Miscellany

The iPod cases from ifrogz look very nice. I like the customizable aspects of the design, but would love to be able to upload my own image for the Screenz. A Retrophisch-branded iPod case in “Gun Metal” Wrapz and “Thick Black” Bandz would rock.

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Amazon Grocery is now out of beta after more than 200,000 people have used it to shop for food staples.

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One of the recent winners of a Flickr Pro account speaks to my childhood.

Stuff a calendar into your Backpack

So the calendar feature for Backpack launched today. I like how easy it is to add items to the calendar, and I realize this is a 1.0 release (Note to Google: it’s not a beta.), but I’m greatly disappointed it didn’t roll out with repeating events as part of the feature set. I was looking forward to using iCal solely as the desktop conduit between an online calendar I can access anywhere, and my mobile devices with which I would like to sync calendar events.
Sure, I can do that with Google Calendar, but I’m already in Backpack so much, and I like 37signals’ implementation and interface better. Besides repeating events, other features I’d like to see added in a future update, ranked in order of personal importance:
+ Events added to Backpack’s Calendar do not show the scheduled time within the calendar. Mark Gallagher notes this in the announcement’s comments, because to see an event’s time, you have to click on the event, instead of just being able to glance at the calendar and seeing all of the times in context.
+ The ability to toggle the time on the reminder. For some events, I need more than 30 minutes notice, my parents’ anniversary, for instance, which I need a few days notice so I can buy a card and put it in the mail to them. Yes, I know I can use Backpack’s Reminders feature for this, but it would be more productive to have this built in to the Calendar side of the house. It seems like overkill, and double work, for me to enter the event of my parents’ anniversary in to the calendar, then have to switch over and enter a separate reminder to buy a card days in advance.

Commenter “D” notes: “Quick hack to get repeating events: enter them as reminders and then subscribe to your reminder feed within calendar.” This is working well for me, so far, but then you’ll get in to the situation of all of your reminders being in a single calendar, when you would like to have reminders in different calendars: Personal, Work, Pet, and so on.

In the Backpack Calendar forums, 37signals’ own Jason Friedman notes that they weren’t happy with the repeating events implementation, and decided not to include it the 1.0 release. So at least for now, the best way to get this function is D’s suggestion, but it’s nice to know it is being worked on, and we can expect it in the future. I hope this upcoming implementation allows for the setting of a time other than thirty minutes before.
+ Single, all-day events should be displayed in the same way as multiple-day events. This was a suggestion by Ryan Christensen in the announcement’s comments. This would distinguish the all-day event, like my aforementioned parents’ anniversary, from a time-specific event, like “Give the dog his heartworm pill at noon”.
+ To-do list implementation for the calendar. Again, from the comments to the announcement, Jeff Croft asks about this, specifically that supported by the iCalendar format. Probably ninety-five percent of what I personally use Backpack for is some sort of to-do list. For short-term stuff, I would love to see this implemented in the Calendar, but have lived without it this far. I would much rather see 37signals devote developer time to repeating events and print styles, something they still need for Backpack’s regular pages.
All in all, the Calendar function in Backpack is simple and elegant, and on par with what I would expect from 37signals. It took them two and a half months to arrive at this point; I hope the next two and a half months result in usability improvements which put the Backpack Calendar over the top.

Where are the revolutionaries now, indeed

Jeff Harrell has a great piece which essentially asks the oppressed of the world what are they waiting for:

As long as amoral regimes wrap themselves in the cloak of legitimacy while permitting, sponsoring or even initiating guerilla and terrorist wars against their neighbors, citizens who are held captive by those regimes are going to die. They can choose to die as bystanders, to be numbered among the ranks of the unintentional dead, to be dismissed as collateral damage, or they can pick up a rifle and start a revolution and give up their lives fighting to free themselves, their families and their national brethren from the despots whom they presently protect and on whom they can blame all the death and destruction to which they’ve been witness.

Shilling for Hezbollah

From the Toadpond:

It does not require much observation to understand that there is a large faction on this planet that lives only to see Israel’s destruction. But to stand up in public and declare that Hezbollah is anything but a terrorist organization demonstrates how this deep this hatred runs, and how oblivious to truth these minds have become.
I keep thinking no politician can be as looney as Howard Dean, but then George Galloway keeps popping up to snatch the title.

Unity

Bret Stephens:

Tel Aviv may be the economic and cultural capital of Israel, Jerusalem its political and symbolic capital. But the Galilee is where Israelis come to play, the forested and breezy getaway from the sweltering coast and the incessant dramas of everyday life in this region. Israelis were prepared to give up sandy Gaza and might also have been prepared to do the same with the rocky West Bank, if only the Palestinians would behave themselves. Yet places make a nation as much as principles do, and the Galilee was one place no Israeli could part with if his country was still going to be worth living in.

So even as terror-stricken residents of the north flee, the rest of the country is prepared to fight, whatever the cost: A recent poll found that 80% of Israelis support the present military operations, and three-quarters of those would be prepared to launch a full-scale invasion of Lebanon if that is what it takes to defeat Hezbollah. No similar consensus has existed among Israelis since the 1967 Six Day War.

Up in his winery, Mr. Haviv fears that if the war continues, he will have no one to tend the vines and take in the harvest, and an entire season’s worth of business will be ruined. Yet as we stand beside one of his fields, watching an Apache helicopter fire missiles at a Lebanese village visible in the far distance, he muses on what his decision to remain here means. “Being here is part of defending the country. If Hezbollah wins this, the terrorists win this war, and not just against us but against the free world. You think I’m coming down from here? Never.”
Once again, the Israelis seem to grasp the concept of unity in the Long War on Terror, while it eludes many in our nation.

And we’re back

Mucho gracias to sysadmin extraordinaire Jim, who was up late last night with the server transition.
There is nothing like a fast server on a fast pipe to give you the warm fuzzies in your little geek heart.

Server migration

We’re moving servers, thanks to the efforts of Jim, our sysadmin extraordinaire, so this site and its related entities will be unavailable for a while, beginning around 8 PM CST this evening. This includes e-mail, so if you try to send anything to my e-mail address at this domain after 8 PM, you may want to wait until tomorrow.

Israel Update

If you’d like a first-person account of the Hezbollah attacks on Israel, and the Israeli response, head over to David Dolan’s site and subscribe to his e-mail list.
David is a Christian pastor and author who has been resident in Israel for many years. Last year, David spoke at our church, and even for someone like me, who has followed the Mideast conflict, and the region’s history, for many years, it was eye-opening.