Velma had been trying to get me to stop using antibacterial soap for a while. For starters, some of the main bacteria-fighting ingredients in these soaps, such as Triclosan, can create dioxins, chloroform gas, and have other harmful effects. Triclosan may also be harmful to downstream inhabitants we humans so often forget. There is also an argument that regular use of antibacterial agents may cause some bacteria to evolve resistance, making one susceptible to "superbugs" that can't be beaten by our normal treatments.
My counter-argument has always been that there are some things you occasionally get on your hands that you want every possible weapon in your arsenal to help get off. So maybe you do want to minimize or eliminate your use of antibacterial soaps, not use them for everyday use. But hell, if I'm gonna clean up cat vomit, or wipe dog crap off my boot, or...worse (*shudder*), then I want something just short of an acid dip for afterwards.
Finally I found an alternative product that claims to be antibacterial and protect the environment. I've been using it for a few weeks now, and while I certainly haven't tested it in any scientific way (sorry, my lab's been disassembled by government fiat), it seems to clean just as well as your average Dial of SoftSoap. I should note that I'm generally a skeptic when it comes to the claims of so-called "alternative" health and cleaning products, because I've tried so many of them over the past 10-15 years and far too many have failed utterly to work in the slightest perceptible way.
CleanWell claims its ingredient Ingenium "kills 99.99% of germs including MRSA (staph), E.Coli, and Salmonella on contact." The soap is kid-safe (no ingestion risk), and claims to be 100% green, 100% biodegradable, and is not tested on animals. It meets EPA and FDA standards for germ killing efficacy and contains no alcohol, nor the dreaded Triclosan. It's even made from plants on which no pesticides, irrigation, or fertilizers are used.
CleanWell's products include hand sanitizer and foaming soap, and it's still pretty new, just emerging in health food stores and the like. They have a list on their website of stores that carry CleanWell, but use my experience as a guide and call ahead to make sure they have the item you're looking for. I went to three places looking for the soap and they only carried the hand sanitizer in the first two. I finally tracked it down at Rainbow Grocery in the Mission.
CleanWell makes three soap fragrances: orange vanilla, lavender, and ginger bergamot. The labels peel right off if you want your soap dispenser to look more aesthetic (although I think their packaging design is far superior to most commercial soaps). When Jenny washed her hands at our house recently, she called CleanWell "so refreshing!" So I guess that's an endorsement ; )
If you're interested in further reading on the issues, science, and politics surrounding the efficacy of such health and cleaning products, CleanWell's Chief Technology Officer Dr. Larry Weiss writes a blog with voluminous amounts of information aimed at parents, kids, consumers, et al.
I finally updated my sidebar with a list of friends, colleagues, et al (see "con-conspirators" below-right). If you're listed please check to make sure I linked to the site you'd prefer to be your public face. If you're not listed, either I couldn't find your link in my bookmarks, or you just haven't greased my palm lately. So pony up and maybe I'll show some love.
Google Me, the movie Jim Killeen Googled his name and found there were Jim Killeens all around the world. So he traveled to meet some of them and made a documentary.
Grabb.it A group music blog anyone can contribute to. grabb.it
I want to see that! Every Monday, Ben and Katie review all the new movies. Even if they haven't seen them yet. iwtst.com
1,000 True Fans Ever heard the term "the long tail" and wondered what the hell they were talking about? Here's an article that posits that a person (an artist, a musician or even a blogger, for example) can make a living if they can reach a point where they have 1,000 true fans. www.kk.org/thetechnium/
Twenty years after the fact, Andy Baio has uncovered the story of "Milliways: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe," the unreleased sequel to Infocom's interactive fiction computer game, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy." More interestingly, his post has garnered over 200 comments, including a number by the people described in Baio's article, many of whom debate the appropriateness of releasing personal emails without prior consent. It's a fascinating, if long, read.
I always wondered about that sequel game. I met Douglas Adams as a kid, at a poorly-attended autograph session at an American chain bookstore in a shopping mall (which in and of itself should have been unbelievably absurd to me at the time, but sadly, wasn't), and I effused to him about — among other things — the Infocom Hitchhikers' game, having spent hours baffling out how to just get a damn fish out of a machine (among other baffling things).
I asked him if there would be a sequel game, and he told me that indeed there would. I probably effused some more, but my young mind quickly ran out of things to say to an adult whose books (and radio shows, and TV shows, et al) would turn out to have a lasting effect on the evolution of my young sense of humor and indeed my whole way of viewing the universe.
Much later, when the new Douglas Adams game was announced by Infocom, it was called Bureaucracy, and it didn't really seem to have anything to do with the Hichhikers' Guide, nor any of the H2G2 characters. I was confused by this until now.
By the way, the Infocom game still features prominently among my Douglas Adams collection, and I still have my Peril-Sensitive Sunglasses and Microscopic Space Fleet. And the pocket fluff too, of course — can't ever get rid of that stuff.
The Pixar Story I hadn't heard about this documentary, and now I'm looking forward to it. Unfortunately, there's no trailer on the site yet (boo!), even though the film's been screening around the country for months. Meantime, I quenched my thirst by reading this column from a couple years ago, about Pixar's 10th birthday. www.thepixarstory.com
You may envy me that I don't have a job these days, but I'm certainly occupying my days (and nights) with plenty of stuff, and not all of it is necessarily fun stuff. Here's what I've been up to (in no particular order) since my last list on February 13.
Buy n Large From aerospace to food services, robotics to watermills. Now that's a global corporation. Ten points if you can figure out why this site is humorous. www.buynlarge.com
Five dangerous things you should let your kids do I guess I was lucky. I got to do all of these things as a kid. Although it wasn't spears, it was Jarts (later banned), and the I didn't do the driving bit until maybe 13 or 14. www.ted.com
"Lemme finish" In an interview with an Irish TV correspondent, Not-My-President Bush shows just how much of an idiot he is. "History will judge what I'm about." www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fze2J2Ve9is
English Russia A blog of Russian interestingness. Apparently written by actual Russians, since the English is a little broken here and there. www.englishrussia.com
How to run multiple copies of (the same version of) Firefox
For the longest time, while using Firefox 1.x I was able to run two or more copies of the application at the same time. This was useful for partitioning my work and protecting it from being lost if there was a FF crash (which there were a lot of in the later Firefox 1.x days). If one instance crashed, the other would still keep chugging along. This was especially necessary because we didn't have Session Restore in back then.
When Firefox 2 came out, this capability was lost. I tried to figure out how to do it again by following several methods I saw mentioned on the the web, but none of them worked, and alas, I'm not nerdy enough to figure out why not. I'd always get a damn error message complaining that I'm not allowed to run multiple instances of the same app.
It didn't work even if you copied the app to a different folder and launched the copy. It didn't even matter if one was Firefox 2.1 and the other was Firefox 2.3.4. No work.
While you can run an old copy of Firefox 1.x at the same time as Firefox 2.x or even a beta copy of 3.x, you can't run two copies of Firefox 2.x on the same machine at the same time, not even if one is version 2.0 and the other is version 2.5.
An. Noy. Ing.
But, lo! I finally found a method that works. As you can see from the screenshot, I'm presently running three instances of the same version of Firefox on Mac OS X.
Here's how to do it:
First, Quit Firefox if it's running already.
Start Terminal and type in the directory path to your Firefox application. It'll probably be similar to mine below. Note that "espd" is my username, so yours will be different. "Firefox_dwOct.app" is what I've named my app, but yours will probably just be "Firefox". It must be followed by the rest: "/Contents/MacOS/firefox-bin" is standard for a normal Mac OS X install but it could be possibly be different for you (probably not, though).
If you can't figure out the right path to the app's binary file (the "firefox-bin" part), then here's how to find it: In the Finder, open your Applications folder, find the Firefox icon, and right-click (or Control-click) to get the Contextual menu (pictured below), and select "Show Package Contents." That's how you see the files inside an application bundle.
Now, inside the Finder window that will open, you'll see a folder named "Contents." Double click it, and you'll see a few more icons, including a folder titled "MacOS." Open that one and look for the file called "firefox-bin", with an icon like a Terminal session (pictured below).
Now arrange your Terminal window and the Finder window so you can see them both, and simply drag the "firefox-bin" icon directly into the Terminal session after your username-prompt (pictured below), and it'll instantly fill in the correct path. OS X is pretty neat that way.
So once you've got the path to your Firefox app in Terminal, you'll need to change the example text "YourProfileName" to your actual profile name.
If you don't know your profile name, here's how you find it: In the Finder, navigate from your Home folder (usually your username, like mine in the screenshot below) to the folders "Library > Application Support > Firefox".
Inside the Firefox folder is your "Profiles" folder. You probably only have one profile inside, and it probably has a weird name like "65d7ghtn.default", although it might instead be called something like "qtgfxqc3.YourName".
That "YourName" part will actually be a profile name, not "YourName". You chose a name when you first installed Firefox way back in the Dark Ages, and you've probably never seen it since. Whether it's "YourName" or "Fred" or just "default", you can put that in where I've got "YourProfileName" in the example below.
Now just type the "-no-remote &" part, then hit your Return key and Firefox will launch the Profile Manager (pictured below). This is a part of Firefox most people never see, but it's handy. It's off by default, but the Terminal command "-P" turns it on.
Now you want to un-check the "Don't ask at startup" checkbox, because if you're going to use multiple profiles you want Firefox to launch the Profile Manager each time you start Firefox, so you can choose which profile to use.
If you only have one profile listed, at this point create a new one. Follow the dialog boxes and it'll step you through the process, then it'll launch the browser as normal.
Now go back to Terminal and copy and past the command again, this time using the other profile name you haven't initiated yet. A new Profile manager will launch, you can select the profile you haven't launched a browser for yet, and click the "Start Firefox" button.
Voila! Two instances of Firefox running, using two different profiles.
PS> I should note that it's the magic "-no-remote" Terminal command that allows you run two or more instances of an app. You can do it with many other apps too, if you like (not all will work, your results may vary).
We Can Solve the Climate Crisis Al Gore has launched a $300 million climate change initiative, one of the most ambitious and costly public advocacy campaigns in U.S. history, according to the Washington Post. When you play this video, notice the W in "we." How much do you want to bet it's going to flip over and become "me" if you go to the site and join in? www.wecansolveit.org
The fierce Humboldt squid When Jason sent me this description, at first he was playing an April Fool's joke on me. But the Humboldt squid is real. "A mysterious sea creature up to 7 feet long, with 10 arms, a sharp beak and a ravenous appetite, has invaded ocean waters off Northern California. Packs of fierce Humboldt Squid attack nearly everything they see, from fish to scuba divers." www.kqed.org/quest/television/view/774
Grolsch Gardens This is a really innovative branded game built with Flash. It's sort of a noir detective story; you have to collect clues and items and the story unfolds. You'll need a lot of time to play it, but it's really engrossing...or would that be engrolsching? www.grolschgardens.com
My friends over at ZDNet have launched their redesigned website and it's looking great. I never used ZDNet that much before, but the new changes to the site make finding content and just browsing around a lot more pleasurable. I spent some time the other day watching some of the interesting videos in the "Green Enterprise" section.
Lev Yilmaz uses a great low-budget animation technique: He films himself drawing his cartoons in realtime, but from underneath, through a glass pane. So he has to write all the dialog in backward letters. It's an effective technique, and it must speed up the animation process tenfold or more (no stop-frame necessary).
But it wouldn't be worth a lick if the narratives themselves weren't downright funny, and Lev's certainly are. You can see more of his work at Ingredient X, or all his videos on his YouTube page.
Note: Most of them are clean but a few contain "strong language." This one's clean: