Strictly Commercial

August 28, 2008

Facebook: Big Book Is Watching YOU.

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:23 am

No reason was given for the deletion of my Facebook account registered to I could only guess that it had to do with an image from Second Life which showed my (virtual) self and a friend in a tavern, she with one breast showing. Yes, a pixelated nipple got me kicked off Facebook… I think. Maybe. No reason was given. No warning. No request to remove the (potentially) offending image or anything else. Just BLAM — account?s gone.

So I figured, lesson learrned… I guess. I created a new account — after all, I have dozens of good friends on Facebook, the majority of whom I don?t have a point of contact for anywhere else. I was also marketing my web site and freelance writing and editing services there. So I created another Facebook account. Facebook?s Terms of Service say you can?t have multiple accounts — well, I don?t. I have one. Then I had none… now I have one. Right?

Wrong. BLAM. Gone again.

The word from Facebook is… you can only have one account…

EVER. And if they decide, no matter how arbitrarily, to delete you? That?s it. You can never have another Facebook account, and their decision is final.

Well, fellas, say hello to proxies. In fact, I have a whole BBS full of friends who have whole BBSs full of friends who have whole armadas of proxy servers. You want a war? I guarantee you?re about to see something new. 🙂


August 25, 2008

Safari 4 Developer Preview: Jumpin’ Hot

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 11:02 am

Aw, poor Firefox 3, pushed off again… we?ll get to ya, little buddy! But right how, the BIG HOT on my system is the Safari 4 Developer Preview.

Safari 4 is simply flat HOT. There are very few new ?whizbang? features, but the best feature is one you won?t access through a menu — Safari 4 is fast. Just screaming, smoking, insane fast. My MobileMe account ( loads up in a snap, up from a crawl under Safari 3.1 and our poor neglected child Firefox 3. But unless you?ve got the Apple Developer Center hookup like I do, you?re going to have to wait a while. Just think of me as your drunken Uncle Strictly, giving you a peak at what your dear ol? Daddy Apple left ya under the Christmas tree. Except… eh, not quite as creepy as that might?ve sounded.

New features!

There are a couple, most notable among them is the ability to save a web page as a stand-alone web application. I?ll show you how this works using my favorite online word processing app, BuzzWord. Here?s BuzzWord in Safari 4:

Now I love Safari, but when I fire up BuzzWord, it?s easy — too easy — for me to get distracted and run over to Facebook to check for messages, chat, notifications or whatever. Well in Safari 4… I can lose Safari 4 and keep BuzzWord. Just like this:


After clicking the above, Safari 4 saves the web page to a folder in Documents (on a Mac, at least) titled Safari 4 Web Applications. From there, I can drag it to my Writing Apps stack:


Yes, yes, hottie on my desktop — but that?s not what you?re looking at. You?re looking at the lower right. There?s StoryMill at the top, Save The Cat underneath, Montage, Celtx — and hey, look, there?s BuzzWord! To denote that it?s a Web App, naturally, there?s a Safari 4 badge attached. Well, when we click that, we get:


And there it is — just as it appears in Safari 4, except without Safari 4.

What else has it got? The options for tabs have now expanded: opening a new tab can now mean Safari 3?s default blank page, your home page, your bookmarks or the link folder of your choice. An excellent feature.

Well, that wraps up this quick scoop on the Safari 4 Developer Preview. I?m stoked — and when the finished product hits Leopard and Windows, you?re gonna love it, too. Because i say so.

Facebook Chat: Not Quite Ready For Prime Time?

Filed under: Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 4:32 am

This entry was going to be about Firefox 3, and we?ll get there, but events of the past few days have shown me the error of Facebook?s ways, so for now, you can just settle for a little rant about Facebook (again) — AND LIKE IT!

Take a look at this:

Yep! One friend available for chat — and since I only have 1 friend on this Facebook account, that?s exactly the right number of people. Simple binary — 1 or 0. Question is… is it 1, or is it 0? Click on the ?Online Friends? box to select that one friend and start chatting, and I get this:


Obviously, something?s not kosher here. What?s up, Facebook?

August 16, 2008

Of Mice And Menus

Filed under: Commercial, Technology — castlewriter @ 10:26 pm

Today, children, I?m going to tell you a story about two very, very good mice and two very, very bad mice.


I bought the Logitech VX Nano back in March of 2008 for use under Windows XP. It?s a fantastic mouse, with crisp, precise tracking, solid build, excellent tactile response from every button and comfortable handling despite its small size.


*The notchless scroll feature makes whizzing through pages and documents a breeze. It works exactly as advertised, and that?s all too rare with any product.
*The One Touch Search button, like all the buttons on this mouse, is programmable. Don?t have much use for one touch searching? Set it to activate Flip3D in Windows Vista, Alt+Tab in Windows XP or Spaces in OS X Leopard.

The down side? A few things — switching the scroll wheel from notched to notchless scrolling is accomplished by ?clicking? the wheel into or out of the notched (traditional) scrolling mechanism. What that means is that you have no ?middle mouse button.? True — as just mentioned, you can assign that function to the One Touch Search — but that would eliminate a feature that would otherwise raise this mouse above the pack.

Then we get to the major downside of this mouse, and the reason I switched: Not a problem with the hardware, but with Logitech?s ?LCC? or Logitech Control Center, the Macintosh counterpart to the excellent SetPoint control platform on Windows. To keep it short: LCC sucks. It sucks balls. For me, the shameless ball-sucking took the form of a glitch in which a single left click was interpreted — when it was interpreted at all — as multiple clicks. With toggled menu items, this was infuriating. I had to reassign the left click function to a different button, the closest being the ?Navigate Forward? button several degrees to the left and far forward of my right index finger?s normal position, which made the VX Nano literally painful to use.

After awhile, it was simply time to switch.


But where are the buttons?!

Obviously, anyone who?s seen the advertising knows this — but a lot of people haven?t seen the advertising. The entire shell of the Mighty Mouse is the button(s), with the exception of two buttons on the sides which, when squeezed together, form a third/fourth button. ?But Mr. Commercial!? you exclaim, ?What do you mean by ?third/fourth??! Golly!? Watch your fucking language.

What I mean by ?third/fourth button? is very simple — Apple?s been mucking about with touch-sensitive technology for quite awhile; the iPhone, iPod Touch and multi-touch trackpads of the MacBooks Air and Pro have received quite a bit of limelight, but the Mighty Mouse benefits from touch-sensing (though not multi-touch sensing) technology as well. There are actually two ?buttons? — touch sensitive areas — on the Mighty Mouse, with the ?right mouse button? area configurable to duplicate the left. Thus, Windows-to-Mac converts like myself can have our familiar right-clicks while Mac purists can stick with their single-button mousing habits.

The bonusus: Beyond the elegant and easy-to-customize touch-sensing mouse surface, this baby just feels good in the hand. It?s got the right size for the large hands of us manly men, but is smooooooooooooth like a 19 year old cheerleader?s bottom (What?! ?like a baby?s bottom? is somehow LESS disturbing?!) for the ladies. (And then it got even more disturbing, dinnit?!)

It also features, rather than a scroll wheel, a scroll ball, enabling not merely vertical, not merely vertical and horizontal, but 360 degree scrolling — nifty for things such as the PicLens extension for Firefox 3 (and we?ll talk more about those in upcoming entries, ladies and kids) and the Second Life metaverse.

The Downside: A few here, too. Whereas the Mighty Mouse?s smooth shape sans physical buttons is friendly, it isn?t nearly as ergonomic as the Logitech?s textured and sculpted form, with a comfy resting places for thumb as well as palm and fingers. And that scroll ball — as amazing as it is — is also amazingly easy to gunk up with the natural oils produced by human skin, eventually resulting in a scroll wheel that, well, just don?t wanna scroll. For an inexperienced user unaccustomed to scroll wheels, that means Panic Time(tm). But not to worry, because friendly Mr. Commercial has:

The Fix: Anyone who?s owned one of the later models of BlackBerry has experienced this headache — your teeny-weenie, itsy-cutesy little scroll wheel has surrendered to the vagaries of the human thumb and its daily outpouring of sweaty, oily lurve. Now it don?t wanna play no mo?. Aw… Well, here?s the solution we all figured out, and it?ll work just as sweetly with your Mighty Mouse, too: Rather than go out and buy yourself a new mouse and then go home and sit in the dark and cry like a teenaged girl, go out and buy yourself a spray bottle of non-alcohol-based LCD cleaner instead. This handy solution usually comes packaged with a soft cleaning cloth, but that won?t do for your problem, you need traction. Get a fresh, never-been-used sponge and spray it down with the LCD cleaner. Then turn your Mighty Mouse upside-down and scrollllllll that stubborn little scroll ball all over that sucker for a good 5 minutes — 2 1/2 minutes just going balls to the wall crazy in all directions to dislodge the gunk, then another 2 1/2 minutes scrolling just in the direction it stopped working in before you finally got your lazy butt up from the computer and went out to the store to fix it.

There ya go, good as new! And for my next trick, I?ll tell you what women are really thinking!

Um… okay, that one?s gonna take awhile. Howzabout we talk about Firefox 3 next. ?kay, then.

August 13, 2008

Second Life: Pixels and Panties

Filed under: Random Musing, Technology — castlewriter @ 12:18 am

Metaverse (n): The Metaverse is a virtual world, described in Neal Stephenson‘s 1992 science fiction novel Snow Crash, where humans, as avatars, interact with each other and software agents, in a three-dimensional space that uses the metaphor of the real world. The word metaverse is a compound of the words “meta” and “universe“.

Sounds pretty noble, doesn?t it? Kind of enlightened and progressive, as if you?d peek into a metaverse and expect to see people expanding their minds, pushing the boundaries of the human experience and… ooh! Titties! Strip clubs! Back alleys full of half-formed dilettantes with papier mache hair and randy fellas with oversized plastic-looking… utensils waiting to jump on little colored balls that will simulate savagery. Not exactly what Neal Stephenson had in mind, is it?
But there?s more to the metaverse known as Second Life than the moistened jungle — although that is a part of it. Walk any street — or, for that matter, swim any ocean floor, fly through any asteroid field or visit any World War 2 battlefield, all to be found within Second Life?s wide and expanding boundaries — and you?ll run into people from all over the world, in all manner of guises. Tour a recreated French monastery with nuns who in the real world may be strippers, or explore the surface of the moon with lady firefighters, or wander through a medieval world of slave girls and alien warlords with really… um… interesting corporate CEOs…
It?s all in Second Life.
And although (just like in the real world) it takes money to make it look good, you can get your meta on in this particular ?verse for free. If you haven?t tried it yet, and if you?ve got at least 1Gb of RAM and a not-too-shabby video card, take yourself on over to and get your download on. Look me up — the name?s Wash Rau, and although I?m not particularly corporate or CEO-ish, I do make the ?alien warlord? bit look good.

August 11, 2008

MobileMe: What’s The Big Idea?

Filed under: Commercial, Technology — castlewriter @ 10:10 pm

As a new Mac user back in April, I was delighted by the .mac web service. I had Mail, Contacts, Photos, iDisk online storage, iWeb for web site hosting, Groups where i could connect to my friends in an intimately secured way, and iCards I could use to send loved ones a beautifully composed reminder that I?m thinking of them whenever the mood rolled over me. All was well with my online services.

Then, in late June, an announcement rolled out of Cupertino that .mac would receive a substantial upgrade — no, make that a complete overhaul for the end user — and become MobileMe. The booming voice out of Silicon Valley (which some say sounds like Charleton Heston?s Moses and others insist sounds a great deal more like James Earl Jones as Darth Vader) promised things like push email, push contacts, push calendaring, a la RiM?s Blackberry functionality. Push, push, push. Then we discovered that, oh, yeah, that push thing? Mmmm, not so much.

As a matter of fact, for many users, not only did email not push — it kinda got pushed, for awhile there. Pushed clean into the ether, to be specific. But let?s not get off on a tangent about the how?s of the transition. The big question here is the why:

What?s the big idea, Apple? Why drag long-time (and newly) loyal customers through the muck of Development Hell in a services transition that was very clearly not ready for prime time? MobileMe?s implementation was still so deep in growing pains it was practically sweating and whimpering in its first week of life. What was the rush? Well, here?s the short answer:

iPhone 3G.

The long list:

iPhone 3G
iPod Touch
A threadbare WWDC
Reaching out to multi-platform users who have a hybrid office of Macs and PCs, or have one at home and the other at work

First, iPhone 3G was touted as a revolutionary step in the company?s already-legendary handset, and from the available reviews, it seems that, premature as the fanfare is, it won?t be off the mark once the firmware catches up to the hype.

Next, iPod Touch on the 2.0.x iPhone firmware narrows the gap between iPod and iPhone even further, making a unified system of information exchange between devices even more powerful. That system needed to be there.

Skipping to hybrid households and offices, the Intel-powered, Unix-fueled (OS X 10.5 ?Leopard? is a Unix distribution now, after all) modern Mac lineup leaps and bounds more appealing to traditionally PC-exclusive market segments such as small businesses and even major corporations. After all, if Macs are good enough for IBM?s Research and Development suits, they?re good enough for John Q. Macs aren?t just for the 21st century Neo-Beatnik anymore. That system of information exchange suddenly needs to work beyond Apple?s hardware and reach into the Windows world.

Finally… this past World Wide Developer?s Conference. Not much was really happening there. The iPhone 3G was, in fact, almost flying solo. You could see it in Steve Jobs?s posture as he walked the stage this year: A little less peppy. A little less strut in his stride. There just wasn?t a lot to pony up and boast on. Besides the iPhone?s newest incarnation, we had… what? OS X 10.6 ?Snow Leopard?: One very small step for the OS, one giant yawn for Mac User-kind. This year?s WWDC was really just a very long event embracing one very significant but comparably small product announcement.

Something had to be polished off and readied for the lights — but fast. That something was MobileMe. A fine idea that needed a lot more time in the gym before it hit the stage. A month on and it?s getting smoother, but it still more sow?s ear than silk on some days. Oh, it?ll get there, and we?ll bear with it, because as Mac users, that?s what we do. Come to think of it, that?s what all computer users do, and Apple?s done more to fix it, faster and with more accountability, than — Ahem! — its largest competitor.

So how?s your Vista?

The New Facebook: Land Of Confusion

Filed under: Random Musing, Technology — castlewriter @ 2:59 am


Welcome to the New Facebook! Now to continue the question implied in the title — tell me why!

Was there a reason for the change, Facebook? The only tangible effect of the redesign is to confuse and discourage loyal users – something you really do not want to do with a social networking site.

I?ve got an idea for you, Facebook – instead of going crazy with tabs and mouseover menus, just have the entire site run from a Unix style command prompt. Why? It?d be easier to relearn than this weird mishmash of Firefox-inspired tab mania and mouse-rollover shenannigans. Or maybe – get this! – maybe you could have little animals running around the screen, and you have to get a crosshairs on them and shoot them, and they splatter into the information you want! Hm, no, that?s too grisly. Maybe little stuffed animals could chase a monkey across the screen with machetes, and…

Hm. I think you can see a theme forming here. Think of the children, Facebook – think… of the children.

August 4, 2008

Energy Drinks, Round 2: Son Of Panic

Filed under: Commercial — castlewriter @ 11:10 pm

Did I mention I?m a caffeine addict? I think I did. Well, here comes Round 2.

Besides the roundup of ?fruit-flavored? energy drinks like Red Bull, Monster, Amp and Rock Star, however, there has arisen a crop of energy drinks that take the whole caffeination experience in a full (if twisted) circle: Coffee-flavored energy drinks.

  • These started with the Starbuck?s Double-Shot:


This was my first coffee-inspired energy drink, probably everyone else?s as well. As with the more usual suspects, there quickly arose an armada of generic imitators, which invariably tasted like home-brewed ass. Then the Big Boys of the energy drink game came to the table, notably Rock Star and then Monster Energy, producing:


There are actually four in the Rock Star Roasted lineup, all quite tasty — Coffee (not pictured), Vanilla, Latte and Mocha. These all became instant favorites. My preference for most things is quality over quantity, and the flavors took a little getting used to after the pure, unalloyed deliciousness of Starbuck?s premiere entry. On the other hand, when these hit store shelves, the Double Shot was still in the relatively trifling Red Bull size can, and when you?re slamming energy drinks, you want the slam to last a little longer than just a… well, just a double shot. So I reluctantly said goodbye to the Bux except as a quick treat and made the Roasted lineup my mainstay.

But then…


My mainstream energy drink, Monster Energy, hit the coffee/energy brew scene, and hit it BIG. Aside from Nut Up (Hazelnut) Chai Hai (self-explanatory, more or less) Lo-Ball (Huh?) Russian (no idea) and Irish (Cream) Blend, there?s also Mocha Loca, Mean Bean (Vanilla) and… one other one I don?t even remember the name of. That would probably be the strength and weakness of Monster?s ?Java Monster? lineup — it?s a huge lineup, with names that aren?t entirely clear as to what you?re going to taste when you crack the can.

Granted, they?re all delicious, it?s just damn hard, with some of them, to identify exactly what you should expect it to taste like. And in the 21st century, with upward of 99% of any given beverage?s flavor being a matter of suggestion rather than sensation, being able to guess what you?re supposed to taste is a tragic yet very firm reality. Try me if you think I?m wrong on that — pour a Vanilla Coke into a glass, hand it to a friend without telling them what it is — odds are, they?ll still ask you what they?re drinking after they take a sip. (And what?s more scary — the fact that they don?t know? Or the fact that they took a drink of something they couldn?t identify?)

After some fearless experimentation with Monster?s contenders, I decided that, although they own my taste buds in the non-coffee-themed energy drink market, with Amp coming in a close second, I could really take or leave their Java Monster incarnations, same as with Rock Star Roasted.

But then, Starbuck?s came through. Odd that it took them so long, but here we have:


Ah, yes — my old favorite now in 15 competitive ounces! Coffee, Mocha, Vanilla — delicious, easy to select and now in a good, hefty can just right for a serious caffeine upload process!

Gonna have me one now — or… hmm. Well, I?ll let you know how many it takes to hit overload. 😉

August 1, 2008

How To Make A Yellowjacket

Filed under: Commercial, Random Musing, Uncategorized — castlewriter @ 10:20 pm

What is a Yellowjacket? It’s drinkahol! Boozitation of the Purest Ray Serene! And something I’m about to have my second HUGE glass of! That’s right! Friends don’t let friends blog drunk – they ENCOURAGE them to!

So how do you make a Yellowjacket?

Start with 1/2 a glass — doesn’t matter what size glass, that’s up to your stomach and your best judgement — of Smirnoff Citrus.

Then add 1/2 a glass of unsweetened white grapefruit juice — I’m using Ocean Spray White Grapefruit juice for the purposes of this experiment.

Stir vigorously and enjoy!

Um… as always, drink responsibly — as in, don’t drink and drive. Or drink and shove rabid badgers down your underpants. Unless, you know, you really, really enjoy rabid badgers. Which would make you a freaky… freak.



Energy Drinks: Please Panic Responsibly

Filed under: Commercial — castlewriter @ 4:55 pm

I?m a huge consumer of energy drinks. Hmm. No… that’s not quite accurate. Let’s try again:

Hi! My name is Daniel, and I’m an addict! Do I have a caffeine problem? Hell, no, I’ve got it licked! (And slurped and gulped and guzzled and slammed… even sipped if I?m feelin? sentimental…)

See those? I can down both of them in less than an hour. And then come back for one of these:


Yes, you read the bottom right corner correctly — 32 glorious freakin’ fluid ounces of RAW POWAH. Next up: How to make a Yellowjacket. Soon as my hands stop shaking.

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