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Showing posts from 2004

One tank of fuel: $25

One tank of fuel: $25
Insurance deductible: $250
Christmas without mother-in-law: priceless.

It's almost funny now, when my beloved Renegade is in the shop, I am driving a rental, and we indeed don't have to celebrate the holidays with granny, who I was supposed to bring from Cincinnati for that cheerful occasion. The trip didn't go all that well - some 80 miles south of Cleveland I hit an ice patch, lost control of the vehicle, spun across all three lanes of I-71 and bumped into guardrail. Twice. With both front and rear bumpers, don't remember the order. And, of course, I stalled, half way in the ditch, driver's side to the traffic, blocking the right lane.
Am I just lucky, or am I simply not supposed to die in a car accident? That was my third time starring at the several sets of slowly approaching headlights, aimed at my vehicle, helplessly sitting on the way of the deadly flow. And, once again, somebody stopped, somebody steered away, and nothing happened. I turne…

Otto Link STM 10*

It looks like my acoustic setup is finally complete.
The sound (pun intended) difference between my old Amati Classic Super (290/2 facing, stainless steel) mouthpiece and newly acquired Otto Link Super Tone Master (10* facing, gold-plated bell metal) is impossible not to notice.
It was clear enough even when I test-drove 8* about a month ago (I tried to be as objective as I could, so at the store I picked an instrument closest to mine - YTS62, and a Vandoren Traditional #3 reed), the sound was wider and fuller; that mellow fuzzy hiss I used to work so hard to produce, would come out effortlessly. Needless to say, that 10* does everything even better (I had no idea they make those, I thought 9* was the top number available), and the combination of 10* and #3 Vandoren ZZ (JaZZ) reed completely elimintated those nasty squeaks in upper register, which would pop-up once in a while, if I wasn't careful enough.
Merry Christmas to me.
That trip to the W 48 St. Sam Ash Manhattan Music Store wa…

iLife Revisited

After several months of DV abstinence, partly caused by an unprecedented attack of GarageBand eiphoria, partly - absence of footage of any value, due to rather eventless existance, I finally decided to return to the most time consuming of all of my activities, and make a movie again.
Following is a short summary of the experience.
I promise to keep this rant as technically oriented, as I can, in hope, that it might be of some benefit to fellow users. During nearly half of the year, which passed since my last cinematographic endevour, there were a couple of QuickTime updates, iPhoto update, and several system and security updates.
Current set-up:
System: Mac OS X (10.3.6)
iMovie 4.0.1
iDVD 4.0.1
QuickTime 6.2 (Pro)
iMac G4 800MHz 1GB RAM

Good things first: audio and video ARE in synk throughout the whole 1 hour and 39 minutes of the show. I would be thrilled, if it didn't happen before, but the good thing is that it's still there.
This is about it.
1. iMovie is as sluggish, as …


I have abandoned the blog for a while... Due to many legitimate reasons, of course, being out of job (but not work, that's good), for one.
Short recollection of events, which took place during last couple of weeks:
I have completed a small, but reasonably priced project, working with a PHP programmer I have never seen before (we spoke on the phone once or twice).
I have almost finished a client-side JavaScript application for a small NYC production of Valiant; the application is designed to provide "typographic assistance" for the main character during stage performance ("Sally" doesn't speak, she types on her laptop, and the monitor contents are projected on screen - an unusual concept and a lot to type... so, I have come up with a script, which types hard-coded text string letter by letter into the page's HTML on each keystroke the actress makes - no misspeling or missing punctuation...). Being annoyed by the warning sound, which IE|Win makes on every…

Strange feeling

For some reason, unknown to me, today I made a bitmap version of the logo I designed for myself years ago (I added the word "web" just to have an excuse for doing it). Probably, for therapy - I find pixel-level editing very comforting sometimes.

Another strange thing I did today: googled up Alexander Rastopchin (we use to more or less know each other during my playing at the cafe "Suzorie" back in Minsk more than 20 years ago). Apparently, he moved to New York in 1993, one year after we moved to Cincinnati, and still lives there, still plays guitar (still very well; he was always great, and he only got better, judging by the samples he has on his site), and still builds all kinds of guitar-related gear.
Now I am very tempted to send him an email and say "Hi, remember me?" He, probably, doesn't.
It would be fun to jam some day.

I should be looking for a job

And I am. Between the employment search episodes, however, I posted two new songs to MacJams and my new site.
Seriously, this is that time of the year (or life), I really don't like that much: job hunt (due to a termination of the project I was working on, my contract ends four month earlier than I expected; of course, I don't have anything lined up...)

Nostalgic Bossa Take 2

It's beginning to shape up, or, at least, I think so...
New in Take 2:
Sax (x2) melody out (AULowpass filter to make them sound somewhat like brass)
Vocal (x4) melody out by my daughter Dar (AUParametric Equalizer applied twice - one to kill iMic / Line Level Transformer "dynamic duo" noise, the other one - to remove "p"s; I really should get a decent mic preamp, and windscreen, too. I bounced four mono tracks to one stereo track, then added AUMatrixReverb to set it back in space)
Background strings fill (Apple MIDI "Orchestral Strings")
Sax melody in and solo unchanged with the exception of AUPeakLimiter filter, appears to work very nicely in combination with AUMultibandCompressor, applied to the Master Track.
Last but not least - gorgeous piano solo by McBoy. Actually, more, then one solo - dude, you sent me so much of great stuff, so I still don't know how to put everything in... Consider this a teaser preview :)
I still need:
1. Real guitar, piano, or…

Hollywood Smoking

How come in the movies they never light up a cigarette from a disposable lighter? Seriously, it's either a match, or a "Zippo". I think, I only saw a disposable lighter once in my movie watching life—it was "L. A. Confidential", if memory serves me well—and the lighter didn't work.
Sometimes I make very keen and equally useless observations.

Another Day At The Office

How come the emergency fire drill always starts when you (quite unexpectedly) feel like working?
I just figured out that "page contains both secure and insecure items" warning only pops up on the pages, where I have dynamically generated <iframe> with the src attribute set to "about:blank". The idiot browser (IE|Win) thinks that it is a reference to something outside the secure server domain.
The nastiest part of the "procedure" is the siren, which never stops, followed by the incredible annoying male voice, repeating over and over " are in a safe area... prepair to receive are in a safe area... prepair to receive evacuees...".
What a splendid word: "evacuee".
There went my inspiration for today. Well, I did fix the security bug...
Oh, yea: is now blocked by the Smart Filter as well.

Smart Filter

Smart Filter at work has finally caught up with me. Now I lost access to ALA, Apple Discussions, BLOGGER, and some other sites, also "characterized" like "Chat". Good thing, it's not "Porn", or "Entertainment" (the last one, however, could be true to some point, for it's fun).
I think, I might have called a wrath of gods called upon me.
I should clean up my harddrive, delete all .mp3 files, uninstall iTunes, QuickTime, HarmonyAssistant, and all other "unauthorized" applications, delete all browsers' caches, and wait for an execution.
Like my job is not boring enough...

Let's Jam?

OK, here is an idea: go to Apple Discussions/GarageBand forum, and holler "who wants to jam?". I wonder, how many people would actually respond... there is no way, however, to know, other than actually go and do it.
The story is:
Over the last week I have come up with a little jazz tune (sixties-style bossa-nova in C minor/Eb major at 140 bpm, 2x8 bars melody, no bridge yet - and may be never - neither there is an arrangement).
I invite everybody interested to a virtual jam session - let's play and see what happens.
Here is how it will work:
If somebody answers this "ad", I will upload three .mp3 files to the Public folder of my iDisk:
1) 16-bar loop of the tune (melody + accompaniment), everything is "penciled in", for I have no keyboard (I am a sax player myself).
2) 16-bar loop of the jam track (accompaniment only), for you to solo over.
3) 16-bar loop of the melody (currently played by somewhat cheesy synthetic cello I found in Melody Assist…

There is always stuff to bitch about

But, hey, seriously. It's a Jeep. It's supposed to be scratched up, right? Besides, I've done it myself many times. Not to THIS car, though. Just being a bit bitter, darn it.
It's just the fact that I prefer to break my things myself. I have this little annoying obsession.

Another night at Parkview

It's amazing, how it works.
You drag yourself home from work (you drag yourself to work first, naturally), you do something (there is always something to do, isn't it?), you eat dinner, walk the dogs, and around 10 pm all you can think of is a martini and a movie. Short one, too, because you have to get up at 5:30 am.
Instead of it you grab you horn and drive to a bar, where you might get a chance to play (good things come to those who wait. I must admit, though, that the waiting time is getting shorter and shorter; I truly hope, that this is due to my humble efforts to actually put some consciousness into the series of sounds I play - I better believe it, otherwise, why bother playing at all?), sit there, pretending to drink a cosmopolitan which has less alcohol in it, than root beer, greeting people you think you know (I am actually OK with faces, it the names I just can't attach to them, faces...), and listening to music.
And it better be good, considering that martini …

Have to do something about something

I recently realized, that I haven't been doing any 3D work for month now. I also noticed, that the last movie I made, wasn't all that exciting of a project. For some reason my interests shifted - again - to another area, which is, in turn, split between standard-based web design, and making music with GarageBand.
May be, I should concentrate on something; just may be. May be, I will achieve some sort of recognizable and reputable state in that area, whatever that area would be. May be, people will refer to me as an authority on some obscure subject, like cross-browser implementation of unordered lists, or making Apple-compatible loops, I will become famous, and will receive an incredible job offer (this last statement is about as realistic, as me winning a lottery, considering that I never play).
Somebody just sent an email to my wife, asking if she still gives art lessons. I couldn't help noticing custom domain name in the email address, so I checked it out: very decent p…

Ways Of Driving A Nail Into A Board (ALA)

It's so amazing to observe the evolution of the idea in a creative environment. This is why I love ALA discussions.
There is, I believe, an infinite number of ways for driving a nail into a board - starting from a hammer and working your way up to a microscope - and most of them get the work done. What to use - is entirely up to us.
This article introduce yet another way - great. Even better, it works! Anyone wants to port it to .NET or any other platform - go right ahead, and don't forget to share.
Waste of bandwidth? Hard to fathom without testing under real load; I would say, it might cause some issues in some cases, but this is not the point. The point is - the more ways of skinning the cat we discuss, the larger the world population of the skinned felines will grow.
I meant it in a positive way, actually. Hmm.
Anyway, great work, great concept, and great discussion.
Keep it up.

[LazyJim] ...Why not just have images for every letter of the alphabet and repl…

The Weekend Of Movies

In short:
Shrek 2 (Theater)
Very funny. The story is, well... weak, but who cares about the story?
School Of Rock (DVD)
Cute, but underdeveloped.
Matrix Revolutions (DVD)
The first movie set the standard. The last one didn't even come close to it.
Once Upon A Time In Mexico (DVD)
I honestly believe that Banderas and Depp owe me $2.50 each for this one.

Weekend Warrior Diary

Just some notes on the subject of digital video editing (iMovie4 and iDVD4).
My first project with these versions of the software proved to be successful to the level of moderate satisfaction.
iMovie4 is better and faster than it's predecessor; no audio-video sync issues, no empty-trash-loose-a-week-of-work disasters (never had those, however). One thing it does, though: if you empty the iMovie trash, it tries to screw up fade-ins/fade-outs of the imported audio clips (if you had fiddled with the volume graphs, that is. If you didn't, you are good), so you have to redo those. Not catastrophic, but annoying.
The rest works as expected, as far as I could tell.
iDVD4 is not any faster than iDVD3, at least on my machine. In fact, it's downright slow. Many new features of questionable quality, like menu transitions: dissolve looks very nice in the preview, but renders with hideous banding and pixelation - and that between menus with the same background image. Note to myself: tr…

Ads, ads, ads...

I was wondering, when it will happen... so far, this blog is not affected, but the new one I just set up for April'85, already has an ugly table on top.

Budget Allocation Principles

from response to email message
The companies have, sometimes, a very peculiar principles of allocating their budgets. Lexis-Nexis (which makes a good buck by tricking lawyers out of their dishonest earnings by selling them fresh public records information, which later will be free - and outdated, of course...) would, without a blink, fly me to Washington, D.C. to a pointless client meeting - for nearly a kilobuck for a round trip - and yet I had to wait for almost a year to get DreamWeaver 4 upgrade for a lousy $400.
Procter & Gamble - this is the matter of my professional pride - paid nearly 90 grand to Mycom for a SINGLE web page (OK, that was a portal page, fairly complex, etc, but, c'mon...) I was developing for them for seven months full-time, and they were happy kittens on a catnip, kept coming back with "changes" and "improvements" twice a week at least, at the straight rate of $75/h (I should've called Guinness Book Of Records, claiming the r…

Who is running MacAddict forums?

I normally hate to complain, but, being a happy subscriber to the magazine for some time now, feel like I do need to express a concern about my recent experience with MacAddict forums section of the web site.
Due to some server misbehavior, I had to re-register, my old profile disappeared, while I was updating it.
My new profile was assign a label "n00b" (None Of Our Business, if I am not mistaken. This is some way to welcome a new member to the MacAddict community). It could've been cute, but it isn't. And I don't think, it was intended to be: from the post of "Scott": "...using tables for for lame-ass n00bs..."
I have read several more posts in the "Web Design and Development" forum, which, for some reason, was for a couple of days named "George" (the name is back to normal now; but here is how forum moderator "Gipetto" reacted when he was asked about this oddity: "...poop, it blew me away that …

As Easy As Playing A Piano (ALA discussion, contd.)

Scotacus -- You've made a good point, and I agree: using CSS for the sake of using CSS has very little to do with standard-based design. I think, ALA understands it very well, otherwise they would never preface this article with the editorial note it has. The "classification" of a future material, however, might get somewhat tricky, unless they will come up with some sort of compliance-rating scale for a code... So far, we just have to live with a regular validation routine.

In defense of my music analogy: music IS, perhaps, the most standardized artistic realm here is (starting from A = 440Hz, doesn't get any stricter, than that, does it? I am not even going to touch the scales and chords...); let me rephrase it:
If not for the plantation slaves, who introduced us to [initiative, or proprietary standards - quirks mode, if you wish] minor and major blues scales, which were later adopted and developed by jazz musicians [initial acceptance of a standard], we would…

A Very Thin Line (ALA discussion response)

I definitely see your point, and, in most aspects, I agree with you wholeheartedly. Yes, it's frustrating, that support for standards is not yet where we would like it to be. Yes, it's ironic, that sometimes it takes a hack to make things work as they are supposed to, and it's just infuriating, that nobody, but a little group of enthusiasts, seems to realize the importance of standard-based web design.
Yes, they are enthusiasts, may be hobbyists, purists, sometimes even called zealots and diehards, but look at what they actually do: they create, and explore, take things apart, and put them back together, share their ideas and experience, and feed on each other techniques, tricks, and hacks. All that for what? For the sake of the obscure idea of making the web a better place. And guess what? It's happening, may be, slower, than desired, but it's happening.
There will always be web designers, whose tool of choice is FrontPage. There will always be graphic artists, wh…

"The Manhattan Transfer" at Playhouse Square Center

We wondered, what would be more insulting for the artists: nobody at the backstage door after the concert, or just three people (us, hanging around to get an autograph - Dar's NYC-acqured hobby, sort of)... The concert was, as expected, great (I am more into their newer stuff, like Off-beat Of The Avenues, and Brasil, but the standards they brought this time were as amazingly crafted as ever, an a lot of fun), the crowd was kind of stiff, though. Oh, well...
They will play on December 16-19 at Blue Note in New York. I wonder if we will be able to see that one...

We're back

2445 mi round trip to Winnipeg, Manitoba, and back.
38:30 behind the wheel (Dar and myself switching).
One speeding ticket ($230) in Minnesota.
79 stills on Dar's camera.
2 hours of video on mine.
Everything smells like campsite.
Back just in time for Manhattan Transfer concert.
I need a vacation.

Vacation Kick-off

Just when I was mentally preparing myself to a 1000+ mi. drive to Winnipeg tomorrow: here they are, initial (INITIAL!) GUI requirements for the project, I am working on.
I have a feeling, that I will need all my will power just not to loose it, and let myself off on somebody.
Here is a quote from page 4 (first three merely listed all the topics, covered in the document):

Specific Screen Requirements
Screens shall contain background color, font size and banner displayed in image below.
Screens shall show applicable drill down levels when cursor is positioned over link.
Screen's banner area shall display navigation of current path user is accessing.
Search box shall be available on all screens.

Looks like they already designed everything on the page level. You should see the "image below", ripped out from a PowerPoint presentation. You really should.
Something is telling me, that I will eventually decide not to put this in my portfolio...
I should have not read this article at ALA. …

On Web Etiquette

You can be polite, and right.
You can be polite, and wrong.
Or, you can be rude, and loose an argument regardless.

Wrong Idol

LaToya London was kicked out last night. Sweet. Jasmin, who can't carry a tune without hitting a wrong note at least twice, stayed. There's no limits to idiocy, really. Well, we did vote for the president, who can't neither talk, nor think clearly, now let's pick a star, who can't sing. We already have miss Spears for that, don't we?
I just hope, Fantasia wins, for she is the best. But once again, who cares?

New blogger toys

One of them: email posting - this is how this post was published. Sweet. Another - comments (should be below the post). Even sweeter...

On Fighting Demons

Again. And again. They seem to be multiplying faster, than rats, but I have come to terms with myself, and my extermination practice. I certainly killed a couple (well, my be, one, and it fought back vigorously) yesterday.
That was an unexpectedly crowded jam at Club Isabella on Friday night. When Evelyn Wright said a week ago at Bop Stop "come sometime to Isabella, we'll play", she didn't specify, when; I thought, it was more, like "see ya tomorrow (later, around, soon, etc.)". I didn't expect her neither to remember me, nor to call me up (by name), when I come, especially that night, when it looked like a family reunion on stage, and sounded like it, too. The quiet background jazz duet we expected to listen to, and, may be, to play with, was there no more, volume was up 200%, and a group of kids was performing a cappella Manhattan Transfer's version of Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square. When they were done, they tried to depart, but were request…

Dar's date

I guess, when I said that the acceptable boyfriend for my daughter should be taller, than her, and younger, than me, I forgot to mention, that "younger" implies "I-don't-know-what-neither-LP-record-nor-open-reel-tape-recorder-is". Oh, well. Too late now... :)

I am going to New York.

I am going to New York tomorrow to move Dar out of her dorm. Assuming, that everything goes as planned, and I do have a trailer reserved (which is still yet to be confirmed by U-Haul), driving through Manhattan with that thing behind should be a lot of fun.

Shame on me...

After weeks of re-designing and checking my web site ( in Firefox and Safari, I happened to visit it with IE 6.0. Oh, my. Somehow I totally forgot to specify the DOCTYPE declaration, so my supposedly very professional web site was happily running in quirks mode. Needless to say, the results were stunning, especially the headers, rendered by "printplate.js" JavaScript - my latest experiment.
It's all fixed now, of course, but, yea... Shame on me...

Garage Band Demo Reel (one song :)

I just fugured out, that if I am going to give out to people my new "tenorSAX" business cards (printed on Sunday, still haven't cut them...), I should post some reference to my music on the website, since the URL is printed on the very face of the card... Here is a test drive: Empty City Blues. Recorded some day in February, 2004 on my home iMac G4 with a help of GarageBand application.

Yamaha Custom "Z" Tenor Sax YTS82Z

That's it. I have no more excuses. I have to really start playing now...
On Saturday, after several hours of talking and drinking we (Evelyn & I) achieved the state of mutual understanding of the necessity of acquiring a new instrument. Basically, she convinced me, that I need one.
Since "we are not rich, so we can't afford cheap things" attitude was a driving force behind all financial decisions in our family for the last 20+ years, the plan was to go for the gold (no pun intended). I was to start researching the market, going places, and checking out various horns in order to find the one and only I would like to play for the rest of my life.
The candidates were Selmer III Series, Selmer Reference 54, and, may be, pro-level Yamaha, or Yanagisawa, to compare at least - don't I need to know what I want before I spend 4+ kilobucks on something shiny? They don't make Mark VI anymore, that's a shame; however, used one is not an option for me: I like to …

Catching The Bus

Or fighting demons, you can call it that, too. Regardless of the naming convention, the fact is - I am playing again, every day (almost true) at home, and have already been to two jam sessions, at Parkview, and Savanna. The horn sounds nice - matte and fat - at home (I played #3 reed for two weeks, and, I think, ready to move to #3 1/2, but, since I already got a box of 3s, I'll just clip those), and very edgy and squeaky through the mics, for they are usually set up for vocals; kind of a bummer for me - my sound is what I basically have to show, not much else.
I guess, I'll have to impress the audience with the quality of phrasing, and incredible freshness of my ideas. I still have to figure out, how.
The people here so far are nice (I remember one and only one jam session I attended back in Cinti - I never got to play, and returned home with my squad of demons reinforced by one or two - no comparison whatsoever), friendly, and reasonably enthusiastic about letting someone th…

Apocalypse, poultry, jag shadows and dirty markup (more on ALA drop shadows)...

I should stop making comments for the simple sake of not offending anybody. Please... I didn't mean to, I just wanted an explanation, sorry, if it sounded a bit critical (I like your website... :) :) :) ). And I didn't diss your code, Sergio, I merely asked how and why did you arrive to this point.
I think, that was Igor Stravinsky, who said once something like this (very loose quote): "If I had no limits to my resources, I would probably ended up not writing anything".
I think, I see it now. You don't want tables, so you didn't use them. I must admit (thanks to a slow day at work), this could really be fun…
(for some reason - poor CSS support in this particular part? - IE5.2 for Mac breaks the display, but who cares, it's dead anyway... It works in IE6 Win, Firefox, and Safari, though)
Once again, sorry, if my comments sounded apocalyptic...
It's all good. Keep up the good work.
PS. The table-based markup is still shorter. Not cleaner, oh, no, just s…

Fuzzy Shadows at ALA

I have been following this discussion on ALA article for several days now, and I am still confused about the original idea.

I will have to repeat myself:

1. PNG's alpha transparency is supposed to allow us grater flexibility in positioning images over anything else, while maintaining simplicity of markup.
2. The situation with IE support can be resolved by many means (I still like the elegance of Aaron's "Sleight" JavaScript behavior), here is an example.

3. If we still have to match background color with GIFs, we could achieve the exact same results with a lot less effort by arranging elements in a table (yes, table - last time I checked it was still a legitimate HTML element - and, yes, it does support CSS formatting, so the separation of content and presentation shouldn't be a problem):
example 2.

Look... no JavaScript, no conditional comments, no separate stylesheet... I can go on.
Please, explain to me, somebody, why we feel the need to scratch our left ear …

Zawinul Syndicate

On Joe Zawinul concert as a part of Tri-C 25th Anniversary Jazz Festival: one word - magnificent. As a group - they are simply unbelievable; I am waiting for the CD to come out, I want to buy it (or illegally download, depending upon my employment situation at the moment). They are called Zawinul Syndicate (the website lists a different drummer, though).
Linley Marthe (bass) is, probably, the most unique musician I ever heard live or recorded (yes, including Jako).
Keyboards didn't sound all that good, however; I am tempted to blame the sound operator, or the general state of Joe's overwired and duct-taped gear, rather than the fact that he is 72, and, by all human means, could be losing it...
I wonder, what state of mind I will be in 30 years. Hope I will not make it that far...


Nice template ("Sand Dollar", by Jason Sutter), clean code, it was very easy to customize (vs. iBlog's horrible HTML. I can't believe, people are paying for the shareware like that. So what, if it also reads RSS feeds? You can get a free news reader...).

I'm back. Don't know, why, though...

Moved blog to blogspot, since .Mac does not support FTP, or SFTP protocol... Not that I ever use it, just for fun. I happen to have strangest ideas of what fun is.
... apparently, I just don't want to fire up VisualStudio.NET, and continue learning it. It's Friday, for web's sake...

On David Emberton's "The World Wide Web is not enough"

Read this first...

Amazing. Just amazing. After reading miles of intimidating CSS tutorials and JavaScript tips and tricks, written by terrorist 8-graders, I felt so bad about my inability to keep up with the latest and greatest in web design... Nice to see someone who has no reservations about saying: yes, I am incapable of learning and I refuse to accept the obvious...
Wake up. NN4 is dead. It was killed in the browser war.
If you don't agree with new standards, suggest an alternative.
If you don't want to live with the direction the Web is going, retreat to CD-ROM authoring. Or use floppies (sorry, very limited PDF support), and FedEx.
Seriously? I came to this country eleven years ago with high school English (as a foreign language, naturally) and a degree in Industrial Design from the school nobody ever heard of in a country, which doesn't exist anymore. I was 30. I never touched a computer before 1992, neither I ever tried to order coffee at McDonalds (the attempts …