Monday, February 09, 2009

Instant XBox Live Status Gadget - Mac/Safari Only

Looking to put an XBox Live status gadget on your desktop? Maybe you were hoping to find one for iGoogle? Well, I couldn't find anything decent, but I did figure out the following trick to add a Dashboard gadget.

First, you MUST be using a Mac and Safari for this to work. If you're not using Safari, go open it up now. If you're using Windows—ouch. That's pain dude. Linux - ok I forgive you. Now boot back into OS X.

Ok cool, you are using a Mac and Safari, now:

Step 1: Go to

Step 2: Add gamertags you want to track. The UI is a bit odd - after typing the name of the gamertag you want to track, press the checkmark button. When you are done, press Save.

Step 3: The result will be a simple status gadget displaying the current status of the gamertags you selected. Use the Safari web clip feature to save the a clip of the resulting status tracker to your Dashboard.

In case you don't know what the web clip feature is on Safari, it's the scissors button:

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

What the F&*#% is the matter with the Safari dev team?

I wish someone could explain to me the bonehead thinking that went into the most recent version of Safari. Don't get me wrong, I love Safari. It's fast, it's stable. It renders beautifully. And I very nearly forgot how full-on retarded a fresh install of Safari is to use.

I recently had to exchange my normal MacBook Pro for a loaner MacBook to get some servicing done on the former. Using a loaner machine isn't a terribly big deal for me - most of what I do day to day persists remotely, so making the temporary switch is pretty simple. Except for Safari. I mean really, WTF?

Here's what is wrong with a fresh Safari install:


Yep, that's right. I can't remember in the past 10+ years of web browsing where a browser didn't give you:
a) a home page
b) a way to set that home page
c) a button to go to that home page

This is nearly fundamental to the web browsing experience, and the "geniuses" at the Safari team left it off the default UI. You can of course edit the preferences and add a home button (which I promptly did) - but really. Not putting it on there is simply ridiculous. I can understand letting advanced users take it off, but a novice user really needs it to be on by default, not off.

Example of customizing the toolbar in Safari:


This is ridiculous. You can actually set this setting, but it's damn near impossible to do it. First of all, you have to find a web page that tells you how to do it. (Here's one)

But the instructions are by no means for the faint of heart. First of all, you have to run some sort of Preferences application called Property List Editor. Yeah. Ok. (It's a bit like running the RegEdit program in Windows - in fact it's a LOT like it). Because that makes sense (you know, run a separate app to set the preferences where one of the best things about the Mac UI is that ALL apps have a preferences page in the exact same spot - good UI. Bad UI. Mac Good. Safari. BAD)

Anyway, my favorite part is - the instructions are on the web page you are reading. Presumably you are using Safari of course (if you were using Firefox, you wouldn't really care about configuring Safari, right?) You have to quit Safari to execute the list of instructions. Forget remembering them - they aren't trivial. So you've got to cut and paste the instructions somewhere else just to run them, or launch Firefox (and by the time you do that, I would guess 1/2 of you would just give up and use Firefox and forget about customizing Safari. I don't blame you). Amazingly, it's even worse - this preference actually existed in Safari 2, but disappeared in 3.

Ok, so maybe the Safari team is deprecating the feature - I guess - but why? It's a really good feature to have - for one thing you can't "drag" a window that has only one tab in it to another window (no tab to drag) which I like to do a lot to cut down on extraneous windows (see Item #3). More than that, having the tab bar visible is a good UI affordance, if the Safari team doesn't know about affordances they have some studying to do.

Here's an example of running the stupid Property List Editor to set this preference:


This is yet another baffling decision - the feature is available. But you can't set it. Unless you find some web page that gives you a labyrinthine set of instructions on how to set it. Actually, this is a really easy preference to change - but this time, you have to use the terminal app. You know, cuz one way of setting hidden settings isn't enough - you gotta have two!

Setting the preference in terminal:

So if you want to enable Safari links to be opened in a new tab, regardless of the setting the stupid web developer that thinks they should open in a new window used, you can find out how to do so here.

Nice. Thanks. Would it be that hard to just give me a checkbox in the tabs preference pane Safari team?


Ok, another big WTF. What else should tab select? This is just silly that it does anything but select the next item in the web page. You know, you're filling out a form, you put in your name or whatever, hit tab to go to the next form field, and blam, the focus is off in never never land. I can't believe that anyone would actually expect that to happen, not after 10+ years where the tab key is pretty the defacto standard for moving the focus - or maybe I'm just windows centric I dunno.

Still, this just seems ridiculous to have set to anything but turned on, and yet amazingly enough, there it is, in the advanced section of the preferences pane no less, you've got to check the box to enable what seems like defacto standard behavior.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Let's hear it for John McCain!!

I figured it out. And I must say, it was a devious plan indeed. Because until I did figure it out, there was just no way to explain the McCain of the past 4 years.

I really liked the McCain of 8 years ago. He stood for his values. He stood up to his party. He had intelligence, he had wit, he had morals.

Fast forward to 2006, and we now have a man who has gone back on everything he appears to have believed in - or did he? McCain sucked it up enough to win the Republican Nomination, and then, in a move that baffled just about everyone - he picked Sarah Palin as a running mate. It seems unbelievable - how could anyone make such costly political mistakes - especially someone in politics as long as McCain.

It really doesn't make sense until you understand one thing, and one thing alone - He hoodwinked you. He hoodwinked me. He especially hoodwinked the Republicans. And in so doing, John McCain made history.

You see, John McCain KNEW the Democrats needed to win the presidency. Oh sure, McCain might have fought it out with Clinton. But Obama? Just think about it. Obama wins the Democratic nomination, and the next thing you know McCain happens to commit political suicide by picking....Sarah Palin? He threw the election. There is just no other way to explain it.

So, on this day, Thursday, Nov. 6, 2008, 2 days after the most historic election in history, I thank you John McCain. The Republican Party - the true Republican Party - will likely thank you. The United States thanks you. And the world thanks you.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Anti-Midas

Jay's like King Midas as I was told
Everything that he touched turned to gold
He's the greatest of the greater get it straight

-- Peter Piper, Run D.M.C

If you remember 80's rap music, you might remember this little diddy. Unfortunately, George W. Bush is not like Jay. In fact, he's so not like Jay that I'd say he more like the Anti-Midas: everything he touched to turn to lead.

Now, on Friday, old Bushy is going to "speak" to "Americans" (honestly, who can he speak to anymore, does anyone trust him?) -- see reference here: Bush plans economic statement to assure Americans.

Near the end of the article, it mentions that Bush has spoken 19 of 22 days during the recent crisis. Does anyone think we might be better off if he stopped speaking? Given the track record and all, it doesn't seem to be helping.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

Strange FaceBook coincidence

Whoah. I just checked my Google reader feed for FaceBook friend updates. Exactly two updates. Two different people, at nearly the same instant. Look what they wrote:

(names hidden to protect the innocent)

Friday, July 18, 2008

Now this is patriotism

None of that bullshit 9/11 crap. Striving to solve real problems, with real solutions, using real goals, that inspire and push us to do better, and be better, is what makes us Americans.

Thank you, Al Gore, for showing us what it is to be an American, by delivering an absolutely stunning speech. Want to see what I am talking about? Watch it here: Al Gore's Climate Challenge.

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

On Passage of the Bill (H.R. 6304 )

I haven't written here in a while, but this topic deserves some attention.

In case you haven't heard, the Senate just passed Bill H.R. 6304, which, among other things, grants retroactive immunity to Telecommunications companies that participated in President Bush's the illegal domestic wiretapping program.

The vote results can be viewed here.

In short, the Republicans voted as a whole Yea. The Democrats voted mixed. Notable votes:

Clinton (D-NY): Nay
Obama (D-IL): Yea
McCain (R-AZ): Not Voting
Boxer (D-CA): Nay
Feinstein (D-CA): Yea
Kerry (D-MA): Nay
Kennedy (D-MA): Not Voting

First Of All, What is Wrong With The Democrats?

I'd just like to say if the Democrats had a backbone, and voted like the Republicans, maybe this wouldn't have happened? I feel disgusted. Betrayed. I don't like Republicans. Or Democrats. But at least the Republicans can get ?&!% done. I don't know if I feel the Democrats deserve to be on the floor, or in the White House.

Second of All

I can't believe Obama. He had my vote. UNTIL NOW. I mean what are you thinking you loser. Every other hopeful voted with their conscience. Is voting for retroactive immunity HOPE FOR CHANGE?. You've really angered me, and I really don't know who to vote for this November. I was against Clinton, you seemed the better choice the entire way. And now this.

I don't know what to do - I think I'll go vote for Nader. I hear he is going to run again. At least McCain did the smart thing and didn't vote. He probably had half a conscious in which he knew he shouldn't vote for this bill, but had only two choices: Yea or Abstain.

Sometimes you have to make the hard choices. He did. I don't even think this was a hard choice for you, Obama, so tell, what the hell are you thinking?

UPDATE: Seems I am not the only one. Comments on Obama's blog are not favorable.

Third - Can we PLEASE get rid of Feinstein?

Is Feinstein doing this State (CA) any good? Or is she just an idiot. I think the latter. Can we please get some new blood with a spine, some values, and some guts. Thanks.

(btw, I have so far been admiring Boxer's values. She seems to have once again notched another good move here today)

In Other News...

Nancy Pelosi sure is shaping up to be complete bust, eh? Seems she wants to give ol' Bush-y a fight in the history books, so she cooked up this winner of an idea: Nancy Pelosi vs. the Internet