July 29, 2002
VueScan - Serious film scanning.

If you want the highest quality scanned images that require the minimum amount of Photoshop retouching - you'll have to master Ed Hamrick's VueScan software. I've been using this software since 2/1999 (Version 1.0, I believe), and scanned hundreds of rolls of film.

Infuriating? At times, sure. But the workflow and total productivity for batch scanning rolls of 35mm print (negative) and slide film cannot be beat.

I'll have to get into VueScan's nitty gritty some other time. I do believe the core to Vuescan's success is the film profiles. Scanning software is simply nowhere without knowing exactly how your print (negative) film reacts to various colors.

Posted by jk at 12:07 AM

I'm going to have to say 'pass' on the domain registration service LiquidPages.com. We've set up about a dozen domains here with a variety of registrars with little problem. A friend chose Liquidpages for a new domain this weekend. Apparently some of the website is broken, there are display issues on some versions of MSIE, and the error messages if you don't put a valid NIC handle in for your nameservers is completely worthless.

The only thing that worked on the first shot was the payment system. Joy. For $12/year, something has to work, I suppose.

DomainDiscover has worked fine for me, and they are $25/year.

LiquidPages - Seems to be having trouble. NO.
DomainDiscover - Haven't had any problems yet. YES.

Posted by jk at 12:00 AM
July 28, 2002
Alma (Mission)

Sublime Nuevo Latino. Exceeded our expectations all around. The kicker for each dish, and the meal altogether, were the unusual combination and juxtapositions.

Valencia at 22nd.

Highly recommended.

Posted by jk at 11:47 PM
July 19, 2002
Dottie's True Blue Cafe

In the theater district or in the T'Loin and need some breakfast? Instead of walking towards Union Square, head for Dottie's on Jones between Geary and O'Farell. Big portions. A well done breakfast, all around. The egg dishes are just a tad too greasy. The baked goods were awesome. Go for the grilled toast if at all possible. Pancakes looked great, but you'll only need one or two. A stack-of-three would be an impossible feed.

Dottie's - 522 Jones St. - Recommended.

Backup plan if Dottie's is too crowded: The St. Francis Breakfast buffet is really quite tasty, especially for a hotel buffet. Waffles and baked goods are very good.

Posted by jk at 12:29 PM
July 16, 2002
Incanto - Noe Valley, San Francisco

Alas, we only managed to get to Speckmann's once before they closed. Incanto, an Italian restaurant, has set up shop in the old Schnitzel joint and is doing the venerable old place proud. An impressive renovation -- the space is great.

We found the food to be good and reasonably priced. The service was good, and the atmosphere convivial. If only Noi on 24th could pull the same together...

Incanto -- Give it a whirl. A solid neighborhood pick, but probably not much more.

Posted by jk at 07:02 PM
July 13, 2002
Two Flash and one FPS Games

I've wasted hours on these games:

Two good flash games: Spaced Penguin and Golden Gate Drop

The most enganging FPS since DOOM II and the first Quake: Return to Castle Wolfenstein. Hundreds of hours, down the drain.

Posted by jk at 11:06 AM

Pontifex is a bridge building game from Chronic Logic. You select trusses, analyze stress, optimize bridge weight, then test your design. Simple, straightforward, and incredibly engaging.

I'd suggest starting with the 2-D BridgeBuilder before moving on to the 3D Pontifex. I found BridgeBuilder to be cleaner and more fun.

Posted by jk at 11:05 AM
Cable Lights

You've seen cable lights in restaurants, retail outlets and other locations where the lighting designer wanted precice control of the environment, small fixtures, and something a little different. Europe is just lousy with these low-voltage lighting systems. Ikea has jumped on the bandwagon with small, inexpensive kits. They might work in some applications, but they're pretty crappy.

If you want to do this for real, there are two companies. One, based in Chicago -- (I met the owner at a wedding a few years ago) has the real high-quality, high-end industrial stuff.

For the rest of us, however, San Francisco,'s Alfa Lighting is the way to go. Somewhat less expensive, somewhat lower quality -- but perfect for home use!

You can go nuts with this stuff. Someday I should document the system that Stephan and I put together. I really like it. I'll be sad to take it down when we move.

I've built a few fixtures from scratch, but that's a whole other story.

Posted by jk at 10:51 AM
Snap City

Snap City. Photos of San Francisco and New York. Well done photos of nightlife, landmarks, damn tasty looking cocktails and places to drink them.

Posted by jk at 10:41 AM

A San Francisco band: Picnic.

Check 'em out.

Posted by jk at 10:37 AM
Rechargeable Alkalines

I've had mixed results with Rayovac rechargable alkaline batteries.

The D and AA sized batteries work well in an application where you need a little power, then recharge the battery and put the device away. You can get many cycles out of a battery this way, and always have a good charge when you pick the device up months later. You also have a long running battery if you need it, at the cost of future charge cycles. NiCads discharge during storage and are worthless for things like flashlights.

The AAA batteries don't seem to work as well in this sort of application, especially if you go farther down the discharge curve. I suspect many electronic devices, such as a Palm Pilot, that take 2 AAA batteries really should take 4 batteries, or use AA batteries. They dive too far down the discharge curve, which isn't good for rechargeable alkaline batteries.

D and AA - recommended for applications where you need long-term standby power, and are willing to recharge after each use. Flashlights, film cameras, GPS receivers, etc.

AAA - Not really recommended, except perhaps in pen flashlights.

Posted by jk at 10:35 AM

HSU Research makes some good subwoofers. They don't have a lot of the gloss and flash of other audio companies, but they seem to make good products.

I have a sub from them that they no longer market, and it has been great. I can easily fill a large room with plenty of deep, strong, flat bass.

Early on, I had a problem with the amp, and they faxed me schematics to help me debug the problem myself. Wonderful! Eventually they replaced the amp, at their cost, and upgraded me to their 500 watt model. Excellent customer service.

I can't vouch for their current products, but I'd give HSU Research a shot if you are in the market for a serious subwoofer.

Posted by jk at 10:22 AM
Mail Order Photo Equipment

I used to be a big fan of Camera World of Oregon. I bought my first camera and lenses from them back in 1991, and many many bits and pieces since then. They became Cameraworld.com, and were still good. I picked up a Yashica T4 (not recommended) back in 1998 as well. Their prices were only slightly higher than the cheapest shysters in Manhattan, but they were easy to deal with and fair. Quite a good deal.

Back in 2000, they mislead me quite a bit on a purchase of a Nikon N90 and a Nikon 28-70 AFS lens. To be fair, this was back when the new Nikon digital cameras were making the AFS lenses virtually impossible to find. CameraWorld.com was probably being yanked around by Nikon, but they weren't very forthcoming with me.

Now, Camerworld.com is owned by Ritz cameras, and, well, their prices pretty much suck. The selection is quite weak too. I've given up on them.

I've been using B&H photo recently. I haven't interacted with service yet, but the prices are reasonable, often within a few bucks of the best price, and they seem to work just fine. BTW: Their showroom on 33rd St in Manhattan is worth a few hours of browsing, at least.

B&H Photo: Yes
Cameraworld.com: No

Posted by jk at 10:10 AM
Website Design - Navigation

Great tips for making a website easy to navigate: http://www.welie.com/patterns/index.html

Posted by jk at 09:56 AM
Aiptek Pencams

Pencams are pretty cool. I haven't used one myself, but other folks really seem to like them. I'd consider getting one of these little guys if I wanted something really cheap and small to tote with me all the time.

They might be good, they might not be. Don't really know.

Posted by jk at 09:51 AM
Adding IR support to your DishNetwork Box

My Dish Network DSS (Direct Satellite TV) set top box was of the UHF remote variety -- no IR receiver for remote commands. The UHF feature is cool -- channel surf without regard to line of sight. But, TiVo can only control the satellite box with Infrared signals. Dang.

I upgraded my Dish set top box to support IR as well as UHF back in 2000. With the help of a kit from Carlton Bales' IR Upfit Kit, it was a snap. Both the UHF and IR systems work just fine -- but I have TiVo tuned to use the slowest IR command rate to get good reliability.

Highly recommended.

Posted by jk at 09:45 AM

Ryze is hard to explain. It's basically business networking. You know the type -- marketing, sales, VP "Biz Dev", and that. But not quite -- there's all sorts in here. You really have to just give it a shot.

Posted by jk at 08:38 AM
Need a Jeep Part?

I trashed the back seat in my 94 Jeep Grand Cherokee well over a year ago. An auto battery tipped over, spilling electrolyte (read: acid) everywhere on the back seats. The seat was completely destroyed by the morning. After a year of driving around a two-seater, I got serious.

J and W Auto Wreckers out near Sacramento really saved me a lot of money. An auto upholstery shop wanted upwards of $1300 to reconstruct the seats. The dealer no longer could order the seats from the factory. At the wreckers, I replaced the whole back bench for ~$350 with a clean, exact match from the yard -- and that includes tax and gas to haul out there and back.

J&W: Highly recommended for Jeep parts of all vintages.

Thanks to DMR for the idea.

Posted by jk at 08:29 AM
PFDs - Lifejackets

SOSpenders are pretty much the standard Personal Flotation Device (PFD) around San Francisco Bay racing circles. They seem to wear well, and they certainly work. I witnessed one inflate a few weeks ago. It's certainly a considerably more gentle inflation than an air bag.

You can get the SOSpenders much cheaper at Sailnet than at West Marine. Don't pay the West Marine Tax if you can avoid it!

Also, don't cheap out. Get the auto inflate and the harness model. For a few bucks more you've increased your survival likelyhood after a blow to the head, and you are offshore ready.

I'd recommend doing a manual inflation (e.g. blow it up just like a balloon) when you first get it, and every few months thereafter. And replace the bobbin now and again, you lazy cur.

I'm looking for a good, but inexpensive strobe light to attach inside near the whistle and a good VHF radio as well. The Firefly strobes are just to spendy if you don't sail at night much.

Posted by jk at 08:12 AM
Hard to Find Shoe Sizes

I've had good luck with Zappos. A good selection of stylish brands that you might actually want -- Doc Martens, Kenneth Cole, New Balance, Skechers, Stacy Adams, etc., in all the sizes they come in. I found plenty of size 14 men's shoes to choose from.

Zappos drop ships from the manufacturer -- so large orders come piecemeal from all over, but the return system works just fine. I ordered 6 pairs, returned 2. The RMA printing system could use some work though.

Otherwise, it's off to Nordstrom's. Hint for Nordies: Go to the downtown location, not the ones out at the malls. (Exception: The Palo Alto store is basically a 'downtown' location). The selection is larger and generally hipper. I haven't tried their online shoe store yet, since I can just zip downtown and see the shoes first.

Posted by jk at 07:56 AM
Performance IDE Hard Drives

Rumors about IBM Deskstar drives could be true. My 60GXP Deskstar died a few weeks ago. I was using it in a server, but powering the server off for long periods of time. Bummer. I bought the IBM drive for it's low-noise and high performance.

Well, now it looks like Western Digital Caviar drives -- the ones with the honkin' 8MB cache are the way to go for high-performance IDE. Tom's Hardware gives it a thumbs up. I've got an 80 gig one on order from GoogleGear. $116 + tax and shipping.

Posted by jk at 07:41 AM
Performance IDE Hard Drives

Rumors about IBM Deskstar drives could be true. My 60GXP Deskstar died a few weeks ago. I was using it in a server, but powering the server off for long periods of time. Bummer. I bought the IBM drive for it's low-noise and high performance.

Well, now it looks like Western Digital Caviar drives -- the ones with the honkin' 8MB cache are the way to go for high-performance IDE. Tom's Hardware gives it a thumbs up. I've got an 80 gig one on order from GoogleGear. $116 + tax and shipping.

Posted by jk at 07:40 AM