Audible Barely Usable

I’m a big fan of audio books from Audible.com. Some I put on my iPod to listen to when I run, others I burn on CD to listen to on long car trips. Their selection is good (not great) and they are the only outlet for much of the content they offer.

That said, Audible is easily the most annoying site I frequent for one simple reason: all links are javascript links. Mouseover the average Audible link and you’ll see something like this:

javascript:linkThis(‘/store/myBasket.jsp’)

Why is this so annoying? I can’t take advantage of tabbed browsing. I can’t SHIFT-click and open a new tab, I can’t right-click and open a new tab at a link. I can’t have separate searches going on in separate tabs. Their linking strategy makes me an incredibly inefficient browser on their site. If I could get these books anywhere else, I’d do it in a heartbeat.

The silliest thing about this problem is that there is no good reason to require javascript links. Pick apart the linkThis javascript function and all you find are some conditional parameters and location.href calls. There’s nothing in there you couldn’t accomplish by embedding these parameters directly in standard anchor links. Arghh!!!

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My First Roast

A few weeks ago I read an article in my local paper that described an easy way to roast your own coffee beans. You only need a special kind of air popcorn popper that you can find on eBay or a thrift store, green coffee beans, and a timer. I had to try it. I got a Westend Poppery II air popper on eBay.

I went to a local coffee roaster today (with Luke – he almost broke one of their plants) and picked out five different types of beans, one pound each. Prices range from $3 to $5 a pound, and these are high-quality beans. For my first roast, I decided on the Ethiopian decaf.

Thebag

My instructions (from someone using this popper) state that I should use 3/4 of a cup of beans and roast for 6 minutes. Its recommended that you roast outside because the smoke gets stale and stinks. Here goes nothing.

Setup

I plugged in the popper. At between 3 and 4 minutes I’m supposed to hear the "first crack"… the first cracking bean. I’m afraid I’ll miss it – the popper itself is pretty loud. Here are the beans as they start to roast.

Minute0b

2 minutes in… starting to smell a little different, and we see a small change in color. The popper spins and circulates the beans. They bounce around a little and only a couple escaped.

Minute2

3 minutes in… I did hear a crack at about 3 1/2 minutes, sounded a little like a popcorn popping. Now I’m supposed to hear a "second crack" at about 5 minutes. Hmmm… is this a different crack than the "first crack"? How do I tell the difference between the first and second?

Minute3

Back to the instructions. For a dark roast, its recommended that you stop at 6 minutes. Here are the beans immediately after turning off the popper at 6 minutes. I never really heard a "second crack", though I did hear a bunch of "first cracks". Gotta get better instructions.

Minute6

As instructed, I dumped the beans into a collander and stirred them around to help cool them off. Nice color! I expected them to be a little darker and shinier, and perhaps they would have been if I’d let the roast go longer. Maybe I’ll try 7 minutes tomorrow.

Cooling

How did the coffee turn out? Well… the beans are supposed to rest at least 2 hours after roasting, and they are supposed better after 24 hours. I’ll grind them tomorrow morning and see how they turned out.

Dadhood Tip #1

I really, really, really want to be a good dad. We’ve got three kids – Lauren is 6 and in first grade, Luke is 4 and in preschool, and Claire is 9 months old and follows us everywhere. I’ve got a long way to go to become the dad I want to be, but I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned along the way. So here’s dadhood tip #1:

Whenever possible, take your kids with you on errands

Kids love quality time with parents, even if its just running errands. Today I had to run to the bank, the grocery store (a card for Nancy’s birthday) and to a local coffee roaster. I probably could have gotten my errands done faster without the little rascal, but I took Luke with me so I could have "a helper". Errand time can be quality time if you ask a lot of questions, answer even more questions, think up lots of ways for your helper to help, and talk through everything! What are we doing, why are we doing it this way instead of that way, etc. Its a blast!

Trading Diet Coke for a HopeChild

I like Diet Coke… I really like Diet Coke. I’ve been a two-can-a-day-er for years (and before that, regular Coke) and this year consumption is definitely up as I compensate for baby-induced sleep deprivation with caffeine.

I’ve been reflecting on my habits and attempting to be more intentional about the things I do and the way I live life. Do I really want to be someone who drinks this much carbonated nutrasweet water? Not really – so I decided to give it up.

I don’t want to backslide on this, so I’ve given myself some extra incentive to stay the course. With the money I’m saving, I just sponsored a child through WorldVision’s HopeChild program. Milly is a 6-year old (who shares my birthday) living in Uganda who lost her father to HIV/AIDS. For $30 a month, I can help to make a difference in her life. I’m sure there’s a psychological term for trading a bad habit for a good one. Whatever it is, I’m doing it.

No IE tabs before Longhorn

Here’s a great interview with Gary Schare from Microsoft. I’ve talked to Gary several times and appreciate that Microsoft is turning attention to third-party developers (like me) who built tabbed browsers long before FireFox (NetCaptor in 1998).

Here’s my favorite quote:

We’ve looked at whether you can add tabs through a browser helper object or some other way of extending IE, and it turns out you can’t.

Bingo. If I it was possible to add tabs to IE via a BHO or other addon, I never would have written NetCaptor.