Digital Color Photography

Some of my color photography posted on Flickr.

A digital photograph of a glass of orange juice on top of a table covered in comic books

I don’t think headings get much better

This is a profile view of the Playstation 3, otherwise known as the ugliest console of the last twenty years. Jeez, Sony… you could kill a frickin’ wharf rat with this thing. We’ve seen George…

Via Kotaku.

E306: Dance Dance TV

I know some of my friends will be very excited about this. E306: Dance Dance TV

Konami announced a new live television show called Dance Revolution, based on Dance Dance Revolution. Details are scant, but presumably viewers will get their groove on this fall.

Via Kotaku.

Safari and Displaying PDFs Inline

Ever since upgrading to Tiger, I’ve been consistently annoyed by one feature (there are others, but this one really irks me). I hate the way Safari displays PDF file inline.

First of all, it’s incredibly slow. At least once a day I find myself clicking on a PDF link and then being stopped dead in the water for what feels like an eternity. While Safari is loading an PDF file, I’m unable to browse in any other tab or window.

The worst part is that I know and understand that this will happen each time, yet I keep doing it. Apple’s documentation suggests the following:

If you still prefer Preview, simply Control-click the PDF link (or right click on a two-button mouse) and choose Download Linked File from the shortcut menu. Once the file is on your desktop, double-click it to open in Preview.

The problem is, I don’t always know that I’m clicking on a PDF link to begin with. For example, I was checking out the Quark 7 beta site today. I clicked on an unassuming link titled “ReadMe File.” Suddenly I found my browser completely stalled as I realized that a dreaded PDF was loading.

Even when I am fully aware that I’m attempting to view a PDF file, I don’t always remember that I need to Control-click or Option-click on the link. It’s usually only after Safari has stalled while the page tries to load that I think to myself, “Oh yes, I should have remembered to Control-click that link and then have selected Download Linked File from the contextual menu.”

Even beyond the slow factor, which perhaps can be attributed to my aging G4 PowerBook (seems a stretch though), the final result isn’t even satisfactory. When I open, a PDF file in a browser, I usually just want to look at it dammit. I don’t need all of those fancy Acrobat buttons. If I decide I want to do something further to the document, I’m going to save it anyways and open Adobe Acrobat to edit it.

Also, the files open up so tiny that I can’t ever read them. I’m constantly having to change the view, zoom, or resize my browser window. Resizing my browser window works, but then that messes up my workflow. I like the browser windows a certain size, just big enough to display all of most web pages.

All of this simply comes down to user preferences. I’m sure that there are many people out there who completely disagree with me and love this feature in Safari. I’ll admit, before Safari offered it, I was constantly irritated that it wasn’t even an option. I’m definitely not arguing against having this feature. Before this whole displaying PDF inline business, if you clicked on a PDF link in Safari, it would automatically download and then open in Preview. It was somewhat counterintuitive, but I have to say, once I got used to it, I liked that feature.

Preview is a great lightweight application that does a small number of things well. I like how easily the size of the document changes when you increase the size of the window, without having to mess with my browser window size. It’s fast. I can zoom in when appropriate, and for the love of god, I don’t have to stare at those ugly Acrobat icons.

All of this would be a rather trivial annoyance if Safari just included how it displays PDFs as a preference item. I’ve been searching, but I haven’t been able to find this one yet. I should be a be able to either check a box to display PDFs inline, or chose what application opens them automatically. Suggesting that I simply Control-click or Option-click just isn’t enough. In my opinion, Apple just got it plain wrong on this one.

I find this all pretty ridiculous, especially considering that around the same time Apple also introduced the feature that allows RSS feeds to be read inside Safari. It’s a cool feature that I tried out. I quickly decided that I didn’t like it nearly as much as NetNewsWire Lite, so I checked out the preferences. Sure enough, there was an option to set whatever application I wanted to use as my default RSS aggregator.

Apple got it right with the RSS feature. Why didn’t they apply the same logic to inline PDFs? I want to have the option to use all of these features within Safari, but I wan’t the option to opt out of them as well.

The Mythical Coincidence

Earlier this week I was reading More Aperture Dirt on Daring Fireball when I came across the following paragraph:

The single biggest management problem was a “Mythical Man-Month” disaster. “The Mythical Man-Month” is, of course, the title of Fred Brooks’s seminal work on software engineering management, the basic premise of which is that, as Wikipedia says, “Adding manpower to a late software project makes it later.”

This idea did catch my interest, but primarily because of the name “The Mythical Man-Month”. I misread it at first as “The Mythical Man-Moth,” which sounded just bizarre enough to be interesting. As with many other things, I filed the name away and quickly forgot about it.

Only a day later, I found myself reading Greg Linden’s Geeking with Greg blog for the first time. He has an interesting series called “Early Amazon” about his time working for Amazon in its early years. One of Linden’s blogs in this series was about similarities, better known as “Customers who bought this also bought this.” In his discussion about programming similarities and the “Harry Potter” effect, he happened to use “The Mythical Man-Month” as an example.

This kind of similarity is not very useful. If I’m looking at the book “The Psychology of Computer Programming”, telling me that customers are also interested in Harry Potter is not helpful. Recommending “Peopleware” and “The Mythical Man Month”, that is pretty helpful.

That was twice in two days that I read references to the a book that I had never even heard of before. It’s not like this book is new either, it was first published in 1975.

If this were simply a one time phenomenon, it would be unremarkable. The thing is though, this type of thing happens a lot. It happens often enough that I’ve thought extensively about what might be the cause of it. Why is it that you often learn about things in groups?

If I had only come across the reference to “The Mythical Man-Month” in Daring Fireball and not Linden’s blog, I probably would have completely forgotten about it. But now the title is stuck in my head. What is it that makes this happen? Is it that when you’re interested in certain things, you’re prone to coming across the same references over and over again? Or is it that the second reference is only remarkable because the first reference caught your attention? In other words, if I hadn’t accidentally read the title of the book wrong in the first place, would I even have noticed while reading the Amazon series that I was coming across the same book for the second time in two days? Or is this just merely an odd coincidence that I am making a bid deal of?



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