Entries for November 2001 (December 2001 »    January 2002 »    February 2002 »    Archives)


A Usenet post to alt.tv.futuramaNOV 30

A Usenet post to alt.tv.futurama by the executive producer for Futurama, with details about the forthcoming season. My favorite follow-up to the post is this comment (which you should read aloud in your best Comic Book Guy voice) correcting David about a plot point.

It's nice to see smallNOV 30

It's nice to see small companies that are still willing to freely share their knowledge in this tough climate. 37signals presents Design Not Found: The Best and Worst of Contingency Design and CarbonIQ has released a preview of their user-centered design methods document. Very nicely done on both counts.

<!-- Insert more personality here.NOV 30

<!-- Insert more personality here. -->

A reader reminded me aboutNOV 29

A reader reminded me about the whole IT/Ginger thing that was hot news earlier this year. According to The IT Question site, the release of Ginger will be sometime in 2002, although Time says that Kamen hasn't said a word about IT in months. Apparently, Good Morning America is going to reveal the identity of IT during their broadcast on Dec. 3rd.

Also, someone with the username "Jane Doe" posted a short note in The IT Question discussion forum back in January saying that she'd actually ridden IT and that IT's a "heck of red scooter" and "easy to steer and you cant fall off!!!" The rest of the 39-page, 11-month-long discussion is composed mostly of everyone trying to figure out what Jane Doe's deal is. Online communities are funny.

Update: looks like Wired News did some digging about IT today too: "Will 'It' Finally Be Revealed?"

Thomas from wopizza.de sent alongNOV 28

Thomas from wopizza.de sent along a Christmas gift for readers of kottke.org: music from the latest album by Enzo Gragnaniello and James Senese ("the Italian Miles Davis"). Enjoy.

Speaking of the Legend ofNOV 28

Speaking of the Legend of Zelda, Zelda Classic is a Windows/DOS-based replica of the original NES Zelda game with which you can build your own levels and customize existing ones. It's like Excitebike + Zelda. Hopefully these folks won't get sued by Nintendo (although I suspect they will).

On a related note, I suspect that there's a significant market out there for old games that have been augmented. MAME has a huge following and several companies have released older arcade favorites for the newer gaming systems. EA is even doing some new things with the original version of SimCity, allowing people to play online while chatting with other city planners.

With Zelda as an example, Nintendo, borrowing from the feature sets of more recent games, could create a new version of the old game that would work online, allow people to create & trade custom maps, let more than one person play in a world at a time (collaborative puzzle solving), and allow players to change the difficulty of game play (as well as a bunch of other factors). It wouldn't work for every old game, but I'd wager there are a few games that people would play and pay for.

Character in Harry Potter books,NOV 27

Character in Harry Potter books, or current U.S. Navy rear admiral? and captions for a cartoon.

The original commercial for theNOV 27

The original commercial for the Legend of Zelda, still one of the best video games of all time. Go Link, go Link, uh, uh, yeah. (via BoingBoing)

Saw 2001: A Space OdysseyNOV 27

Saw 2001: A Space Odyssey at the Castro last night in 70mm. Don't miss this if you live in the Bay Area.

Apparently, superstar designer David Carson'sNOV 26

Apparently, superstar designer David Carson's NY apartment was among those destroyed by the crash of Flight 587 earlier this month. (Update: the link to Carson's site seems to be non-functional.)

Web design still continues toNOV 26

Web design still continues to confound and annoy (and challenge). Given the restraints designers have to deal with (i.e. the wide array of crappy browsers out there), controlling font sizes via stylesheets with pixels seems like the best way to go...except that many users are unable to modify the size of the type when font sizes are specified in pixels. In an ideal world, the designer recommends font styles and sizes for a particular document, and the user can override them if s/he chooses to. The newest browsers are getting there, but we're still far, far away, leaving designers with the hard choice between a) not getting any of the advantages of using stylesheets and b) inconveniencing a small but vocal percentage of their users that want to adjust their font styles/sizes but can't because of their crappy browser (not their fault!). It's a pickle...and I'll be glad when it all just works.

The Tekken Torture Tournament isNOV 26

The Tekken Torture Tournament is "a one-night event combining the latest video game technology, untapped public aggression and painful electric shock". Contestants are basically wired to the game and get painfully shocked when their onscreen character takes damage. The TTT has already happened, but according to the registration page, a Tetris Torture Tournament is on the way. (via andy)

Playboy.com got hacked last weekend,NOV 21

Playboy.com got hacked last weekend, the culprits apparently making off with "hundreds of thousands" of credit card numbers. Here's a copy of the email sent out to Playboy.com customers by the hackers.

A new design for TheNOV 21

A new design for The Obscure Store and Reading Room launched yesterday. I tried to keep it pretty simple: a little old tyme/circus poster feel for the top banner in keeping with the theme of the site, and then nothing but clear, clean text with ample white space for the rest of the page. It still needs a bit of tweaking perhaps, but overall I'm satisfied with it.

Spent about 30 minutes playingNOV 21

Spent about 30 minutes playing around with uncontrol. Interactive mathematical Flash widgets, will you marry me?

I suck at giving gifts,NOV 20

I suck at giving gifts, but no more. Surprise.com looks to be a godsend for me. They have gifts organized by occasion, person, and most importantly, by personality/hobby. Some of the personality/hobby categories are: A Little Bit Country, Krispy Kreme Maniacs, Environmentally Responsible, and Former Midwesterner. (Thanks, Al!)

As a side note, Surprise.com gets its links from site visitors. A good idea. A better idea would be to give each user a weblog. People publish gift links on their Surprise.com weblogs, categorizing them as they go, and those links are fed back into the main system (after being approved, of course). Not many of the weblogs would get utilized or read, but the few that did (most likely run by people like Cory & Mark, Drue & Shauna, or Zannah, who are expert at digging up such things) would bring a lot of traffic, interest, and links to the site. It's dmoz + Epinions + weblogs, a mix that could yield some interesting results.

Make no mistake: our presidentNOV 19

Make no mistake: our president loves animals.

Secret Santa is a greatNOV 19

Secret Santa is a great idea. Got a Web site? Got an Amazon wish list? Go throw your name in the hat to give and receive a gift this holiday season.

This photo of boxer HasimNOV 18

This photo of boxer Hasim Rahman lying on the canvas after being knocked out by Lennox Lewis is very cool. The king is dead; long live the king.

Harry Potter was, for theNOV 17

Harry Potter was, for the most part, disappointing. I haven't read any of the books, but from what I've heard about them and the acclaim that they have received, it's clear that something got lost in the translation from print to film.

I blame the film's director, Chris Columbus...he just plain sucks. I really wanted to like this movie...I really did. I mean, a school of wizardry? That's so cool! But the presentation of it all was so flat, forced, and one-dimensional (and the CGI was horrible) that I found it all kinda boring. It was Goonies + Star Wars (replace the Quidditch match with a pod race and you've got yourself The Phantom Menace), dumbed down for the kids (who have repeatedly shown their media saavy and don't really need to be talked down to, something which Hollywood routinely ignores, but which, according to all reports, J.K. Rowling got right in her books). I want a do-over.

And Matt got it exactly right, Iron Chef USA sucked. Yesterday was a bad day all around.

I tweaked the comments systemNOV 16

I tweaked the comments system a little to fix some bugs and incorporate some of the suggestions people posted in yesterday's thread. Still lots to do, but it's getting there.

Dan Gillmor is always saying that his readers are smarter than he is. Sadly, that's not the case with my readers. Oh well.

Stardust is giving unemployed techNOV 15

Stardust is giving unemployed tech workers free passes to their Content Networking Event in December. In my opinion, this type of thing should be standard for conferences in the tech/Internet industry. Low entry fees for the unemployed (~$50 to cover basic processing costs, etc.), higher fees for folks who are self-employed or work for non-profits (~$200-300), and full price for those attending on behalf of a corporation (~$1500). Of course, I also think that $1500 for a conference is outrageous...the best conferences I've been to haven't been worth even a 1/4 of that.

For the past couple weeks,NOV 15

For the past couple weeks, I've been building a little comments application for kottke.org, and it's finally done enough to start using it. Comments, questions, bug reports** are welcome...and thanks to the magic of the Internet, you can post them right here. Update 9/22/04: I'm using MT for comments now.

** I'm especially interested to know if something is broken on your browser. I tested it with IE5, NS4, and NS6 on my PC but haven't tested it on a Mac or with Opera or anything like that.

Oh, I almost forgot...I'd like to thank all of the kind folks that helped me out with the construction of the comments system, among them Chris (I pretty much based my comments system on BlogVoices), Andy, Andre, Bryan, Meg, and Scott.

Who says spam is allNOV 14

Who says spam is all bad? I got a spam last night that contained a link to the Elbo Elf site: "Make your child happy this Christmas! Get them an Elbo Elf book and CD. Elbo Elf is the story of a Christmas Elf in Santa's workshop with four uncoordinated arms - the story of how he became...'The Package Master of Christmas'". A whole CD and book about a four-armed elf dubbed "The Package Master"? That's fan-frickin'-tastic.

In the spirit of Elbo Elf, kottke.org presents The Very Special First Degree List That Completely Supercedes The Ultra Elitist A-List In All Ways: Salted Wound, BlahStuff, The Perfect Kiss, Tangmonkey.com, BoredImsomniac, USS Clueless, Webmutant, Crunchland, Blacklist, Phonezilla, The Writing Sessions, Iceberg273, My Life as an American Gladiator, Tamim, Jerry Kindall, Skot, Grangousier, Dopeskill, Holloway, Mattpfeff, Aqua Hydra, Leuschke.org.

Dean's tale of hurting.NOV 13

Dean's tale of hurting.

Designs (actual and proposed) forNOV 13

Designs (actual and proposed) for the US 50 State Commemorative Quarters. The proposed designs for the Ohio quarters are just horrible (design is your friend, Ohio, not your enemy!). Link via Thomas Locke Hobbs' weblog.

Just finished reading The BestNOV 13

Just finished reading The Best American Science Writing 2001 a few days ago. I got it because I really enjoyed last year's edition, and I wasn't disappointed. Based on the subject matter of the essays in the book, the areas of popular scientific interest focus mainly on humanity and biology rather than physics and chemistry; the so-called "less human" sciences. Good stuff for the scientist and non-scientist alike.

And Meg is still inNOV 12

And Meg is still in Boston, scheduled to fly home on American on Wednesday. I wish she were home already.

So, it seems that wheneverNOV 12

So, it seems that whenever I post this thing about Google, something bad happens with planes a day or two later. You'll hear nothing more from me about it.

Tom has an early reviewNOV 11

Tom has an early review of the Harry Potter movie (no spoilers). Sounds pretty good.

Google has been down forNOV 10

Google has been down for most of the day (for me, at least), so I had to use, ugh, Altavista to search for something earlier. It's the first time I'd used something other than Google in more than a year, and it took me about 3 times as long as normal to find what I was looking for. Google is useful enough that I would pay a $5-8 subscription fee per month for access to it. Google is the default command-line interface to the Web...and well worth paying for.

Speaking of, I posted something to StO about Google (third item) last month right before, well, you know. Here it is again:

"...I'm wondering to what extent frequently updated personal Web sites (hereafter referred to as "weblogs" for simplicity) affect Google's search results. Consider that weblogs contain many links (links are Google's food), are frequently updated with tons of information, are now spidered daily by Google, and frequently contain information about the things people are most searching for.

"My theory is that Google without the Personal Web would be a much poorer search utility than it currently is. Without all those weblogs, there would be little tying the Web together. From Google's perspective, weblog authors are basically filling their database with connections to the rest of the Web (and more importantly, metadata about those connections)."

Old Krakow (review) is asNOV 09

Old Krakow (review) is as good a dining experience as you'll find in San Francisco. Authentic Polish food, reasonable prices, the best sauerkraut in the city (according to some local magazine, which the waiter said got a local German restaurant all pissed off because they thought their 'kraut was best), and, according to the waiter, the only place in the Bay Area to get sourdough soup (described as "savory" and "very good"). And the service was wonderful...I thought our waiter was going to personally invite us over to his house after the meal for coffee. One slight downside: I can still taste the garlic soup...and will be for the next several weeks, I think.

Some bookmarklets to use withNOV 09

Some bookmarklets to use with the WayBack Machine. If a page 404s on you, you can hit the bookmarklet to see if it's in the Internet Archive. (Great idea...the Archive itself should be building these little tools.)

Corporate jester would be theNOV 09

Corporate jester would be the perfect job for me: "An employee, consultant, or third party who uses humor to point out a company's flaws and to suggest solutions." That's pretty much what I've done at all my other jobs for free anyway. Does anyone need a top-notch corporate jester? I jest well.

Oh, and I meant toNOV 08

Oh, and I meant to say this yesterday, but forgot: if you liked American Beauty, you should check out The Ice Storm. Very similar feel and subject matter.

The cover for this week'sNOV 08

The cover for this week's Entertainment Weekly is great: Enter Britney. Hundreds of thousands of teenage boys across the country are thinking the same thing right now. (via dollarshort)

Iron Chef t-shirt. Me wantie.NOV 08

Iron Chef t-shirt. Me wantie.

I've been busy (I'm so,NOV 08

I've been busy (I'm so, so far behind on email...if you sent me an email in the past 2-3 weeks and I haven't replied, I apologize; I'll try to get to it soon). I've been working on a small design project, a small typography project, and a slightly larger programming project, pretty much all at the same time. I've been in the zone lately. First time in a long while...and it feels pretty good. Alan Lightman, looking back on his career as a theoretical physicist in an essay for the New York Times, summed up the feeling pretty well:

"I miss being grabbed by a science problem so that I could think of nothing else, consumed by it during the day and then through the night, hunched over the kitchen table with my pencil and pad of white paper while the dark world slept, tireless, electrified, working on until daylight and beyond."

No iBook yet. Waiting patiently.NOV 08

No iBook yet. Waiting patiently.

A letter to you fromNOV 07

A letter to you from Satan.

London bus stops are nowNOV 07

London bus stops are now utilizing some new maps at bus stops. The maps combine a detailed localized street map (so you know where to walk when you get off the bus) with an abstract map (much like the Tube map) of the rest of the bus system (so that you know where the bus is headed once you get on). Very well done.

And yes, I am trying to see how many times I can link to the London Tube map on this site. kottke.org: all London Tube maps all the time™.

Monsters Inc. and The IceNOV 07

Monsters Inc. and The Ice Storm are both fine movies, albeit in different ways. Pixar has taken the art of computer-generated animation to amazing levels...the fur on Sulley is amazing; it doesn't suffer at all from the dampening problems (i.e. the hair doesn't know when to stop moving) I've seen in other hair animation. Most of the time, I thought the movie was live action. As much as I enjoyed the movie, the short Pixar ran in front of the movie (called For the Birds) was even better.

I never never ever neverNOV 05

I never never ever never thought this day would come, not in a million years. So many bad memories, wasted hours, and pain. So here goes:

I want an Apple computer.

There. I said it. I want an Apple computer. With a combination of design (both product and software UI), cost-consciousness, and a solid OS (with Unix!) that finally lives up to what NeXT was teasing us with many years ago, Apple has me drooling over a Titanium running OS X.1 (I'd settle for an iBook...I'm not that picky).

But here's the thing: I already have a computer, a nice computer, a good computer, a computer I just paid a hefty sum of money for. After careful evaluation of my personal economy, it's evident that the purchase of an extra computer is just not reasonable at this time.

So, I've come up with an idea. In exchange for an iBook with 256MB of RAM & an AirPort card (and perhaps some software), I'll put up a "sponsored by..." banner at the top of every page on kottke.org (tastefully done and placed, of course). This isn't a new idea: K10k got some hardware and software from Adobe in exchange for a sponsorship link...so I figure, why can't I? kottke.org is a highly trafficked site, read both by highly impressionable youth and experienced industry wags alike (both good target demographics), and appears somewhat regularly in the press.

Adobe, Apple, Macromedia, etc., I know you're out there looking for some alternative advertising options....email me and let's talk.

I'd forgotten about this greatNOV 04

I'd forgotten about this great quote from my dad: "Travel on the Internet is like eating apple pie on the Internet. It's just not the same."

I just put the apple crisp in the oven (when the cat's away, the mice, um, cook). I used the recipe from Meg's cooking section: Apple Crisp with Oatmeal Crumb Topping. If you look carefully, the word "crumb" appears in the title of the recipe, describing the nature of the oatmeal topping. In this case, after mixing, my topping was not crumbly; in fact, it was the opposite of crumbly. The closest description would either be "gooey" or "mushy". My hopes are not high.

Apple crisp update: It worked! I don't think it's as good as the one Meg made last month, but it's still pretty dern tasty. If I could, I'd have you all over right now for Jason's Special Apple (Not So) Crisp with Oatmeal Paste Topping.

Some sports team beat someNOV 04

Some sports team beat some other sports team. Or something.

Yuck. Probably not worth yourNOV 04

Yuck. Probably not worth your while to read this article from the NY Times magazine fawning all over The Simpsons. While I remain optimistic about the upcoming season, it's pretty clear (to me, at least) that the show has not been anywhere near its prime in several years.

SXSW is holding an IronNOV 03

SXSW is holding an Iron Webmaster competition at the Interactive Festival in March: "All teams will start with the same raw text and graphics and have access to the same hardware and software tools; using these materials, their task is to revise, reconstruct, re-mix, re-purpose and reformat the content and design into a more exciting whole in the space of 90 minutes."

The best Metafilter comment ofNOV 03

The best Metafilter comment of all time ever forever till the end of time to the max. (Related: "the peanuts have been getting a tad loud".)

Prediction: the LA Lakers willNOV 03

Prediction: the LA Lakers will finish the NBA season undefeated, winning a perfect 82 games. I just don't see how anyone is going to beat them.

John Rock's Error is aNOV 02

John Rock's Error is a very interesting article by Malcolm Gladwell from last year on the Pill and how it may be harmful to women as it is currently utilized:

"In other words, what we think of as normal--frequent menses [bleedings]--is in evolutionary terms abnormal. 'It's a pity that gynecologists think that women have to menstruate every month,' Strassmann went on. 'They just don't understand the real biology of menstruation.'

"To Strassmann and others in the field of evolutionary medicine, this shift from a hundred to four hundred lifetime menses is enormously significant. It means that women's bodies are being subjected to changes and stresses that they were not necessarily designed by evolution to handle."

Some reproductive specialists are making a case for longer contraceptive periods to bring a woman's number of lifetime periods down to the historically normal rate (from 400 to around 100), thereby reliving them of much pain and sharply decreasing the risk of ovarian and breast cancers in the process.

mathowie: did you ever getNOV 02

mathowie: did you ever get your affiliate check for that?
damptrousers: come to think of it...
mathowie: probably lost in the mail...
damptrousers: it'll arrive in a week or so, i'm sure...all 'thraxed up.
mathowie: oooh. I'm going to start using that in casual conversation.
mathowie: all 'thraxed up
damptrousers: it'll be all the rage with the kids in a few weeks. "your moms won't let you go to that party? that's thraxed, yo."
mathowie: that's even better.
damptrousers: hey, should i post this conversation to my "Web Log"?
mathowie: yeah, more AIM logs!
damptrousers: whee!

Good God, there's gotta beNOV 01

Good God, there's gotta be something else to talk about here, but I'm just not thinking of anything good right now.

Oh, here's something. Why I like Ariana: "I'm sick, sick, sick of the patriotic schmaltz trade that has sprung from the WTC attacks. I'm sick of the 'Bin Laden: Wanted Dead or Alive' t-shirts, the 'IT'S PERSONAL: 9/11/01' bumper stickers. It's shallow nationalism of the worst, most puerile kind, and I'm so tired of it."

Went to a dot comNOV 01

Went to a dot com auction today in Silicon Valley with Matt and Cory. The auction was surprisingly light on Aerons, but there were craploads of computing equipment...much of it fairly down to earth. Not the picture of dot com excess I was expecting, but you've gotta think they got rid of all the fun stuff (foosball tables, video games, juice machines, etc.) pre-auction at higher prices.

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