Monthly Archives: September 2011

Why you should always supply a caption

If someone sends you a photo, they should always supply a caption. Otherwise, you might supply your own.

Photo of someone with GPS encounters creative captioner

Nice news story runs afoul of crazed captioner just because no approved text was supplied for the caption.


Literary references to Macintosh applications

Have you ever said to yourself, “I want a native Mac OS X hex editor that can handle files of unlimited size?”

Of course you have. What you need is 0xED, and it is free:

It is also Lion compatible, which probably means it is made of gazelles.

Sadly, NotePad Deluxe is not Lion compatible. It doesn’t appear to have been updated since 2005, which is a shame. (Yes, the copyright message in the About box is out of date.)
NotePad Deluxe has the rare distinction of being mentioned in a best-selling work of fiction, The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, by Stieg Larsson. One of the two main characters, Mikael Blomkvist, uses NotePad Deluxe to organize and encrypt information he is using in an investigation, and in an author’s aside, the Web site is listed, Curious to see if this was real or a fictional invention, I typed the address into a browser and — yes, it is a real site.

But there is no evidence the site has been updated since May 22, 2005, when the most recent update of NotePad was posted. A related project by the same team, Mac OS on Linux,, shows no activity since October 9, 2007.

Back to NotePad Deluxe. The application itself runs just fine under Mac OS X 10.6 Snow Leopard. Sadly, it was built with PowerPC code, and won’t work in the Intel-only world of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion. No gazelle meat, apparently.

It does have some interesting features. While the layout and style are somewhat dated, you can create multiple “notebooks” with the application. As mentioned, you can encrypt a notebook (which it quite correctly calls a database), and this encryption capability plays a role in the novel. Each notebook/database can contain a large number of entries, each entry with a creation date stamp. You can style text any number of ways, and not only change the fonts and font size, but even change the baseline, in case you wanted to superscript or subscript something. Text can be colored, you can add highlight colors, text borders, and even Unix-level word services (in case you wanted to integrate the application with some of the Unix text handling utilities of Mac OS X).

But it isn’t Lion compatible, so is doomed. Fiction met reality, and fiction won. Fiction has more staying power than software, even software made from gazelles.

Performance art and acceptance


An interesting piece of performance art sent to me by someone who hates performance art.

I suspect that “hatred” of performance art is in some degree based on the name. All art has a performance element, be it photography, sculpture, or playing Othello (either the Shakespeare character or the game). So dropping “performance” out of the term, it is clear that the content and perceived message (if any) is critical: this was sent to me by a politically conservative friend who appreciated the patriotic message.

Presumably, the same performer, the same music, the same paints, etc., would have been unacceptable if the end result was, say, a picture of a slightly dented tuna can.

Driving directions


Yes, these are ads. And not even new ads, but they are new to me. The first reminds me of an overly prescriptive, talkative GPS unit:

and this one reminds me of times when the GPS unit gets confused and says, essentially, “I give up; you are on your own;”

But GPS-enabled talking directions, while interesting, have limits. Not so with GPS-enabled written directions. Say you want to travel from Seattle, Washington, to Yokosuka, Japan. One of my coworkers pointed out that this can be very entertaining. Here is Google’s suggestion:


Seems pretty reasonable except — why is it 34 days? Travel down Washington 99 N to — what? Kayak across the Pacific to Hawaii?

So once in Hawaii we travel across Oahu and continue to the shore,


and then do some more kayaking before emerging in Japan near Choshi, and take various highways, tollways and such,


and at Step 52 we reach Route 16, the main highway for the Miura peninsula. It all makes sense.

Except, maybe, for the kayaking.