Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Saturday, December 24, 2005

Posting new pictures

I had enough battery on the 'Book to process about 18 photos on the plane yesterday, so I'm posting some new stuff to fun with light. None from Missouri yet, obviously, since I've only been here long enough for a drive in the dark from the airport, a hamburger at Waffle House, and 11 hours of sleep. Haven't even walked out of the house yet today.

Massive earthquake! California falls into Pacific Ocean!

I slept 12 hours and finally got enough REM sleep to have a ton of dreams. Including two that startled me awake. The most startling one was being in some house somewhere in San Francisco with a bunch of people — I think we were at a holiday party — and a small-to-medium earthquake happened.

But the earth just kept shaking after about 45 seconds, and then it started to shake harder. And harder. Just about the time it shifted from about a 4.5 to a 5.5 to a 6 in about two seconds flat, we looked out the window and started seeing buildings falling down in big clouds of dust, and then the ground beneath our building broke completely off and the whole house started floating toward a big crevice, which we plummeted into in a hurry.

As we went over the edge and all flew into the air, I think my last words were something like "Oh, well that's just great."

And I woke up in Missouri.

Friday, December 23, 2005

Off to Missouri

I got zero REM sleep last night and I have to catch a flight in a few hours. I'll be in MO until the 29th, and therefore probably too tired when I return to do anything on New Year's Eve, but oh well.

I haven't had time to post any pictures to the photoblog this week so it'll be stuck on the dreaded purple Jenny (or should that be purple-dreaded Jenny?) possibly until I get back. I might have time to post while I'm in MO though.

Have a good holiday!

Thursday, December 22, 2005

An Adams fan finally speaks the truth about the Hitchhikers movie

I was uncharacteristically silent here about my opinion of the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" movie after I saw it earlier this year. Since then, when asked by friends what I thought of the movie, I have said something like "I liked it but I was somewhat disappointed."

But I've always felt a twinge when I said this, like it was a cop-out. I've finally come realize that I was probably not willing to admit to myself that I was more disappointed in the movie that I had originally thought, that I just couldn't bare to face the reality that the filmmakers had released such a phenomenal cock-up on the millions of fans of Douglas Adams' work.

MJ Simpson is a longtime Adams scholar who was privy to much inside information during the making of the film, including a pre-release screening last March. Simpson then published a scathing review on his website and subsequently suffered an onslaught of negative feedback because of it.

But I have to admit that he's essentially spot-on about each and every criticism. I applaud Simpson for putting his honest opinion out there, and for taking the shots that came from it. And I say he's right.

The filmmakers took out almost all the jokes. They removed the funny from Adams' trademark funny dialog. The movie suffers from a twisted and nonsensical plot that was made even worse from an utterly outrageous editing job. Simpson says it and I'll say it too: It's okay to mess about with the plot. Adams did it in every version of Hitchhikers. But the dialog still has to be funny.

It's a long review, it took nearly an hour to read, but it's worth it.

After all this, I still can't get past the fact that I really, really want the DVD [Update: I broke down and bought it]. I just can't help it. I'm a rabid collector of Hitchhikers stuff and I admit I simply must add the movie to my collection.

And maybe a part of me is hoping that I'll grow to like parts of the film more by watching it a few more times. I mean, it wasn't totally abysmal; there were some good bits. Just a shame it wasn't as good as it could have been.

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Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Google's nearly as smart as Deep Thought

Search Google for "answer to life, the universe, and everything".

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Laptop thefts in SF

From craigslist
Date: 2005-12-06, 7:03PM PST

For the second time in two months, I have been sitting next to someone in a cafe whose laptop was literally wrenched out of their hands. The first time was at Bean There on Waller and Steiner right before Halloween, the second was today at Jumpin' Java on Noe near 14th.

In both cases, the culprits were trios of African-American teenagers, usually dressed in black. Their standard M.O. is to enter the cafe, buy something at the counter, then as they leave, to grab the laptop computer nearest to the front exit before they dash out. The two who took the laptop tonight had a third accomplice who drove a getaway car, a weatherbeaten gray and black Honda Accord. Within minutes of the first theft, they hit a second cafe not far away from the first.

The police on the scene mentioned that there has been a rash of these thefts. A first group was caught earlier in the year, and now a second group seems to have taken over. Any cafe within spitting distance of the Fillmore district seems unsafe. Laptops are usually resold on the street, or even in Oakland.

If you use a laptop in a cafe, you should be extremely careful. I am probably going to buy a cable-lock for my own computer, which can be locked to the leg of any cafe table I use. Avoid sitting near the front door if using your cafe at a laptop. In both thefts I witnessed, the laptops were both running on battery power, meaning that there were no plugged-in cables to hinder the thieves from grabbing the devices.

And back up your data! Tonight's victim was a software developer who told me the laptop was unimportant compared to the extremely valuable data that was on it.


On Sunday Velms and I brought home Orson, a five month old kitten from the San Francisco SPCA. We'll be fostering him for about a month but intend to adopt him after it's determined whether he needs surgery on his left eyelid, which currently has a few stiches in it because his eyelashes grow inward and are in danger of scratching his retina.

He's an adorable, all-white cat with loads of energy. I've never seen a more calm cat while in a car, though. As we brought him home, he just lay in his cat box and contentedly looked out through the holes.

He's curious about everything, naturally, but has settled into his new home wonderfully, and we're trying to train him to stay off the bed (not by my choice, but it's better to not push Velma's mild potential for alergic reaction too far). He's already a spoiled little cat, as Velma bought him a load of toys.

I've never had an all-white cat before. But he's so cute I can mostly avoid the urge to spray-paint him odd colors.

Photos to come. And if you just can't wait for cute kitten photos, check out Cute Overload in the meantime.

Johnny Knoxville, "The Ringer" trailer

In the words of one of my coworkers, "the Farrelly Brothers and Johnny Knoxville are going to hell for this."

"Pass the Chronic (what!!) -les of Narnia!"

SNL proves that even two white dudes can gansta rap. Sorta.

Is SNL getting funny finally? 'Bout time. Too bad I don't have TV.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Hah! Calvin & Hobbes snowmen tribute

This is great. Almost makes me wish we got snow. Almost.

Samorost 2

Samorost is an absolutely awesome Flash game that came out a couple years ago. Now there's Samorost 2.

Amanita Design is the company that came up with these.

Strange "Lost" commercial

Channel 4 in the UK is playing "Lost," Ynnej's favorite show last year. Their website boasts an "unseen episode" called "The Journey," but you can only watch it on Windows machines. Lame.

And apparently famed photographer-cum-director (although I absolutely detested the Dandy Warhols video he did and I've never been that enthralled with his photography either) David LaChapelle did this strange commercial for "Lost."

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Debugged home for XP 2000

And it took me only 3 minutes. That's certainly a new record! 'Course, I'll probably find out something else is wrong in XP when Mr. Attitude looks at it...

Two days to stop the Patriot Act

From The White House is pressuring Congress to reauthorize a new version of the Patriot Act that is worse than the original law and doesn't include needed reforms. This could come before the Senate as soon as Thursday.

A bipartisan group of senators have agreed to fight the Patriot Act — by filibuster if necessary.

This is a huge moment. Senators from both parties are standing together to protect freedom and liberty — and they?re ready to fight. You can sign this petition to show them and the rest of the Senate that you support filibustering this bad bill. The Patriot Act has to be stopped until it includes reforms.

Macromedia R.I.P.

It's official. The Macromedia brand is no more. Learn more about the finalized consumption of Macromedia by Adobe here.

I am looking forward to the Adobe Web Bundle, though. No word on the pricing yet...

MC Jelly Donut

Jelly Donut takes on all comers in Oakland emcee battle, and kicks ass! [Quicktime]

I had to scrub my hands for 3 minutes

Got a flat tire on my bike on the way to work yesterday : (

Changed it today in the bike storage room at work, and had to scrub fo' evah to get all the black road-crud off my hands. Hmm. And I breath all that exhaust and crap in every day? Blech : P

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Merry Xmas?

Awwww. How sweet. Even sweeeter. [both Flash]

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

New homepage design

I redid the homepage of tonight.

I'm getting pretty good with the XHTML/CSS coding. It took me under 4 hours to code the whole page. That's not including the design, of course, which took a bit longer.

Of course, I still need to look at it in IE/Win tomorrow at work to see how much that browser breaks it and how much I'll have to redo with CSS hacks/patches. And I need to debug a couple minor things that prevent it from passing validation for now.

Does Firefox 1.5 have Mac problems?

I would say yes, from my experience so far. I've been experiencing somewhat sluggish performance, and have already had two hangs. I don't think Firefox is supposed to take up 105% of the CPU cycles (see Activity Monitor screenshot).

I also saw this strange behavior when I had an Apple page open in one browser window, which had a Flash file in it, then I opened a new window and moved it out of the way, and the Flash video from below showed through the top-most browser window, with flickering trails as I moved it (click screenshot for large version).

Pictures from Sonoma coming soon

Velma and I went to Occidental last weekend for Denice and Alex's housewarming party in this amazing house they are renting. We had a good time, met some new people, and I took a bunch of pictures, some of which I'll be adding to the photoblog soon.

And we rescued a baby goat that had been born that morning, walked away from his mama, and was about to wander into the road.

New design portfolio

About a week ago I finished a new, slimmed-down single-page design portfolio. I needed something quick and more up to date than what I had a year and a half ago, when I was looking for a job. I have more elaborate plans for a future portfolio, but those will take more time and I wanted something to point people at now.

Check out the new page and let me know what you think.

I'm also redoing the front page of since it hasn't really changed in a couple years. That'll probably go up this week.

New star rating system on photoblog

On Saturday I implemented a new system on the photoblog which allows you to rate each photo on a scale of 1–5 stars.

Friday, December 09, 2005

10% off coupon for Circuit City

Circuit City sent us this coupon for CNET employees and their friends and family [PDF, 740k].

Front Row now available on other Macs

Update to my October 12 analysis of Apple's latest product releases: According to this article by Andrew Escobar, the new Front Row application can now be downloaded and installed on any Mac running OS X 10.4.3 (or later), with iLife '05 (for iPhoto support), and iTunes 6.0.1 (or later).

Badly Drawn Boy's "Year of the Rat"

This is a great, heart-warming video from Badly Drawn Boy.

Can you say "direct rip-off"?

So I guess Creative's new business plan is just to copy the iPod business plan word for word? Okay, so they add a couple nicities in the new Zen VISION:M that I wish the iPod had, like an FM tuner. But I mean, c'mon, did they just lay off the product design team and say, "Let's just steal the iPod blueprints"?

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Skaters organize to save their park

I really liked hearing about these Oakland skaters who rallied together and showed that some seriousness and grass-roots organizing can pay off.

filed in: activism

Annalee Newitz's Techsploitation

One of may favorite columns in Metro and the San Francisco Bay Guardian, Annalee Newitz's Techsploitation is a weekly dose of tech talk from the viewpoint of a rabble-rouser looking out for your rights.

Filed under: activism, tech, politics, censorship, web, regular reads

Citizens fight back against TV DRM

"...Let's say, for example, that it's a couple of years from now, and your TiVo (bought anytime after July 1 of this year) has recorded the excellent Marx brothers movie Animal Crackers, which was just broadcast on TNT in HD. Tomorrow you're getting on a plane to Australia, and you'd like to save a copy on DVD to watch on your computer during the 15-hour flight.

"You're entitled to make a personal copy under federal copyright law, so it should be no problem. And in fact, it was no problem back in the days of analog broadcasts and VCRs. But with the Broadcast Flag in place, TNT can send out a signal that tells your TiVo not to make HD copies of Animal Crackers. So when you burn that DVD and put it into your computer somewhere over the Pacific, you get a bunch of garbage. The FCC has just stolen your rights..."

» Read the article at

Filed under: activism, tech, tv, politics

Windows Live Local ups the ante in the maps game

I gotta admit that the Bird's Eye View function in Windows Live Local is pretty cool. Doesn't work quite as well as Google Maps yet — for example, drag-and-drop on the map doesn't seem to work right — but the images and the ability to view from north, south, east, and west is all pretty swank.

Google Transit

Google is testing a new product in the Labs called Google Transit that works similar to the several third-party Google hacks out there that marry public transit routes with Google Maps. Google Transit's only working for Portland, OR, right now, but it's pretty cool.

Google Maps has also started integrating a new Details tab into some of the listings.

New worm IMs you

Don't respond to an instant message that says "lol thats cool".

» Read full article...

OMG these T-shirts are so cute

I am so going to buy one of the shirts with a Steve on it. Then Jason can harangue about me being such a zealot.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

That does it, we can't move to Missouri now

There's already a Mark Bult in Springfield, MO. Two of 'em, it looks like!

I was testing a search site I'd never heard of before until today,, and of course I had to "mamma" myself. That's like googling yourself, but, um, even weirder sounding.

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Two "topic centers" launch

Two of the topic centers I mentioned recently went live today. I'm pretty happy with they way they came out.