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Not what I had in mind | July 31

So you've just moved your entire life into a storage locker on the other side of town. You're living off a laptop for the next three weeks. No problem, in today's ultra-connected world, right?

Now what if on, say, the second day of the three weeks, your laptop's hard drive decides to crash and burn?

Yes, my Powerbook finally packed it in. So after a day of mad scrambling through boxes in storage, and a trip to the local Apple retailer that ended up with the purchase of a whole new machine entirely, and an evening of recovering from backup and re-installing application suites, I'm back on track.

I was planning on selling the PB at some point in the unspecified future for the sake of picking up a MacBook. But in times of crisis, you've gotta improvise. It turns out that buying the MB now, fixing the PB under AppleCare, and selling it later will end up being quite a bit cheaper in the long run than simply replacing the PB hard drive now, and making the exchange later.

Not what I had planned to do with my Monday. But hey, with scenery like this, it's hard to get too upset.

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Priority

July 27

Here we go. According to CNET, Internet Explorer 7 is going to be sent out automatically to XP users as a priority Windows Update upon its launch. We'll see a massive migration, and IE6 numbers will take a sharp dive in the very near future. This is a good thing.

However, a sharp surge of immediate adoption could be a little painful for those not currently testing in IE7; now is most definitely the time to start, if that's you. (Hey, don't feel bad, I still only have IE7 beta 1 myself.)

Also, as of the launch (no set date yet, some time in Q4 is the current best guess), I have a strong feeling the case for testing in IE5.x will be unjustifiably hard to make in most cases. Enjoy your last few months of the box model hack.

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Faking It

July 25

Currency counterfeiting is inevitably a growing problem in the age of Photoshop and high-quality laser printers. Photographic reproductions are ridiculously easy, so those with slippery ethics are figuring out that casually minting their own 20's here and there is as easy as clicking a few buttons.

To help combat the problem, graphical editors are starting to incorporate currency-detection algorithms. I'd heard about this as one of the new "features" in recent versions of Photoshop, but today was the first time I had personally butted up against it:

Photoshop currency detection warning dialogue

Photoshop allows you to open the image anyway, so I played with it a bit to see what the limitations are. Obviously when you try to print it you get a slap on the wrist:

Photoshop warning dialogue when attempting to print currency

However, it appears the bill needs to be mostly uncovered (or at least key detection points need to be). If you cover it with something else, you're able to print the document. So the bill may be used without altering a document's printability, provided it doesn't appear to Photoshop that you're using it for counterfeiting purposes.

You can fool it, however. If you rotate the bill 45 degrees, the warnings go away. The detection algorithm appears a bit immature yet, since it only appears to work when the bill is prominently featured and at close to a horizontal alignment.

My copies of other currency were too low-res to trigger the detection, I only experienced this on US bills. The euros, pounds, and Canadian dollars I tried didn't issue a warning. However, were the EURion constellation clearly visible on my samples (it wasn't), I'm sure I'd have seen the same warning.

If you want to try it yourself, the current first Google Images search for 50 dollar bill nets a perfect example. (And yes, there are legitimate uses for opening reproductions of currency in an image editor that don't constitute counterfeiting; ever work with a company in the financial sector?)

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Visualization

July 20

Via Information Aesthetics, here are a couple of incredible web-based visualizations:

Population: One
6.5 billion pixels, one per person on the planet.
Hydrogen Atom Scale Model
One proton, one electron, and a whole lotta nothing.

What I love about these pages is how they take advantage of the medium to produce an end result which is just about impossible to pull off in the real world. Though I have to admit, after viewing them, I'm still not sure I've quite wrapped my mind around such huge numbers... For more like this, see also: Exploration.

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Bad Domains Kill

July 14

There's something of an art to choosing a top-level domain name:

  1. Find a good URL that isn't already taken. These days, that will likely drag on for months.
  2. Of what's available, choose something as unique and representative of your site/business as possible.
  3. Pray to God you don't overlook obvious and bone-headed mistakes like these guys did. (link cred: Lauren)

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Georgia Revival

July 13

The IHT indicates that Georgia is experiencing a comeback on the web:

The Georgia revival then accelerated, as other designers adopted it as an alternative to Verdana. It is featured on several graphic design Web sites, including those of the American Institute of Graphic Arts and the Dutch type foundry Typotheque. At the other end of the spectrum, it is popular on blog design templates, which is why so many bloggers are using it.

Call me cynical, but when the pool of fonts Georgia is dominating totals all of 8 or 9, it strikes me as fairly obvious you could find just as much counter-evidence of Trebuchet or Lucida being the new trendy typefaces. Regardless, it's interesting to see an article on web typography in the Style section of a major publication like IHT.

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