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May 27, 2007

Photoblog Slideshow beta

When I switched mere cat to Movable Type in February, 2006, I had everything ready to go except the photo section. Today, over a year later, I still haven’t converted it. And you know, not one person has mentioned it. Ah, the joys of obscurity!

The main reason for the delay was that I wanted to change some things. In 2002, I started a Picture-A-Week project and tried in vain each year to post one decent picture a week. By 2006 I had given up and decided I should really adopt the photoblog model and post a picture whenever I felt like it. Of course, I wanted to roll my own presentation instead of using Flickr (or whatever) where you can just upload your pictures and be done with it. I mean, where’s the fun in that?

I had always admired those fancy slide shows (usually done in Flash) with crossfades and other sporty effects, but wanted to try something similar that didn’t require Flash and would still work somehow without JavaScript (or even CSS). There are a number of ways to do this, but what I ended up doing was begin with a set of XHTML pages, one for each picture, designed to look halfway decent without CSS. Without JavaScript enabled, you navigate either by clicking conventional “previous/next” text links or by clicking the left or right half of the picture. If JavaScript is enabled, however, brace yourself for some dazzling special effects. Kidding!

The previous/next text links work the same, but hovering over the picture dims the image slightly and fades in the navigation direction. Clicking the picture crossfades to the next image and uses the magic of Ajax to load the image without reloading the page.

I’m calling this a beta for a number of reasons. For one, comments are not enabled until I can find a way to safely process them—an innocent ampersand in a comment could crash the whole thing. Also it doesn’t work reliably in Internet Explorer 6, and I cannot for the life of me fix it. If you get some sort of loading error in IE6 when clicking an image, try clicking the previous/next links at the top of the page; that seems to clear it up. You won’t get the crossfade, but at least you can see the pictures. I haven’t tested it in IE7, but it should work in every other modern browser. Please let me know if it doesn’t!

The first pictures I’ve posted are some from a trip the Philly Photobloggers took to Jim Thorpe, PA for St. Patrick’s Day on March 11. Believe me, this town knows how to party. Kathleen Connally organized the trip and Jorj Bauer and I were the only photobloggers who could make it. (Kathleen posted her shots in March and Jorj’s start here.) My series starts here. It’ll do for now. I’m taking a break from coding to work on processing some more pictures. Imagine that.


What a cool slideshow! Why is it that pictures always look so wonderful in black and white? (Do not take this to say that I think your images would look bad in color).

Marisa, thanks, but I have a roomful of negatives to prove that pictures don't always look wonderful in black and white. :-) I agree that B&W does have its charms, especially when you throw out 90% of them. I feel more confident shooting in B&W because of my colorblindness, and there were only a few shots where I miss having color.

May 24, 2007

CD Baby

I finally got around to ordering some CDs I have had on my "buy" list for some time. (I'm not as impulsive a purchaser of music as I once was, and something has to live on this list for a while before I actually buy it.) One of the CDs was only available on CD Baby, so that's where the shopping started. Then I discovered that all three were available there. Somehow I felt better giving my money to them instead of Amazon. Then I got this email from Derek Sivers, president of CD Baby...

Your CDs have been gently taken from our CD Baby shelves with sterilized contamination-free gloves and placed onto a satin pillow.

A team of 50 employees inspected your CDs and polished them to make sure they were in the best possible condition before mailing.

Our packing specialist from Japan lit a candle and a hush fell over the crowd as he put your CDs into the finest gold-lined box that money can buy.

We all had a wonderful celebration afterwards and the whole party marched down the street to the post office where the entire town of Portland waved "Bon Voyage!" to your package, on its way to you, in our private CD Baby jet on this day, Monday, May 21st.

I hope you had a wonderful time shopping at CD Baby. We sure did. Your picture is on our wall as "Customer of the Year." We're all exhausted but can't wait for you to come back to CDBABY.COM!!

I knew I had done the right thing by ordering from CD Baby. While hardly a carbon-neutral shopping experience, what with the gold-lined box and private jet, I was charmed. I do appreciate the personal attention to my order, and the CDs have already arrived and are indeed polished to perfection.

Speaking of CDs, “Once Upon a Time” by Katie Eagleson mentioned in a previous post is available from CD Baby or as a download at DigStation.


Tony, wow, that's the best thank you letter ever. I am so going to buy from these guys. Smiling about great customer service...that is FAB!

I am a fan of CD Baby for that very reason! And they have a lot of very good stuff there - my Rachael Sage CD's, Marisa's sis' (Raina Rose), ...
I also just found a solo artist (Chris Trapper) broken off from a moderately successful band a friend played a song form me by. It's amazing how broad they are - and the site is fun to go through...

I have often purchased CDs from CD Baby (and not just because they sell my sister's stuff or that they're located in Portland). They have an amazing assortment of music and I'll often just surf around using their search features in order to discover something new. It's how I discovered Mare Wakefield and The Reverend Tor Band.

I had the same reaction to my first Cd Baby order a while back. And it does feel good to support businesses that don't feel as impersonal as some of the more popular online destinations, doesn't it?

May 16, 2007

My Evening with Helvetica

I got to the polls first thing yesterday morning and was voter number 12; seemed like a decent turnout.

After work I zoomed into town (OK, SEPTA doesn’t zoom anywhere) for Helvetica, the movie at Drexel. I met up with Scott and stellargirl, and we got in the line which snaked around the perimeter of the atrium. Once we were seated, they kept trying to pack more and more people into the theater. If only they could have adjusted the kerning on the seats, they could have fit another 50 people easily—monospaced seating is such a drag.

If you enjoy watching smart, passionate, creative, talented people talking about what they love to do, you would love this movie. I like that sort of thing myself and enjoyed every minute of it. It was over all too soon, although the DVD promises to have lots of bonus material. The director, Gary Hustwit, answered questions from the audience (how cool is that?). Gary was just as engaging as the subjects of the movie. Clearly, he loves what he does, too.

At 30th Street Station, I noticed that Bridgewater’s Pub has added the lobster roll back to their menu, and since I had some time before my train, I indulged. Chef Michael Zulli is now serving lobster roll sliders, which are a vast improvement over the soupy lobster roll they used to offer. They are described as “poached lobster, celery, mayo on a trio of grilled buttered buns,” but there wasn’t a trace of mayo on this lobster, just pure, unadulterated crustacean. The butter from the grilled buns complemented the lobster perfectly for a taste of buttery goodness in every bite. Awesome.


"adjusted the kerning on the seats"-- tee hee. I'll see if I can view this movie sometime.

I may have to find some excuse to go to 30th St. Station....

May 11, 2007

How Are You Celebrating Helvetica’s Birthday?

I’ll be toasting the font family’s 50th anniversary by watching Helvetica, the movie this Tuesday, May 15. It is being shown at Bossone Auditorium, 3150 Market Street on the campus of Drexel University. No less than the director, Gary Hustwit, will be hosting a Q&A. No word on whether Helvetica will be available to sign autographs.

For a reminder of what Helvetica looks like, check out the official poster as well as Drexel’s poster. And who can forget Khoi Vinh’s naughty T-shirt. I was particularly intrigued by Michael Place’s playful poster, featuring a design that would be incomprehensible 50 years ago. See if you don’t agree. Much more, including clips at Helvetica. 6:30 PM, free.

I’m not sure what to wear to the screening, but one thing’s for sure—serifs are optional.

May 10, 2007

Exam for a Motorcycle Learner’s Permit

Passed! (Er, not on the first try, by the way, unlike some people.)

Book larnin’s fine and all, but now I’m looking forward to pure slapstick at the motorcyle safety course when I actually try to ride one of these things.


need help with the mortor cycle permit test

Pam, I failed the test the first time myself, so I won’t be much help. I think you can take the test over until you pass. All the questions are taken from the Motorcycle Operators Manual available at Good luck!

Every aspiring driver especially as a motorcyclist, it is a must to undergo a driving test in order to evaluate his capability to assure safety while driving on a heavy traffic road.

May 9, 2007

My First CD Cover

My friends Lenny and Katie asked for some help shooting a CD cover, and I was more than happy to oblige. They chose the beautiful Thomas Mill covered bridge as the setting and we took about 80 shots on two days last October. The photo they picked was from near the end of the second session. The CD came out last week. More info at her site (although there’s nothing there yet but the picture).

Once Upon a Time CD cover


Tony, that's a great shot...and super pro work. Nicely done...I'll look forward to her album coming out, too...I'm sure you'll keep us posted. Fun stuff.

That's a great shot. I like the framing of the bridge, very cool.

Thanks! It's a beautiful bridge. The structure forms a nice frame and the criss-crosses provide interest, but the other entrance to the bridge was both a blessing and a curse, mostly because it was so bright. In some we used it to frame her and in others cropped it out completely. This angle works pretty well.

Well since it's "My First CD Cover" too, we're in an elite club. I think it turned out great, Tony and I've gotten a lot of compliments on it. If only I get as many compliments for the music inside... Thank you very much. Katie

What a great shot. It makes for a wonderful cover.

Nice Photo, I have the Cd, it is very good!

May 7, 2007

I Can Has Lolbee?

I confess that lolcat fever has struck mere cat, which is usually meme-free. It started when I happened upon a few amusing examples, but didn’t fully understand that it was a full-fledged movement until I read Scott’s explanation of the whole lolcat phenomenon. I couldn’t resist trying one, but as much as I love cats, that area has been strip-mined, so I thought I would do something more personal. Photography maybe? im in ur kamera, settin ur white balanz. Nah, it needs an animal of some kind. Then I thought, why not a lolbee:

im in ur flowerz, stealin ur nekter

To the untrained eye, this little fellow looks like he is gathering nectar, but he is actually harvesting pollen... Ouch! Anne dope-slaps me to remind me that the “little fellow” is a female.

Making mead

Cooking honey in preparation for our first batch of mead.

OK, good. I’ve got that out of my system.

In more serious bee news, Anne started her first batch of mead yesterday. It's a basic mead recipe that used about ten pounds of honey and will yield about five gallons of mead. The mead batch has already started bubbling slowly but steadily. In about a year, we can has mead!

Once the mead is bottled and we have an empty bucket again, I might try making a batch of beer. That should be an interesting experience even if the beer isn’t any good. It seems like every brew pub has a nice diagram of the process, but I have yet to get it all straight.