Friday, April 29, 2005

Trib: Blogger Friendly Now!

Larry over at ArchPundit remarks that the Trib’s new design is bloggerific:

Really, the new design is quickly taking what used to be (before the recent versions) one of the worst web sites to explore to one of the easiest and friendly for bloggers. [ArchPundit]

I agree – the new design is nice. Incremental changes, but the net effect is great.

Friday Rumsfeld Blogging

It’s been a long while since I’ve done my last Friday Rumsfeld Blogging entry, but this may be the all-time greatest photo of Rumsfeld. Ever.

With great power comes great responsibility: Donald Rumsfeld flexes with Spider-Man and Captain America. (By Jason Reed — Reuters)

Can’t wait to see your captions. And remember — no wagering.

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Reed Smith offering a free session with Mark Chandler

Denise Howell says her firm is doing a program in a few weeks where Mark Chandler is speaking:

If you’ll be in Northern California on May 16, you might be interested in a free program to be hosted by Reed Smith from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. in Menlo Park. It’s called Success Strategies for Today’s Silicon Valley. The program will feature a keynote by Cisco’s General Counsel Mark Chandler, about whom Rick Klau has had some good commentary in the past. All of the Reed Smith lawyers involved are dynamic and knowledgeable folks, and the topics include such hot issues as the DMCA and the scope of Sarbanes-Oxley. Two of my appellate colleagues will talk about maximizing your chances of prevailing “before, during, and after trial and on appeal,” which, while it might not qualify as a “hot” issue, is an important one near and dear to every litigant’s (and appellate lawyer’s) heart. You can register at that first link above. [Bag and Baggage]

If I were in the Bay Area, I’d go in a heartbeat.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Google's ATOM feed doesn't validate


Update: Of course, my feed doesn’t validate either. Two of the three problems are simple fixes, the third will take a little massaging to get right.

I’ve corresponded privately with a few folks whose feeds break in my aggregator (I use NewsGator) — and this is a huge problem. Surprisingly, many of the commercial blogging apps generate invalid feeds out of the box — and most users have no clue what to do about it (indeed, they rarely know there’s a problem). Step one: subscribe to your own feed. Step two: throw your feed through the Feed Validator to see if anything stands out. If there are problems, you could very well be making it harder (if not impossible) for others to read your site.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Shaun Jackson Back Office

I placed my order for a Shaun Jackson Back Office laptop backpack last night, it should be here sometime next week. I’ve grown very tired of schlepping my briefcase — and a backpack seemed a good answer. Buzz recommended the Eddie Bauer backpack, but finding one was going to require a bit of hunting. And the reviews of the Back Office were just too effusive to ignore.

I have very high expectations — will report back when mine shows up.

OnlyMyEmail spam service

Saw a very positive review of OnlyMyEmail, a web-based service that filters your email and grabs all viruses, spam and other nefarious email before you ever see it. Since I’m now using my Treo to check email when I’m away from the computer, handling all of the spam was really getting annoying. I’m using OME for its 10 day trial, will let you know how it goes. $3/month isn’t bad for the service (assuming it works well); will let you know. Anyone else have any experience with it?

Monday, April 25, 2005

RSS, site changes

Mostly for those of you reading in an aggregator, I’m making some changes to the blog this week. In no particular order:

  • back to one RSS feed. I used to make two feeds available, one with excerpts and one with the full feed. Thanks to FeedBurner’s stats, I know that the full feed was more than favored by 4-1, and I wanted to be able to get a complete view of my RSS readership instead of splitting it up across multiple feeds. Anyone subscribed to the ‘old’ feed (i.e., the excerpts) will simply start seeing the full feed in their aggregator, you shouldn’t need to change anything on your end.

  • After finally understanding what tags are all about (see my article in this month’s Law Practice Management for my attempt at explaining tags), I’ve started using for tagging. Once a day, the sites I bookmark using (man is it hard to type that!) will be posted to my RSS feed… consider it a bonus for anyone reading the blog in their aggregator.

  • Sidebar links. Not to leave those of you who read this site in a browser out in the cold, I’m going to experiment with a community bookmarking idea. Anyone can add a link they think readers of “tins” might like — just tag the link with “tins-links” using and it’ll show up. I doubt this will get abused, but if it does I’ll change the way it works. In the meantime, have fun with it.

  • Design changes. Mostly subtle, I’m going to play with how stuff is displaying on the home page so that it’s a little cleaner.

  • Flickr. Now that I’ve got a decent camera phone (it’s built into the Treo 650) and the unlimited data plan with Cingular, I’ll be taking snapsnots from time to time and uploading them to Flickr. You can see the most recent picture on the sidebar of the homepage.

Thanks, as always, for reading. I’m looking forward to making this a bit more of a group exercise…

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Musical regrets

Saw Dennis’s post about Ernie, and this snippet caught my attention:

In fact, on the list of my great musical regrets is never getting to chance to see Professor Longhair do a show in New Orleans. I might write about some of the other regrets one of these days. It’s interesting how my Professor Longhair regret now has expanded to include “and seeing the show with Ernest Svenson.” Such is the impact of blogging. []

I have a similar musical regret: never seeing The Call or Danny Gatton perform live. Both came through DC when I was an intern in the summer of 1991; in each case, I figured I’d have plenty of chances to see them again when I had more disposable income. The Call broke up later that year, and Danny Gatton committed suicide while I was in law school.

Oddly enough, in the fall of 2001 I was driving down Route 301 with my wife and in-laws, stopped at a gas station to pick up a soda, and saw a photo-copied sign taped to the window: an auction of Danny Gatton’s estate had happened earlier that day. I missed it by fewer than three hours (though I’d had no clue it was going on).

Moral of the story? Go see those artists when they’re playing, don’t wait for the next time around. If their music means something to you, seeing the artist perform it live is “unforgettable”:

The Onion: TiVo Wishlist Roulette

This sounds like a great idea…

The always amusing Onion‘s own AV club has an interesting new way to goof around with a TiVo: set a random keyword wishlist and automatically record to see what you capture in 24 hours, dubbed TiVo Wishlist Roulette.

They set it to “War” and let it go to town, and in the process it grabbed movies, documentaries, kids cartoons, and even music shows. Any generic term would grab random programs, but this might be the cure for the summer reruns when nothing interesting seems to be on. Just pick a word and run it for a few days to see what you get.  [PVRblog]

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Who's the most recent president from Illinois?

Why, none other than the current president.

“As near as I can tell, it’s OK.”

If ever there was a motto for the Bush administration, that is it.

Just about sums it up, actually.

Ernie's new blog

Ernie the Attorney is now blogging at Tech FengShui, a blog that focuses on making technology simple and useful.

This is supposed to be simple?

I missed that memo.

Rogers Cadenhead owns

Over at, Rogers has a couple requests in exchange for transferring ownership of ‘’ to the Vatican. My favorite, number 3: “Complete absolution, no questions asked, for the third week of March 1987.”

Thursday, April 14, 2005

How Mirra saved my vacation

I wrote earlier this week about our week in Florida, and alluded to my laptop woes. Here’s the rest of the story: we flew to Orlando on Saturday morning. On Sunday, after a busy morning, we got the kids back to the room for a nap, and I fired up the laptop to catch up on some pre-election e-mail.

The hard drive had been experiencing some sluggishness, and Sunday was no different. Very slow boot-up, eventually got to the Windows login screen. Less than two minutes after logging in, my screen went blank.

So I rebooted. And rebooted. And each time, the time before the screen went blank got a bit shorter, until I couldn’t even see the boot splash screen. I turned it off, put it away. Came back to it on Monday, with the same results. When I got home, I plugged in an external monitor, thinking that the problem was with the laptop’s display. Except that I had the same behavior. Whether the problem’s with the video card, the motherboard, the hard drive, or some other gremlin lurking in the machine, I don’t know. What I do know is that the machine is beyond salvage right now. I need a pro to either reconstruct it or replace the broken part(s).

But I wasn’t the least bit worried… thanks to the Mirra server I installed a few weeks ago, I knew I had a complete backup of everything: my e-mails, my documents, everything. I had a new laptop delivered this week, and within an hour everything was restored to the new machine. It took less time to restore my data than it did to install and update Microsoft Office. In other words, once Office was installed, my computer was completely operational.

I’ve gone through plenty of computers over the last 15 years, and never have I had such a simple, thorough and stress-free process of recovering from a fatal computer crash. Without qualification, the Mirra is the best $300 I’ve invested in technology. Ever.

The other thing that got me through the week? My new Treo 650. I’ll follow up next week sometime with observations about the Treo; I’ve had it 2 weeks and so far it’s been spectacular.

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

Technology at Disney

Last week’s vacation was primarily at Disney World. Thanks to a long-ago recommendation from Ernie, Robin and I knew about the villas on property at Disney — part of the Disney Vacation Club (Disney’s time-share system), they’re available to guests when space permits. We each ended up staying in 2 bedroom villas, which gave us full kitchens, separate bedrooms for the kids and us, and a little bit of space when kids were napping, sleeping, etc.

The trip itself was wonderful — lots of memorable moments with the kids, some great meals — but what really stood out for me was Disney’s embrace of technology to make the experience better. Some things that worked, some that didn’t:

  • Disney’s Magical Gatherings software. Designed to be a social software app to help plan the vacation, this was a bust. In theory it’s great: everyone who’s involved in the vacation can maintain a calendar, take notes, share a web browser… but in execution it’s a few rungs short on the ladder. Since our vacation had an ID associated with it (to streamline the confirmation process), it wouldn’t have been hard for the Magical Gatherings software to actually show us what had been reserved on our confirmation #. In addition, a number of scripting errors (something to do with IE) repeatedly caused the app to crash (or at least hiccup), and e-mails to the Disney web team were not effective in fixing the problem. I think this will be a great tool in another year, right now it’s just not ready.

  • PAL Mickey. We didn’t do this, but I saw it in use throughout the parks and it’s pretty cool. It’s a location-aware stuffed animal that will tell kids things about where they are. Kids will learn things about the attractions nearby, which characters are due to show up around the corner, that kind of thing. Great use of the technology, and something the kids can enjoy after they get home (when it turns into a “normal” stuffed animal that the kids can play with).

  • Memory cards. My laptop died on the first day of the vacation, leaving us unable to download pictures off of our memory stick from the digital camera… which meant that after a couple days we were almost out of room. My sister-in-law was behind someone in line at a camera store and overheard the register clerk mention burning a CD… turns out that every register has a stand-alone device that reads 10-15 different memory card formats and burns the data directly to a rewritable CD. As you take more pictures, you can just bring the CD in and they’ll add the new pictures to the CD. $12.95 to buy the CD and burn the initial set of pictures, a few additional bucks to add new pictures to the CD. Only complaint? Nobody seemed to know about this — definitely a convenient service that more would take advantage of if they knew about it.

  • Disney Photo Pass. Talk about a great idea: have Disney photographers roam the parks taking pictures of guests who ask for it. They’re stationed in front of the obvious locations: Cinderella’s castle at Magic Kingdom, Mickey’s hat at MGM Studios, in front of the dome at Epcot, the Tree of Life at Animal Kingdom, as well as at various other spots. After your first set of pictures, you get a magnetic stripe card, which the photographers swipe at each subsequent shoot. All photos are tagged with a unique ID code and then uploaded to, where you punch in your ID and see all your photos. Any that you like you can order hard copies of, or just share the electronic copies with friends and family.

  • Disney Fast Pass. My brother (the MBA and logistics whiz) spent the better part of two days trying to understand the math behind the Fast Pass, a line management system that is really rather remarkable. Take a popular ride (my boys’ favorite, the Buzz Lightyear ride) that might generate lines of an hour or more. Since Disney knows how many people are in the park, and on average how many people go through each line per day, they can manage the queue by telling you when to return. So if you get a fast pass at 10am, you might get a window of 11:30am to 12:30pm — once you return, you bypass the “standby” (aka “the regular line”) and go right to the front, where your wait is usually less than 5 minutes. There’s a set number of fast passes per day, and you can get a second fast pass once the window for your first fast pass has started (in the earlier example, that means you could get a second at 11:35am). This is a marvel of crowd management and statistical modeling that I don’t pretend to understand, but the end result is you can generally do more in the park while spending less time in the lines: when you’re with a 3 and a 5 year-old, that’s a beautiful thing.

We were at Disney two years ago and were quite impressed with Disney’s attention to detail, the mastery of the minutiae that ensures that the park visitors don’t need to deal with problems or unexpected occurrences. It’s obvious that the Disney folks continue to ask how they could improve the overall experience, and use mostly transparent technology (the best kind!) to just make it easier to enjoy the day and get the most out of the park.

Monday, April 11, 2005

Tanned, rested

Nearly a week since my last post! Sulking over my election loss? Hardly… (And thanks to all who sent kind words and posted on their sites, I’ll be following up soon with personal thanks.) Just got back from a week in Florida where I was helping my parents celebrate their 35th wedding anniversary.

In attendance were my brother and his wife, their daughters, Robin and me and our boys. The 10 of us even made a trip just outside of Orlando last Monday to see my grandparents, who got to see all four great-grandchildren in the same place for the first time. What a thrill.

In the midst of this wonderful family bonding, my ThinkPad exacted its revenge and gave up on day one of the vacation, and my DSL line went flaky (which SBC blames on my request for a faster DSL line, which they offered me). Whatever. Thanks to the Mirra, I was able to relax during my vacation, knowing that my files were safely backed up and waiting for me to return.

Still getting back up to speed after a week with limited e-mail; I’ll get back to normal posting by Wednesday.

Tuesday, April 5, 2005

Not today

I’m writing this from my phone, so I’ll keep it brief: the results are in, and it looks like the Republican slate has been elected to serve Naperville Township. To Mr. Vician, Ms. Yurgaitis, Mr. Spitzzeri, and Ms. Busche. I look forward to their service and hope they serve our Township well.

I’m disappoointed in the results, but am excited about picking up where we left off to continue the hard work of building a party to speak up on behalf of the nearly 50 percent of the Township who side with the Democratic party in primaries and national elections.

Thanks to all who supported my campaign: I promise you, I’m in this for the long haul.

Sunday, April 3, 2005

Endorsed by the Naperville Sun

Very exciting news: the Naperville Sun endorsed just two candidates for Township Trustee in today’s paper, and I’m one of the two. If you live in the township, please remember to vote!

Friday, April 1, 2005

Congress legislating the Information Superhighway

Chris Casey recounts a sad day in Congressional history. I remember this when it happened — I was in law school, and had to repeatedly assure classmates (and one incensed professor) that it couldn’t possibly be true.

Tom DeLay for president

EchoDitto weighs in on 2008.


Definitely my vote for best April Fool’s, BoringBoring, a parody of BoingBoing. A few months ago, Erik had a great idea to do a parody of Boing Boing, which we thought we’d call “BoingBoingBoingBoing” (slogan: twice the boing!), but neither of us had the time to do it right. These guys did.

(Side note: favorite post has gotta be the explanation for the increase in blog posts.)

Opera announces breakthrough communications technology

P2P Revolution: Opera Announces Platform-Independent Real-Time Speech Technology, dubbed “Opera SoundWave”. Hysterical.

Google Announces Google Gulp

Another good one from Google — Google Gulp. Unlike last year’s April Fool’s announcement, this one is pretty clearly a joke…

Socialtext relaunches beta, closes source

Press release is here, I’m certain this will cause a stir…

April Fool's

Been way too busy to stoke the creative flames the past couple days, so here’s a list of links to past April Fool’s jokes I’ve done over the past couple years:

There’s another parody Erik and I did which positioned Russell & Tate (you may recognize SNL alums Tim Meadows and Tracy Morgan; R&T was a law firm ad they did which cracked us up) as anti-trust specialists. Imagine our shock when we got a call from a financial journalist looking for an anti-trust expert to speak on camera about the Microsoft/DOJ trial… if only I’d had Tracy Morgan’s phone number, it would have been an all-time coup.

Just remember to be a bit skeptical today…