Archive for January, 2007

Tyra vs Naomi

And speaking about supermodels… The last 15 years have been a battle between Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell. Their competition is one for the history books. Naomi was always more successful in modeling that Tyra, but now Tyra has a second career as a TV hostess while Naomi still models after unsuccessful careers as a singer and book author.

I never liked Naomi’s face. I don’t think that she looks beautiful. Tyra on the other hand looks very sweet and inviting. However, what Naomi has –better than any other model– is her body. She has perfect symmetry and athletic body (rather than just being “thin” as all models are).

The wonderful porn world of Miranda

Well, check this out. I was just chatting with a friend of mine and he misspelled “sec” for “sex”. Automatically, Miranda changed his last word to the symbol below depicting two individuals performing 69. The symbol does NOT exist in the smiley database as you can see. It is part of the “symbol” library that is enabled by default in Miranda — possibly after installing its most popular plugins, IEView or tabsrmm. Enjoy software responsibility.

69

On other news, a Miranda maintainer emailed me trying to defend the excessive plugin architecture of Miranda. Well, the thing is, if one plugin is a bit buggy, it takes the whole app down. And from the moment you have to install 10 plugins just to bring the app to a sane usable condition (himself told me that he uses 42!!!), you increase the risk of making the application unstable 10-fold. And my Miranda installation is currently unstable already.

The super-models of the ’90s

Once upon a time, I was a real woman.

Well, not really. Nevertheless, in my younger years I also was a a big fan of the new kind of stardom that arose in the ’90s, the supermodeling. While in the ’70s and ’80s there were only about 4-5 models that were pretty well known (Iman, Brinkley, Porizkova, Dickinson etc) and they were far from real stars (except maybe Brinkley, and only in USA). It was not until George Michael’s “Freedom” video clip in 1991 that brought light in modeling and made some models real stars.

My favorite model was always Tatjana Patitz (Swedish). She has a certain kind of mystery in her. Second favorite was Yasmeen Ghauri (Canadian now, but half-German and half-Pakistani). Third, the just Christy Turlington (American). Fourth Eugenia Silva (Spanish).

The big-5 of the ’90s were Cindy Crawford, Claudia Schiffer, Naomi Campbell, Christy Turlington and Linda Evangelista. The rest 15-20 models just trailed in popularity, but these big-5 were really big stars back then, same as singers and actors. Check a nostalgic video with the big-5 here.

Other models among the top-20 included Niki Taylor, Tatjana Patitz, Yasmeen Ghauri, Carmen Kass, Shalom Harlow, Carla Bruni, Helena Christensen, Karen Mulder, Tyra Banks, Amber Valetta, Kate Moss, Nadja Auermann, Stephanie Seymour, Eva Herzigova, Elle Mac Pherson.

A second-tier model celebrities, below the top-20, included Bridget Hall, Estella Warren, Estelle Halliday, Daniela Pestova, Emma Sjoberg, Kristen McMenany, Natalia Vodianova, Rebecca Romijn, Yasmin LeBon, Brandy, Milla Jovovich, Iman and just a few more. You can see all these models at Zothike’s web site, but for some weird reason the black supermodels are not in his list (I emailed him/her about this back in the day, he/she never replied).

In the current decade the “supermodel” thing has just vanished. There are only 3-4 new known models (Gisele, Heidi Klum, Karolina Kurkova etc) while the “America’s Next Top Model” show has failed to bring supermodeling back into its previous stardom status. I guess you can say that the “golden era” of supermodeling was the ’90s. It will be missed.

How to NOT design an application

I tried to give another look at Miranda IM. Only to come across in a nightmare.

The application comes bare bones, but this is not a good thing in this case. You see, you can extend the functionality of Miranda via plugins. In fact, the whole application is one big container for plugins. It’s a nightmare. You want sounds? You got to download them (and I thought it had them, because all the sound options were checked). You want smileys? You need to download a plugin that ENABLES smileys and THEN download the smileys. You want rich text support? You first download an engine for it and THEN you download IEView (another plugin) and THEN you download a theme that enables rich text. You want two jabber accounts? You go to the miranda folder, navigate to the plugins folder, and then you copy the jabber.dll to another name and restart Miranda!

And all that, under a vast pile of options and checkboxes. We are talking about the heaviest application you will ever see, in terms of checkboxes and option that some are simply nitpicks while others that should have been there by default are unchecked.

To make the whole story short, I worked on Miranda today to make it as good as Trillian or Adium, or even Gaim, downloading plugins and undestanding how it works. I started working at it at around 1:30 PM and I stopped at around 6:30 PM, without taking my eyes from it. After 5 hours, I got an intense headache (I had to take an aspirin) and I still have a Miranda installation that simply doesn’t satisfy me.

You see, I had to install the tabrsmm and schriver plugins with IEView in order to use Miranda in a more sensible way, but they don’t do what I need either. When I use tabsrmm, I don’t have access to avatars (they simply don’t work, no matter what option I enable). When I use schriver, I can see avatars but not from all protocols and only few protocols can see MY avatar (yes, I have the right image setup alright). Additionally, schriver does not come with rich text support — at least none I can see.

One other problem is that you can’t simply create a new message for a person who is not in your contact list (Adium’s is really nice). You will have to go through an elaborate “find” window. The only good things about Miranda compared to Gaim is that it does save the window chat positions and it doesn’t show the buddy list in the taskbar.

I know Thom loves Miranda and I might use it simply because I spent the time to almost make it work for me too (plus I have a SIP plugin working via it) but most people are far from spending time to understand where to find what and then configure it to death. Miranda is all of what it could be wrong in application design. If my time was money, Miranda just cost me $35, and that’s according to the MINIMUM wage! How much is your time worth?

Update: Some screenshots to show the avatar problem.

Niki Taylor: I was slandered by E! show

“Niki Taylor filed a federal slander lawsuit against E! Entertainment for alleged intentional infliction of emotional distress with its profile of the model in the new series “Blvd. of Broken Dreams.” […] “My life is far from a ‘boulevard of broken dreams,’ ” Taylor said in a statement.”

I don’t watch E!’s garbage, but it was late night last week when it was left ON in the background while I was typing a review on my Powerbook. I will have to agree with the lawsuit’s claims that the documentary was a bit unfair. While nothing was blown out of proportion in terms of the history of Niki Taylor’s life, her career is indeed far from a “Blvd. of Broken Dreams”. She was always a successful model, even during her hardships with pain relief drugs (because of her near-fatal car accident). While she does have a life that could easily become a tele-movie or a book, she is not a failed professional, but a very successful one instead and one of the top-20 super-models of the ’90s (I’ll blog about that soon).

The second part of the documentary was about Leif Garrett. Now, that guy is a total drug-addicted loser and indeed he deserves to be in the “Blvd. of Broken Dreams” documentary as an once-was-never-again star. But putting Niki Taylor at the same 30 minutes with Leif Garrett was asking for trouble.

Bed side manner

I always disliked Gaim on Windows. It traditionally sacked lots of RAM and it was very prone to a crash. But with the betas of the upcoming 2.0.0 version, things got better. It now crashes less often and so the bugs that are left are less critical.

I wrote to Sean, Gaim’s author and maintainer, with a small list of things to be added, most importantly:

1. An option to not show the Buddy List in the Taskbar.
Most IM apps support this. And the Linux version of Gaim supports this too via a plugin. But the Windows version does not have this luxury.

2. Remember IM window positions on the screen.
I even told him that I could live with less: a global setting for all IM windows that gets its value from the last opened window instead of a per-contact-window-position setting that’s more difficult to implement (and then tile windows only if a new window pos up on top of an older one).

Right now, the current scenario is rather gloomy: I click on a contact and the window opens on position 0,0 in the screen. I move the window where I want it to be. We finish our chat, I close the window. I click again on the same or other contact and the window opens again at 0,0. Usability feels so ’90s.

And this is not to mention other basic problems like a new conversation window stealing focus from your current application (it just happened right now, as I was typing this, the cursor jumped on the second screen and focused the chat window!), or the fact that if you copy/paste a lot of text in a chat window the application does not tell you that your text did not arrive on the other side. I am not talking about bugs here, or about video and audio support and otherworldly features. I am talking about application behavior. These are all problems that were common in pretty much all IM apps about 4-5 years ago! But things progressed. Gaim hasn’t. It still plays catch up after so many years on basic functionality and behavior issues, let alone real features like video support and more compatible file sharing!

After a long conversation today, it is pretty clear that he is not interested in adding the two features above and moreover he did not have the courtesy to at least let Daniel, the Windows maintainer, to decide if these features are needed for the Windows users in particular or not. He eventually tried to put the workload of the features asked to other projects and then he replied to me with a rather bone-headed and subsequently insulting way:
You should configure your window manager to put conversation windows where you want them.“, and when I asked him “and how do you do that exactly on Windows Sean?” he replied “http://support.microsoft.com/”.

The guy does not get it. He now gets paid to do Gaim under Google’s payroll, and while he still has lots of freedom in the app’s decision making, he should also think more broader in terms of user support and features rather than Gaim as the hobby he used to do when he had no job. Of course, this is still his app and I respect his freedom over it, but I also have the freedom to continue using Trillian (even if it deprives me from GTalk, Jabber and SIP Presence), so I guess we’re good.

IM business opportunity

There is a business opportunity out there right now. There is not a single one IMPS service available (free or commercial). The previous such services were YamiGO and SmartVAS, but both stopped working during the past year and they are now unmaintained.

IMPS for mobile phones is a service that utilizes the Jabber server as a backend, and then feeds IM functionality to mobile phones that support the WirelessVillage (WV) protocol. Via the jabber transport feature, YamiGO had added support for Y!, MSN, AIM and ICQ too. If a new such service comes to life, probably they should also add Jabber and GoogleTalk support too. The idea is that the company takes care only of the server part and the translation between the several protocols and Jabber and then, between Jabber and WV. The company will have to not take care of the client part, except for device testing to ensure compatibility.

The client comes built-in on most phones: phones that support the WirelessVillage protocol are all Nokias (S40 and S60), most Motorolas, and all SonyEricssons. Some specific models of Samsung and LG also come with a WV IM client.

It is very weird that such a service does not exist, because these *native* IM clients on these phones go largely unused by users. Sure, some users have bought J2ME apps to do IM’ing, but usually, these java apps suck goats compared to the phone’s native IM app — plus the good J2ME ones cost money.

Chit chat

I don’t really know anyone in our apartment complex. I am generally difficult to make new acquaintances (neither I feel the need to) but thing is, there are not many interesting people here so I never bothered to get to know them. However, I have noticed the family next door in few occasions, mostly because of their child who would come and ring our door bell for no reason.

Fast forward to today. Our… toilet got broken (water was not pumping in) so the resident plumber comes in to fix it. Very nice chap, but hey, he does like to chit chat: “So, you got new neighbors now… the previous family left… they divorced… yeah, didn’t do well together… the woman moved to LA to find a new job“.

Thanks God I don’t frequent hairdressers either. They don’t stop yammering from the beginning to end. I now cut my own hair so I can avoid them.

PDA sold

I just sold my old Toshiba PDA for $130. I would have sold it for $150 if I knew where the bloody box was… It’s a mess in my office, I can’t find anything anymore…

Sunday lunch

We had an amazing feast for our Sunday lunch. We bought some [more] cook books yesterday (I think I got over 10,000-15,000 recipes now) and we tried two of them today.

For the main plate we had a lasagna-like recipe that consists of chunks of cooked turkey and ricotta but no tomato sauce. You spread the mix in the lasagna pasta and then you roll each one. Then, you prepare a mustard-based besamel with swiss cheese and you spread on top. Then, you bake for 30 minutes. My JBQ loved it.

For desert, I prepared some sweet crepes with a special sauce that’s made of brown sugar, orange juice, pineapple and orange chunks. At the top you sprinkle almonds and coconut threads. JBQ said that this was the best dessert he had for a long time. :)

sweet crepes