Spam Sucks or: How I Learned to Stop Fretting and Upgrade WordPress

It’s true that I haven’t blogged in forever. Perhaps a topic for a separate, future post… we’ll see.

I was actually quite content to let this blog (and my dad’s) sit out there in the ether, at the very least as a way to capture points in time in our lives (since I’m terrible with taking pictures and organizing keepsakes). But some malicious spammers apparently had other plans.

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100 Things to Try Before You Die: Seattle Edition

Update: The Seattle 100 is now an application on Facebook. Check it out, keep track of your progress, and share with your friends!

A while back, a friend posted a link to 100 things to try before you die in San Francisco. My mouth watered as I read over the list, but alas, it was all quite superficial since I didn’t have any familiarity with these restaurants.

I shared the article on Yelp Talk, and much to my surprise, the Seattle Yelp community started filling in a similar list for Seattle! Little did I realize at the time, however, that a similar list had been formed a few months prior. I’ve merged the two together, nixed duplicates, and added a few of my favorites to give a list similar to what they offered for San Francisco. Enticing photos included!

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Press Here for Earthquakes?

I had a Doctor appointment on Monday. It was my first time at this clinic, and as I was riding in the elevator, I saw something I hadn’t seen before:

An elevator button that says Earthquake

I was simultaneously curious and terrified as to what that button might do. It was isolated from all of the other buttons in the elevator, so I couldn’t help but stare. Maybe these are more common in earthquake-prone areas (Californians?) but this was the first one I’ve seen in Seattle.

WikiAnswers has the scoop on the Earthquake button: “The button is used to allow the elevator doors to be open in a safe way and allow the building security etc. to know you are there and need rescue. “

This Week’s Recipe: Hot & Sour Soup

I’ve been chatting with a few friends about my recent cooking adventures. Lately, I’ve tried to explore one new recipe each week. When I look for a recipe, I need it to be: (1) high in protein, which usually requires a recipe alteration, (2) loaded with veggies (since they’re hard enough to work in when you’re busy), and (3) something that will be good enough for leftovers, since I usually cook for one.

I’ve been itching to record and review my different experiences, and I guess bringing back my blog is a great place for that! Plus, I was inspired by a friend of a friend posting pictures of his cooking escapades on Facebook. Hopefully my pictures will look half as delicious… =X

On to the recipe!! It’s adapted from one of my old 20/20 packets, which in turn was adapted from Jane Brody’s Good Food Gourmet. Read more…

Wishing for a Better Explanation…

When I was in 4th grade, I broke my wrist during the winter. I remember visiting the extended family and showing off the cast. My cousin asked me what had happened. I explained that I had been over at a friend’s house, and as he started to make a snowball to throw at me, I went to stop him, only to slip on the ice and land on my wrist.

“No, no, no,” my cousin said. “A cast that big, you need a good story to go along with it. Something about defending a helpless person against a gang of hooligans, and you managed to beat them all up, but broke your wrist in the process.”

Along those lines, I’d like to tell you that there was a big, important reason that my blogs been throwing errors for the past two months. Something to do with upgrades at Site5, or new management, or aliens taking over the server. But sadly, my support ticket was answered within 10 minutes, stating that the permissions on a couple files were wrong, but now they were working correctly.

And once again… we’re back.

During recent downtime, I’ve been thinking about whether a blog was something I wanted to invest in. My love for writing has not gone away, but thankfully Yelp has been a good outlet. I’ve even used it to archive past vacations, if you want to quickly catch up to what I’ve been doing since I last blogged.

But in the end, Yelp isn’t enough. There’s more to writing than reviews!! So the blog is resurrected, and inspiration willing, so is the content.

Beware Wordscraper’s Custom Boards: With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

I just scored 592 points on a single word in Wordscraper.

The score board for a Wordscraper game, showing I played a 592 point word

But let me start from the beginning. Read more…

Google Uses Non-Functional UI Element. World Freaks Out.

You’d think it’s the title of an Onion article, but in fact, it’s true. Over the past 24 hours, I’ve seen an image displaying the mysterious “GMail gray box” make the Digg homepage, followed up by a TechCrunchIT article, and an open solicitation for possible explanations.

Really, I find this fascinating. Google has established such a strong brand around their minimalist design style, that something as small as this is (a) considered newsworthy, and (b) warrants an “official Google response” (according to the TechCrunchIT article).

This leads to an interesting task for the non-Googlers in the audience. Take this news back to your company, and ask: Is our design philosophy so firmly ingrained in the minds of our customers, that straying from it is newsworthy? Maybe being newsworthy isn’t the goal, but it says something about how solid your design is if your customers can recognize what does and doesn’t belong.

Settling In

It’s been a hectic month, but I’ve managed to settle in over on the west coast. As part of moving across the country, I decided I wanted to take the step up and buy instead of rent. I’ve ended up with a great condo in Capitol Hill, and I wanted to show my readers! Pictures (and a 4th of July Fireworks video) after the jump.

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Wii Usage Lower than 360, PS3

I got pointed to this interesting article today.

In the interest of fairness, the clarification points out that these numbers may not be generalizable. But I still think they’re interesting, and I have a few ideas about why the numbers might actually be lower:

  1. Social Games Require… People: There are certainly some Wii games that are single player, but I tend to have the most fun playing multi-player games with a big group of people, like Smash Bros, Guitar Hero, Wii Play, or Wii Sports. This can only happen as often as I have people over, which isn’t as often as I play single player games.
  2. Shorter Average Playing Time: I don’t have the numbers on this, but I can say that adventure games on the Wii (so far) have come nowhere near the 100+ hour behemoths of the Final Fantasy / Dragon Quest franchise.
  3. New Markets = New Habits: The Wii is applauded for breaking into non-traditional gaming markets. Well, guess what: Non-traditional gamers probably aren’t as obsessed with games as hardcore gamers.

The last point is particularly interesting, because it begs the question: Who cares? Just because Wii usage might be lower doesn’t mean that gamers get less value out of it, or that it’s not as solid of an investment. Personally, I like that I spend less time on the Wii than other consoles. It lets me focus on the real world from time to time.

How Safari Distinguishes Tabs

I always keep my eyes open for interesting designs or interactions, but I find the subtle touches to be the most interesting, even if they are the hardest to spot, or the least appreciated.

Take how Safari handles tabbing. As part of an early draft of my portfolio redesign, I was considering including a brief blurb from my latest blog entry, so I was researching how to make an RSS feed reader in PHP. I referenced a 2-part article from Scratch Projects (Part 1, Part 2).

If you check each of the articles, you’ll notice that their titles are largely the same; only the part number distinguishes them. In fact, they’re both open right now in Firefox, and I can’t tell the tabs apart.

Someone working on Safari must have considered this case. With only one article open, it looks like you would expect:

A screen shot of Safari tabs, showing the title of the first part of the article

But with both articles open, it cuts out the redundant information, only showing what you need to tell them apart:

A screen shot with both parts open; the titles on the tab read Part 1 and Part 2 to distinguish them.

Very nice…