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Saturday, October 23, 2004


Just what the world needs: another web designer

Just finished my first web design project for someone else. It’s just one page, but it ended up being a lot fancier than the bare text links I started out with. You can see it at billduane.com by clicking the banner below. Feel free to offer him a high-paying IT job while you’re there.

billduane.com banner
Wednesday, October 20, 2004


Hints for living: crazy person edition

This afternoon, after my media law class, I grabbed a window seat on the train and headed for home. The woman who sat down next to me seemed to be carrying on a conversation with someone across the aisle, but a quick glance over there revealed only people trying to ignore her.

Sensing that this was not someone I could allow to get my attention, I pulled out my textbook and began reviewing today’s case. Between the sunglasses and the book, I was pretty well insulated, and I was able to tune out the lady’s continuing babble, even as she stared right at me.

She wasn’t about to give up, though, and before long, I could no longer ignore what she was saying. Without looking up, I turned my attention to her voice. In an accent that sounded Haitian, she plowed robotically through some kind of nonsense. “To many this is. And will. Always be folly. But we have staked upon it our all.” Pretty typical script for a public transit lunatic, so why was it so distracting? “U-nited States vee Ah-sociated Press. Fifty-two eff supp three sixty-two, three seventy-two. S-D-N-Y nineteen fahty-tree.” Dammit! She was just reading my textbook out loud! United States v. Associated Press, 52 F.Supp. 362, 372 (S.D.N.Y. 1943).

She continued to do this for the rest of my trip. It was one of the most irritating things I’ve ever encountered. If my ride had been any longer than 10 minutes, I don’t know what I would have done.

So for all you people who ride trains, buses, planes, or whatever, and are determined to get the attention of people who choose to ignore you, here’s a great tactic. Read those people’s books into their ears, and see what kind of friends you can make.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004


But…but we’ve got a unified branding strategy!

San Jose logos

You’ve got to love a city with a logo and a tagline. Right? Don’t you? How ’bout if we put it on the garbage cans?

Thursday, October 7, 2004


A revolting development

After a little more than two months in San Jose, I was finally getting used to the noise of low-flying jets in the neighborhood, but I was still pleased to hear a news report that the completion of a runway extension project at SJC “should also lead to a decrease in noise for residents under the landing path.”

Later when I read the airport’s press release myself, I noticed a detail that had escaped me earlier: With construction finished, the air traffic pattern would now return to its original position — just west of where it’s been for the last five months.

The upshot of this is that the planes I used to see flying low a few blocks away are now flying low right down my street. It’s a whole new world of airplane noise.

On the bright side, my visit to the SJC website turned me on to a very cool web tool. With AirportMonitor, you can watch the radar tracks of the planes going over my house (though they’re subject to a 10-minute delay). If that doesn’t fascinate you for some reason, the same system is available for Boston Logan, Newark, JFK, and others. While the origin/destination info on the planes always seems to be blank (for security reasons, one presumes), you can still see the heading, altitude, and aircraft type. It’s neat to see how airport traffic flows over the hills and around the bay, while high-altitude through traffic sails down the coast.

Thanks to this magnificent technology, I was able to figure out just how low the neighborhood planes fly. Answer: about 700 feet, which is low enough to make the bottom of a jet look very large.