Collecting the Internet So You Don't Have To

We work on the Internet. As such, we are constantly consuming information. Believe me, there is a lot of it out there. Sometimes we even forget things unless we write them down. Our blog covers everything from web standards to the muppets, php to comic books, music and everything else that we find interesting. Leave us a note when you drop by.

37Signals Updates Basecamp With Reply via Email

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Julian Moffatt
Julian Moffatt CEO / Partner
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Julian Moffatt Purveyor of Good Times

Basecamp LogoWe here at Visual Lizard have been using Basecamp from 37Signals for almost a year and half now. Basecamp is a simple online project management system. We use it to track our projects, milestones, communications, associated files, to-do lists and the time we spend working. To say they we depend on Basecamp to run our business would be an understatement.

Since we moved from dotproject to Basecamp, we have been able to invite our clients into their projects. This has been received very well by almost everyone we work with. When we create a new project we immediately give all of the people involved access and invite them in to participate.

As development progresses many messages are posted to each project. Anyone involved with the project can login to Basecamp and add their voice to the thread. This has been an amazing experience for almost everyone. The one catch to this is that you do need to login to an application at a web site and leave your regular email program to respond. Leaving the comfort of their regular email client to communicate via a website is more than some people have time for.

This week 37Signals has announced that they are implementing a feature we have been asking for. They will be rolling out the ability to reply to messages coming from Basecamp directly via your email client. You can read more at their site about the upcoming feature. We are stoked.

This is one of the major benefits of using an online business tool like Basecamp compared to an offline or open source solution. News features appear from time to time that augment your ability to interact with the application.

Mark my words, any forth coming web applications in the business productivity category that do not let you interact with them via email will be considered second class from here on out.

The Raconteurs

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Jack White and Warner Bros. have decided to dispense with any buildup or hype for the upcoming release of the Raconteurs’ new album, "Consolers of the Lonely". Today, the band announced that the entire album will be released simultaneously online, on CD, and on vinyl next Tuesday. No advance singles, no reviewers’ copies, and perhaps not even a video at release (they just finished shooting it).

I Am Legend

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Robert Neville (Will Smith) is a brilliant scientist, but even he could not contain the terrible virus that was unstoppable, incurable... and manmade. Somehow immune, Neville is now the last human survivor in what is left of New York City... and maybe the world. But he is not alone. He is surrounded by "the Infected"—victims of the plague who have mutated into carnivorous beings who can only exist in the dark and who will devour or infect anyone or anything in their path. For three years, Neville has spent his days scavenging for food and supplies and faithfully sending out radio messages, desperate to find any other survivors who might be out there. All the while, the Infected lurk in the shadows, watching Neville’s every move, waiting for him to make a fatal mistake. Perhaps mankind’s last, best hope, Neville is driven by only one remaining mission: to find a way to reverse the effects of the virus using his own immune blood. But his blood is also what The Infected hunt, and Neville knows he is outnumbered and quickly running out of time.

Battlestar Galactica - Season Three

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

The adventure of one of television’s finest dramas continues with the complete third season of the Peabody Award-winning Battlestar Galactica. The Colonies’ survivors have found their hopes of eluding their Cylon pursuers dashed by an invasion and occupation of their new home. As the fate of all human life hangs in the balance, friends become enemies, enemies become unexpected allies, and decisions are made that will haunt some people for the rest of their lives. Relive all 20 episodes of the season that challenges everything you thought you knew about the Battlestar Galactica universe. Presented in Dolby 5.1 surround sound, the 6-disc set features over 15 hours of extensive special features, including the DVD exclusive version of the episode "Unfinished Business" containing 25 additional minutes of never-before-seen footage. You won’t want to miss a minute of the series considered "one of the best dramas on TV" (Time Magazine).

Danny Boy, performed by the Muppets

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

In honor of St Patricks Day, an old Youtube video of the Swedish Chef, Animal, and Beaker singing Danny Boy. Oh poor Beaker, will you ever get any respect? :)

...and, ’cause I love the Muppets and there’s very little funnier than seeing Beaker trying to sing...

Italy 2008, Day Eight

Business
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

More on my trip to Italy, this day covering my last in Rome! As before, I’ve updated my Flickr account with an associated photoset for you to browse through. Enjoy!

After our original failure, we were determined to see the Vatican Museum on Friday. Since this was our last day in Rome, we were not going to screw this up; we were up, fed, and across the city by nine in the morning. And there was still a line-up half a block long! It moved pretty quickly, but I was still shocked at the number of people in what I’m told is a "slow month" for tourism.

Once we paid the fourteen Euro entrance fee, it was apparent this was totally worth it! Up to this point, we had bombed around the city, looking at amazing architecture, ruins, and buildings. This was our first chance to get inside something, and see the smaller, more personal artwork.

A statue of a chariot, surrounded by moe statues

The Vatican Museum is divided into galleries, each with a specific theme. One was all of hundred year old tapestries, another’s walls had been commissioned by some past Pope to have detailed maps of all of Italy, etc. The best of it, though, was the Sistine Chapel itself. You are not allowed to take pictures inside of it, but pictures do not do it justice. The artwork in that room is stunning, even if you are not religious.

There were more sections to the Vatican Museum that we, unfortunately, did not have time to visit. I did shoot over to the giftshop to buy a postcard, which I promptly filled out and mailed from the Vatican City post office :) But we had more we wanted to see and little time, so after a couple hours, we moved on.

The next stop was the at the top of Capitoline Hill. But on the way, we decided to wander through the ruins of the Roman Forums. Here, we could walk amongst the most solid reminders of the city that stood on that spot over a thousand years ago. A victory arch, the remaining columns of temples, original roman roads... most of which you can reach out and touch.

A classy shot of the remains of Saturn

Up the hill, we visited the museum there. Man, what we would have done for a map! We entered a single, two-story building, unaware that the museum was actually three interconnected buildings... so we had this surreal couple hours wandering around these amazing hallways and galleries, looking at all these beautiful statues and busts and paintings... all the time convinced we had been to this floor three times before and yet all this stuff is not what was here before! Like some sort of mobeus layout, we’d "go back" down the stairs and discover the first floor had completely changed! An amusing adventure... until we tried to find our way out! :P

Great Hall, including centaurs from Hadrian’s Villa

Like the Vatican Museum, the Capitoline Museum divided it’s halls into themes. The Hall of the Faun featuring a red marble statue, the Hall of Philosophers featuring busts of many greek and roman thinkers, the Hall of the She-wolf featuring a famous statue of a Remus and Romulus nursed by a mother wolf. This museum, however, was smaller in each room size, and no where near as crowded. I enjoyed it more for that reason.

Hall of the Captains

I must admit it wasn’t easy leaving Rome. It grows on you fast! I, as a visitor, could not imagine how you could live there and never be in awe at all the wonders surrounding you! But in the end, there was more of Italy to see... we said our goodbyes to Rome and boarded a train to La Spezia!

A line-up at the train station

Presidents of the United States of America

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

New album "These are the Good Times People"

Stargate: Ark of Truth

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Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Blasting off where the Sci-Fi Channelâ??s longest running show, Stargate SG-1, left off, this thrilling feature thrusts the Stargate team â?" Daniel Jackson (Michael Shanks), Vala (Claudia Black), Tealâ??c (Christopher Judge), Sam (Amanda Tapping) and Cam (Ben Browder) â?" into their biggest challenge yet. In search of an Ancient artifact they hope can defeat the oppressive Ori, the team not only learns that the Ori are set to launch a final assault on Earth, but a double-crossing I.O. operative is aboard the Odyssey! Also starring Beau Bridges, this pulse-pounder is loaded with enough suspense, humor and action to fill a galaxy!

Hitman

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Agent 47 (Timothy Olyphant) has been educated to become a professional assassin for hire, whose most powerful weapons are his nerve and a resolute pride in his work. 47 is both the last two digits of the barcode tattooed on the nape of his neck, and his only name.

The hunter becomes the hunted when 47 gets caught up in a political takeover. Both Interpol and the Russian military chase the Hitman across Eastern Europe as he tries to find out who set him up and why they’re trying to take him out of the game. But the greatest threat to 47’s survival may be the stirrings of his conscience and the unfamiliar emotions aroused in him by a beautiful, damaged girl...

Appleseed Ex Machina

Event
Wil Alambre
Wil Alambre Senior Programmer
Visual Lizard
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Wil Alambre Whiteboard Ninja

Produced by John Woo and directed by Shinji Aramaki, Appleseed Ex Machina (2007) ranks as the most elaborate, stylish, and violent of the three adaptations of Masamune Shirow’s manga. When it was released in 1988, the original Appleseed felt like a summary of anime’s past, while Akira pointed the way to the future. The second Appleseed (2004), also directed by Aramaki, was an unimpressive motion-capture CG feature that borrowed elements from other sci-fi anime. In this latest incarnation, Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus of the E.S.W.A.T. team are charged with preserving the peace of the city-state of Olympus, a hi-tech paradise on a largely ruined Earth. Screenwriters Kiyoto Takeuchi and Todd W. Russell have given the story a contemporary twist, adding attacks by "cyborg terrorists" and an effort by the ruler of Olympus to control a world-wide satellite surveillance system. When cyborgs and human launch coordinated attacks on the government headquarters in Olympus, Deunan, Briareos, and Tereus swing into action against a mysterious enemy. The plot has little in common with the earlier films: the Appleseed technology that was at the core of the story isn’t even mentioned. The look, tone, and characters in Ex Machina recall Shirow’s Ghost in the Shell, rather than the original Appleseed. Not surprisingly, the elaborately choreographed fight scenes reflect Woo’s signature style, with slo-mo martial-arts combat, close-ups of falling shells, dynamic camerawork, and all-out gun battles. But the weightless movements of the motion-capture characters and the limited rendering of the skin textures gives Appleseed Ex Machina the feel of an extremely elaborate computer game. Despite the limits of the mo-cap technology, Appleseed Ex Machina is a fast-past, take-no-prisoners cinematic adventure that will delight action-movie fans as well as anime lovers. (Rated PG-13: violence, violence against women, profanity, grotesque imagery, potentially offensive religious imagery.) -Charles Solomon

Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1

Technology

This afternoon Microsoft announced the launch of Internet Explorer 8 Beta 1 on the IE blog. As soon as I saw this I decided to take it for a test drive!  My first concern when installing the beta version on my Windows machine would be that I would lose IE7 for testing. However it turns out that there is a convenient button titled "Emulate IE7" which to my discovery, once enabled, renders exactly like IE7.

This first thing I decided to try was to browse through a list of websites that I visit regularly, some of which push the limits of Web Standards, to see if it would render them properly. I expected them to behave similar to the IE7 beta, when that was launched, and turns out they did just that. Most webpages render just fine with various alignment issues showing up and mysterious double margins.

The second thing I did was run the Acid 2 Test on the Web Standards Project website to see if the claims on the IE blog were in fact true, they were! However, later today Microsoft announced that the Acid 2 Test doesn’t pass other versions of the test due to cross domain security checks IE performs for ActiveX controls. Looks like the poor smiley face got punched in the face! Acid 3 test anyone?

While I cannot comment on wether or not this is the next revolutionary browser, I can comment that Microsoft appears to be on the right track with the development of this web browser through their claims to build a browser that claims to abide by Web Standards and how they are asking web developers for their feedback. Time will only tell if they really do listen. Besides isn’t it just good business to listen to one’s customers.

Update: If you are running Multiple IE’s the beta will conflict with the rendering of IE6.