Sun, 28 Oct 2007

Pumpkin Carving

Yesterday Christine, our friend Kat and I carved four pumpkins. Kat carved a ghost design out of a book. Christine carved the evil queen from Snow White, from a design we downloaded online.

The first pumpkin I carved was Mickey Mouse, a design inspired from a Mickey Mouse pin.

Last year I did a Jack Skellington posing in front of Disney's Haunted Mansion, based on a lithograph I have in our bedroom by Eric Robison, called "Holiday Party", which shows the cast of A Nightmare Before Christmas posed in front of the Haunted Mansion at Disneyland.

This year I figured I'd carve another NMBC pumpkin, so I came up with a pumpkin-friendly version of the movie poster art for the original release.

See selected pics from Halloween 2007 at Flickr.

Name/Blog: Christine
Title: Thank you!
Comment/Excerpt: Khan you take SUCH great pictures!! Thanks for capturing our fun moments.

Tue, 23 Oct 2007

Another Greasemonkey...

...script that is.

Greasemonkey is one of the addons to Firefox that make me loathe to use anything else.

Last week I mentioned my "show me the frickin' price already" script.

This week's script is a godsend for anyone who:
  • Has a Netflix account
  • Has a PS3 (or some other kind of Blu-Ray player... ok, ok, it'll work with HD DVD links too :-/)
  • Reads the Engadget HD RSS feed (Link: RSS) which has a weekly "HD-DVD and Blu-Ray Releases this Week" post which links to
What my greasemonkey script does is replace the "[Buy now and save at Amazon or DVD Empire ]" link on with a link to search for the movie at Netflix.

Find it at under "Netflix-ify".

Sun, 21 Oct 2007

Nightmare Before Christmas in 3D

Christine and I saw NMBC3D at the Auburn Supermall (along with Pacific Place, they're the only theaters playing it in the region), and it was a treat to see the picture, not only in a theater, but in 3D.

The 3D effects were top notch, Disney/Pixar/Lucasfilm did a great job with the re-issue. Here's a brief synopsis taken from Wikipedia about how Disney 3D works:

Audiences viewing a film presented by Disney Digital 3D are given... circular polarized lenses... [which] allows much greater head movement than linear polarization without loss of 3-D effect or ghost images... The movie is projected digitally, ... at 144 frames per second. [...] Every 1/24th of a second ... the two scene views [right and left] are each shown 3 times [...] [T]he 72 image frames and 72 black frames fed to each eye in a given second should be perceived as a relatively flicker free image.

In front of the projector lens, an electronic device [...] inserts a polarizing screen that matches the polarization of either the right lens or left lens of the glasses worn by the audience. [...] The brain knits together the alternating left-right perspectives into a seamless 3-D view of the movie scene.

Fri, 19 Oct 2007

Show Me The Fricking Price Already

One of the things that frustrates me about Amazon is their silly "feature" they call "click here to see the price (why don't we show the price?)".

Ostensibly it's because manufacturers think that you shouldn't see the price when you first visit Amazon if the price is below MSRP... instead, manufacturers want you to click a stupid javascript link to see the price.

Amazon compares it to a "brick-and-mortar store" where "you would probably have to ask a salesperson what the price of the product is. At Amazon, by clicking on "click here to see price" you are essentially asking to see the price, at which point we show it to you."

Well, if I walked into a "brick-and-mortar store" with a t-shirt that said "SHOW ME THE FRICKING PRICE ALREADY", I wouldn't have to ask a salesperson for the price, would I?

Well I did the online-equivalent of putting on that t-shirt when I visit Amazon's website, and (assuming you use Firefox and Greasemonkey) you can too.

Thu, 18 Oct 2007

DIY Project: Exterior Lighting

One of the things that annoyed me about my house was all the "contractor specials" used in my house.

Already I've replaced the poor excuse for:
  • Kitchen sink fixtures
  • Interior light fixtures (entry, dining, kitchen nook)
  • Dishwasher
  • Fridge/Washer/Dryer (actually, house didn't have any)
  • Garage door
  • Ventilation louvers/covers
  • Carpet (with hardwood floors)
  • Window fixtures
  • Shower heads
A couple weeks ago, I added another to that list: The exterior light fixtures.

The new ones have a much nicer finish, replacing burnt out bulbs is a lot easier, and the glass is frosted, hiding the ugly CF bulbs which I prefer to use in order to conserve energy.

Tue, 16 Oct 2007

Leopard Announced: October 26th, 6pm

Apple announced the Leopard launch date today.

Who's gonna join me at the Tukwila Apple store for the launch party?

Any bets on if the line is bigger than the one for the iPhone launch?

Name/Blog: Justin Akehurst
URL: akehurst at_sign
Comment/Excerpt: I will be.

Mon, 15 Oct 2007

DIY Project: A3 Ashtray Delete

There is a design philosophy for some aftermarket car tuners and enthusiasts called "OEM Plus". Eschewing ridiculous shopping cart-style spoilers, coffee can exhausts, and gaudy stickers (cmon, the only reason you should have a sticker on your car is that you were paid outrageous sums of money to put it on there), fans of the "OEM Plus" design are shooting for a "Isn't that the way it came from the factory?" look.

And so it's not surprising there are businesses that caters to this market, such as

Techniques that these afficionados often resort to are raiding the parts bin of comparable or similar makes and models, from trimlines offered in more expensive versions or in more upscale markets.

For example, on my A3, I can upgrade to European style aspherical side view mirrors by ordering the mirrors from the European-spec A3. The Audi TT and the A3 share the same platform, and I can upgrade my light switch, shift lever, brake pedal, accelerator pedal, and dead pedal to the shinier versions from the TT.

Which brings me to my mini DIY project: Ashtray Delete. I don't smoke (and neither should you), so the ashtray in my car is a big waste of space. True, it'll hold a pack of gum, but an iPhone?

Well that's where this product comes in.

So this is my photo essay of my "ashtray delete" install.

[Photos have since been removed... If you'd like a copy of the photos, please contact me.]

The before picture

Open the ashtray, and lift the shifter trim piece firmly from the exposed ledge

Carefully work the entire trim piece off, and angle it so you have space to work with in front of the shifter.

This exposes two of the screws holding the ashtray in place. Did I mention you'll need a hex driver and torx screwdriver?

Next step: Remove the plastic trim piece above the ashtray underneath the center console.

Once the ashtray is loose, you'll be able to expose the LED that is clipped to the ashtray housing that lights the interior of the ashtray.

The LED cable.

Removing the clip from the receptacle on the ashtray assembly so you can remove it.

With that removed, you can work the ashtray housing out. Wow, look at all that wasted space behind the ashtray!

Now you need to remove the triangular "oh $h!t" grab bar trim pieces on the left and right side of the console. Start with the two screws at the rear of the shifter.

Next, remove the screws at the front of the triangle trim pieces. Note where these screws are, it'll be tough getting them back in. Use a magnetized screwdriver. You don't want to lose these in the bowels of your car!

Almost done, except you need an allen wrench for the hidden screws through this hole.

Final step to remove the trim piece with the allen wrench.

A thought hit me... I've got an LED and wiring right here from the ashtray...

... it would be nice if my cubbyhole was lit too... Time to mark my cubby piece and dremel a hole for the LED...

Friction mount the LED into the hole I made in the front of my cubby... and turn on the lights... voila!

The final steps are basically working the new cubby into place, fitting it over the trim pieces and reversing all of the steps to put everything back together.

So, in the end, it comes down to a simple equation:
this - this + this = this

Name/Blog: Kent
Comment/Excerpt: Hi, I am writing to thank you very much for the installation guide for the removal of an Audi A3 ashtray. I have succeeded in doing the reverse of your conversion. I wanted the ashtray, even though I don't smoke because it , to me the console looks more complete. I removed the part you installed and installed the ashtray. would not have been able to do it so confidently without your help. I am also an Audi enthusiast, would like to here from you. Thank you.

Sun, 14 Oct 2007

Apple/Gore Controversy

There's a bit of a debate going on about Apple endorsing Al Gore so publicly on their home page.

But consider the poll numbers:

A vast majority, 85 percent, believes global warming probably is occurring.
(Source: ABC News)
Before you cry for the 15%, consider that a majority of Americans don't believe in evolution:

God created humans in present form 55%
Humans evolved, God guided the process 27%
Humans evolved, God did not guide process 13%
(Source: CBS News)
So, there is more groundswell support for global warming than there is for the theory of evolution.

I make this point because evolution shouldn't be controversial. What science believes is the best explanation for the variety of species on earth doesn't have to be at odds with a story about a guy who loads up animals in an ark.

There are more people who think that one should take a literal interpretation of a book several milennia old as evidence that a modern scientific theory is invalid than there are people who believe global warming isn't occurring.

Now I suppose the numbers might drop a little if you were to ask "is the cause of global warming related to human activity", but my point is, if calling a spade a spade is controversial, then kudos to Apple for saying (to quote Jack Nicholson) "Go peddle crazy somewhere else. We're all full up here."

Sat, 06 Oct 2007

Leopard & the iPhone SDK

Apple has been suspiciously silent about the specific launch date of Leopard, simply saying "Arriving in October" on their web site.

Some have speculated that the big day will be Oct. 26th. I think a Saturday release is just as likely as a Friday afternoon release, so that makes Oct. 20th and 27th likely candidates in my book.

But there's another rumor tied to the launch of Leopard, one about the iPhone. The argument goes that the iPhone uses Leopard, so Apple can't launch an SDK until Leopard's released.

Well, it's easy enough to verify that in fact, the iPhone is running Leopard:

# uname -a
Darwin Mercury 9.0.0d1 Darwin Kernel Version 9.0.0d1: Fri Jun 22 00:38:56 PDT 2007; root:xnu-933.0.1.178-obj~1/RELEASE_ARM_S5L8900XRB iPhone1.1 Darwin

From what I can gather, this is remarkably similar to Leopard beta versions that released about the same time as the iPhone.

Meanwhile, my OS X 10.4 (Panther) laptop reports:

% uname -a
Darwin QuickSilver.local 8.10.1 Darwin Kernel Version 8.10.1: Wed May 23 16:33:00 PDT 2007; root:xnu-792.22.5~1/RELEASE_I386 i386 i386

Yet, all this proves is that if Apple were going to launch an SDK, and if the lack of a Leopard launch would prevent them from launching said SDK (which doesn't necessarily follow), that their hands would be tied until Leopard launches.

It doesn't support any argument that Apple is interested nor likely to actually release said SDK.

Even if Apple did release an SDK, I suspect that they would keep certain aspects of the iPhone locked down... which means that I'll be staying on version 1.0.2 because quite frankly having a jailbroken iPhone on version 1.0.2 is more useful than the three useful features that you get with 1.1.1 (namely, these are Bluetooth audio streaming, video out, and iTMS access).

Wed, 03 Oct 2007

Update Thread

  • Went on a 1-day Norwegian Cruise Lines cruise to Vancouver BC weekend before last. Departed Seattle about 5pm Saturday, arrived in Vancouver 8am Sunday. In nearly every area, the Disney Cruise Line is a better cruise company. Only exception was that the NCL boat has many more sit down restaurants providing opportunities for more intimate dining experiences.
  • Saw George Carlin at Benaroya hall. Grouchy, funny old man. Spent as much time trying to get out of the parking garage next to the triple door as I did listening to the show. Protip: Benaroya has a parking garage-- use it.
  • Going to see Chris Cornell at the Paramount tonight. Should be a good concert.
  • Johnette Napolitano plays November 15th in Seattle. Should be a good show.
  • Did a minor modification in my A3 to convert the ashtray into a cubbyhole. Stay tuned for a writeup.

Khan Klatt

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