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Gonzo Lives

Wednesday, June 30, 2004

Uhm, Where to begin...

I could attempt to sum up my thoughts on Fahrenheit 9/11, which I saw last night, but I'll just tell you to go see it. You'd have had an earful if you'd've been privvy to the conversation The Other Mark and I just had over Moore's latest oeuvre, but basically my opinion goes without saying: It was well done, it filled me with seething rage, I'm appalled, astounded, and assailed by the absurdity of the administration's lingering power, and bias-shmias, any footage used was fact and happened. The connections were all there, as were the statements issued by various parties. If you think some of the imagery - the mother of the soldier, the collateral damaged-Iraqis, etc - was too much, think of it this way: the theme, plot and message of the movie is Bush: His Victims and His Allies. And if it stirred up a little emotion in people, translate that to passion and let's do something about this quagmire.

At least The Left has someone like Moore to stand up and make a solid point AND be willing to take the heat. Hopefully the Dems will take advantage of the opportunity to be constructive.

I'll spare you the rant about personal liberties and sacrifices and the foolishness of blind, faithful followers. Just see it and think about, Okay?

In the iTunes at home and work has been the new Beastie Boys: To the 5 Boroughs. I'm quite taken with it. The words, the beats, the raps. Mature topics mixed with the word "fuck." It's great. I'm thoroughly pleased with my investment.

Another investment that the jury's out on is this guy. I bought it right at the Sony Style store, but I think Best Buy's got the most comprehensive product info page out there. I've wanted a digicam for a long time, and I'm really way past due to own one, but I've been really good about spending lately and didn't want to cross that line... Until I saw 4.1 megapixels in a fairly compact-sized device (dimensions are good, but it's a little thick) for just $199. Sweet. Drawbacks: AA batteries (but can use long-life NiMH), having to buy the NiMH batteries SEPARATELY (came with alkalines), no optical zoom, proprietary memory stick. But hey, my feet are in the water and 4.1 MP is great.

Work is busy. I'm swamped and there's no relief in sight. Everything's an emergency and long-term projects are getting ignored. Same as usual. Side project tugs at my thought-strings, but for the past 3 days I've found myself in a situation similar to this, home for less than an hour, 9:30 at night, still no dinner, and still a ton to do.

So, to do I must away.

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Fuck Friendster

Allow me a moment to vent.

Friendster is the most perplexing piece-of-shit on the Internet to date. So much potential and such a massive userbase and it remains 98% BROKEN! I log in to see that they've overhauled the UI, fucking around with some random amalgamation of font sizes, tables, and widths such that a person's *name* in the gallery is in a miniscule font smaller than anything else about them! And they're stretching images to monstrous sizes on the profiles. Where is the common sense?!?

The fucking best, the piece de resistance et coup d'etat, is that AFTER ALL THIS TINKERING I STILL CAN'T EVEN ACCESS MY MESSAGES. Anything past page 1 is dead. And I have a perpetual alert on the homepage that I have a message when it's already been read.

You fucking rubes, fix the goddamn infrastructure and make the site readily accessible before you fuck around with the interface anymore! I just want to get the contact info for a chick. That's all I want to do. I just need one piddly message out of my Inbox.

Please.

I'm not ironing tonight.

I already spent time doing the laundry itself on this dry, breezy, beautiful day. I have far more better things to do with my time than hunch over that hot fucking ball & chain. Like nap. And read my HST book. And ponder web apps. And write GMails. And eat more ice cream. And think about making some real food knowing that I won't really bother. And.. well, you get the point.

It's far better to leave it til the last minute in the first minutes of Monday morning. I'll be late to work anyway. What's 12 extra minutes.

Saturday, June 26, 2004

Inspiration

I find this incredibly inspiring:
mezzoblue on Web Apps

I entered the Internet biz with an knack for coding and an enthusiasm for the Web, placed into a position as an Engineer, which my current job entitles Web Application Developer. It wasn't necessarily what I set out to do, but apparently my niche found me.

There were some characteristics of that company that got in the way of truly great things and some aspects of the team I was on that led to truly great things. You always miss things most once they're gone, and I now realize that I really want to be leveraging technology in the marketing and consumer user interaction field again.

My current position finds me doing just the same things I did then, but it's working on a web application that's more a software product whose goal is to give people access to services and data in one, single particular industry... one I don't find much appeal in. The application (and we) care very little about the user or who they are or what they do when they're interacting, it's all about making their time logged-in as efficient and productive as possible; not bad goals at all, and ones to take into consideration with ANY web application, but ignoring other goals of mine nonetheless.

Taking what I know now from this context, one of pure, hardcore web app development, and applying it to the marketing realm where every click is a valuable repository of information to be mined, I get really excited reading an article like that talking about the future of web apps. When deployed properly and to meet goals that they're inherently oriented to meet well, they're a tremendous prospect in the future of the Web and computing and a tremendous motivator for change in how companies do business.

In reality, this post is more about motivation than inspiration. That article's a further source of motivation. Inspiration, my killer app, is still out-of-reach on the horizon.

Thursday, June 24, 2004

revoluciĆ³n

Me (10:41:57 PM): boy, i blew it tonight. i had the chance to sow the seeds of revolution.
Other Mark (10:42:06 PM): with her?
Me (10:42:09 PM): MM HMM
Me (10:42:23 PM): i'd enjoy a shot at being a homewrecker
Other Mark (10:42:38 PM): you need to stir up the bolsheviks in her heart

I-G-N-O-R-A-N-C-E

Today, Kids, we'll have a lesson in Ignorance, something that's a very big part of many of your lives, but that you're too stupid to realize.

Ignorance is saying that the former President, a man who put himself through college, worked hard at his accomplishments his whole life, never owned his own home until leaving the White House, brought Israel and Palestine together to shake hands and brought forth the first U.S. Budget Surplus in years, that all he did was chase interns around the White House.

Ignorance is saying that a lazy bastard whose Daddy put him through Yale and who only ever managed to fail or accomplish mediocrity his whole life is a masterful Terrorist Hunter that we should be proud of when his Administration's State Department just came out and said that the whole 2003 report on Terrorism was wrong and that Terrorism in fact INCREASED following retaliation against Afghanistan and now the war in Iraq.

Ignorance is prosecuting a man who lied about a blowjob quicker than one who lied about going to War.

And no one ever said the former was Right. But few have denied that blowjobs have been happening under White House desks surely for years and years and years. At least he was in the White House after hours, instead of off fucking around on his big ol' Texas Playground, AKA Ranch.

It's all so fucking absurd, the blanket support for a half-wit, recovering alcoholic, lazy son of a bitch who's holding the head position of a cabal of thieves, criminals and crooked businessmen who are as far from You, the "Everyman," as one can possibly get.

Grow up poor in the South and be an Everyman.

Work your ass off and be an Everyman.

Succumb to sexual temptation and play around with some agreeable snatch and be an Everyman.

Don't tell me a rich fucking overgrown child who thinks he's on a Mission of God is an Everyman in this country.

And stop being so ignorant and face your own demons inside instead of just aligning yourself with the one who happens to be on the ballot.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Taking Out The Trash

"In the land of the blind, the one-eyed man is king." - HST, citing Orwell, I believe.

It seems there is no shortage of White Trash in America. Personally, I watch "The Simple Life II," as I did its predecessor, to see Paris Hilton parade her skinny little bod around and always get her way (which, to my shock and sincere dismay, may actually be getting old... or is she just starting to pale in comparison to the beautiful faces I fall in love with on the T every morning?). The real theme, the Heart of the Thing, though, is about as deeper than skin deep on Paris as Fox can muster: Let's pit two Rich Girls against the White Trash of America, let's throw the Fat into the Fire and watch it sizzzzzzle.

I believe that society is the macro of the microcosm that we let happen, and what you're so privileged to watch at 9:00 EST, each and every Wednesday on Fox is just that: on the micro level, the polarization of America.

The problem is, all these White Trash rubes whose backs Paris and Nicole snicker behind, hell, they brazenly do it to their faces, all these poor sots voted for Bush and are likely to Do So Again. Despite the fact that he is knowingly, admittedly, and happily AT THE FAR EXTREME POLAR OPPOSITE OF THEM. To wit:

"This is a gathering of the haves and the have-mores. Some call you the elite, but I call you my base."

Apparently we get to witness that gem, spoken by none other than the reigning Jackass-in-Chief to a dinner party of wealthy supporters, when we go see "Fahrenheit 9/11." Which you Will See, right?

Hungering for truth, justice, and vision for all those miserable, blind sots. Open your damn eyes.

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

More Venom

Goddamn this bitch-whoring, ball-soaking, rotten as shit humidity that prevails endlessly here in New England. I said yesterday that if each day started with that morning's weather, I'd be an entirely different person... and I was right. Yesterday's clear, dry, sunny weather retreated behind the gray overcast shadow of a sky that has been far too typical this Summer. It makes me violent and yet simultaneously saps all energy and care that I might expend enacting my rage.

My targets are nil anyway because I've been too preoccupied to focus on the state of the World, otherwise busy with life, which I won't dwell on, and work, which I will. The screws are tightening on the Web Team and the pace is picking up. A slew of objectives stand between myself and my teammates and the next release and then we'll be thrust neck-deep into .NET. Add onto that that I'm doing the work of 2.5 people, burdened with reviewing anything attempted by the time-sucking rubes that are the new team members and stopping what I'm doing every 37.4 minutes to calls of "Mark..?"

I managed to sleep without the air conditioner running for the previous two dry, temperate nights we had and thus had to readjust last night to the roar of the fan and the peace-shattering din of the compressor kicking on. When the sun began streaming in this morning it began its ceaseless cycle: kick on, kick off, KICK ON, KICK OFF.

Then the real calamity began.

At 6:50 or so some strange beeping began making its way through the curtains of my sleep. My irrationality was convinced that it was the AC, alerting me that it was about to tilt itself out the window... and was first frantic and then resigned to let it happen. Rationality told its worrisome partner that no air conditioner beeps alerts when it tips and that it was surely a truck backing up outside, at 6:50 AM. The truck's soundtrack then turned into a frightening cacophony, such loud noises as I've never been accustomed to, especially not at dawn. Finally at 7:00 I got myself up and looked out to find a crew of jackasses who had extended a crane to the roof of the building directly behind me, and were unloading small bales of materials. After 10 more minutes of that everyone left, finishing the bedlam they began at 6:50 AM. Outside my window. Surely the people in the building itself were subjected to such a violent wakeup call as well, but those bastards will benefit from it with a shiny new roof over their heads. Me, I just deal with the aftershock of being awoken at an ungodly hour with fears of a small appliance tumbling from 4 stories up.

Saturday, June 19, 2004

Such Venom

"Damn your eyes." - Sam Hall (as sung by Johnny Cash)

While the National Affairs Desk had much news to revel in this week it also had much cause for anger and loathing as is often the case when one observes the Bush Adminstration's antics.

First came the news that an association of former diplomats and State Dept. and Military heavies had convened, crossing decades of administrations and party lines to issue forth a joint statement condemning the Administration and its foreign policy, pointing out that it had harmed our reputation in the world in ways unimagineable and jeopardized national security even further, and calling for the President's reign to end.

Hell, even that felon Nixon did more for foreign relations than this batch of criminals. Bush's daddy did too, accomplishing a recovery even after vomiting on the Japanese Prime Minister, something this waterhead could never do.

Then came the 9-11 Commission's findings. The 9-11 Commission fills me with a swelling since of pride, pointing out the honest truths behind the Administration's handling of the incident, the events leading up to it, and the real connection between Al-Qaeda and Iraq.

It doesn't exist.

Then that son of a bitch Cheney came out from hiding in his secret bunker and called the media "lazy" for reporting otherwise and "irresponsible" for reporting bi-partisan findings that contradict his claims of "overwhelming" evidence.

You want to know what lazy is? It's a statement like this:

"The reason I keep insisting that there was a relationship between Iraq and Saddam and al Qaeda, because there was a relationship between Iraq and al Qaeda." - GWB

*coughjackasscough*

The Desk is seething with venom at the unmitigated gall that continues to power this motley crew of fools and crooks.

And now the Prison Scandal story grows with a Civilian CIA Contractor indicted for his role and another hostage's neck meets the blade in the Kingdom of Saud.

Is anyone else hungering for an impeachment hearing?

Friday, June 18, 2004

End of an Era

At least I got to talk to her on the phone.

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

Lust for Wander

"In the age of automation and job security, a touch of the wanderlust is the kiss of death." - HST

And still, here I am. Facing an endless summer that's maniacally flying by, out of control and unable to cope. All I want to do is get in that car and drive West again, even while a portion of each and every paycheck contributes to paying off last summer's trek (amongst other myriad costs of Fall 2003 and the Desperate Winter of '04). I get up in the morning with a routine staring me in the face and with the early morning summer sun triggering an alarming sense of alertness far too quickly. Then I still manage to burn those many minutes so that I stroll into work at 9:20, but heading to work is anything but a "stroll." Half the problem is knowing that each and every step on my way to the T is exactly the same as each and every one the day before and taking no comfort in that, appreciating none of it, as much as I like my home and my neighborhood.

After 3 months in I already need a chance to get out.

3.5 actually. Each gets harder and I'm not the only one who thinks so. I've watched the dynamic there change, and it's downright ugly. And sad. Enthusiasm is sapped and stripped away, replaced by the apathy that results from short-sightedness and lack of planning compromising the project. It's a damn shame really. Unfortunately some people seem to deal with it by passing off their team management responsibilities onto me so that I'm babysitting people who are supposed to be at the same level as I am.

A *touch* of the wanderlust? Is such a thing possible? I'm purely hungrily lusting to wander.

And unable to do so.

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

"Bloggers To Watch"

Interestingly, those of us associated with The National Affairs Desk have been reading these so-called "bloggers to watch" for well over a year now.

Nice work, TIME.

Another Memo From The National Affairs Desk

The following transcript was just provided by The National Affairs Desk after being leaked by a source in the White House. It seems that this is the conversation that kicked off the war in Iraq.

(Initials have been used to protect the Guilty and Stupid.)

GWB: The Defense Department.. Okay, the Defense Department. Hey, where's this Colon?

CP: I am Colin Powell, sir, and I'm prepared to make a full report. These men are consummate snowball artists. They use sensitive nerve gases to induce hallucinations. People think they're seeing WMDs. And they call these bozos who conveniently show up to deal with the problem with a fake electronic light show--

DR: Everything was fine with our system until the story was leaked by no-balls here.

CP: These men tried to cause a war!

GWB: Is this true?

DC: Yes, it's true. This man's balls have retreated to his colon.

[Fighting]

DC: Well, that's what I heard!

GWB: This is the White House. Now what am I gonna do here, Dad? What is this?

GB: (Speakerphone) All I know is that was no light show we saw ten years ago. I've been to war with this guy and this beats the hell out of me.

CR: Iranians and Kurds have been found bleeding. How do you explain that?

KR: Good afternoon, gentlemen.

GWB: Oh, Your Eminence.

KR: How are you, George?

GWB: You're lookin good, Karl. We're in a real fix here. What do you think I should do?

KR: Well, George, officially the party will not take any position on the political implications of these.. phenomena. Personally, George, I think it's a sign from God. But don't quote me on that.

DC: I think that's a smart move, Karl.

GWB: I'm not gonna call a press conference and tell everyone to start praying.

PW: I'm, ah, Paul Wolfowitz, Your Honor. Look, I've only been with the Department for a couple years. I gotta tell you: these things are real. Since I've joined these men, I have seen shit that'll turn you Muslim.

DC: Well you could believe Mr. Balls-in-his-Colon.

CP: My name is Colin.

DC: Or you could accept the fact that the World is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.

GWB: What do you mean, biblical?

DR: What he means is Old Testament, Mr. President. Real wrath of God stuff. Fire and brimstone coming down from the sky. Rivers and seas boiling.

DC: Forty years of darkness. Earthquakes, volcanoes.

PW: The dead rising from the grave!

DC: Human sacrifice. Dogs and cats, living together. Mass hysteria!

GWB: Enough! I get the point. What if you're wrong?

DR: If I'm wrong, nothing happens. We pull out the troops and retire. Peacefully, quietly, we'll enjoy it. But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing, George, you will have impressed millions of registered voters.

CP: I don't believe you're seriously considering listening to these men.

GWB: Get him out of here.

[Arguing]

GWB: We got work to do. Now, what do you need from me?

Monday, June 14, 2004

Memo From The National Affairs Desk

The following memo is being posted at the request of the National Affairs Desk, stationed in Washington, D.C. last week to cover the response to Former President Reagan's passing.

The mainstream media's coverage of last week's weeklong memorial for ex-President Ronald Reagan wasn't just biased in its positively glowing assessment of the man's life and career, but completely ignored an entire piece of the story in D.C. While crowds of sappy members of the so-called Silent Majority paid their respects to Mr. Reagan, hordes of Lefties descended upon Washington to revel in what they hoped would soon be the death of rampant conservatism in the wake of the death of its reigning godfather.

And why shouldn't they be so optimistic. The current regime would be nothing without the building blocks put in place by Mr. Reagan. The doctrines and diplomacies of this herd of swine were birthed by Reagan's loins and raised by his cohorts.

The red flame of conservatism wasn't snuffed out by Mr. Reagan's last breath, however, and so the Left began calling for change, with the current ombudsman of oligarchy their direct target.

Some ideas spewed forth by the massive protesting crowds were worth considering. One was to lop off the legs of the red swath of Middle America. Already reeling from the loss of their figurehead, score another blow to the body and don't give 'em a chance to get back up. The plan was simple: force a secession of Texas. "FORGET THE ALAMO!" was the crowd's battle cry, and hey, why not. Get rid of the cowboys and oilmen and get rid of the cowboy politics and criminal conspiracies.

For all their ideas and protests, though, the cause was lost. Hour after hour the beaming grin of that barmy bastard was broadcast on national television, with fond recollections of The Gipper and all that he had done. Fear not, though; the Left will not forget, and while the current regime shifts its definition of the Evil Empire to various enemies du jour, the Left knows where the true Evil Empire lies: right smack below the knees of Middle America.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

My Current Love Affair With Google.

But it's reasonable to wonder whether Google truly deserves to be considered a superstar long-term investment along the lines of say, Yahoo! or eBay.
- Source

Fuck the sharks in the Business World. Calling Yahoo! and eBay "superstar long-term investment[s]" without talking about why is silly. And talking about why without immediately seeing Google as being in their league is just plain ludicrous.

The reason that Yahoo! and eBay proved to be so successful, both on the Internet and on Wall Street is because they did their job well, and continue to. Both remain usable to loyal users and to this day rely more on text and usability considerations in their design than they do flashy graphics.

With a little steadfastness, Google will capitalize on its strengths amongst the masses the same way it has amongst the geeks and Internet savvy: it employs a devout team of computer science marvels to make it the most responsive and reliable product in any niche it's tackled. And it urges further innovations by requiring that employees devote a portion of their salaried time to R & D on side projects that might enter the Google fold.

One of these side projects that is still not officially sanctioned in Google Labs is Orkut. So obvious a side project that it's using Google competitor Microsoft's ASP.NET technology, Orkut is one team's take on social networking sites a la Friendster and Tribe. It wholeheartedly trounces both of them. Chief among features on a site that doesn't allow you to just add your current friends to a list and then scan a gallery for pretty faces of potential new friends is the ability to actually join communities of likeminded individuals and participate in conversations on multitudes of topics (my current community count: 43).

A Google Labs product that's garnering much buzz is Gmail. With unprecedented ease-of-use and a new approach to handling email threads, Google's stuck to its product model of staying true to the audience's needs and capabilities. And then they've thrown in a full 1 Gig of storage space. The ads that accompany each screen (and that are based on text that a server parses in your email) are unobtrusive and oftentimes helpful. Gmail is what email should be and, on some days, I find myself using it more than my domain-based, personal, address-for-life email.

Whatever business model Google sticks to, as long as it's not one where, saddled with investors, they begin to compromise R & D to maximize profit, I don't see how they can be slowed down when it comes to innovation and quality products. I'm inspired by Google's output to throw out my Microsoft Technology Toolkit and refocus on PHP and MySQL and buy a Mac. My only concerns for Google stem from my waning enthusiasm for another model company whose growth model bored me and left me overwhelmed and uninterested (possibly coupled with a newfound lack of interest in accumulating more consumer products aside from those that can be purchased in a local bookstore): Amazon.com. What began as an incredibly clean and friendly place to not only purchase products at reasonable prices that were received in a reasonable amount of time but also to gain access to lengthy reviews by actual consumers such as yourself has turned into a nightmare of customization and data aggregation, with constant boasting on Amazon's part of just how much they know about the product you're looking at, any/all products like it, and you, the logged-in consumer. Enough already. Give back some of the screen to some eye-pleasing whitespace.

But back to Google. Google has not peaked; its time has yet to come. I have to believe that innovation will remain key to success and when it's accompanied with a genuine and honest appreciation and understanding of how its users are actually using the products, more will come.

Spread the gospel.

On Blogging.

There has always been an inherently difficult aspect to blogging for me: Identity. Questions abound such as "what does this current forum say about me?" or "while the current post might be highly relevant to one person, is yesterday's post something I want them reading, or knowing about me?" You see, it's sort of like Have Blog, Will Write for me and I very much prefer to let the writing flow in the forum du jour, whatever demons might follow in the wake.

My latest outlet has been one established to chronicle the latest chapter of my life: my return to Boston. As such, I opened it up to a number of friends that traditionally hadn't encountered previous blogs. It was, and remains, a digest of rants and episodes on common, everyday things I've encountered the past few months. At times I've held back some words on some aspects of life in the interests of some readers. But perhaps those things that would be held back are not necessarily blogworthy anyway. Blogging doesn't have to be a be-all, end-all outlet for writing. And I do need some place to chronicle not my journeys and encounters in and around the city of Boston, but those in and around the Internet.

Thus, Gonzo Lives, prompted inadvertantly by one fellow Internet traveler's call for comments and revised templates.

Let the blogging begin ensue continue.