Entries for January 2001 (February 2001 »    March 2001 »    April 2001 »    Archives)

 

Bush, puppetJAN 31

I took this photo looking toward the intersection of Montgomery and Bush in downtown San Francisco (Bush is the cross street). Oh, those crazy liberal vandals.

I made the perfectJAN 31

lollipops for everyone!I made the perfect PowerPoint slide the other day. It's got everything a PowerPoint slide should have: a concise slide title, bullet points, a gradient filled background, blue, nesting, the date, and an exclamation point. In addition, the subject matter works for just about any situation. Feel free to use it for all your PowerPoint needs.

The Zegnatronic Rocket Society /JAN 31

The Zegnatronic Rocket Society / 12 Galaxies guy was in our office yesterday! I was plugging away at some JavaScript when I looked up and saw this guy walking through our office carrying a sign down at his side. I thought, "hey, that looks like whatshisna...wait a minute, that is him!" A stunned hush fell upon the office as he made his way into the back room, at which point the whole office erupted in disbelieving chatter. He left a couple minutes later; he apparently had to use the restroom.

The Global Time Zones pageJAN 30

The Global Time Zones page (Flash req.) on the Rolex site lets you check the time in 5 different time zones. On my machine, all the times are an hour ahead of what they should be. A quick check of the source code reveals some faulty JavaScript. Once again, irony, hurting, can't, talk, hurting, too, much.

Music for the Maases, TimoJAN 30

Music for the Maases, Timo Maas. Highly recommended for those that like John Digweed, Sasha, etc.

While riding the train thisJAN 30

While riding the train this morning, a man standing next to me used the term "five Gs" to refer to $5000. He didn't appear to be a gangster ("I needs that five Gs next week, Muggsy, or I'm gonna rip your fuckin' eyeballs out. Capisce?") nor was he trying to be funny. I guess he's just one of those people that uses terms like that in normal conversation. At least he didn't say "five large".

Borrowing a page from theJAN 30

Borrowing a page from the world of footwear, General Mills will soon allow people to make their own cereal:

"Welcome to mycereal.com, where cereals don't exist until you create them. We will formulate a cereal tailored to your individual tastes and health concerns, and deliver it right to your door."

Pimentoloaf.com, anyone?

Jonesing to be advertised toJAN 29

Jonesing to be advertised to in semi-interesting ways (and I know you are)? Check out all of the ads aired during the Super Bowl last night. The monkey/E*trade and the George Foreman iGrill commercials (which they didn't even archive on AdCritic) were my favorites.

One good thing about the Vikings' season this year: they were spared the humiliation of losing the Super Bowl by the score of 75-7.

And just so today's post isn't completely football related, let's talk about Britney, N*sync, and Aerosmith. On second thought, let's not. Actually, I will say this: you haven't lived until you've seen Britney singing "Walk This Way" and Steven Tyler & his many scarves animated Matrix-style.

And this makes six.JAN 28

And this makes six.

Trying hard not to talkJAN 28

Trying hard not to talk about [name of item removed to protect its identity].

My ability to add commentsJAN 28

My ability to add comments to posts will soon be returning with the resurrection of Blogvoices. I am happy about this.

The irony of this boo.comJAN 28

The irony of this boo.com sticker affixed to a London trash can hurts me. Photography courtesy of The Notorious G.A.C.

It appears that Eyewire isJAN 28

It appears that Eyewire is using Silkscreen. Thanks to Will for the heads-up.

It's been almost a yearJAN 28

It's been almost a year and a half now, and I'm still waiting for buy.com to ship me my Basement Jaxx CD. Buy.com, why must you suck so completely?

Revolution OS is "a documentaryJAN 27

Revolution OS is "a documentary film about GNU, Linux, Free Software and the Open Source movement." Rumor has it they're showing it at SXSW this year.

Speaking of SXSW, they put up a listing of this year's panels for the Interactive Festival. Among the more interesting ones for me are the interview with Scott McCloud, Interface, Weblogs: Business Applications, Case Study: Hermanmiller.com, the Keynote Conversation with Ian Clarke and DJ Spooky, Euro-Styles, Making A Living with Non-Mainstream Content, and Location, Location, Location. Unfortunately, three of those panels have a time conflict with each other, and two more of them take place at the same time as the Microcontent: Beyond the Web Page panel I'm moderating. Dammit!

Photos with my new cameraJAN 27

a geometric pattern in the window of a japanese restaurant the unblinking eye a mural drawn on the side of a wheelchair ramp at a muni stop

Snatch was pretty good; bestJAN 26

Snatch was pretty good; best performance by a dog in a movie in recent memory. The music was pretty good as well. I'm currently grooving on the track from the big chase scene.

While I was looking for the site for Snatch, I mistakenly typed in "snatch.com", pressed return, and all of a sudden I was looking at porno on the job. Stupid Web is gonna get me fired!

Venus Williams has more musclesJAN 26

Venus Williams has more muscles than you.

This is the last dayJAN 25

This is the last day of the Internet/Web history stuff. I promise.

However, I have saved the best for last. Keith Lynch's timeline of net related terms, concepts, stories, and people is basically a list of items culled from over 25 years of mail and Usenet postings (2 gigabytes worth!), organized by the date each item was first used. Notable terms/dates include:

- Microsoft (Mar 81)
- Internet (Feb 82)
- Smileys such as :-) (Nov 82)
- Chain letters via e-mail (quickly stamped out until 1993) (Aug 85)
- Year 2000 problem (Jan 88)
- FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) (Sep 89)
- "Web" (as in World-Wide) (Mar 92)
- "home page" (Oct 92)
- Linux (an operating system) (Nov 92)
- aol.com gets access to newsgroups (Mar 93)
- The $5 -> $50,000 chain letter in newsgroups (Jun 93) No chain letters since 1985....until AOL users can access the newsgroups. Heh.
- "spam" (meaning mass sending of netnews) (Apr 94)
- MP3 (May 95)
- "blog" (short for weblog) (Nov 99)

Keith has also posted a spam-related timeline of terms and a more personal history of the net, both worth looking at.

Willem dug up this interviewJAN 24

Willem dug up this interview with Jerry Yang and David Filo of Yahoo!, circa May 1995. What strikes me is how little they seem to have thought about how Yahoo! was going to grow as a business, but how well they succeeded anyway.

An interview with Marc Andreessen of Netscape, also circa 1995. Having had the benefit of being around some good business and technical people, Marc, unlike Yang or Filo, seems to have a better grasp on what the whole Web thing means and where his company is headed in that context. To their credit, Yahoo! caught up quickly, though.

Back in the day, near before I was e'er born, Bill Gates, Paul Allen, and Microsoft employee #1 developed the BASIC programming language for the Altair (one of the first personal computers). As their company continued to pour development resources into developing newer and better versions of BASIC, they noticed that only a small percentage of BASIC users were actually paying for the software...the rest were pirating it (or, as the users saw it, sharing it with each other). Gates, being a business man, fired off An Open Letter to Hobbyists, lambasting the PC-using community for stealing software from Micro-Soft (as it was then known). Open source vs. closed source. Pay vs. free. The beat goes on.

Some early mainstream press coverage of the Web (thanks to jjg): A Free and Simple Computer Link from the Dec 8, 1993 edition of the NY Times and this blurb about Mosaic and the WWW in the Net Surf section of Wired magazine. Here's a snippet from the Times article:

"...Mosaic's many passionate proponents hail it as the first 'killer app' of network computing -- an applications program so different and so obviously useful that it can create a new industry from scratch."

Hype like that doesn't usually pan out, but it turns out they were right.

More Web history: two proposalsJAN 22

More Web history: two proposals by Tim Berners-Lee outlining his plan for a hypertext-based system for information management (a system that would eventually become the Web), Information Management: A Proposal from March 1989 and WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project from November 1990.

It's interesting to go back and read TBL's original vision for the Web because it tends to lay it all out in broader terms than we do today. We're all caught up in the specifics these days: JavaScript, XML, making sure our sites work in IE 5 on the Mac, pondering whether Flash is bad for us and why. It's nice to hear a simple description of why the Web is at once so simple and powerful:

"HyperText is a way to link and access information of various kinds as a web of nodes in which the user can browse at will. Potentially, HyperText provides a single user-interface to many large classes of stored information such as reports, notes, data-bases, computer documentation and on-line systems help. We propose the implementation of a simple scheme to incorporate several different servers of machine-stored information already available at CERN, including an analysis of the requirements for information access needs by experiments."

Ah crud, BlogVoices is shutting down. In the short time that I used it, I grew quite attached to it. There were some rough spots due to the fact that it was run by one person who didn't really have the time to support and develop it, but I really liked the ability to change kottke.org from a one-way thing (i.e. me spewing out content to you) to more of a two-way forum where people can talk back at me and also amongst themselves. So, while I'm sad to see it go, I'd like to thank Chris for providing this service for as long as he did.

My interest piqued by Tom'sJAN 21

My interest piqued by Tom's investigation of the history of Yahoo!, I began rooting around the Web to see what I could dig up about Yahoo!'s early days. Here's what I came up with:

- Yahoo! started out on a server at Stanford in 1994: akebono.stanford.edu (it was actually in the /yahoo directory, but that link no longer works). When the traffic to Yahoo! started getting too much for that little server (and Stanford's network) to handle, Yang and Filo moved the site onto Netscape's servers.

- This is cool: a mirror of the Yahoo! directory from 1994, when the site was still on akebono (looks like it was grabbed on Dec 31, 1994). At the time, the directory had only 23,836 entries in it (most of them now broken), three of which pertain to the first HTML editor I used, HTML Assistant. I like the simple copyright at the bottom of each page: "Copyright © 1994 David Filo and Jerry Yang".

- Some stats pertaining to Yahoo! (the random link feature actually) from Dec 1994 - Jan 1996, featuring the many browsers of a bygone era, including early versions of Netscape, Mosaic, AIR_Mosaic, IBM WebExplorer, Cello, and OmniWeb. You can find many of these browsers on the 0sil8 Old School Browsers page and at the Evolt Browser Archive.

- The Entertainment: Magazines: Entertainment and Fun listing contains a now-defunct entry for Boing Boing before it got its own domain name. Mark is old school, kids.

- A screenshot of what the top Yahoo! bar looked like, circa 1995.

- An email from 1994 recommending Yahoo! to people.

- According to this article, Yahoo! was first called "Jerry's Guide to the World Wide Web".

Last week, I asked people:JAN 20

Last week, I asked people: if you could travel in time, where would you go and what would you do? Some of the responses, including my own, mentioned the use of time travel to get rich. Hence, a follow-up question:

How could you best use time travel as a tool to gain significant personal wealth with just one trip? This may seem easy at first, but it is probably somewhat harder than you might think. For instance, you can't go back in time, steal the Mona Lisa from da Vinci's workshop, bury it, dig it up in the present time, and expect to sell it for hundreds of millions of dollars; it just wouldn't be worth that much money without the history that it has lived through. You also can't go back in time and affect the timeline so much that you cease to exist in the present (after all, what's wealth without existence?). Going forward and checking out stock prices might not work as planned either; one or two big investments and your participation in the market would throw the rest of your picks off.

So, how would you make money off of time travel? Is it even possible to make obscene amounts of money (I'm thinking of billions of dollars here) with just one trip? I've closed posting on this, but you can read previous comments here.

I'm having trouble with myJAN 20

I'm having trouble with my email for some reason, so if you've sent me mail or haven't received a reply to something I should have replied to, that's why. Yeah.

When the AOL Time WarnerJAN 19

When the AOL Time Warner deal was announced over a year ago, I made a few predictions as to the consequences of the deal on the Web industry. Don't try to laugh too hard at how wrong (or adept at making completely obvious observations) I was, OK?

Contrary to previous reports, UnderworldJAN 19

Contrary to previous reports, Underworld has not broken up and is actually working on a new album. They are just without a DJ, a spot formerly held by Darren Emerson. I'm relieved Underworld will still be putting out music, but I hope the lack of a DJ won't diminish it. I have a feeling it won't. :)

Appropriate word for this momentJAN 17

Appropriate word for this moment in history: schadenfreude n. pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others (or literally from the German "damage joy").

A quick search for schadenfreude reveals this page by (I would assume) an ex-Boo.com employee:

"[Boo.com] is designed for extremely wealthy people who went out and bought a computer yesterday in a coke-inspired fit of e-commerce related greed and wankerdom."

More Richard Feynman, this timeJAN 17

More Richard Feynman, this time about the Cargo Cult Science Principles of Research:

"In the South Seas there is a cargo cult of people. During the war they saw airplanes with lots of good materials, and they want the same thing to happen now. So they've arranged to make things like runways, to put fires along the sides of the runways, to make a wooden hut for a man to sit in, with two wooden pieces on his head to headphones and bars of bamboo sticking out like antennas -- he's the controller -- and they wait for the airplanes to land. They're doing everything right. The form is perfect. It looks exactly the way it looked before. But it doesn't work. No airplanes land. So I call these things cargo cult science, because they follow all the apparent precepts and forms of scientific investigation, but they're missing something essential, because the planes don't land."

What if you could travelJAN 16

What if you could travel in time? A while back, I asked people about their preferred super power. The majority answered "travel through time". My answer is time travel as well; it seems like it would yield the most interesting results. Anyway, I have some interesting follow-up questions for you:

1. If you could travel in time in only one direction (with unlimited trips to unlimited destinations and then back to the present), would you go forward in time or backward? Why?

2. If you could only time travel on one occasion, to when (and where) would you travel? Why? What would you do there?

I've closed posting on this, but you can read previous comments here.

(For the sake of argument, we'll assume that the time travel occuring here is the science fiction/no-questions-asked sort where you close your eyes, open them a few seconds later, and find yourself in a new time, complete with appropriate clothing, spending money, vaccinations, knowledge of the local language, etc. We'll also assume that your travel is confined to the planet Earth, meaning you can't go to Mars in 2314.)

Tying up a couple looseJAN 15

Tying up a couple loose ends from last week (for you regular readers):

- For those that dislike using the Napster, Barcelona has "I Have the Password to Your Shell Account" available for free download on their sounds page. This is pop music at its bubble gum finest, kids. (thanks to several people who wrote in about this one)

- I mentioned last week that Fuse Magazine went under after one issue...the source for that was this NY Times article.

Andy from the excellent Lines & Splines noted that Barcelona's logo and Agilent's logo look suspiciously the same. I wonder which one came first?

I also made the mistakeJAN 15

I also made the mistake of purchasing Mission Impossible 2 on DVD. I had forgotten just how bad this movie was in spots. Surprisingly, the DVD extras were just as bad as the film; the making-of featurettes seemed to be produced solely to show us what a great actor Tom Cruise is because he showed up to work every day, didn't talk down to the help, and did a lot of his own stunts. Gee, that's great, but how about a little insight on how the stunts worked and how they fit into the plot?

Anyway, I know some people out there did like Mission Impossible 2, and it would be a shame to waste the DVD. So, if you are one of those people, let me know and I'll choose someone to send the DVD to. All I ask is that if the recipient isn't 100% satisfied with the DVD, they send it along to someone else to enjoy. (Update: I have a winner! Thanks for playing.)

Movies seen in the lastJAN 15

Movies seen in the last few days: Chuck & Buck, The 400 Blows, The Cell, Red Violin, and Incident at Oglala: The Leonard Peltier Story. I liked them all about the same amount (they were all just OK), but for different reasons.

I'm finally well enough toJAN 15

I'm finally well enough to sit down and do some stuff on the computer today. I've been down with some sort of stomach flu/food poisoning/I-don't-know-what since early Thursday evening. Blech.

As I grow older (andJAN 11

As I grow older (and hopefully wiser...although I think the progress on this front has been somewhat slower than I hoped), one thing is becoming more and more apparent to me:

The answer to all of life's questions is "it depends".

What I mean by that is one of the strengths of humanity is the ability to adapt. Our brains let us look at many different situations and decide the preferable course of action for each one of them. A good education emphasizes and hopefully improves on that ability: "catch a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime".

Based upon what I've read of his writing on useit.com and elsewhere, Jakob Nielsen is merely feeding people instead of teaching them to fish. He provides rules in situations where a more flexible outlook is needed. Web designers and builders need mental tools to help them solve the varied and complex problems encountered when designing Web sites and applications, not a set of one-size-fits-all instructions. I agree with what much of Dale Dougherty writes in Invasion of the Usability Experts:

"I worry that a creative process of asking questions will be replaced by simple recall of easy answers."

You can hardly fault Jakob for his approach; the folks that he feeds will get hungry and come back for more (at the rate of hundreds of dollars per hour) whereas the folks who know how to fish themselves won't come back. It's quite the lucrative deal. The problem is that I have to professionally deal with those folks who feel that they have all the answers to a problem that they haven't even looked at closely.

Disclaimer: Like Dale, I think that what Jakob does is very important. He's very often right about the things he writes about and is certainly no dummy. I just think that he is doing a great disservice to the Web building community with his insistence on quoting rules rather than helpful guidelines.

Addendum: I'm currently reading The Pleasure of Finding Things Out: The Best Short Works of Richard P. Feynman. In one of the essays, Feynman, who is one of the 20th century's smartest people, cautions against just this sort of thing in talking about the teaching of science to children:

"The book has some [other answers] - 'gravity makes it fall'; 'the soles of your shoes wear out because of friction.' Shoe leather wears out because it rubs against the sidewalk and the little notches and bumps on the sidewalk grab pieces and pull them off. To simply say it is because of friction is sad, because it's not science."

Over the holidays, I readJAN 10

Over the holidays, I read the first issue of this new magazine called Fuse. I liked it for the most part, mainly because the short articles reminded me of reading on the Web, so I popped over to their Web site to subscribe. A few days ago, I found out that Fuse went under after that one issue. Crappy crap.

From the aforementioned issue of Fuse comes this interview with boo.com founder Ernst Malmsten. In it, he is asked to present a list of things he wished he knew before starting Boo. I'm not going to type in the whole article, but I will share one item with you which is pretty representative of the rest of the list:

"2. [I wish] that we'd raised more capital at the outset. You want a reserve. You want to have money in case of an emergency, because you never know what will happen. The market goes up and down all the time. Also, investors don't stick around. Not that I blame them."

So $135 million wasn't enough? Methinks that he still does not understand why Boo failed.

Also from that one issue of Fuse: List, a magazine consisting entirely of lists. Unfortunately for me (as someone who likes lists), it seems as though the next issue won't be coming out for a while...if at all.

Theobjective of thispost isto tellJAN 08

Theobjective of thispost isto tell you that thespacebaron my keyboardisnotworking too well sinceIdroppedit on the floor.

Thanks to Bryan, I'm currentlyJAN 07

Thanks to Bryan, I'm currently addicted to Barcelona's I've Got The Password To Your Shell Account (which appears on this album; I couldn't find it anywhere else...I guess you could try the Napster). The song details a girl who puts her "comp sci skills to work" and guesses her boyfriend's password. Or is it about relationships? I'm not quite sure, but damn, it's catchy.

Songwriting about the technology/geek culture is nothing new. Remember that song about playing Pac-Man ("I've got all the patterns down, up until the ninth key. I've got Speedy on my tail, and I know it's either him or me.")? Did you know there was a whole album recorded around that song? Some of the other tracks on the album include Froggy's Lament, Ode to a Centipede, and Do the Donkey Kong. Get the album while you can on Ebay, or find the tracks on Napster.

Did you know the priceJAN 06

Did you know the price of stamps is increasing on Sunday? I didn't. Perhaps the USPS needs better PR....or I need to start paying attention to the news more.

For all you fans ofJAN 06

For all you fans of small screen fonts like Silkscreen, Joe Gillespie has released a new version of Mini 7. There are TrueType versions for both the Mac and the PC, and it's comprised of 7 different fonts (plus a bonus dingbat font).

I added some new linksJAN 06

I added some new links (and deleted a few others) to the "recommended" section of the sidebar.

The Best American Science WritingJAN 06

The Best American Science Writing 2000 is a fine collection of the best science writing from last year.

Cluetrainer David Weinberger on TheJAN 05

Cluetrainer David Weinberger on The Hyperlinked Metaphysics of the Web. If you don't have time to read the whole thing, the summary at the beginning should be enough to get your brain working a little bit. A particularly interesting passage from the last section:

"In our culture, we're suspicious of strangers. They're a threat. They lurk in shadows. On the Web, however, strangers are the source of everything worthwhile. Strangers and their utterances are the stuff of the Web. They are what give the Web its matter, its shape, its value. Rather than hiding in our tents and declaring our world to exist of the other tents near us - preferably with a nice tall wall around us - the Web explicitly is a world only because of the presence of so many strangers."

Oops.Metafilter has been so muchJAN 05

Oops.

Except for all the driving,JAN 04

Except for all the driving, Idaho was just the ticket for a nice vacation. Bryan's grandparents' place was amazing...it was practically a lodge, multiple bedrooms, huge kitchen, roaring fireplace. Snowboarding and skiing at Sun Valley were exhausting but fun...although I'm so sore right now that I can't laugh without my sides aching.

Two interesting Idaho dining experiences:

- A 2 hr. & 15 min. sushi meal with 30-45 minutes in between each course. They said the slow service was due to a computer malfunction and invited us to stay for some complementary sake (and took a whopping 10% off of the bill!!), but we were too irritated at that point to stay.

- An otherwise nice meal at Piccolo's seated next to a gentleman who, in the course of 5 minutes of conversation, announced his dislike of blacks (Jesse Jackson in particular) and homosexuals. I imagine I didn't hear the anti-Semetic part of the conversation.

Rushmore is so god dammed funny.

People have been trying toJAN 03

People have been trying to figure out what the 90s were all about. The 70s decade is referred to as the "Me Decade" and the 80s were the "Greed Decade". What about the 90s? I would like to propose that the 90s were the "Where's That From? Decade" or, alternatively, the "Meta Decade".

Brother, can you spare someJAN 02

Brother, can you spare some information? I need to find some examples of people using weblogs for business purposes (as a part of a ecommerce Web site, company site, intranet, &c.). Some examples I already have are Good Experience, the Star Tribune Weblog, Blogger.com, the Guardian Unlimited Weblog, and Jim Romenesko's MediaNews. Post any URLs that you have or email me if you run a business-type weblog. I'm particularly interested in hearing from those using weblogs on intranets or non-journalism-based sites. Thanks!

Happy Birthday, Meg. Did youJAN 01

Happy Birthday, Meg. Did you get what you wanted this year?

Welcome to the first dayJAN 01

Welcome to the first day of the new millennium. I hope you didn't let last year's fake new millennium fool you. Or does the new millennium start on March 25th?

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