Entries for June 2000 (July 2000 »    August 2000 »    September 2000 »    Archives)

 

From kottke.org reader Ed comesJUN 30

From kottke.org reader Ed comes this timely* bit of humor. The U.S. Naval Observatory Master Clock, accurate to within 100 picoseconds, offers a RealAudio stream of the Master Clock Voice Announcer. Due to the buffering time of the audio, the "audio time will be delayed (late) by at least four seconds from when it left the USNO Master Clock time." So, I guess you'll always be able to check the exact time from approximately four seconds ago.

*Get it? Timely? "Time"ly? Ha ha ha! Fortunately for him, Ed is not responsible for that horrible pun. That's 100% pure Jason...unfortunately for me.

Brandweek presents Superbrands: America's TopJUN 30

Brandweek presents Superbrands: America's Top Brands. McDonald's tops the list (as one might expect), but the list gets a little confusing after that. The rest of the top 5 are:

2. Circuit City
3. Burger King
4. Valassis Coupons
5. News America FSI

When I think of top brands, none of these spring to mind. What of Coca-Cola (#22), Disney (#131), Volkswagen (#30), and Microsoft (#613)? Of course, it would help to know what the criteria are and what those impressively detailed numbers mean, but those tidbits are apparently reserved for paying users of the Brandweek site.

Also from Brandweek comes a list of the best TV commercials of the 1990s. Nike, VW, Levi's, Budweiser, and Little Caeser's rate highly overall, with several entries apiece. I don't agree with many of the choices (particularly the Budweiser ones), but there's some good stuff in there.

A new Chinese restaurant opensJUN 29

A new Chinese restaurant opens today on the ground floor of the building I work in. The entire building now smells like, well, you can probably guess what it smells like. I'll give you a hint: it ain't roses. Anyway, it's making me hungry and nauseous all at the same time.

A casualty of myJUN 29

my poor little friend

A casualty of my Valleyfair experience the other day: one dead Palm V. I must have crushed it on one of the rides...evidently, this little wallet thingie isn't sufficient protection against the pressures of today's modern roller coasters. I took my wallet out of my pocket to purchase some mini-donuts and noticed the carnage. Stupid poetic justice.

Dack quotes from an articleJUN 29

Dack quotes from an article in the LA Times: "money raised by Internet-related companies may represent the greatest misallocation of capital in history."

I'm going to disagree with that statement...at least a little. There's no question that, like a plate full of cupcakes in the immediate vicinity of Oprah, most of the VC and IPO money heading into .com companies is never going to be seen again. It's gone. Let's examine where it's going. Most of the cash is being spent on Aeron chairs, CEOs, advertising, banner ads, company retreats, "strategic" "partnerships", and employee massages. However, a small portion of the cash (which, if you consider the 10s of billions of dollars being spent, is a huge amount) is going toward development...development that would not be happening on this grand of a scale without this money. This is a Good Thing™ because:

- Development is done by developers. They are getting paid to learn all this new technology and ways of doing things. All that education is going to pay off down the road, both for them personally and for society as a whole.

- This development is pushing boundaries and opening up new avenues for exploration. For people like me who think that sort of thing is beneficial, that's pretty exciting.

- People aren't coming out of college and having their talents wasted by non-demanding retail jobs. Instead, they are being put to work and allowed to learn and grow at an alarming pace, if they so wish.

- The demand by .coms for services is creating new industries and infrastructures. One good example is the worldwide network infrastructure being built by AT&T, Sprint, & others to keep up with the companies doing business over the Internet.

Put all this together and the VC/IPO-financed .com goldrush looks like the largest R&D effort the world has seen since World War II. While we may not see it this way then the whole thing comes collapsing down like a house of cards, I think we'll be better off because of it in the long run.

Jessamyn is obsessive. In aJUN 28

Jessamyn is obsessive. In a good way, that is.

The other day, I wentJUN 28

The other day, I went to the used book store and as I was browsing around in the art/design section, I happened upon a Dr. Ruth book: Your Complete Guide to Sexual Intimacy and Eroticism or some such nonsense. I picked it up and glanced at the price. $3. I opened it up to the cover page and there was Dr. Ruth's signature. A signed copy of a Dr. Ruth book...for $3. I don't really know if it's worth any more than that, but I contemplated buying the book until my maleness kicked in and decided that there was no way I was going up to the counter with Dr. Ruth's sexual advice tome in tow:

Yeah, I'd like this bookmark...this notepad...a copy of Time magazine....one of those book lights...and, um, this Dr. Ruth book. <looks at shoes, face turning crimson>

Everyone hates Muzak, right? Well,JUN 28

Everyone hates Muzak, right? Well, what would you have instead? Silence? No, that noise, while annoying, is nice to have when you're waiting for the elevator. How about your favorite music? Good for you, but I don't know if the woman standing next to you likes Slayer. Besides, actual music costs more money than Muzak. So what are we left with? Muzak...the non-music. It provokes no strong emotion in people, save for a slight feeling of disgust shared by all listeners. It brings us together as a planet: we all hate it, yet here we all are, listening to it. I'm getting all teary-eyed just thinking of all the solidarity.

In two years, I predictJUN 28

In two years, I predict that many .com offices will look like this. Goodbye, natural beechwood and brushed aluminum. Hello, hexagonal iMac-inspired goodness, courtesy of Herman Miller. If I had some extra cash lying around, my home office (by which I mean "my bedroom") would look very much like that.

Congratulations, Greg. :)JUN 27

Congratulations, Greg. :)

Today: company outing to Valleyfair,JUN 27

Today: company outing to Valleyfair, the local amusement park. While not Six Flags or anything like that, it's still a day off from work, spent in the sun. Did I mention how nice it is here today?

In the last month orJUN 27

In the last month or so, I've read two books: The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference* and Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. As I was reading them, I noticed that the style in which the books were written was influenced by the subject matter.

In The Tipping Point, Gladwell talks about "stickiness" being one of the factors in how mere trends become epidemics. One of the ways in which that stickiness can be achieved is through repetition....and he uses that to his advantage in telling us about Tipping Points. The same themes pop up repeatedly in the book, and examples introduced early in the book are reiterated to prove later points.

Gladwell also talks about Salesmen being one of the three groups of people that aid the spread of epidemics. Gladwell's writing style struck me as Salesmen-like at times: conversational, upbeat; I felt as though I was being sold an idea. I guess it worked, I bought it.

In the same way, Gleick writes about our quickening modern world in Faster and paces his writing accordingly. Thirty-seven chapters comprise the book, none but a couple over ten pages long. He uses short, quick sentences composed of small words. Nothing for the reader to stumble over, just keep reading, Mack. Reading Faster, I felt rushed, even anxious. It wasn't a relaxing read at all, perhaps a conscious effort on Gleick's part to drive his point home.

*I loved the Tipping Point and have quite a bit more to say about it, but hopefully that discussion will happen elsewhere very soon. In the meantime, I'll highly recommend the book to you.

In response to my postJUN 26

In response to my post about online forums, a reader writes in about a typical psychological pattern known as "The Classic Discussion Group Behaviour". Common symptoms include:

- participants will immediately divide themselves in opposing sides and

claim victory before the debate started,

- participants with well defined opinions are less involved than those with

an opinion formed on impulse,

- participants find it difficult to concentrate on the proposed topic,

- participants will get emotional and even personal,

- participation gets fragmented and those fragments have no resemblance to

the original conversation.

We should not condemn participants or their behaviour. "The Classic Discussion Group Behaviour" is not a psychological disorder. It is a principal thread in the fabric of the networked culture.

Some good thoughts. Thanks, Francois.

In response to my postJUN 26

In response to my post about the browsing cache helper app, a couple people sent me a link to Seth Golub's Personal Web Indexer. It's exactly what I was looking for, minus the network storage capability. I asked Seth about how it works for him and he says that the system has saved him several times and has been quite useful. Now, if only I remembered something about programming so I could hack together a Windows version....

Word continues to push thingsJUN 26

Word continues to push things along with an airplane-towed banner ad. That's right, there's this little DHTML airplane (complete with drop shadow) pulling a banner ad around the screen. I almost want to buy whatever they are hawking just to reward them for that idea. (thanks for the heads up, Joe)

A new version of AssemblerJUN 26

A new version of Assembler is live. More hand-coded DHTML goodness for you to consume.

Four recent movie experiences: TheJUN 25

Four recent movie experiences:

The Spanish Prisoner - A film from David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross) that was suprisingly good. A solid rental if you like P.T. Anderson's stuff or The Usual Suspects.

Magnolia - I think the Oscar screening version is slightly different than the theatre release.

Me, Myself, & Irene - I was a little disappointed in this one because I really like Jim Carrey, but he really didn't work to his potential in the film. Oh, there were some funny bits, but overall not memorable. Go rent Ace Ventura or There's Something About Mary instead.

Chicken Run - Not as bad as I feared (it was very true to Aardman's other work), but it wasn't as good as I wanted it to be. I'm a greedy movie goer. Greedy, greedy.

Yahoo! FinanceVision offers live, streamingJUN 25

Yahoo! FinanceVision offers live, streaming financial coverage, with contextual HTML-based content to go with it. If the reporter in the video stream is talking about Oracle's 2-for-1 stock split, information about how Oracle's stock is doing is pushed to you in a separate frame. During interviews, Web users can submit questions to the guest. When I think about the promise of interactive television, this is the type of stuff that has a chance at success.

People have been asking soJUN 24

People have been asking so I'll say that I think if kottke.org were a beverage, it would be orange juice.

With the release of StarJUN 24

With the release of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan, all of the Star Trek movies (save for the first) are now available on DVD. Eighteen years later, this movie is still like an old friend to us all, isn't it? (audio courtesy of the Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan Sounds Catalog)

Khan. You bloodsucker!

Matt's locked-in-the-bathroom story reminds meJUN 24

Matt's locked-in-the-bathroom story reminds me of the time my Aunt Barb got stuck in my mom's bathroom. It was during a family function of some kind, I forget exactly what. During the festivities, she excused herself and went to use the downstairs bathroom, otherwise known as the phone booth bathroom (as in, it was the size of a phone booth...I've seen larger dogs than that bathroom).

Now, the door in this tiny bathroom would not stay closed unless you locked it. Not a problem, unless you didn't know the precise jiggling frequency required to unlock the door once you were finished. Poor Aunt Barb didn't know the frequency, and so she jiggled in vain until someone heard her cries for help and came to the rescue. A good 15 minutes went by while pliers were found and the door was taken off its hinges. I don't think she ever used that bathroom again.

The Pets.com sock puppet isJUN 23

The Pets.com sock puppet is in the house:

How can they do this to socks?

Everyone in the office has been having a good old time with him.

As I left for workJUN 23

As I left for work this morning, two guys were hanging a "No Tresspassing" sign in the small city park near my apartment. Bwa?

Idea: a little Web-app orJUN 23

Idea: a little Web-app or browser plug-in that follows me around while I'm surfing, caching pages along the way, either on my local machine or preferably somewhere on the Internet like X:drive (up to 100 Mb of online storage, free!), and then allowing me to search/sort those pages by keyword, date, domain, &c. That way, I'll never lose track of those bits of information that seem insignificant at the time, but which are important at some point down the road.

I want to like ChickenJUN 23

I want to like Chicken Run. I really do. But I fear that all the little stuff that makes Nick Park's stuff really great will be squeezed out of the film by watering it down for a mass audience. I hope I'm wrong.

Fans of Park's work (Wallace & Gromit, &c.) will want to check out Creature Comforts, his Academy Award-winning short film. The entire film is available online, streamed piping hot to your very own computer.

There's a fairly interesting discussionJUN 22

There's a fairly interesting discussion happening over at Metafilter about PayPal and micropayments. A couple folks have asked what PayPal is....basically, PayPal acts as an online bank of sorts, where all the transactions occur electronically (via Web, email, cell phone, Palm, &c.) between two individuals (or an individual and a business). So, if I win an online auction, instead of futzing with a money order or something like that, I can just log in to PayPal and send the seller the amount I owe her. Next time she logs into PayPal, her money is there. Pretty slick.

With the exception of the above thread, Metafilter lately reminds me of something I read somewhere recently, written in the spirit of Bertrand Russell (I'm paraphrasing here):

"The problem with online forums is that those who have very little to contribute participate the most while those with valuable information to share participate the least."

Look at Slashdot...I'd wager that 85% of the posts over there are useless, coming from people who either have no idea what they are talking about or are blabbering on just to hear themselves talk (Troll! Me too! First post! M$ WindoZe sux!). That's fine on a Web site like kottke.org, where the purpose is pretty much to hear myself talk, but in a community setting, members of that community need to take some "civic" responsibility and think about how their personal actions impact the group. Just think of how much more useful Slashdot would be if the posters to the threads took as much care in choosing the right time to participate as the posters to the front page (CmdrTaco, Hemos, &c.) do in choosing the right stories to post.

As for Metafilter, civic responsibility might mean (and I'm just thinking off the top of my head here...as usual):

- Limit your front page posts per day. This allows others to post stories and makes reading a day's worth of posts more manageable.

- Really think about the value of your contribution to the group. Will people find this interesting? Have they seen it before? Is a news item from Yahoo or Salon appropriate? And probably the most important question: is this post a good topic for discussion?

- When posting to a thread, attempt to stay on topic. Subthreads and side conversations are unavoidable and sometimes desirable, but turning a discussion about homelessness into a two-person chat about who can spit watermelon seeds the furthest isn't doing anyone any favors. Take that sort of thing to email...making everyone else listen to your inane one-on-one conversation is just plain rude.

- You're probably not as smart or funny or interesting or insightful as you think you are. I know I'm not....I refrain from posting comments (already written comments, mind you) to mailing lists and online discussion forums about 50% of the time. Most of the time, I just don't feel like I can contribute anything worthwhile to the discussion...so I read and learn instead.

- Don't post one-line replies or quips to threads. Mark Twain and Basho were both masters of succinctly stating insightful concepts...you are not. Nothing kills a good discussion faster than a series of one-line responses.

- If you think you truly have something worthwhile to share, share it, dammit! Don't be one of those with lots of information to share and then not share it. I know people are busy, but every little bit helps. Personally, I've been slacking in this department...I haven't posted anything to the front page of Metafilter in ages, and I contribute only occassionally to the threads. I'm not saying that I have lots of information to share, but I think that what little I do have access to on occasion is interesting at times, and I will endeavor to share it with you when I can.

Blah. That ended up being longer than I expected, and I suspect, based upon the reaction to my last bit of peer criticism that I'm going to get a lot a flak for this. And that's fine. As a member of the Metafilter community, I'm frustrated because I'm watching something I really value slowly degrade into something less useful by the day. I just had to say something...and maybe it will even do some good, who knows. I just hope Metafilter can stay in stage 4 without too much stage 5 nastiness.

I also posted this because I think interaction in online communities is fascinating. I'm a member of several mailing lists and online discussion groups (as well as the administrator of one mailing list), all different but all pretty much the same as well. Some work better than others, some have self-destructed, others languish under-used. The above post is my attempt to work through some online community-oriented thoughts I've been having lately.

Speaking of micropayments: Burger KingJUN 21

Speaking of micropayments: Burger King Pledge Drive Tally Board. Goal: $3.50. Currently: $1.50. You can make a difference!

I first heard about PayPalJUN 21

I first heard about PayPal a while ago and didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it at the time. All the talk about it lately has me thinking, though. No, not thinking about the pros and cons of micropayments and the possible uses of PayPal...but thinking about how the system can be exploited. Here's what I came up with:

A PayPal chain letter. Here's how it works. You get an email. It contains some instructions, a list of 4 email addresses, and a referrer link to the PayPal page with the sender's email address associated with it. You click on the link and open an account. You get $5 for opening an account, as does the person who sent you the email. Next, you send each of the 4 people on the list $0.50 each. Then, you modify the chain letter, delete the top email address, move the sender's email from the link to the list, add your email to the referrer link, and email the letter to 5 or 10 friends who have not yet signed up with PayPal. If all goes well, you should be getting a ton of $0.50 micropayments deposited into your account within days.

The best thing about it is that PayPal foots the bill for the whole thing...effectively, they are the bottom rung of a chain letter. Of course, this sort of thing is prohibited by PayPal's terms of use. Oh well.

Is the nubbin dead? Please,JUN 20

Is the nubbin dead? Please, God, no.

It's been two or threeJUN 20

It's been two or three months since the Love Bug virus first ravaged its way across the planet...and I haven't received a single copy of it or its more malicious brethren from my friends or acquaintances. There are a few possible explanations:

- very few of my friends use Outlook

- the people that I know are savvy enough to use Outlook without sending out viruses

- none of my friends have my email address in their Outlook address book

- I have no friends

While that last one sounds promising, I have a hunch the first two explanations account for most of it. By the way, this is not your invitation to send me these viruses...not that it would do any good anyway; I use Eudora.

I felt the most curiousJUN 20

I felt the most curious sensation this morning. While lying down on my bed after a shower, I could literally feel the blood surging through my body as my heart beat. Sometimes after strenuous exercise, I've been able to feel and hear blood pumping through my head, but what I felt this morning was something I've never experienced before; my heart pumped and a fraction of a second later my whole body pulsed and pushed outward slightly. I sat on the bed for about 5 minutes like this, aware of little else, trying to remember everything about this sensation that I will probably never again experience. Even now, the memory is fading....

Did you know they stillJUN 19

Did you know they still make Spirograph? I happily found that out this weekend and travelled back to my childhood for a brief time. Mmmm...spirally. And if you're not quite into it enough to order the original online, you can play with this little Spirograph java applet.

june 16, 2000 permanent URL for this entry

If your Web site were a beverage, what beverage would it be?

Coffee
Diet Sprite
Dr. Pepper
Guinness
Jack Daniels
Merlot
Orange juice
Sulfuric acid
Soy milk
Water

View the current results. I apologize if your beverage of choice is not on there...I tried to come up with a reasonable representation of the entire beverage spectrum. Bet you didn't even know there was such a thing as a beverage spectrum, did you?

Oprah: the other Big O.JUN 19

Oprah: the other Big O.

I also ran acrossJUN 19

eat to get bigger

I also ran across an old arcade version of Star Wars while I was in SF. I, of course, had to play a couple of games. While not up to my old form, I was still able to beat OBI for the top spot on the high score list. Just another experiment in my continuing quest to see how long I can keep my mental age hovering around 12. Also, I'm apologizing in advance to Taylor for the orange apparel so that he does not send me a cease and desist letter.

Groove was an OK movie.JUN 19

Groove was an OK movie. The music was good and it was entertaining in parts, but I don't know if it was too accurate. Everyone at the party was too chill...where the hell were the troublemakers? They're everywhere...the rave scene is not exempt.

Went to the Magritte exhibitJUN 19

Went to the Magritte exhibit at SFMOMA this weekend. If you live in SF or the surrounding area, you really don't have an excuse not to go, do you? Well?

Burger King Pledge Drive TallyJUN 15

Burger King Pledge Drive Tally Board. Goal: $3.50. Currently: $1.03. Getting closer...

Someone left a comment and reminded me that the BK Big Fish was once called "the Whaler". Ha ha ha ha ha ha....

Boy, you raise $135 millionJUN 15

Boy, you raise $135 million in one year, and all you've got to show for it is being called The Dumbest Dot-Com by Fortune magazine. That can't be good for the ol' IPO plans. Of course, when your company is based upon the idea of your customers sucking you dry via a multi-level marketing scheme, there's nowhere to go but up.

Odigo and AOL are duking it out over instant messaging. AOL blocks access to their service and Odigo re-establishes that access. While this must be a pain in the ass for the business people, I would imagine the tech people at both AOL and Odigo are having a ball playing their little game of keep-away. I can just imagine the cheers from the Odigo tech team when they break through the latest AOL roadblock, as if they just snuck one past Ed Belfour to win the Stanley Cup.

Brent has compiled a listJUN 15

Brent has compiled a list of Web sites done by Minnesotans (as well as former Minnesotans) over at Vitaflo. If you are in MN and run a site or know of someone who does, drop him a line.

Excellent! neighbor-sex is just whatJUN 15

Excellent! neighbor-sex is just what I was looking for from Blog of the Week.

From the Research by DackJUN 14

From the Research by Dack Department comes a pair of articles (one from ZDNet and the other from the San Antonio Express News) on this wireless Web business, the latest Next Big Thing. Mark my words: wireless Web is the push of 2000, destined for big press and very little impact. The great thing about making such a bold statement is that I will never have to eat my words because if the whole wireless Web thing does take off, there will be no one around to mock me because everyone is going to get brain cancer from their cell phones and die.

In response to my postJUN 14

In response to my post the other day about Fatboy Slim's remix of Jean Jacques Perry's E.V.A., the folks at EuroRanch on Demand posted both the original and remixed versions of the song in MP3 format. The original is quite good on its own...if big bass capability had been around in 1970, Perry would have been huge. ;)

Thanks to everyone for allJUN 14

Thanks to everyone for all the email and such over the past couple of days. My inbox is reeling, so please be aware that I might not respond to your mail as quickly as I should. I'll get to it eventually (I hope).

Will write for food! HelpJUN 14

Will write for food! Help Jason recoup the cost of a crappy meal! I just visited my member page on Epinions and my Epinion on Burger King has earned me $0.76 to date. If you are an Epinions member, could you visit the review just for the heck of it? My goal here is to recoup the $3.50 I spent on the decidedly subpar meal. Not a member? Sign up.

In the interest of clearingJUN 12

In the interest of clearing the air a little about the post I made yesterday, kottke.org is proud to present:

Things I Have Learned In The Past Day Or So.

- No offense to anyone was intended. I don't enjoy hurting other people's feelings, inadvertently or otherwise.

- One-way communication (such as the writing on a site like this) is often imprecise the first time around because there is no opportunity for real-time feedback such as one would get in a face-to-face verbal conversation. This leads to misunderstanding.

- The writing on this particular site is often imprecise because Jason is often not that good at writing.

- What I meant to say was this: the nature of personal Web site linking is that it points people to more of the same. More of the same is not necessarily bad. Usually, if I find a site I like, more of the same is just what I'm looking for. Right now, I'm bored with more of the same...I want something new, something off the beaten path. It's the same thing with the "Customers who bought this title also bought" recommendations at Amazon and other such recommendation systems...they also point to more of the same and can be detrimental to finding unrelated material (credit for this whole line of thinking goes back to Steven Johnson's comments at SXSW).

- In my mind, the role of something like Blog of the Week is to point out Blogger-powered weblogs that are good and unique and pushing boundaries, not just sites that are good. Sixfoot6, Barbelith, and the Digital-Web weblogs are good, but they are not anything new. If kottke.org were Blogger-powered and Pyra chose it as BotW, I'd be more than a little upset at them. Seriously. Pyra is slacking a bit, and just because I know and respect them as a company and as individuals doesn't mean I shouldn't call them on it. I critique because I love.

- Paul says it much better than I. As usual.

- I should have kept my damn mouth shut. I wish I were writing about something else right now. Like The Tipping Point and the New Yorker article by Gladwell that was its genesis.

- People writing about other weblogs on their weblogs does sicken me. Me writing about weblogs sickens me. "Sickens me" is a line from the Simpsons that I used below for comedic effect. I think it only worked on me.

- Yes, I am aware of the irony.

- There's a whole crapload of Dr. Pepper refills available in the kottke.org archives. Drink up.

- When I wrote "Has the weblog format run out of steam?", I was being melodramatic. Much to my chagrin, admitting it takes all the fun out of it.

- I'm out of shape and suck at basketball...my floating, double-clutched, back-to-the-basket one-hander in the lane notwithstanding.

- I don't know if I want to write my post about the differences between weblogs and blogs, for fear of reprisal.

- A lot of people name their weblog file "blogger.html". Isn't that a bit like naming your child "Uterus?"

- People should have taken more offense at my use of the phrase "BOOTY-SHAKING". I mean, there's really no call for using the word "booty", is there?

- I lack tact. Nothing new here...that's why I'm not a project manager or in business development.

- I am not doing anything special with this site. Again, nothing new there. Evhead is a large Sprite, kottke.org is just a refill.

- saturn.org really sucks. Really. Don't take my word for it, go visit and see for yourself.

- I need to spellcheck my email.

- Webloggers are passionate about weblogs and weblogging. Passion is a strong emotion. Strong emotions sometimes result in extreme reactions. There's nothing wrong with that.

- Greg ate a bug. Bees! Bees in his mouth!

And that's about all I'm going to say about that.

I almost never talk aboutJUN 11

I almost never talk about weblogs here (mainly because everyone else does and it sickens me), but I seem to be running into a problem with them lately. I'm not reading anything new. When I go to a typical weblog, they have a list of links down the side that amount to "if you like this one, here are some others you might like." The problem with this, though, is that there's very little opportunity to discover something off of the beaten path. It's just more of what you're used to; if Swallowing Tacks is a medium Dr. Pepper (hold the ice), Zippyblog is just a refill. I spend days on end searching for something other than Dr. Pepper, Pepsi, Mello Yello, Jolt, and even YooHoo....where the hell is the mango juice?

And while I'm on the subject (this will be the last mention of weblogs for quite a while, I assure you), shouldn't the Blog of the Week feature on Blogger.com be satiating my need for new reads? Lately, they've been featuring more of the same: sixfoot6, Digital Web, and Barbelith. Fine sites all, I'm sure, but they're pretty much doing what everyone else has been doing for months and years now. Has it come to this? Has the weblog format run out of steam? Is anyone out there doing anything interesting with tools like Blogger? Or are all the weblog writers reading the same how-to manual? Come on Pyra, hook me up!

I don't know why FatboyJUN 11

I don't know why Fatboy Slim's remix of Jean Jacques Perry's E.V.A. (available on The Fatboy Slim/Norman Cook Collection) isn't getting more play these days. It's been on repeat in my car CD player for days now, and I just can't get enough of it. HOT BOOTY-SHAKING ACTION!

Back from the wedding. EverythingJUN 10

Back from the wedding. Everything went fine: the bride and groom got married and nobody sustained any life threatening injuries, save for a deer that my sister and brother-in-law hit on the way to the airport.

One of the more interesting things that happened was at the conclusion of the reception/dance. There were only a few of us left, so the DJs were playing pretty much whatever. I made a joke about playing some Eminem, and soon "The Real Slim Shady" was blasting out of the speakers. My mom's friend, Janet, popped out of her seat and asked me, "So, how do you dance to this kind of music?"

"I think you just bounce to it," I replied.

"Oh." And she then proceeded to hop around the dance floor to the beat. But she wasn't doing it quite right, so I got out there and showed her how. My mom then snapped a somewhat unique photograph of her oldest and dearest childhood friend and her son bouncing like a couple of gangstas to Eminem. Quite a novel experience.

As promised, a few moreJUN 09

As promised, a few more notes sent in by readers about my "what if companies were people" post:

- Stewart Brand says it's healthy when companies try to run like charities and charities try to run like companies.

- Corpeople: "Unfortunately (or fortunately depending upon what side of the fence you're on) corporations are already classified as people in the United States."

- Excerpted from a larger passage: "Several years after the IPO, the last action of the Board of Directors is to approve a final merger that has been put forth by a much larger and powerful company, referred to as the 'Wife' company. The 'Wife' company tends to totally dominate the 'Male' company, simply because the Male company is attracted to the Wife company's business figures."

- If AOL were a city...

- And finally, Paul asks: "if companies were people, which ones would be the porn stars?" I'm not sure I know. Do you?

I will be taking offJUN 08

I will be taking off this afternoon for my sister's wedding. Wish her luck.

This update is titled: "IJUN 08

This update is titled: "I think I can finally die a happy man." or "Isn't this one of the signs of the Apocalypse?" or "Oops!...I did it again." The official Britney Spears Web site uses Silkscreen quite a bit for titles and navigation. Besides the obvious irony of the situation, there's one good thing that will come of all this: I'm going to get lots of hits from people searching on "britney+apocalyse". Thanks to Edd for passing this along.

Stupid power outage. I'm twoJUN 08

Stupid power outage. I'm two and a half hours late for work and I've got much to do. Guess I need to get a battery powered alarm clock...or start using my Palm V's alarm to wake me.

"So it's nine o'clock onJUN 07

"So it's nine o'clock on a Saturday night and I've got an entire box of Marshmallow Alpha-Bits spread out on the kitchen table." So now, when I'm home on a weekend evening with nothing better to do than read or sit in front of my computer, I won't feel so bad because at least I'm not analyzing letter frequencies in breakfast cereal. On the other hand, in a way, aren't we all just wondering where all the Gs are?

Yessir, you betcha, we've gotJUN 07

Yessir, you betcha, we've got some of the dumbest people ever living right here in Minnesota. Did you come for the Star Wars exhibit there, Earl? Have a seat, you big freaking knob.

One more site worth yourJUN 07

One more site worth your while: Wireframe. Tasty Flash goodness that left me wondering how they did some of it (specifically how it was all aliased and without that diffuse "Flash glow" that everything else seems to have). Found at kiiroi.

On my walk to andJUN 07

On my walk to and from the parking lot at work, I pass by this dead squirrel lying on the grass. Each time I pass it, the squirrel looks a little more dead fer. You know, "that squirrel looks like it's been dead fer 3 months." "That squirrel looks like it's been dead fer 6 months." And so forth. (cue laugh track)

I'm just warning you inJUN 06

I'm just warning you in advance: prepare to spend at least an hour surfing the following links.

The results of I.D. magazine's 2000 Interactive Media Design Review are out (I'd throw in a link here, but the results are not on their Web site yet...tsk tsk) and there are a few sites of note on the list:

Willing to Try, a site previously featured on kottke.org, is one of the neatest interactive sites I've seen in a long while and is very deserving of its award.

I'm sure the stuff at Jump Stuff, a silver winner, is quite nice, but I found their site confusing. Very pretty, but confusing and poorly organized.

Chat circles is an interesting chat app that uses distance to control your interaction with others in the room.

Newsmaps.com presents information in the form of topographical maps. To try it out, click on the "Global News" link on the left sidebar.

The World's Smallest Web Site reminds me a little of the 5K contest. It's surprising what can be communicated in a 100x100 pixel space.

Google got a silver for their "clean good looks, straight answers, and no advertising". While I admire the judges' focus on the utility of the site (which is unusual because eye candy usually wins out in publications like this), I'm frustrated that their less-than-perfect design (and I'm not talking solely about the visual design here) got such high marks. BTW, the credited designers are co-founders Larry Page, CEO and Sergey Brin, president. That explains a lot.

Some other sites featured are TEXT.URE, the Victoria and Albert Museum, the Lufthansa Systems Network, a presentation on the Principles of Graphic Design, and the Smile Project.

Update: I did a little URL hacking and it turns out ID does have the results on their site...it's just not linked in from the front page.

Ok, exploring the results on the ID site has turned up several other goodies from a chap @ MIT named Golan Levin: ribble, floo, splat, blebs, meshy, dakadaka and streamer. Wonderful stuff.

I apologize for all the links, but they were all so good that I couldn't help myself. Feel free to pass them on to other folks.

Happiness is my federal taxJUN 05

Happiness is my federal tax refund in my mailbox today.

A couple of weeks ago,JUN 05

A couple of weeks ago, I pointed out that these Hanson fans had "borrowed" my kottke.org design for their own purposes. I went back last night to see if they had changed it...they had not. However, the leading vote-getter in their search for a site tag line is now "The fan files page layout was stolen from kottke.org". Hee hee.

Amused that people write seriousJUN 05

Amused that people write serious reviews of Burger King, I wrote my first Epinion in months: Burger King review title (insert bad pun here). When you're done reading the review, you can post or read some comments about it...something I find even more amusing: people reviewing a review of Burger King. When will it end?

Rumor has it that kottke.orgJUN 04

Rumor has it that kottke.org was on CNN yesterday, something about my emoticons poll. Weird.

I turned on the teeveeJUN 04

I turned on the teevee yesterday afternoon and saw a rock band playing on Pamela Anderson's ass. Perplexed, I shut it off and went about my day. I swear I'm not making this up.

As I said a fewJUN 03

As I said a few days ago, I'm really pleased with the use that people have gotten out of Silkscreen. I made it because I needed it, and it's nice that it was able to fill a need for others as well. For the last couple months, I've seen it used on at least one new site a day. The week before last, I discovered it on this part of the Volvo site, which was cool. I'm thinking they should send me a Volvo for my troubles. ;)

Then just the other day, I was glancing at Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point, which I am just beginning to read after much prompting from friends and acquaintances, and wondered if Gladwell had a Web site. Zipping over to Google, I punched in his name, and up came gladwell.com. To my surprise and delight, the site uses Silkscreen. Small world.

Jim has made some veryJUN 02

Jim has made some very nice tweaks to The Obscure Store and Reading Room, including organizing the stories by date. Previously, I found it difficult to determine how fresh the stories are...now I know.

In general, I'm impressed with how effectively Jim organizes the information on OSRR and MediaNews; it's the newspaperman in him I would suppose. The links are very easily read, the headlines & copy are concise, and the use of bold in the copy allows for skimming without interfering with reading. Especially nice is the use of bold for the main links and plain text for other links as well as the use of a different, more subtle link color for the less-important items on the left-hand side of the page on OSRR.

I wish more sites on the Web paid that much attention to how information is displayed, particularly news sites and weblogs. This site, I think, is pretty readable (save for the small font size) but only because there are very few types of information being displayed with each entry (only a date, the copy, links, and the permanent bookmark graphic). The other day, while surfing a few sites I hadn't been to in a while, I came across Michelle's nifty redesign of sapphireblue. The design is visually quite nice and the ability to sort entries by date & category is done very well. My only complaint is that I couldn't read the entries very well because of the white-colored link/date text combined with the black-colored copy. A link/date text color closer to black would improve readability quite a bit, I think. Additionally, moving the category information from the top of the post to the bottom and choosing a different link color for it (like that of the left sidebar items on OSRR) would aid readability as well.

Factovision is another site with good content on which the readability could be improved with a few minor changes. Setting off the date from the main copy by putting it in its own column works well, but sifting through the category, author, and the comments text (all of which are linked and therefore visually highlighted) to read the copy and find the links is difficult. For a post that includes these types of information, the hierarchy of information is roughly:

1. links within the post
2. main copy
3. date
4. category
5. # of comments
6. post author

Your mileage may vary with numbers 3 thru 6, but the links and main copy should be numbers 1 & 2.

To help illustrate what I am talking about, the post style on Metajohn is a good example of how to present many different types of information related to a post (each post actually contains 8 or 9 different types of information) while ensuring that the post copy and links are the focus. About the only complaint one can come up with for Metajohn's post style is the overly bright link color, but that is easily excused because it helps establish the visual style of the site, which is important as well (although you may think it isn't).

Hmmm....writing about all this has me thinking about how I can improve things on kottke.org. Perhaps some slight tweaks of my own are in order.

New content at 0sil8? Nope,JUN 01

New content at 0sil8? Nope, it's just a front page change. 0sil8, now with a splash of color! Bees! &c.

Photoshop 6 is in beta.JUN 01

Photoshop 6 is in beta. Improvements include better text tools (text wrapping!), unlimited layers, better layer organizational tools, and a smarter toolbar. Sixtacular! *ahem*

I feel so violated. MegJUN 01

I feel so violated. Meg snuck into my apartment and stole my bathroom mirror's soul for Heather's benefit. I hope both of you are satisfied...my mirror has been wandering around the apartment ever since, wailing uncontrollably, looking for what it has lost but can never again regain.

The teevee has been tellingJUN 01

The teevee has been telling me that the upcoming US Open is, and I quote, "Golf's Greatest Championship." In the past, that same television has told me that the British Open, the PGA Championship, and the Masters are each, and again I quote, "Golf's Greatest Championship". What am I, a simpleton when it comes to golf (among other things), supposed to believe? Will I ever be able to trust my teevee again? Well, word comes from Dack, the only golf enthusiast I know, that "Most Yanks would probably argue that the US Open is the greatest championship, but any golf fan living outside the US would argue that it's the British Open. The [British Open] is truly the *world's* golf championship." Now I can sleep once more and watch teevee without impunity.

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