Entries for March 2001 (April 2001 »    May 2001 »    June 2001 »    Archives)


There's lots of good stuffMAR 30

There's lots of good stuff on the Errol Morris Web site, inculding a list of reasons Why It Makes Sense to Beat a Dead Horse, this long interview he did at the MoMA a couple years ago, and information on his films (I've seen both Mr. Death and Fast, Cheap, & Out of Control and would recommend both).

Here's an exercise for youMAR 29

Here's an exercise for you kids to do at home: devise a Plastic.com drinking game. Sample rules might include:

- Find a front page posting with less than 15 comments? Take 1 drink.
- Take 1 drink for each link you saw on Obscure Store first.
- Take 5 drinks if said Obscure Store link is from the Florida Post Sentinel Times Picayune or some equally obscure newspaper that only Romenesko reads *and* is not credited as such.
- Take 2 drinks every time someone mentions karma or one of the "Sucksters".
- Take 3 drinks for every non-Joey-posted item to the front page

See? It almost writes itself, doesn't it? Go nuts.

(BTW, you could probably replace "Plastic.com" with "MetaFilter" and "Obscure Store" with "everywhere" in the above selection with little difficulty and still have a pretty good game. The rule that would really kill you in a MeFi drinking game is "take one drink every time someone references a MeFi rule or "guideline" in a thread (5 drinks if the reference appears on the front page). You'd be at a Winston Churchill level of drunkeness by the third post.)

Last week's highbrow discussion ofMAR 29

Last week's highbrow discussion of all things underwear reminded me of one of my favorite mock insults: pantywaist (the equivalent of calling someone a sissy or a pansy). I also enjoy referring to someone in jest as a milquetoast. Interestingly, Milquetoast was the name of a timid cartoon character from the 1920s from which the current meaning of the word was derived.

Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon isMAR 27

Stanley Kubrick's Barry Lyndon is the most beautifully shot movie I've ever seen. The composition and pacing of Kubrick's films are always excellent, but this one is just amazing, with each scene shot exactly so.

I'm afraid, friends. I'm afraidMAR 27

I'm afraid, friends. I'm afraid for you, for me, for all of us. I'm afraid of this hoof and mouth disease epidemic. I'm afraid that we're using up all of the earth's natural resources too quick to stop in time. I'm afraid that we have too many nuclear weapons still pointed at each other. I'm afraid of what a world-wide recession will do to our small planet.

But most of all, I'm afraid that every time I see Britney's gyrating hips and jiggling breasts, I'm going to want an ice-cold Pepsi. Don't get me wrong, I love Britney's breasts and ice-cold Pepsis; it's the association of one with the other that makes me uneasy.

Bryan Boyer on upcoming trends in designMAR 25

This week's mini interview is with Bryan Boyer, currently plying his trade at KnowNow and forever twirling, twirling, twirling at bryanboyer.com.

Q: Bryan, you pay a lot of attention to design. Are you seeing any upcoming trends in that area?

A: More and more we're seeing dampened interface elements become part of our lives. It's definitely a trend in product design these days. Next time you get into a VW grab the ceiling handle and pull it down. When you let go you should notice that it glides back into place instead of snapping instantly. There's no jarring noise or quick action, and neither are missed.

Turn on a Bose Waveradio and watch as the volume counts up from zero. It remembers your previous volume setting just like a normal radio, but instead of jumping to that volume it slowly fades up to it, easing you into whatever happens to be playing at the moment.

The trend continues to lights as well. In a rather unremarkable rental car last month I remarked on the only unique factor-- the lights which fade out instead of popping off.

What's really nice about all of this dampening is that it exactly counteracts the quick-cut nature of our media. That's not to say that jump cuts are bad, or that MTV is horrible dreck (I've been known to lose many an hour to that blasted channel), but simply that blending your experiences in the physical world by fading from one environ to the next is soothing. We have enough harsh transitions, why not fix the ones we can? :: end

Make no mistake, there isMAR 23

Make no mistake, there is nothing funny about the demise of hahablog.

Dave Eggers on waiting forMAR 23

Dave Eggers on waiting for the right time to exploit your indie success:

"In your own city, you have The Onion, which was started by a few people with a little money, and now they're doing pretty well. But they could have gone to New York right away and asked some publisher for the initial funding, and they would have been quickly refused. Or, if funded, the publisher/investor would have changed everything quickly and dramatically, until it sucked. So the Onion people could have complained about how terrible corporate America was, and how they weren't given a chance, etc. But instead The Onion did it on their own, the way they had envisioned it, and a huge audience responded to the purity of their vision, and how fucking perfect everything they did was. Now huge publishers pay The Onion extravagantly to do exactly what The Onion wants to do. The lesson is, if you make something good and it finds an audience, you'll always have the option of getting money people to pay you to continue doing exactly what you're doing."

The Internet economy that was in effect over the past couple years seemed to function in exactly the opposite manner. Maybe Dave is on to something here...

ioLib is a code libraryMAR 23

ioLib is a code library - a quite extensive one by the looks of it - for Flash 5 developed by ioResearch. It's free, it's GPL'ed, what more do you need? (In other words: this is so cool! Holy fricking crap!) link via currentform

I updated the sidebar "recommended"MAR 23

I updated the sidebar "recommended" links yesterday, adding a few sites in and taking some others away in an attempt to introduce some new stuff into my browsing routine (to make it less routine?). If you've got some extra time, take a look at some of the new links...they're all pretty good.

Roughly paraphrasing the results fromMAR 22

Roughly paraphrasing the results from yesterday's inquiry about underwear humor: underwear in its proper context is not funny, underwear out of its proper context (i.e. on someone's head, hanging from a tree, etc.) is funny, discussing underwear is funny, the word "panties" is somewhat naughty, the word "underpants" is always funny, Spanish underwear (calzones) is funny, but only in Italy, and the words "spigot" and "doily" are also funny.

Microsoft prospers by taking someoneMAR 22

Microsoft prospers by taking someone else's good idea (the Web browser, the Web server, the GUI, etc.), throwing lots of resources at it until they get it right (IE 1.0 sucked, IE 4.0 was light years ahead of the competition), and then pretty much dominating the market through sheer size and leverage. The Hailstorm and .NET stuff shows that Microsoft is getting better and faster at their "Borrow. Iterate. Dominate." strategy. That's a little scary.

Instead of this worthless listMAR 22

Instead of this worthless list of the most-stolen cars, CCC should track the most stolen cars by percentage so that car owners can tell how likely it is for their particular car to be stolen. I hate misleading statistics (but 43% of you know that, right?).

Picture from last weekend'sMAR 22

two cones in love

Picture from last weekend's walk in the park: two cones in love.

This is excellent. Someone hasMAR 21

This is excellent. Someone has taken the time to document the history of the All Your Base meme. It's hard to see exactly where the tipping point occurs because the trail of influence is difficult to follow online, but it would probably be the postings to Something Awful and Stile Project (the market mavens of the online world). (link from Taylor, who got it from his mom)

Question of the day: IsMAR 21

Question of the day: Is underwear funny? Post your thoughts here.

Note to self: make dumberMAR 21

Note to self: make dumber friends. All your current friends are making you feel stupid, dimwitted, and otherwise incompetent.

In the tradition of TheMAR 20

In the tradition of The Onion:

Likeness of Virgin Mary Appears on Web Site

simple web graphic or mother of christ?

The Internet is buzzing with the news that the Virgin Mary has appeared on this page of the sacredheart.com Web site. The likeness of the Virgin, found about halfway down the page on the left side, was discovered by Ohio resident Patricia Lawton. "I was on the AOL when this page just appeared out of nowhere," says Lawton, an active church-goer, "It was the Virgin Mary, plain as day. It's a sign that God wants us all to use the Internet."

According to sacredheart.com's Webmaster, hundreds of thousands of Web surfers have made a pilgrimage to the page since the discovery last Tuesday, nearly bringing the site's Web servers down. The Vatican has been contacted about the sighting, but has no official comment to make at this time.

From the Cornell University ErgonomicsMAR 20

From the Cornell University Ergonomics Web site: Ergonomic Guidelines for arranging a Computer Workstation - 10 steps for users.

Some photos from SXSW 2001,MAR 19

Some photos from SXSW 2001, none of which contain actual people:

a monster neon
At left, an original artwork by Andre Torrez on a cardboard bar coaster depicting me, clad in tie, about to be devoured by a monster. On the right, a closeup of the phallic Austin Motel sign.

no guns just guns
There were no guns allowed in the Austin Convention Center. There was a store called "Just Guns" across the street from the hotel I stayed at in Austin. Two worlds colliding.

vectrex atari timex
I was surprised to find a display of antique computers at the trade show. Vectrex (left) was an early gaming system, but the wide variety of keyboards on the various personal computers was what caught my eye. The middle photo depicts an Atari keyboard while the one on the right is a shot of a Sinclair keyboard (although I am not entirely sure on that). They also had an Apple Lisa and a color NeXT box on display.

In general, I had an OK time @ SXSW this year. I didn't get to meet very many new people, which isn't that unusual for me, being as wallflowery as I am, but was disappointing nonetheless, contributing to the feelings of weirdness and uneasiness I felt after I got back to SF ("It was fun, wasn't it? It was supposed to be fun, right? Then why wasn't it?"). There's always next year, I suppose.

Phil Carmody found a primeMAR 18

Phil Carmody found a prime number which, when written in hexidecimal, forms a zip file that contains the code for decrypting DVDs. I love math. (from /.)

Other tidbits about prime numbers (from the Prime Curios site)

- A emirp is a number that is also prime when the digits are written in reverse order.

- 1234567891010987654321 is a palindromic prime. (As Matt correctly pointed out to me, this is not a strict palindrome...unless you count like so: "one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, ten, nine..." Also, the Prime Curios site listed this number as a "Smarandache generalized palindromic prime". I have no idea how this differs from a non-Smarandache generalized palindromic prime; I'll leave that as an exercise for the interested reader.)

- A megaprime is a prime number with at least 1,000,000 digits.

- 200 is the smallest number which cannot be turned into a prime number by modifying one of the digits.

I am supposed to beMAR 18

I am supposed to be doing my taxes now, but am procrastinating.

I started writing for thisMAR 17

I started writing for this site three years ago.

Ok, I've tried to remainMAR 17

Ok, I've tried to remain silent and not let this bother me. Dear God, how I've tried. But I can't take it any longer, so here goes. You know that phrase that everyone keeps saying, that "all your base are belong to us"? It's grammatically incorrect! Everyone has been saying it wrong! The fools! It should be "all of your bases belong to us". Please use the correct version from now on. Thank you.

Rock-solid, never-fail advice for ScoobyMAR 16

Rock-solid, never-fail advice for Scooby and Shaggy: Never agree to split up. Never. I know Fred looks like a smart guy, that Daphne and Velma are very persuasive, and you can cover twice the area with two groups than you can with one, but this splitting up business always ends with you two getting into a lot of trouble. Next time your "friends" suggest splitting up, just say no.

As Neale noted, a WebMAR 16

As Neale noted, a Web project (Suck for Dummies) I did a long time ago ended up in Suck five years ago yesterday. Five years. It's a horrible cliché, but it really does seem like yesterday. I'd like to say I've learned and grown so much since then, but it doesn't seem like I have.

Thanks to a flight cancellationMAR 15

Thanks to a flight cancellation and some upgrades that Meg had been saving up, we found ourselves in first class on a flight from LA to Austin. When I got on the plane, I fully expected -- being in first class flying out of LA and all -- to be surrounded by movie stars on the plane. "Hi, Brad," I pictured myself saying, "how are you and Jennifer doing this fine morning?" I also fully expected to be disappointed when I didn't see any movie stars. As luck would have it though, the actress who plays Nina Van Horn on NBC's Just Shoot Me was sitting right across the aisle from us.

I'd also like to thank Nick for taking over this site for a few days while I was gone @ SXSW.

I'm off to SXSWMAR 09

I'm off to SXSW tomorrow morning first thing. My only commitment for the weekend is moderating a panel on microcontent on Tuesday. The rest of the time will be spent, um, doing other stuff, I guess. If you happen to see me wandering around the conference, feel free to come on up and say hi. I'll be the quiet, average-looking fellow most likely standing next to Meg, Matt, Heather, and Stewart (they're the ones you'll really want to talk to anyway).

While I'm away, I won't be posting anything to this site. Like last year, a guest writer will entertain you. This year's guest is Nick Sweeney. Nick's a smart fellow (or "chap", if you'd like) from the UK that has probably written something you've read (or if you haven't read it, you would have enjoyed it if you had). Nick, this space is yours until I return. Good luck.

Things You Never SeeMAR 08

Things You Never See in Minneapolis, But That Are Rather Commonplace in San Francisco: A man dressed in a short, pink dress and slingback pumps playing a violin and singing loudly in a foreign language. I've been here just long enough that I really didn't even think it was that strange.

Speaking of, the 12 galaxies guy (Frank Chu) was sporting a new sign the other day: "Impeach Monroe", referring to former President James Monroe, I would assume. Doing a little more digging, it seems that Frank isn't too picky about what goes on his sign:

"Apparently, Frank will rent his sign space to pretty much anyone who will pay him...the LearnIt! people did pay him to advertise..."

Will advertising on Frank's sign become the hip new advertising trend here in San Francisco?

How to Design a SuccessfulMAR 07

How to Design a Successful Petrol Station looks like an interesting book.

If there are noMAR 07

If there are no employees to do the work, is it really a company anymore? Livemind learned this the hard way when they got money from a venture capital firm and 80-90% of the staff staged a walkout because they disagreed with the terms of the agreement. Via Plastic.

This is the second time in recent weeks I've heard of something like this happening...except that the first instance didn't get any press.

Watching Frontline's The MerchantsMAR 06

Watching Frontline's The Merchants of Cool last night very nearly made me ill. I knew that teens were being marketed to intensely, but I had no idea as to the extent of it. Parents, did you know your children are owned by Viacom? I'm not exactly sure what I can do about the situation, but I do know that as time passes, I get more and more uneasy about mass media, advertising, and marketing in general. How do I reconcile these feelings and my responsibilies & duties as an employee of a company** that is using marketing in similar ways and aspires to be one of those large companies that controls what information people have access to and when?

** In all fairness, the company I work for is not doing anything any other company would be doing in its place. My uneasiness is not with my company, it's with the state of things in general.

Favorite site of the moment:MAR 05

Favorite site of the moment: Filepile: Take a penny, leave a penny (provided that penny is less than 10 Megs). Such a cool little toy. Two things are missing though: an explanation frame (preferably at the top or the bottom) and a refresh button for each one of the content frames.

I found out yesterday thatMAR 05

I found out yesterday that I can check the MUNI arrival and departure times from the Web on the NextBus site. They even have a map of all the vehicle positions updated in realtime. I love technology.

The 2001 5K competition isMAR 05

The 2001 5K competition is now open for entries. You have until April 8th to build and then submit the best Web page (or site) under 5,120 bytes (for more info, see the competition overview). Good luck.

March 4th? March forth!MAR 04

March 4th? March forth!

Das Boot is an amazingMAR 04

Das Boot is an amazing movie, even when viewed while sick. Other submarine movies (and most other war movies) pale in comparison; it's a rare film that can hold one's attention for almost 3 and a half hours...I feel like I didn't even blink during some of the scenes.

Being sick on a weekendMAR 04

Being sick on a weekend is one of life's crueler jokes.

Mini Interview #3: Rebecca Mead, weblogs, and MetaFilterMAR 02

As part of a continuing series of mini interviews, I recently questioned New Yorker staff writer Rebecca Mead. Rebecca is the author of You've Got Blog, along with several other non-weblog-related articles. Here's what she had to say:

Q: Now that you've had a few months to think it over, what do you *really* think of weblogs?

A: This question is the weblog equivalent of that old conversational line where the guy says, "All I've been doing is talking about myself. It's time *you* said something. What do *you* think about me?"

I like weblogs a lot, in theory. I'm excited by the idea of individuals seeking and finding readerships of their own, and I think the connectivity that blogging promotes is a wonderful, life-enhancing thing. The world can look bigger through a weblog. My absolute favorite thing on the web is Metafilter, which teaches me things I don't already know, engages me with often very intelligent discourse, and serves as an excellent tool for procrastination in my working life. (The only thing that isn't any good about Metafilter has been the recent trend towards long debates about whether Metafilter is any good.)

Of course, in practice, I think that the majority of weblogs I come across are awful -- derivative, puerile, self-important, blockheaded, dull. But that's fine: I think that most media products are awful. I don't want to watch most of what's on TV; I don't want to read most of what's on the newsstand. It would be surprising if there were more than a few weblogs that held my interest. Someone's reading them, just like someone -- a lot of someones, actually -- are reading Teen People. It doesn't have to be me.

Anyone who read my story in the New Yorker will probably understand that I am more interested in bloggers as characters than I am in blogging as a -- yawn -- phenomenon. (I'll leave that angle to Newsweek et al.) One of the satisfying things about having written about weblogs is that I've been able to keep up, as it were, with what's going on with my former subjects, without actually having to communicate with them. This, for a journalist, is a kind of dream come true, because we always want to know what happens to the people we write about when we depart the scene, and we hardly ever find out. Being able to read the blogs of my subjects has been a little like experiencing life after death -- so that's how things turned out once I was gone! So I've kept an eye on you all. I was very sad to watch the implosion of Pyra -- reading the accounts of that on various participants' sites was rather like watching a reality-TV show gone horribly sour. I've checked out Meg's new brown hair via her webcam. I've wondered whether Ev has found anyone to share his office space. And I've read your own site in the hope that I'll learn something about how things are going in your personal life after I'd broadcast details of it to 850,000 readers. But you're far too discreet for that. :: end

McSweeney's + Greg Knauss =MAR 01

McSweeney's + Greg Knauss = the best goddamned thing since those lunatics at Reese's put chocolate and peanut butter together.

There was a Growing PainsMAR 01

There was a Growing Pains reunion movie on TV last year and no one told me? TiVo, my little friend, you let me down by not recommending this to me. For shame.

Charlie Chaplin's 18 yo granddaughter,MAR 01

Charlie Chaplin's 18 yo granddaughter, Kiera Chaplin, is a model. The Little Tramp begets a little tramp? (I know, I know, models aren't (necessarily) tramps, but I needed it for the joke. The joke is all!!)

Apropos for me right now:MAR 01

Apropos for me right now: Little Blue Folders:

"The marketing folks at these companies obviously went to the P.T. Barnum Sucker-Born-Every-Minute School of Business. They are over-selling these automated classification products in a way that may pump up sales in the short term, but will inevitably lead to a major back-lash as their customers learn the hard way that software alone can't solve their portal problems."

Passfaces allows you to logMAR 01

Passfaces allows you to log in to secure resources using a series of pictures rather than an alphanumeric string. I messed around with building a system like this for an intranet at this crappy company I used to work for, but never got around to building it.

A non-crappy company I used to work for, B-Swing, has a new Web site up. If you need some Web/interactive work done in Mpls (or anywhere else for that matter), give them a jingle.

I would imagine that theMAR 01

I would imagine that the employees at marchFIRST are having afternoon cupcakes or something at work today...if the company has any afternoon cupcake money left in the coffers.

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