Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Getting the Best Out of Your Starbucks Gingerbread Latte by Dari Fitzgerald

A few years back I had the chance to read a little narrative that our friend, Dari, dreamt up. I could find no trace of it's existence, but he was good enough to resurrect it. Here is his introduction and, finally, his revised guide to Getting the Best Out of Your Starbucks Gingerbread Latte. I suggest that you read it over a steaming cup of gingerbread latte.

A number of years ago I wrote a certain instructional guide. Had this guide not been lost to the ether it might have become a holiday classic. I've decided to resurrect that missive. Feel free to send this to anyone you think would benefit. Let's begin.

Getting the Best Out of Your Starbucks Gingerbread Latte

Upon entering your local Starbucks, stride purposefully to the counter to place your order. You want a Gingerbread Latte, and you shall not be denied. Whether that latte be venti, decaf, or skim be sure to project your order with certainty and pride. Let all the other customers know what you are about to do. They will admire you.

You've made your order. Now move on to the most important step. Choosing the Gingerbread man for your latte. Do not let the barista choose for you! On this point I cannot be too firm! While your local barista is a professional, this is a personal decision that you will have to live with for the next half hour or so.

Ask to see the cage.

You will find now that some Starbucks differ. One cafe will keep the cage in the back, out of sight of the more delicate customers. The bold cafe will have theirs out in plain view. No matter the location of the cage you'll want to take your time. If need be, get down on the same level as the gingerbread men. You should be close enough to detect their wistful mix of musk and spices.

When you first approach the enclosure a few of the occupants may rush forth, some even reaching for you through the bars. Be cautious, these are the toughest little guys in the joint. But, you don't want one of them. A few weeks of constant jockeying for pack status have left them balancing on a knife-edge of adrenaline and fear. Their hardscrabble existence has left them tough and stringy. There's not enough sugar behind the bar to mask their sour sweat. If you were to specify one for your drink, his bits would settle to the bottom of your cup, only to rush you en masse during your last sip.

Let's keep looking.

Peering further into the back of the cage you're likely to find a few meek souls pressed into the corner. Some may even be standing together swaying slightly, staring blankly back at you. These individuals are to be avoided as much as their boisterous brethren. These sad specimens will often exhibit a uniformly unkempt appearance. Tarnished or missing buttons are not unusual for this crowd. Look too for cracked icing, and in extreme cases, missing limbs. These timid fellows, with their lack of vitality and meek constitutions, have become soft and stale. Selecting any one of these perennial losers will leave you with a steaming mug of vaguely sweet sludge.

Now that you've excluded the undesirables, turn your attention to the balance of the enclosure's occupants. You're looking for a Gingerbread man who is neither meek nor aggressive. There he is! See how he looks happy to see you? Yet his sense of decorum and personal shyness keep him just out of reach. In the mid-depth shadows of the cage his buttons catch the light and flash a welcome as he coyly regards you with a twinkle in his eye.

You've found your man.

Point him out to the barista, and watch to ensure that it is indeed your prize that is plucked from amidst the chocolate shavings.

Now it's time to harden your heart. Remain steadfast in your resolve as the barista moves to prepare your wee man. Turn a deaf ear to his high-pitched entreaties. You may want to take this time to step back from the bar. Maybe you'd like to peruse the cafe's other merchandise. Chat with friends. Catch up on your voicemail. Or maybe you're made of sterner stuff and his plaintive cries find no purchase in your heart. Do not be concerned, it is nature's way. Listen for the muffled crack. Let the soothing whir of preparation buff your anticipation.

The barista calls your order.

Take a sip. Careful, it's hot! If you've chosen wisely - and I know you have - a hearty wave of gingerbread will roll across your tongue, bathing you in the warmth of the holiday season.

Enjoy your latte.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Coming Soon: Online Comic Archives

Update: is still slammed. Perhaps one of the reasons is that it's using MySQL for the database? Seriously, Marvel. MySQL? Don't you have enough money to pay for MSSQL or Oracle? Don't you think you're going to need it?

I just read this CNN article today and it's pretty exciting and finally targets my demographic of comic fan, but not comic fanboy. All I want to do is be able to read all of the issues of a comic without having to own them and it seems that will soon be possible...and legal.
The publisher is hoping fans will be intrigued enough about the origins of those characters to shell out $9.99 a month, or $4.99 monthly with a year-long commitment. For that price, they'll be able to poke through, say, the first 100 issues of Stan Lee's 1963 creation "Amazing Spider-Man" at their leisure, along with more recent titles like "House of M" and "Young Avengers." Comics can be viewed in several different formats, including frame-by-frame navigation.
Though most comic fans are collectors, some simply want to catch up on the backstory of their favorite characters and would no longer have to pay top dollar to do so.
And of course, now that this news has been posted, Marvel's site is down (by kooshmoose traffic, no doubt).

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

GMail UI 2.0 and Firebug

One of my gmail accounts has been upgraded to a newer version of their UI. When the page loaded up I saw a new message like the one below which linked out to a support page:

I think it says something that the Google UI team detected Firebug (a Firefox plugin that is extremely useful for web developers) and made a special effort to notify their web developer users on how to optimize the new GMail experience.