Monday, November 3, 2008

Dear AdSense: I am not Anti-Gay Marriage

I stand with Google and Apple on Prop 8. I see this as an issue of equality and discrimination. Let me say for the record:


Imagine my disappointment when I visited my blog today and discovered this:

That's right: an ad, right under my title, trying to get you to "Vote Yes on Prop 8." I know this is a risk we all take with targeted advertising, but at the same time I feel very strongly that I do not want my content associated with bigotry.

I can prohibit this by blocking the URL, but I feel that is a futile solution. Some other URL with the same message might crop up. I want to prohibit ads that I think are morally wrong.

So, in the mean time, do me a favor and CLICK ON THE AD. Let's make them lose money needlessly (not to mention earn me money).

Anyhow, I'll use the rest of this post to endorse what I feel strongly about.


Yes on Prop 1A: We need rail systems like France and Japan. How great would it be to link two of the greatest cities in the US: SF and LA

Yes on Prop 2: Animals should always be treated as humanely as possible, especially when they are devoting their lives to us. I don't mind paying more for eggs.

No on Prop 4: Haven't we seen this one before?

No on Prop 8: Don't hate.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Review: Jon Lajoie Live at Spaceland, 10/30/08

If you're not familiar with Spaceland, it's because you're not hip/indie/emo/alternative/artistic/eccentric/elitist/poor enough.

Jon Lajoie (by the way, it's pronounced "La Jwa" not "Lay Joy-ee") is obviously not your typical Spaceland artist. Nevertheless, it marked the first time I've seen a You Tube star live.

It's easy for a band to take their songs and play them live. But how does a You Tube star transition from the web to a live performance?

I've got to hand it to Lajoie. He pulled it off creatively. He used a video projector to play some of his "commericals" while doing costume changes back-stage. He'd rap with beats in the background. He'd play solo guitar and sing. In addition to small stand-up comedy bits, he also enacted a live infomercial. Essentially, he's converted his web-presence into a one-man variety show.

I'm not going to lie: he definitely has better presence behind a video camera and URL. But, I was still highly entertained. Check him out if he comes to your area. Also, check out his website: it's stunning (i.e. simultaneous references to Ghostdad, He-man, Michael Keaton, 90210, and Shredder from the Ninja Turtles - genius).

A video of Lajoie live in Canada:

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Dojo and Rails (Prototype) - The Workaround

Imagine the surprise I felt when I realized that our pretty Dojo applications were breaking as soon as we were putting them into the Ruby on Rails project. Then it became clear, some parts of Dojo don't play well with Prototype. A Google search on Dojo+Prototype will give you muffled and possibly not applicable information.

This provides a huge dilemma:
  • We need Dojo, especially parts of dojox, for pretty interface and graphics drawing; a lot of work has already been put in.
  • We need Prototype for RJS and AJAX in an already well-established Rails project.
I know some of you purists out there think we should use one and not the other. My response to you: No.

It came to me in the shower: iframes. The fundamental problem is that we can't load both Dojo and Prototype in the same page without consequences in our Dojo graphics code. But what if we loaded an iframe that only had Dojo references into a Rails page which had Prototype loaded. It works! At least in Safari and Firefox, our main development platforms, the competing javascripts are kept separate. I haven't tested in IE.

I realize this isn't the ideal solution people want to hear. But in the end, communication between pages/iframes with separate javascript technologies is a much easier problem to deal with than getting two complex javascript technologies to function together in the same page.

UPDATE 1 (10/22/08)
Actually, I'm now an advocate of using the object tag as opposed to the iframe tag. It validates as valid xhtml 1.1, strict, with the same effect. It also sounds better than using frames.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Exporting / Printing of figures in MATLAB: solve problems with boundaries

It took me a while to figure out that if you want to save figures in MATLAB from your script or the command line, you need to use the print command.

I was using the -depsc2 output flag to generate an EPS file. However, boundaries kept getting messed up.

The fix that worked for me, right before your print command:

This makes sure what you see on screen and on file are consistent.

Monday, October 6, 2008

AcademicSuperstore: Leaked My Credit Card Info!

Imagine Googling yourself and finding that your email address, phone number, home address, and some credit card information are now all available to the public and linked to your name. That's what happened to me:

If you were ever a customer of, it's possible your identity is under threat. How do I know this? Because your contact info was revealed in a clever Google search with about 1600 other people:

I contacted Academic Superstore on September 24th, 2008 and was promptly replied to by their head of Information Technology. Since then, we have exchanged 14 emails. In all of those exchanges they have never apologized for the security breach.

In their privacy policy they make statements like:
"We promise that your information is secure."
"we will not pass your e-mail address to others"
"personal information and credit card details cannot be viewed by outside parties"
After sending their head of IT several irate emails, he promised that someone else in the company would contact me to discuss the damages. That was seven days ago and I still haven't heard from them. I still haven't received an apology. There's no indication that they will take responsibility for permanently damaging my privacy by releasing my private info to the public.

What irritates me the most about this situation, I DIDN'T EVEN PURCHASE ANYTHING FROM THEM. By the time I had jumped all the hurdles of online purchasing, including verification of my academic status, which requires you to send them proof of your academic status, they told me the item I wanted was not in stock. So I canceled my order and purchased elsewhere. Too bad they had already stored my personal information, irresponsibly. If you look at online reviews (many of which are similar to this one) you'll find that others have this same "we'll make you pay for it before we tell you it's out of stock" problem.

Here's hoping that the companies we choose to trust will actually protect our information and take responsibility when they screw up.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Illustrator CS3 and Roland Cut Studio

The Problem

Have you noticed that ever since you installed Roland Cut Studio in Illustrator CS3, it's running slower?

You probably have a Mac, don't you? It's probably new, isn't it?

Do you remember the step where you had to setup Illustrator CS3 to run using Rosetta so that the Roland Cut Studio plug-in would work? That had major implications.

Roland Cut Studio for Mac predates Apple's switch to Intel chips. It's written and compiled for PowerPC (i.e. G4, G5). Adobe gave you a universal binary for Illustrator, which means you have both the PowerPC and Intel versions.

What does this mean?

You have to run Illustrator in PowerPC mode (i.e. using Rosetta) so that Cut Studio works. This means that every time Illustrator uses a CPU it needs to translate the PowerPC code to Intel code. For some programs this isn't a big deal. For programs like Photoshop and Illustrator, which can be computationally intesive, this is a very big deal. The difference is akin to speaking with someone in your native tongue versus speaking to a non-native speaker via a translator.

Is there a solution?

Not a good one. I recommend doing all of your design work in native mode (without Rosetta) and re-running Illustrator with Rosetta when you have a finished product that you want to plot.

To do this, go to your applications folder, open the Illustrator folder, and Ctrl-click on the Illustrator program. Click "Get info." You should see a check-box for "Open using Rosetta."

Hopefully Roland will get it's act together soon.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Separating colors for silk screening in Illustrator

Dear young friends,

I can't give you a detailed description about why separating colors in Photoshop must to be fundamentally different than separating colors in Illustrator. But the difference can be summarized by pointing out: Photoshop color separation is channel-based. Illustrator color separation is swatch based.

It's much simpler in Illustrator: for each color you use, double click on its swatch. Change the color from a "process color" to a "spot color."

When you want to print the separations, go to "print," select "output," and change the mode from "composite" to "separations." You can control which colors to print by clicking on the print icon next to the swatch/channel.

Don't forget your registration marks (under "Marks & Bleed")!