Entries for June 2001 (July 2001 »    August 2001 »    September 2001 »    Archives)


Paul Ford has released theJUN 30

Paul Ford has released the source code that makes the Ftrain go so fast in such high style. I like what he has to say about the Web he loves:

"If there is any desire for a more generalized Ftrain system I'll try to meet it. But I know you're all weak, all talk, and that losing your e-commerce stocks took your fire away and you won't actually be joining me in uncovering the possibilities of new narrative connections via the global Interweb because the Web isn't cool anymore. Assholes. Me, I have a 20% stake in an e-commerce telecom startup and gave it hundreds of grievous painful hours of programming and consultancy time. 100,000 shares of nothing. That's the title of my success story. But I refuse to forsake the Web I love."

As the credits started rollingJUN 30

As the credits started rolling at the end of A.I., I decided that I liked the movie. As I thought about it more later and talked about it, I decided that I'd liked it quite a bit. It wasn't the movie Kubrick would have made, but the basic story and themes explored were strong enough to make it work.

Some reviews of A.I.: NY Times, Andrew Sarris, Rex Reed, New Yorker, Epinions.com, Roger Ebert.

Several readers have alerted meJUN 29

Several readers have alerted me to cepi.iscool.net. I'll be taking down my site later today and redesigning it as soon as I can. My apologies to Nofie for stealing his copyrighted desig...hey, wait a minute! That's my copyrighted design!

Three lights and aJUN 29

pondering robot

Three lights and a speaker? Or a robot pondering the existence of his hands?

From a list of non-FreudianJUN 28

From a list of non-Freudian slips:

"Papal Slip: Occurs with religious leaders when making moral or ethical arguments who, instead of saying 'I think,' slip and say, 'God thinks.'"

Possible Onion headlines: "Area ManJUN 28

Possible Onion headlines: "Area Man Saddened to Discover He Did Not Invent 'Air Quotes' Gesture" and "World's Population Losing Human Race; 200,000 Year Split Time 'Not Fast Enough' Says Coach".

The game went into extraJUN 28

The game went into extra innings, but I finally beat the California DMV. I hope I never have to go there again.

Last week, Meg and IJUN 27

Last week, Meg and I were watching parts 1 & 2 of Queen Victoria's Empire when an interview with author Jan Morris came on. The ensuing conversation went something like this:

Me: Is that a woman or a man?

Meg: It's a man.

Me: No, it's not. That's a woman.

Meg: Is not.

Me: Is too.

Meg: Not.

Me: Too!

Meg: Stupid!

Me: I hate you!

Google: Guys, guys, stop fighting. Turns out you were both right. James Morris had a sex change operation in 1972 and became Jan Morris.

Me: I love you, Google.

Meg: Me too.

Nextdraft, written by Dave PellJUN 26

Nextdraft, written by Dave Pell (who does the excellent Davenetics), is quickly becoming my favorite source of general news. It's a perfect mix of information, knowledge, and humor (if you can stomach the bad puns...), without recycling the same "news of the weird" that is so expertly covered by Jim Romenesko (Metafilter, Plastic, I'm looking at you here).

I love Dan Gillmor's letterJUN 26

I love Dan Gillmor's letter to public relations people, especially the email rules. Informative subject line, good opening paragraph, no attachments (the world doesn't need any more Word docs when plain text will do), and no HTML email. Rules to live by for everyone.

I was walking out theJUN 26

I was walking out the door this morning when I realized I was wearing a mismatched pair of shoes. "Oh, so it's going to be one of *those* days," I thought to myself.

New episode of 0sil8: Pocket,JUN 26

New episode of 0sil8: Pocket, mailing list fun for your portable electronic pals. Pocket is a mailing list formulated especially for your wireless device. If you have an email/SMS-capable cell phone, Palm, Handspring, Blackberry, pager, or WinCE device, you can sign up to receive Pocket. All you need is an email address that will send email to that device (if you're unsure of how this works with your device, contact your service provider). Sign up now!

The rest of the photosJUN 25

The rest of the photos from Europe. Finally. I will stop talking about it after this. I promise. Anyway, here are a ton of photos that I took on the trip, gently annotated:

- Beluga caviar with accouterments. First class travel is very nice, but my first taste of caviar will be my last. All the brine of the world's oceans in one little bite and two glasses of Champagne to get the taste out of my mouth. Blech.

- The Arc de Triomphe. A big, big, impressive thing.

- A view of the Champs-Elysees from the Arc de Triomphe.

- Champs-Elysees street sign.

- A view of the Champs-Elysees from the Ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde, looking toward the Arc de Triomphe.

- The Obelisk of Luxor at the Place de la Concorde. The giant Ferris wheel is in there as well.

- Detail of the Obelisk of Luxor. More info about the obelisk.

- The Ferris wheel at the Place de la Concorde.

hedge row

- A row of bushes in a Paris public garden. One of my favorite photos from the trip.

- Boy holding sword. I don't know why, but for some reason I really liked this statue.

- Chairs by a fountain.

- A typical Parisian park. We may have more space for grassy lawns in America, but well-maintained parks like this one are sadly lacking.

- Same Parisian park, different view.

- Some neat typography on this sign.

- A big head sculpture. Can't quite remember where this was or what it is.

- Spices come in many colors at Parisian farmer's markets.

- A cute little Fiat. We saw a couple of these in Paris and Antwerp; most of them looked like they were smiling. This one, with its dented front bumper, was frowning.

- A view of the Centre Pompidou. The Centre Pompidou is a modern art museum in Paris.

- Three big pipes one the outside of the Pompidou.

- A flooded street. The Seine was really high when we were there. A lot of the lower level roads and sidewalks along the water were closed.

- Making a crepe. Shops and carts selling crepes and panini were common on the streets of Paris.

- Slicing meat. The crepe man wielding a large knife.

- Playing sports in an old Roman stadium.

- Two rows of carefully trimmed trees line a long garden walkway. A boy plays football in the foreground.

looking up

- Seated in a gazebo at the peak of a small hill, looking up.

- Peeling paint on the window sill in Meg's mom's apartment.

- A woman feeding some birds in the square in front of the Notre Dame.

- More bird feeding.

- Detail of shoe sole. The dust of travels on my new Campers.

Enterprise Fortitude. I don't knowJUN 23

Enterprise Fortitude. I don't know if I have any of that left, if I ever had any to begin with.

Regarding yesterday's post about "TodayJUN 23

Regarding yesterday's post about "Today I had a Biggie" by Artistocracy 188, here's a more permanent link to the song and their Web site. Thanks to Mark and Jeffrey for the info.

Check out the finalists ofJUN 23

Check out the finalists of the Monson Snowboards Board Design Contest. My favorites are "Clouds", "Claustrophobia", and "Septima".

The Pornography of Semiotics: 24JUN 22

The Pornography of Semiotics: 24 Hours in the Life of MTV. This exemplifies perfectly the current state of media: commentary on commentary on commentary on commentary on... It also makes you realize just how much information is out there in the world. Good stuff.

Guess how these two thingsJUN 22

Guess how these two things are related:

- My keyboard at work has a "Power" button on it. This button turns my computer completely off without going through any sort of shutdown process.

- I don't save my Photoshop files nearly as often as I should.

The top reviewer at AmazonJUN 22

The top reviewer at Amazon has written almost 2200 reviews. Amazon has only been around for approximately 2100 days and soliciting reviews for a lot less than that.

My pirate name is BloodyJUN 22

My pirate name is Bloody Obadiah Mullet. You can pick a pirate name too. (Bryan made me do this.)

If you order Letters toJUN 22

If you order Letters to Wendy's directly from the publisher, it comes with a CD featuring selected readings from the book by James Urbaniak. Some kind genius sampled those readings and put a beat to it. Ladies and gentlemen, Today I Had a Biggie by Artistocracy 188. Thanks to Matt for the link.

The Internet is amazing, andJUN 21

The Internet is amazing, and don't let anyone tell you any different. Here's why:

Late in March, after hearing some rumors about some tracks from Radiohead's new album being available on Napster, I logged on to poke around. Twenty minutes later, I had 7 or 8 songs on my hard drive. It turned out that none of the tracks were actually by Radiohead; they were all by other artists and had been renamed to fool people into downloading them. I actually liked one of the misnamed songs though, so I kept it and threw it into my regular rotation.

Yesterday while listening to the mystery song, I decided to ask my readers if they knew who the song had actually been done by. About 30 minutes after I posted the mp3 file, my friend Kelly AIMed me saying that the link to the song was bad. After I sheepishly corrected the link, she downloaded and listened to the song, confident that she could solve the mystery. She didn't know the answer right off the bat but suggested that the lyrics were not in English, something that hadn't really occurred to me because I can never understand lyrics in songs, even when they are in English.

Kelly eventually suggested that I check out this Icelandic band (Sigur Ros) that is apparently all the rage with the kids. I followed the link she sent me, which in turn linked to CDNow, where I began listening to samples off of their latest album. Song #5 turned out to be my mystery song. I then hopped over to Amazon, my online music retailer of choice, and found the album there as well.

Because Amazon kicks ass in a lot of ways, the album page informed me that my friend Maura had ordered this very selection at some point. I AIMed her and asked if she liked the album. She replied with an estatic "YES!" Not wanting to argue with Maura about music, I ordered two copies of the disc from Amazon, one for me and one for Kelly for helping me sleuth out the song's identity.

Real and complex social interaction is impossible online? The Web is an ineffective medium for business to consumer commerce? Online music downloads and listening don't stimulate music sales? Nonsense, I say. Nonsense!

Another lesson learned yesterday: heavy site traffic + MP3 downloads = server "issues".

holy bandwidth, batman


How good are you atJUN 20

How good are you at Name That Tune? A while back, I downloaded a song from Napster that I thought was a track from Radiohead's upcoming album. It didn't sound much like Radiohead, but I kept it anyway because it was catchy and I liked it. Now that Amnesiac has been released and I know that this mystery track isn't on there, I'm wondering who this bit of music belongs to. MP3 removed to help with the server load. Sorry.

Update: mystery solved. The song is Ny Batteri off of Agaetis Byrjun by Sigur Ros. Thanks to Kelly for the help.

I love that when youJUN 20

I love that when you search for "california dmv" on Google, the first result returned is to a site called Skrew the California DMV.

If you haven't had vanillaJUN 20

If you haven't had vanilla ice cream topped with 25-year old balsamic vinegar, you haven't had vanilla ice cream.

According to the SF Chronicle,JUN 18

According to the SF Chronicle, the San Francisco Zoo is looking for an "Administrative Ass". I was at the Zoo yesterday and they clearly have an ass shortage...no donkeys or mules either. They did have some zebras, but Bryan said that they were just regular horses with a coat of paint. (Sidenote: for a zoo in a big city, the SF Zoo is kinda sucky.) Thanks to Kevin for the link.

Four trips to the DMVJUN 18

Four trips to the DMV later, I still don't have license plates for my car. The culprit this time around? An employee there that called me and told me to come in and specifically see her at window #30 about the title that had finally arrived from Volkswagen. When I actually arrive at the DMV however, I'm told that "officially" there is no window #30 and that the woman who called me has been on vacation for a week and will be on vacation for another week but comes in occasionally to "help out with the mail". And to top it all off, all this is apparently my fault for not making an appointment. Urge to kill rising, rising.

Square frickin' watermelons!JUN 18

Square frickin' watermelons!

Meg and I wentJUN 18

a wee starfish

Meg and I went up to Point Reyes on Saturday afternoon. We found a wee starfish.

When I play multiplayer Quake,JUN 15

When I play multiplayer Quake, I'm ashamed to admit that I resemble these guys quite a bit.

I used Blogger yesterday forJUN 15

I used Blogger yesterday for the first time in a couple months. It was surprisingly fast, faster than I've seen it in more than a year. Still a little buggy, though...a Post & Publish sent a post into the ether.

The smaller cathedral from yesterday'sJUN 15

The smaller cathedral from yesterday's post was Saint-Gervais. Several people suggested Sainte-Chapelle, but Meg's mom remembered that it was Saint-Gervais.

Today's Word Spy word ofJUN 15

Today's Word Spy word of the day is PowerPointlessness: "In a PowerPoint presentation, the fancy transitions, sounds, and other effects that have no discernible purpose, use, or benefit."

Grand churches and cathedralsJUN 14

Grand churches and cathedrals...two things you just don't see over here in America very often. We visited two cathedrals in Paris, the Notre Dame and a smaller one that I can't remember the name of right now. The stained glass windows in the smaller cathedral were amazing (the photos don't do justice to the almost supernatural vividness of the purples and reds of the glass), but the angels on the doorway to the Notre Dame had me dumbfounded. If you look closely, each of the angels is doing something a little differently. The huge doorway to the cathedral is covered with these angels, each carved to do its own thing. I can't imagine the amount of work that went into making just that one doorway, let along the whole building.

Prada wants to build aJUN 14

Prada wants to build a really neat building designed by Rem Koolhaas in Union Square in SF, but the Planning Commission doesn't know whether it likes the design or not.

Cory, slow down! Heavens toJUN 14

Cory, slow down! Heavens to Betsy. You're going to strain your weblogging muscle.

Oh lord, do I needJUN 14

Oh lord, do I need some new music.

Matt and I went toJUN 13

Matt and I went to check out the TDC47 exhibit yesterday. Came away with lots of new ideas....as well as the general feeling of personal talent deficiency I always get when looking at really good design.

After watching the Frontline specialJUN 13

After watching the Frontline special on the energy situation in America, I'm even more confused as to who's at fault. All I know is there's a economic/political tug-of-war happening, and the consumers aren't gonna win.

Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally,JUN 13

Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, part 2! The Godfather Trilogy will be out on DVD before the end of the year. All we need now is Star Wars and Brain Candy, and I'll be all set.

It looks like I gotJUN 13

It looks like I got a taste of my own medicine yesterday with the whole National Blonde Day thing. Turns out that it's a promotional site for a new movie called Legally Blonde coming out in July. A quick check reveals that the domain is registered to MGM. Serves me right.

Excerpt from a Surfstation interviewJUN 12

Excerpt from a Surfstation interview with Miika Saksi:

"[Q]: What do you think of usability and the web. What do you think of jacob nielsen?
[Miika Saksi]: What the hell? Who is Jacob Nielsen? Some stranger? Some pervert?"

"[Q]: Do you care about 56K or 800x600 users??
[Miika Saksi]: No I don't. I -REALLY- don't care. :)"

Miika's smallprint.net (now defunct) was one of my favorite sites a couple years ago. So talented.

The mission of the folksJUN 12

The mission of the folks behind National Blonde Day: "To stop the widespread belief that blondes are dumb and incapable." That's great, but it seems from the FAQ page that all they want to do is trade one unrealistic stereotype for another: "A sunny disposition, determination, and a willingness to achieve are all that are necessary [to be blonde]." Blech.

I shouldn't have stopped reading the NBD FAQ after the third question....it gets better:

- "Q: Are there any famous members of the Club? A: Is Prada expensive? :)"

- "Fashion Fact of the Month: Orange is NOT the new pink."

Stop, stop, stop, I wanna get off!

Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally,JUN 11

Finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally, finally! According to Amazon and DVD Review, Waiting for Guffman will be out on DVD on August 21st.

One of the deleted scenesJUN 11

One of the deleted scenes on the Requiem for a Dream DVD features Marlon Wayans doing a scene as Jar Jar Binks.

Excerpt from The Victorian Internet:JUN 11

Excerpt from The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-Line Pioneers:

"The heyday of the telegrapher as a highly paid, highly skilled information worker was over; telegraphers' brief tenure as members of an elite community with mastery over a miraculous, cutting-edge technology had come to an end. As the twentieth century dawned, the telegraph's inventors had died, its community had crumbled, and its golden age had ended."

Boy, that sounds familiar. (I said that to myself a lot while reading this book.) Quick read, but highly recommended for anyone interested in the Internet. Reviews of The Victorian Internet: Mappa.Mundi Magazine, Byte, John R. Alden. The author also has a Web site that links to some of his other writings.

Some of you may haveJUN 10

Some of you may have noticed the x10 pop-under ads appearing on kottke.org the last couple of days. Fear not, it's not a permanent thing....I was just having a bit of fun on a slow Friday. I've removed the ads, and kottke.org will continue to be ad free until, um, forever.

These pictures taken by NoahJUN 08

These pictures taken by Noah Grey are amazing. After looking at his photography, design, writing, and programming (Have you looked at the code and interface for Greymatter? It's impressive. And coded by one guy in about 6 months. Again, impressive.), I must conclude that Noah is a rare genius. Keep doing whatever it is you're doing, man.

Antwerp? Why not?JUN 07

"Antwerp? Why the hell are you going to Antwerp?" That (or some variation thereof) was the response from almost everyone we talked to about our trip. Even some Antwerp residents wanted to know why we were visiting their city. As great as Paris was, I liked Antwerp better, I think. Antwerp was more European, less cosmopolitan, more quaint, less touristy (which is to say, less gawking Americans), and in general just farther away from what I'm used to than Paris.

Pictures from Antwerp:

looming cathedral in antwerp

- A cute little castle. The smallest castle I've ever seen.

- The cathedral in Antwerp. An impressive building, much taller and larger than the more famous Notre Dame in Paris.

- Looking up at the cathedral. I doctored this picture in Photoshop to make it look somewhat surreal.

- Man on bench.

- A crowd dispersing. On our first full day in Antwerp, we stumbled upon a crowd near the cathedral. We eventually found out that the King and Queen of Sweden were visiting the King and Queen of Belgium and that the four of them were touring the cathedral that day.

- A small straat in Antwerp.

- The cafe we stopped at for lunch one day had an item called "what the fuck salad".

Speaking of photos, Photographica is a place to post, view, and discuss photography (a MetaFilter for photography, basically). It's becoming a near-daily visit for me.

I re-read my baseball postJUN 06

I re-read my baseball post from Sunday, and I'm not completely thrilled with it. The story doesn't fully capture what I was feeling and observed at the time. The last paragraph is horrible and doesn't make any sense. I left my seat in the bleachers with a definite impression, and the story doesn't communicate that to the reader at all. Instead of taking it down or just leaving it the way it is, I'm going to make a creative writing exercise out of it. Every week or so, I'll revisit the story and write a new version of it. The hope is that I will eventually arrive at a version of the story that gives you a sense of the feeling I had that day...and perhaps learn a little about writing in the process.

www.mofo.com doesn't go to whereJUN 06

www.mofo.com doesn't go to where you think it should. It actually goes to the site for Morrison & Forester, one of largest law firms in the world. That's what you're getting for your $300/hr., a bunch of mofos.

The Louvre, lots to marvel atJUN 05

The Louvre, like the Eiffel Tower, is an attraction (if it's even fair to call the Louvre an "attraction") that fully lives up to its reputation. The art contained within the Musée is fabulous and unique and varied, but the buildings, structures, statues, and gardens that make up the Louvre are equally as impressive. Murals on the ceilings, sculpture on the walls, marble flooring, intricate carpeting, cavernous rooms, tapestries, and natural lighting. It all worked together for a wonderful experience.

Pictures from the Louvre:

the venus de milo

- Venus de Milo. This room was packed with people trying to take pictures of this famous sculpture, but I ended up getting a really good shot. Like the Louvre itself, this lived up to the expectations.

- Discus thrower, detail of hand holding the discus. This is one of my favorite photos from the trip.

- Egyptian painting, year unknown. Seeing these ancient paintings up close was amazing.

- Sculpture of Athena. This thing was huge.

- Youth with ball.

- Detail of a gold-encrusted box. I can't recall what this box was, what time period it was from, or where it was from. There was so much to see that I couldn't stop to fully appreciate everything (or even 10% of everything).


- Detail of hieroglyphics. Again, I don't know the time period on this, but it was pretty old.

- The Mona Lisa. Taking a picture of the Mona Lisa is a bit futile because there are so many other photographic reproductions of her out there, but now I have one of my own (and, through the magic of the Internet, so do you).

- Pyramide du Louvre. This recent addition covers the main entrance to the Musée and provides natural lighting to the main underground hallway of the complex. Admittance was free on the day we went (the workers were on strike), and there was at least a 45 minute wait to get into the main entrance. We entered through one of the lesser-known side entrances and breezed right in.

- Huge room of French sculptures. The photo does not do this room justice. It was *huge* and bright and airy and awe-inspiring and again, just huge.

- Detail of a stained glass window. They just don't make stained glass like this anymore.

Still getting naked on theJUN 04

Still getting naked on the webcam.

William Safire writes about theJUN 04

William Safire writes about the arch pause in the New York Times Magazine, a technique similar to the didn't-get-the-joke? quotation marks I wrote about back in April.

While wandering around in theJUN 03

While wandering around in the park today looking for a good place to read, I caught the back half of a doubleheader, two teams from an amateur Sunday baseball league of a semi-serious nature - players wore uniforms, there was an umpire, and the teams had coaches. As the game started, I found myself rooting for the team seated closest to where I was sitting.

the other team at bat

Two innings into the game, it was apparent that my team wasn't up to the task. The starting pitcher was wearing sweatpants. The first baseman, citing personal reasons, departed after the first inning, leaving his team with only eight players and facilitating a need for his coach - who, before the game, was telling his players about his experiences as an Asian child living in WWII-era America (making him about 55 years old) - to take over his position. Another player left after the second inning, and they pulled some guy out of the crowd to replace him. The other team seemed more athletic and serious, with more elaborate celebrational routines and a roster large enough for substitutions.

And then there was the matter of the four runs their opponents tallied in the first inning.

Despite all that, my team appeared to be having more fun than the other team. After all, it was a nice day, they were out getting some exercise, and they had accepted their fate in the game, which had already been largely decided at that point. The other team seemed too caught up in the game to be having fun. I actually kinda felt sorry for them and clapped for my guys when Mr. Sweatpants struck out the final batter in the top of the third.

Dots is "an arts andJUN 02

Dots is "an arts and culture mag designed specifically for Palm and PocketPC handhelds". Very cool idea. And if you don't have access to a handheld, you can view Dots on their PocketPC emulator (bottom of the page). Thanks to Pete for the link.

Amazon Recommends hackJUN 02

About a week and a half ago, I profiled Amazon Recommends, a new service from Amazon that allows members of their Associates Program to easily place product recommendations on their sites using JavaScript. I also lamented that they had hard coded the layout so that you pretty much have to go with their design on your page.

Interested JavaScript coder Willem Broekema found a way to change the layout of your Amazon recommendations. Basically, you put Amazon's JavaScript code in a hidden div, parse it with JavaScript, and then spit it out into another div with the modified look and feel.

Steve Champeon is feeling god-likeJUN 01

Steve Champeon, who is an author, holds a degree in religious studies, and does more stuff on the Web than I can list here, is today's mini interviewee:

Q: As a co-author of the Dynamic HTML Bible, do you feel like you're finally putting your degree in religious studies to good use?

A: Well, I haven't started writing yet, but I'm already beginning to feel the mad rush of omnipotence on the one hand, and on the other, I'm beginning to understand what God felt like with a world to build and a six-day schedule in which to do it. I wonder if God had an acquisitions editor? And, of course, I have capable help in the form of Eric Costello and Scott Andrew LePera, who will write the useful parts of the book. So, to answer your question, 32 Long. And it'll be out at the end of the year. Buy two. :: end

A clarification regarding yesterday's postJUN 01

A clarification regarding yesterday's post about Absolute PowerPoint: The plagiarism crack was not intended as commentary on the journalistic integrity of either Mr. Parker or the New Yorker magazine. I was surprised at the similarity between the two articles, that's all. I suppose I was also affected by the malleability of truth and blurring of fact and fiction in the things I've been reading about lately. I apologize for any misunderstanding.

But I still think the New Yorker Web site needs some serious help.

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