worth it?

So instead, I built my first PHP page last night. I have no idea what the coding means. And I played on my computer, over and over and really loud, Trusty Chords, by Hot Water Music. This is music to exorcise the demons. Listening wasn’t enough – I blew the dust from my Telecaster, plugged it into my AmpCan, took a minute to decipher the chord structure of the song, and played along like I was in a punk band. HA!

Today, people at work reaffirmed my faith in humanity.

Isn’t life sweet?

What Colour Is Your Link?

Posted in Mixed Bag Special on November 24th 2002 by Randy Reichardt

First of all, if you need a laugh, click on a horse or two. How do people come up with this stuff? Also, this is why cows hate winter (requires a movie viewer like Windows Media Player).

Recently one of my readers (God, I can’t believe I just wrote that) provided me with feedback about the colour of the links on this site. He’s colour blind, and was having trouble distinguishing the links from the other typeface. He suggested I change the colours to darker shades of green or blue. Initially my choices were for appearance only. I made the changes to see if it would help him, and it did. I’ve worked with a colour blind colleague, and his area of responsibility was maps! Colour blindness also surfaces in the movie Auto Focus.

With his permission, I share with you his comments, which are enlightening in that they reveal some of the problems with which a colour-blind person must deal in today’s world:
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