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Month: December 2005

New Hosting Service

New Hosting Service

Hello from an entirely new server and address! The old steve.yikes.com (which equalled stephen.kicks-ass.net) is now stephen.phratry.net. The old site was hosted on my father’s 933Mhz G4 using his residential cable modem connection (which was throttled to 40 kb/s for uploads). This new one is hosted by Site5 which offers feature-packed deals for not very much money.

You may be wondering what phratry means. According to Dictionary.com it means

1. A kinship group constituting an intermediate division in the primitive structure of the Hellenic tribe or phyle, consisting of several patrilinear clans, and surviving in classical times as a territorial subdivision in the political and military organization of the Athenian state.
2. Anthropology. An exogamous subdivision of the tribe, constituting two or more related clans.

Since I wanted to have other family members & possibly friends use this domain & hosting service, I wanted to think of a domain that wasn’t too specific to any of us, but was descriptive. Although none of us are a member of a Hellenic tribe, the general idea is phratry refers to an extended family group, which describes the situation. I also kind of like the word because it’s not very common and has an odd spelling.

The cool thing is everything is so fast! Downloading photos off of the old hosting situation was pretty painful. This should be much nicer.

La Jolla Vista View

La Jolla Vista View

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The theater (or is it theatre?) arts part of campus is on the southern tip of campus, which overlooks La Jolla, University Town(e?) Center, and farther into Kearny and Clairemont Mesa. Situated here is La Jolla Vista View (1988) by William Wegman. Follow eitehr link and you’ll learn he’s best known for his photographs of posed weimaraners.

As far as I know there are no weimaraners etched into La Jolla Vista View, but there might be. The large bronze plaque is situated to match the vista in front of you, with mountains and communites named so you can find them in the distance, much like something you would find in a national park. However, the labelling is unorthodox, and that’s where this becomes art. “Barren Wasteland,” “A Big Development,” and “La Jolla Gateway to Hell” are some of the named sites. There are also buildings & business, which are much less permanent than the mountains and communities also named on the plaque. Much has already changed in the two decades since Wegman designed the plaque.

My opinion of San Diego and urban sprawl closely matches the tenor of La Jolla Vista View. I like the small touches, like a tree with “Meow, Meow” coming out of it. The telescope even works for free! Since this piece of art is hard to find and in a far corner of campus, it is perhaps one of the least visited. I encourage you to check it out, it’s well worth it, and you’ll learn some real & humorous San Diego geography (which are not mutually exclusive) in the process.

More Yahoo! Mail Beta Thoughts

More Yahoo! Mail Beta Thoughts

Following up on my previous post about Yahoo! Mail Beta I noticed that the new beta interface has no space available thermometer bar, like the normal Yahoo! Mail does:

Yahoo! Mail Thermometer Bar

This is either an artifact of the beta not having all of the features of the old Yahoo! Mail yet, or that Yahoo! has something special planned regarding Mail. I’m willing to bet that unlimited mail is impractical and would be abused, but we’ll see!

Die Spam, Die!

Die Spam, Die!

The blogging software I use for this site, WordPress, has the ability to add features through plugins. I just added a new plugin, called Akismet that is supposed to keep comment spam from appearing on my website. When I first set this blogging software up, I got a couple spam comments right away (get your viagra here! horny college co-eds!). I didn’t feel like fighting it so I turned off comments for all my posts. Hopefully this weirdly spelled Akismet will actually work!

Okay, spammers, give it your best shot!

Yahoo! Mail Beta

Yahoo! Mail Beta

I just got added to the list of Yahoo! Mail users who get access to the new Beta interface. All in all, I actually like it, even compared to Gmail’s interface. For a while now I’ve been hoping that Yahoo! would give users IMAP access to their email, so I could use a good email client with my own computer at home, but still have access to all my messages anywhere. This interface just might curb that desire. It has Gmail’s trick of simple keyboard shortcuts, but also has drag-and-drop ability for messages, RSS feeds and cute icons. One really neat feature is you can have multiple ‘tabs’ open. Tabs can have messages you’re composing, reading, or your inbox. Very often I am writing a long email when I want to send a quick note to someone else. With tabs it should be very painless.

This new interface has the potential to be just as good as many email clients. I however, have some complaints:

1. Please, please, please use fixed-width fonts. Email is not supposed to look good. If I wanted it to look good, I’d send a PDF. There are many reasons why fixed-width fonts are a good idea, foremost being ASCII art (of course!). My signature has a cute little cyclist guy nestled between my name, email & web address. With a variable-width font it looks terrible.

But seriously, though, if I ever wanted to email myself some sort of crontabbed system log, the unix-style of formatting with spaces between items would completely not work. Please, Yahoo!, at least give us the option to have fixed-width fonts. I know I could fix that using site preferences on my browser, but that’s not very practical on every single computer I use.

2. When replying to messages, I like to reply to each of the person’s points by quoting what they wrote, and then writing below that. Example:

> What do you think about the design? Too much?
> I think less red and more blue.

Yeah, I agree. Red is pretty much the worst color you could ever choose.

The way the beta does it is it puts the replied to message with about 4 carriage returns above it AND puts your signature above the message. This means that if I reply to a person’s message the way I like to, the first thing my message will have is my signature. Dumb!

3. As far as I can tell, right now there is no way to differentiate between what I’ve written and what I’m quoting. Usually there are the greater-than signs (>), but in beta there aren’t. Some email programs put colored lines. I’m asking for something to tell them apart, Yahoo!, are you listening? Don’t take a step backwards!

4. The signature doesn’t seem to recognize carriage returns. That’s just silly. I have a three-line signature that gets turned into one very long line. Even if I didn’t have ASCII art, it would butcher a simple signature.

5. Fix the bugs! Editing a replied-to message is buggy. Before I can delete any of the copied message (the one I’m replying to) I need to type something at the very top. The interface could be faster, too. But then again, old Yahoo! mail isn’t that fast, either.

I’m sure I can think of more things to gripe about it in the next few days. I’ll add to this list as I use it.

Trees

Trees

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One of the most photographed member of the Stuart Collection is the lead-enacased tree in front of the main library on campus. There are two other trees part of the installation which are hidden inside of a eucalyptus grove southwest of this tree. Together, they are part of the Trees by Terry Allen which were installed in 1986. Apparently the trees encased in lead were salvaged by the artist from a group of eucalyptus trees that were cut down for a new building on campus. The two trees that I didn’t take pictures of play music and speak poetry. But that would be hard to photograph, wouldn’t it?

This is an excellent kind of art in my opinion. It’s not too dense and obscure but isn’t too simple. The tree forces the viewer to look up from a distance to take in the whole thing. Up close there are other things to see, too. Of course all the Stuart collection items are meant to be touched, but this one perhaps more than others. The soft lead is very easy to make an impression upon, giving everyone input to the art.

Nighttime Photos of the Bay Area

Nighttime Photos of the Bay Area

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While I was in Berkeley for Thanksgiving, I took my camera & tripod out to a parking lot near the Lawrence Hall of Science which has a magnificent view over UC Berkeley, Berkeley, the Bay and San Francisco. A rainy weather system had come & gone recently so the air was very clean and cold making the view even better than normal. As good as these photos are, closer to LHS there is a grassy knoll which has an even better view. The hill slopes off in front of you and there are no trees to block the view. However, it is now fenced off and is only accessible through the inside of LHS. Lame!