Blogathon 2009: Catherine’s Safari 4 Review

Posted by & filed under Apple, Blogathon 2009, Usability, Web 2.0.

So I switched to Safari 4 from Firefox recently. The end.

Yeah, there’s more, actually.

First, the good parts, the ones that were enough to make me give up Firefox:

  • It’s fast. Really, really fast.
  • Pages you visit get indexed in OSX’s Spotlight. It’s like Google Desktop for Firefox, only not totally ridiculous.
  • While Safari doesn’t include support for Firefox-style extensions, there are a bunch of cheesy hacks billed as plugins that look very similar to the end-user. Apple has indicated they’re going to stop support for these though. Hopefully, by the time they do, Safari 5 will have incorporated some of the functionality of the ones I like.

    I’m using Glims, Safari AdBlock and Inquisitor. Inquisitor is fairly rad, actually. It changes how your search results work and adds support for all your favourite search engines, searching them all in parallel if that’s your thing. (It’s not mine.)

Now, the parts I hate:

  • Selecting text and right-clicking gives you the usual “Search in Google” option. It apparently can’t be changed to open in a new tab by default. So for me, a user who searches lots of strings and opens them in new tabs, I’m forced to Cmd-T new tabs open, copying-and-pasting the text into the search box.
  • I’m not used to having to type a search before I tell Inquisitor where to search. In Firefox, it’s the other way around: you click the dropdown, select “Wikipedia” and then type what you want to find.

Still, these were not huge complaints. If you’re on Firefox on OSX, I’d give Safari 4 a try. Want to sync bookmarks between the two? (And office computers, your iPhone, blogroll, etc?) Get Xmarks.

Mind you, I still have no plans to use anything but Firefox for development purposes. For making sites, Firebug is where it’s at. When casually browsing, however, I just don’t need to be using half my CPU and RAM to display websites.

Drupal
Extension

Firebug

I definitely agree with MacBlogz’ assessment: “Safari 4: Three Steps Forward, One Step Back

http://www.macblogz.com/2009/02/24/safari-4-three-steps-forward-one-step-back/

Blogathon 2009: Dinnertime

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

The arrival of dinner and the 12-hour mark of Blogathon forces the point home that I’m somewhat behind on my posting. I’m working on it!

In the meantime, more coffee and more pizza means more blogging energy. Or I’ll totally crash in an hour. But before then, posts!

I’m also pleased to report that we’re now up to $153 in pledges for the Canadian Cancer Society.

(Remember, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society buy you a post on the topic of your choice!)

Blogathon 2009: Things you didn’t know about grapefruit.

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

While looking up examples I felt were “typical” of Digg (and thus, not random in any way, which probably dilutes my point), I found this highly questionable post: Grapefruit diet almost cost woman her leg.

It suggests a correlation between grapefruit consumption and DVT, deep vein thrombosis, the clotting disorder known to be triggered by sitting for extended periods of time:

Grapefruit juice is known to block the action of an enzyme called CYP3A4 which breaks down the contraceptive hormone oestrogen. This in turn boosts levels of coagulability — the tendency of blood to clot.

However, it also mentions this detail:

The physicians found she had taken a relatively long car journey, of about an hour and a half, the day before; took a daily dose of oestrogen oral contraceptives; and had a genetic variant, called the factor V Leiden mutation, which is linked to a blood-clot disorder.

Yeah, sorry, I’m not convinced it played a huge role. Sure, given all those other risk factors, she definitely shouldn’t have been eating them, but I’m still skeptical.

So. What the heck? Why am I talking about this, anyway? Curiously enough,

This came in handy when I saw a post on Twitter by fellow C/Kate and internet marketer, Kate Trgovac:

@CatherineWinters Just donated $35 to CCS on behalf of your #blogathon efforts! Requesting post on Little Known Facts about Grapefruit :)

Which was fortuitous, because I’m @CatherineOmega on Twitter.[1]

And now, Little Known Facts about Grapefruit:

grapefruit!

Believed to be a hybrid of the orange and the pomelo, the grapefruit was discovered by Western science in Barbados in the 18th Century.

Because of its recent cultivation and exposure to the world, it’s known by a range of completely unrelated names, even in closely-related languages: grapefruit, toronja, pamplemousse. (Compare this to the etymology of the word (and colour!) “orange”:

Orange
c.1300, from O.Fr. orenge (12c.), from M.L. pomum de orenge, from It. arancia, originally narancia (Venetian naranza), alt. of Arabic naranj, from Pers. narang, from Skt. naranga-s “orange tree,” of uncertain origin.

At least one study has indicated grapefruit scent may make women seem more appealing to men. (You said little-known, not helpful, Kate.)

This 1931 article in the Victoria Advocate, a paper from Texas, indicated that the grapefruit was met with significant skepticism when introduced to consumers in France.

The article notes that grapefruit are familiar to Americans and will surely become a staple of the French diet. I can’t comment on the latter, but the grapefruit was as well-known in 1931 as to be featured in this famous (and violent!) scene with James Cagney in The Public Enemy:

And that may actually be everything I know/remember/can Google about grapefruit. Hopefully it was informative!

So, as promised, a donation to Canada Cancer Society gets you a post on a topic of your choice. Sometimes they don’t start out all complaining about the accuracy of pop-science articles.

Thanks for your donation, Kate!

[1] Now I’m <a href=“http://twitter.com/catherinewinters’>both.

Blogathon 2009: First look at the new CBC News

Posted by & filed under Uncategorized.

Tod Maffin just posted something that’s helpfully topical, given a conversation I was having this morning after my “why the CBC sucks at infographics” post.

As part of their depressing cost-cutting measures, the CBC newsrooms are consolidating news operations. As Tod describes:

Rather than having separate newsrooms, assignment desks, and reporters for TV, radio, and web, CBC will now have a single source for its operations. CBC Vancouver just opened its integrated newsroom.

Go watch Behind the Scenes at CBC Vancouver’s new “integrated newsroom” at Tod’s site now!

Blogathon 2009: 3 killed, 14 injured. Also, kitty videos!

Posted by & filed under Blogathon 2009, Blogosphere, Drupal, Suggestion Box, Web 2.0.

So this has been bugging me for a long time: Digg.com seems to have grown past the point of usefulness lately.

Digg is ostensibly a link-sharing site, where the most popular sites people are reading and voting upon are promoted to the front page. The downside to this is that popularity does not equal relevance. When we summarize what’s popular, we get this:

  • Five Awesomely Stupid Infomercial Products
  • 150 Dogs Found Dead in Freezers in Michigan Home
  • N. Korea Publicly Executes Christian for Distributing Bible
  • Stretch Limo in San Francisco FAIL
  • Ubuntu to make Linux application installation idiot proof

Yeah. It ends up being some mix of scary, depressing, and generally button-pressing news, as well as silly pictures and reviews of expensive hand-held electronics. Unless you’re the sort of person who obsessively reads and up/downvotes articles on Digg all day –and I’m willing to entertain the idea that a significant number of its visitors are– most of those stories are not useful to you.

There’s also many CMSes and template engines capable of implementing a Digg clone. There’s Drigg, which is based on Drupal, Blinkk, FolkD… suffice it to say, there’s a bunch of them.

Just as others have argued that Slashdot has lost relevance as it’s grown, I think Digg has come to the same point.

Smaller, more focused community sites like Buzzfeed or Kirtsy, a straightforward Digg clone run by a group of women, are simply better positioned to communicate information to their respective target audiences.

Seriously, what’s the value in waiting for a site to aggregate pictures of baby zoo animals that you have to pick through when you can go right to the source?

Blogathon 2009: Mid-day pledge updates

Posted by & filed under Blogathon 2009, Catherine.

I’m happy to report that despite my late entry and current sleep deprivation, the current pledges for the Canadian Cancer Society are up to $118 from two donors. So thanks, you guys.

I’ll be posting on your requested subjects shortly!

(Remember, donations to the Canadian Cancer Society buy you a post on the topic of your choice! Catherine Winters: Selling out for a cause.)

Blogathon 2009: In which Catherine is now a cyclist for some reason

Posted by & filed under Blogathon 2009, Catherine, Cycling, Events, Exercise, Vancouver.

So I’ve mentioned this here a few times, but haven’t gone into huge amounts of detail: I have a bicycle again!

IMG_0430

It’s a Kuwahara-built Apollo road bike, with a 62cm frame with double-butted Tange 900 chromoly steel tubes. From 1984, if the serial number is accurate at all. I bought the frame separately, though it came with the original seat, stem and a pair of terrible, out-of-true wheels that were still good enough to walk it home from Richmond.[1]

It had originally been intended to be converted into a fixie, which is why a lot of the other original parts were absent. As it turned out, the rider for which it had originally been intended was way too short for it. (Read: under 6 feet tall.)

Because of this, the woman I bought it from was extremely careful to be clear just what I was buying when I talked to her on the phone.

“You know this is just the frame, right?“
“Yeah, it’s cool.“
“And you get how big it is, right?”

Just right, as it turns out!

I assembled it myself with help from the folks at Our Community Bikes on Main Street a few weeks ago. It’s a 62cm frame with double-butted Tange 900 chromoly steel tubes.[2] From 1984, if the serial number is accurate at all.

IMG_0434 I opted for a somewhat lamer braking/gears arrangement than is traditional in Mount Pleasant. In short: I actually have them. And it’s a good thing too; I may be stronger now than I’ve ever been, but there’s no way I’m making it up Vancouver’s hills on a fixed-gear bike. [3]

It’s got a Shimano 105 crank, with functional but boring brakes and Suntour shifters and derailleurs. So it’s kind of a beast, but the original parts it still has are in great shape.

Sadly, jogging seems to be just too hard on my knees, but cycling 8-10km a day is working out just fine. I mean, I made it here, right?

[1] On the way home with my new bike, I managed to find the sole American tourist couple taking the 98 B-line and tell them horror stories about the Downtown Eastside and Lower Mainland’s little drug war. Maybe I should be sending my resume to Tourism BC.

[2] And I know what that means now!

[3] Still, I like it, even if I’m not allowed to go to Gene anymore.

Blogathon 2009: Refueling

Posted by & filed under Apple, Blogathon 2009, Catherine, Events.

Ahh, delicious, delicious food. Courteously donated by Dairy Queen, as it happens. They just delivered it so we’re currently all chowing down. A few people here raised the point earlier that 6am-6am is a pretty difficult schedule to keep, and I definitely agree with that. I usually like to eat lunch 3–4 hours after waking up; Today? About seven hours.

Fortunately, I’m feeling my blogging powers coming back and I reconfigured my desk here at Workspace.

I brought along my trackball and clicky Apple keyboard[1] for use when my fingers became just too sleepy, so I’m good to go there. I’ve boosted my laptop up on some ASP programming books, because, well… insert elitist statement here, baby.

Dairy Queen wasn’t the only organization to have brought us goodies, either. The BC SPCA dropped off a bunch of water bottles and a border collie to entertain us, and the BC Cancer Foundation has a bunch of chips waiting for us on the table. Cool!

[1] In my gym bag, hanging off the housing for my rear brake handle on my drop bars. Nah, I don’t need panniers here.

Blogathon 2009: Catherine needs panniers!

Posted by & filed under Blogathon 2009, Blogosphere, Cycling, WordPress.

So I was working on my next post here at Workspace, when who should arrive but noted fountain pen enthusiast and friend to WordPress themers everywhere, Tris Hussey![1]

Which is good, because he very graciously tolerated my inadvertent inviting-myself-along-to-dinner last night, and answered my questions about categories and post visibility and things.

And even more importantly, he brought his incredibly fancy bicycle panniers that I want now that he’s showed them off to me.

The Axiom Lesalle panniers come with all kinds of crazy features: as this review notes, you could take them in the shower. You know, if that’s the sort of thing you’re into.

These bags come with waterproof covers, but the bags themselves are water resistant and I haven’t yet bothered using the covers. Lacking a true deluge in which to test them, Denise did put one bag into her shower with the cover on, and it remained waterproof.

Soon now, Axiom Lesalle panniers. Soon you will be mine.

And they look great, attached to my new rear rack. Needless to say, I must have them. Sorry, Tris.

Soon now. Soon they will be mine.

[1] Tris is running a series of WordPress classes in the next few weeks: don’t know WordPress? Need to know WordpPress even better? Check them out.