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May 27, 2006 12:14am

a pox on javascript

Update, Friday: Ray recommends Safari Stand, whose site alteration feature does exactly what I hoped for.

Rant on.

I like javascript, but its use by a few big sites (looking at you, nytimes.com and wired.com) makes me break out in hives. When I turn off javascript in Safari, both of these sites are screaming fast as I'd expect. When I have it turned on, both are excruciatingly slow, and simple actions (selecting text, clicking links) lead to baffling delays and beach balls. I haven't yet spent the time with Venkman to figure out why this is, but I have my suspicions. A lot of the scripts are coming from Google, Doubleclick, and other "strategic partners" checking in on my activity. Wired seems interested in where I'm from (see the "GeoIP" section of headerLayer.js), and The New York Times likes to know what text I'm selecting, and which links I'm following.

It would be ideal if sites like this put the Ajax crack pipe aside for five minutes and erred on the side of usability. It would also be nice if Safari's javascript implementation were faster, or threaded, or whatever.

Barring that, I have a feature request: per-domain javascript disabling. Javascript is now too useful and pervasive to be turned off entirely, but certain domains abuse the privilege and ought to be denied. Even a javscript on/off switch in the Safari browser chrome would go a long way towards helping.

Rant off.

May 26, 2006 4:42pm

tiered costs

Courtesy of CNN and Slashdot, another reason Net Neutrality is a good thing:

"I'm going to pay my $29.99 a month for access, and then I'm going to pay higher prices for consumer goods all across the economy because these Internet companies will charge more for online advertising."

Gem and I visited a mushroom farm last week for one of her classes. Each batch of mushrooms (shiitake, oyster, etc.) are cultivated in bagged blocks of sawdust and nutrients. Each plastic bag holds about a gallon of substrate, and has a small filter attached to it, allowing flow of air when the bag is sealed. These bags are single-use, and historically cost the farm 18 cents apiece. As a result of rising fuel costs (the bags are shipped from Texas), the price has gone up to 19½ cents apiece. Every day, they start 2,700 bags, so an extra $40 isn't going to break the bank. But I bet that extra cost is going to be passed on to the buyer, on top of all the other gas-price micropayments piling up across the rest of the items at the checkout counter.

I understand fuel costs—high demand, low supply, etc.—but these "preferred routing" fees proposed by AT+T's lawyersharks are purely artificial. They have no reason to exist, and they add no new capacity to the lines. As I understand it, performance across the board may actually drop, because of the additional overhead of looking at each packet to determine its priority instead of passing it off like a hot potato as quickly as possible.

May 22, 2006 5:18am

oakland columbarium

We went to a party at the Oakland Columbarium last night. It's a warren of tiny rooms, connected by passages, each containing walls loaded with ashes of the deceased.

This photo was the best Google had to offer, by John Wiseman:

Our friend Kelly Porter was live-painting in the Meditation Chapel, and many other video projections, musical acts, and exhibitions were scattered throughout the space. The party was a little subdued overall. The space was gorgeous. We spent the first 20 minutes or so making our way up to the Garden Of Revelation, via Devotion, Bethel, and Rest. Each of the garden areas is vertically offset from the previous, which gives the entire space a stairstep feeling. These are connected by tiny staircases, and end in the Revelation, a tall open space with "cat walks" one story above ground level. I think the entire building is sunk into a hill, because we could see trees draped over the skylights in the uppermost rooms.

I felt as though we had seen it all, but looking at the floorplan afterwards it's obvious that a whole section of the building (centered around the Middle Chapel) remains unexplored.

This is an absolutely stunning building by Julia Morgan that deserves a return trip.

Update: Peter has a set of Columbarium photos on Flickr.

May 19, 2006 6:51pm

comic chat

Very literal, readable comment stream display on Spreadshirt:

It's visually easy to separate comment text from attribution, and indiviudal commenters with a relationship to Spreadshirt (CEO, employee, etc.) are subtly called-out. The indentation on the left makes it possible to read down a series of comments without interruption by attribution slugs.

May 17, 2006 4:39pm

scar tissue

This is a piece of San Francisco healing around now-gone railroad tracks:

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