Entries for October 2003 (November 2003 »    December 2003 »    January 2004 »    Archives)


New Scientist on Everything and More: "ThereOCT 31

New Scientist on Everything and More: "There are moments where David Foster Wallace pulls off a very convincing impression of maverick writer Dave Eggers's style". How embarrassing for the reviewer

Important: glitch in Apple's Panther erases connected FireWire drivesOCT 31

Important: glitch in Apple's Panther erases connected FireWire drives. Disconnect all external drives before upgrading...or don't upgrade at all to be safe

Random Friday stuffOCT 31

It took me a whole Strokes album to get to work this morning. Which is actually not a long time, but still. ("Strokes album" is a unit of time in the hipsterverse equal to about 37 of our minutes.)

Currently wondering whether it was a bad idea for me, as a man, to take a One-A-Day Women's Formula multivitamin pill earlier this week. I don't feel any different so far, but I'll keep you posted.

When discussing the planning of the September 11th attacks over the phone, the terrorists used the code phrase "Porsche 911". via Greg.

More multivitamin worries: I can't remember if I took my vitamin pill already this morning. I feel like I didn't, but if I did and I take another one, will the extra pill kill me? I am concerned about what 600% of my Daily Value of riboflavin will do to me.

What's the deal with boingboing?OCT 31

What's the deal with boingboing?. Is God getting revenge for the SARS art stuff or is Carl's server just a little wonky?

Microsoft pursuing takeover of or merger with GoogleOCT 31

Microsoft pursuing takeover of or merger with Google.

Some nice free pixel fontsOCT 31

Some nice free pixel fonts.

David Cross on the "hottest and newest" video gamesOCT 30

David Cross on the "hottest and newest" video games.

Retooling Expose and Cmd-Tab switching on PantherOCT 29

Apple's new OS X update, Panther, has been out for a few days now, and many are cooing over the Exposé feature which allows the user, with a single keystroke (and then some mouse motion & clicking or a few more keystrokes), to navigate to any open window they desire. I think it's a nice feature in theory but clunky in its implementation.

Apple also improved the Command-Tab switching between applications, pretty much mimicking the behavior of Windows by displaying in the middle of the screen a palette with the icons of all open applications which you can tab through until you can get to the one you want. Which is a godsend for an old Windows hand like me because in my experience, Cmd-Tab switching is the one of fastest ways to switch between open applications.

While some are saying that Apple unfairly ripped off the Cmd-Tab feature from an application called LiteSwitch X (Proteron is obviously ignoring that they ripped it off from Windows), I think they missed a chance to take Cmd-Tab to the next level while, at the same time, making Exposé truly useful.

Command-Tab + ExposeHere's what I propose. Ditch the existing clunky Exposé behavior (perhaps except for the "Show Desktop" keystroke) in favor of a combined Cmd-Tab/Exposé behavior. Hitting Cmd-Tab would bring up a palette of all the open windows (not just applications) and would also Exposé all open windows. Continuing to hold down Cmd and hitting Tab would cycle through each icon in the palette (which would need to be smaller to not overpower the Exposéd windows) but would also highlight the corresponding Exposéd window. When you reach the window you need, you let go of the Cmd key and the window pops open. Click on the image to the right to see a full-size screenshot of how this would work (*roughly*). You could certainly augment that basic behavior with existing Exposé features like the ability to use the mouse to navigate to the window of choice or to quit an app by Cmd-Qing while the focus is on that app's window, but for the basic functionality that will be used 90% of the time, all you need is Cmd-Tab.

That's it. Two keys for fast, easy switching between open windows that combines the best of both the existing Cmd-Tab and Exposé approaches...no mousing, clicking, or switching keystrokes required. There are a number of potential problems with this approach (such as the icon palette partially obscuring the Exposéd windows, which really isn't that big of a deal because the minimized windows are essentially acting as icons and therefore don't need to be fully shown...plus the tiny windows all look the same anyway), but I believe the simplicity would more than make up for them.

It was so smoky today in So.OCT 29

It was so smoky today in So. Cal. and the sun's sunspots so large, that you could see the latter because of the former. Amazing..

The curtain is peeled back slightly onOCT 29

The curtain is peeled back slightly on the Lafayette Project, er, Kinja.

NES controller belt buckleOCT 29

NES controller belt buckle. Just push "Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A, Start" to get your pants off

W3C officially provides evidence of priorOCT 29

W3C officially provides evidence of prior art that would invalidate the Eolas patent.

Unfortunate case of someone getting fired for a weblog postOCT 29

Unfortunate case of someone getting fired for a weblog post.

Here comes the Sun (and not in a nice way like in that Beatles song)OCT 29

Attention, citizens of Earth! The time for talk has passed; we need to take action. Our nearest solar neighbor, who goes by the seemingly benign name of "the Sun", is currently making what is the latest in a series of aggressive moves against our planet and its inhabitants. Here are just a few of the Sun's many past & current actions against us:

- Aided by tiny electromagnetic evildoers called "photons", the Sun is providing the fuel for Kudzu's takeover of the American South.

- The Sun is in league with several large Earth corporations for the nefarious purpose of raising the temperature of our planet in order to melt the polar ice cap, flooding our continental coastlines, and making the land further inland into valuable coastline. And who owns this soon-to-be-valuable land? You got it, the Sun.

- Deadly UV rays coming directly from the Sun are causing skin cancer in millions and turning George Hamilton into a tan freak of nature, while doing nothing to help poor Michael Jackson with his paleness.

- In a spectacular display of greed, the Sun, at its current fuel consumption rate -- which can only be called "recklessly high" -- will burn itself out in several billion years, leaving the inhabitants of Earth without heat, light, and eventually little else as well.

And now the Sun has launched its latest offensive. On Tuesday, the Sun fired a level X17 solar flare directly at the Earth. The flare, which is "headed straight for us like a freight train", will impact our magnetic defense shields sometime on Wednesday and, according to our solar defense experts, could disrupt satellite communications, take out large chunks of our power grid, and seriously injure our brave astronauts orbiting the Earth in the International Space Station. This latest attack could be the 2nd or 3rd largest on record, leading some to speculate that the Sun is deliberately escalating the conflict and that peace between our celestial objects is becoming impossible.

Haven't we had enough? I say it's time to stand up to the Sun and its cronies (Kuiper Belt, Oort Cloud, I'm looking at you here). Let us throw down the oppressive Copernican Regime and show the galaxy who's the boss of this so-called "solar" system.

How conservatives use language to dominate politicsOCT 29

How conservatives use language to dominate politics.

How do we avoid the "butterfly effect"OCT 28

How do we avoid the "butterfly effect" of chaos theory from eventually destroying the earth? Why, get rid of all the butterflies..

Google wants to do book searching as wellOCT 28

Google wants to do book searching as well.

Only 5% of the universe is ordinary matter,OCT 28

Only 5% of the universe is ordinary matter, most of it is dark energy.

Great Daily Oliver photo todayOCT 28

Great Daily Oliver photo today.

The basics of type design, illustratedOCT 28

The basics of type design, illustrated.

The Strokes, Room on FireOCT 28

When you listen to the new Strokes album for the first time, you feel a little ripped off because it sounds so much like their first album. After the third full listen, it becomes as familiar as that favorite pair of jeans that somehow got lost in the back of the closet but which jeans you're delighted to find and start wearing again almost daily. Comfortable.

New Yorker review of DFW's Everything and MoreOCT 28

New Yorker review of DFW's Everything and More.

Just in time for Halloween: the Expose blob!OCT 27

Just in time for Halloween: the Expose blob!.

Strom Thurmond once filibustered in the SenateOCT 27

Strom Thurmond once filibustered in the Senate for 24 hours and 18 minutes.

Aeron wheelchairOCT 27

Aeron wheelchair. Somehow not an article from The Onion.

Grady Little to be canned, the RedOCT 27

Grady Little to be canned, the Red Sox universe hums in harmony once more.

Don't miss "Born Rich" documentary on HBO tonightOCT 27

Don't miss "Born Rich" documentary on HBO tonight.

Two versions of Canterbury Tales from the late 1500sOCT 27

Two versions of Canterbury Tales from the late 1500s.

Screenshots of toilets in different video gamesOCT 26

Screenshots of toilets in different video games.

rating: 4.5 stars

Kill Bill Volume 1OCT 26

This film answers the question, "what if you took a guy who grew up watching kung-fu films and gave him $60 million to make his own kung-fu film?"

Authors Guild to Amazon: publishers can't giveOCT 26

Authors Guild to Amazon: publishers can't give permission for full text search of books.

The End of the Oil AgeOCT 24

The End of the Oil Age.

"Misbehaving.net is a weblog about woman and technology"OCT 24

"Misbehaving.net is a weblog about woman and technology".

US may ease travel restrictions to CubaOCT 24

US may ease travel restrictions to Cuba.

Guidelines for focusing on learningOCT 24

We went through some diversity training at work recently. The woman who came into speak with us gave out the following set of guidelines for learning:

1. Release the need to be right.

2. Welcome one another's thoughts and opinions.

3. Suspend judgment.

4. Listen for understanding, not rebuttal.

5. Make personal statements by using "I" rather than "you".

6. Clarify first what was said before you challenge someone.

7. Take time to reflect.

8. Lean into discomfort.

9. Respond first to what was said before making your point.

10. Have fun.

I was immediately struck by how much I see people not doing any of the things on this list. Religious leaders, politicians, the media, the pro-life and pro-choice advocates, environmental advocates, and just about anyone calling themselves a pundit. We're all just yelling at each other, attacking, formulating strategies, so sure of ourselves and our convictions that it isn't even worth listening to anyone who disagrees. No one cares about learning or understanding and progress is measured in opposing viewpoints that are averaged out into solutions no one wanted or can even understand the value of. What a sad state of affairs.

Search query for "word ' word" throws several JavaScript errorsOCT 23

Search query for "word ' word" throws several JavaScript errors. At least in IE

New Amazon feature: search on the fullOCT 23

New Amazon feature: search on the full text of over 120,000 books. Wow!

David Pogue reviews OS X 10.3 for the NY TimesOCT 23

David Pogue reviews OS X 10.3 for the NY Times.

Jesus, who hit Gawker with the ugly stick?OCT 23

Jesus, who hit Gawker with the ugly stick?. My poor design...

Whatever happened to Moreover?OCT 22

Yahoo! News recently began offering RSS feeds based on a keyword or keywords, making it easy to follow the news about both specific topics like "Apple iTunes" or more general topics like "biotechnology". You can slice and dice the news any way you like. Anil Dash calls this "an obvious and clever feature" -- which it is -- and also wonders why no one has done it before.

It's times like this when I think about all the cool stuff Moreover did in 1999 - 2001 (including Anil's obvious and clever feature), and how much of a shame it is that it never amounted to much.** Moreover correctly predicted that syndication (and RSS in particular), web services, and weblogs would be a big deal and built -- or had plans to build -- infrastructure and applications to take advantage.

In 2000, Moreover had a news portal not unlike Google's current offering...stories from thousands of news sources arranged in hundreds of categories. In addition to the HTML portal, that same news was also available in a variety of formats for syndication purposes, including RSS. In late 2000 or early 2001, Moreover started offering keyword searches on their news database, available in HTML, RSS, and a bunch of other formats, precisely like the Yahoo! News offering except with many more sources and the ability to restrict searches to particular categories (i.e. a search for "Apple" that included only articles in the technology category).

Moreover also wanted to add weblogs into the mix. In collaboration with Pyra, they built NewsBlogger. Newsblogger had two basic features: 1) search for news and then 2) blog it. When you look at the heavy use of RSS and what the most popular topics are in weblog land, it's not hard to imagine how Newsblogger, if it had developed into a proper application, would have been used heavily (the post-9/11 warbloggers would have used the hell out of something like this). Readers become writers. Moreover also wanted to start scraping weblogs and adding that content to their news feeds. News becomes conversations. Really interesting stuff, stuff that's happening right now with political campaign weblogs, professional micropublishing, RSS, and weblog search efforts (Lafayette Project, Technorati, Daypop, etc.).

News feeds via email was offered by Moreover as well. News via IM was available in an alpha capacity. And given Moreover's flexible web services platform, sending news to cell phones and portable wireless devices would have been easy (and actually, they did have WAP feeds in 1999).

Although they had correctly bet on all this stuff becoming important, Moreover unfortunately abandoned the consumer market for the safe confines of the enterprise market, as did almost every other company in early 2001 when the dot com bubble goo was raining down upon the industry. Which is a shame for us because we've had to wait a lot longer for all these useful tools, services, and technologies and a shame for Moreover that they're not at the forefront of this still-developing space, building on those innovative ideas that they weren't able to execute on.

** Disclosure: I worked for Moreover as a Web designer in late 2000 to mid 2001.

Plenipotentiary: invested with or conferring full powersOCT 22

Plenipotentiary: invested with or conferring full powers.

Chip KiddOCT 22

Chip Kidd

From the book jacket, the lazy reviewer's friend:

Chip Kidd is renowned and revered as a maverick graphic designer. Specifically, Kidd's book jacket designs for such major New York publishers as Alfred A. Knopf are among the most significant and innovative of our time. This richly illustrated book-the first critical selection of Kidd's design work-looks closely at this contemporary visual pioneer. Veronique Vienne presents a full and nuanced view of Kidd, discussing how he has developed celebrity status as a designer, design critic, lecturer, and editor. She also relates how Kidd is greatly influenced by popular culture, noting his vast collection of Batman memorabilia. Vienne concludes by examining Kidd's editorial involvement with books on cartoonists as well as his own first novel, The Cheese Monkeys, published in 2001 to critical acclaim. Chip Kidd reveals the fascinating life and career of a revolutionary graphic designer with a winning public persona, whose ambitions now also lean toward editing and writing. The book will appeal to anyone involved in design and popular culture as well as admirers of Kidd's extraordinary creative spirit.

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine by Danny HillisOCT 22

Richard Feynman and The Connection Machine by Danny Hillis.

After-the-fact advertising can change your perception ofOCT 22

After-the-fact advertising can change your perception of a product, service, or experience. I've had this happen to me

Schneier on why profiling fails when looking for terroristsOCT 22

Schneier on why profiling fails when looking for terrorists.

Understanding ComicsOCT 21

Understanding Comics

I was reading a piece by David Sedaris the other day and it contained a passage wherein something happened and a character in the story reacted to it, which is not unusual except that he somehow found space inbetween to write 2-3 additional sentences without interrupting the flow of the story. In Understanding Comics, Scott McCloud talks about this idea in the context of comics:

See that space between the panels? That's what comics aficionados have named "The Gutter!" And despite its unceremonious title, the gutter plays host to much of the magic and mystery that are at the very heart of comics! Here in the limbo of the gutter, human imagination takes two separate images and transforms them into a single idea.

While McCloud relies on human imagination to fill in the gaps, Sedaris recognizes one of the endless numbers of gaps that may be filled in a prose narrative and does so great effect.

Book about how to sell & promoteOCT 21

Book about how to sell & promote at a farmer's market.

Gallery of birth control pill packagingOCT 21

Gallery of birth control pill packaging.

The Coen brothers edited their latest filmOCT 21

The Coen brothers edited their latest film with Final Cut Pro.

New location for the HypnotoadOCT 21

New location for the Hypnotoad. All hail....

Color scheme chooserOCT 21

Color scheme chooser.

Apple is now selling audiobooks and publicOCT 21

Apple is now selling audiobooks and public radio programs via iTunes Music Store.

The New York Times gets a typographic faceliftOCT 21

The New York Times gets a typographic facelift.

What's needed is a hipster cleansing toOCT 21

What's needed is a hipster cleansing to make the world safe for the rest of us again.

Mother Theresa "a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud"OCT 21

Mother Theresa "a fanatic, a fundamentalist, and a fraud".

Pop!Tech RoundupOCT 21

Some random notes from my three days at the Pop!Tech conference in Camden, Maine:

- The substrate of complexity is irrelevant, whether it's carbon or silicon. That is, a computer is a computer is a computer, be it a Powerbook or a human being. The level of complexity is the important part.

- Patent clerks spend an average of 4-6 hours per patent on a prior art search. Yikes.

- Lessig imagines an 18th century DMCA: the (D)aguerre (M)achine (C)ontrol (A)ct. I've seen Larry speak three times now; it's interesting to see how he's refined his argument.

- URLs cribbed from Golan's presentation: Danny Rozin's Wooden Mirror and Kelly Heaton's Furby wall.

- Audience member on the Jewish perspective on stem cell research: "A fetus is a fetus is a fetus until it becomes a lawyer."

- Cloning + embryonic stem cells is a powerful combination. Cloning takes "old cells" back in time, creating identical young cells. Embryonic stem cells can then be harvested from the cloned embryo and used to create new cells and organs for the original organism. Wild stuff.

- The Methuselah Mouse Prize is encouraging work on anti-aging, giving out prizes for the longest-lived lab mouse.

- Q from the audience about humans possessing indefinite life spans: "But doesn't this mean there won't be any children?" Answer from Aubrey de Grey in a most straight-forward tone: "Yes, it would mean a world without children." At that point, a chill went up my spine.

- A population pyramid for the US from the US Census Bureau's IDB Population Pyramid page.

- The shortest summary of the past 100 years I've ever heard: "the 20th century had its ups and downs." - Clay Shirky

- James Kunstler: "We are creating places we don't care about [living in]"

- Overheard about Virginia Postrel's talk on the Age of Aesthetics: "for someone who thinks aesthetics is so important, you'd think she would have used something better for her slides than Comic Sans on light purple." That and her increasing shrillness toward the end of her talk turned much of the audience off her argument I think.

- David Martin raised a question I've been preoccupied with for a couple of years now: "How much of the global economy is just an hallucination?"

- Geoffrey Ballard on the future: 12% of the population is currently ruining the planet. What happens when the other 88% get involved?

- Here are the goals that the 191 United Nations Member States have committed to meet in the next 12 years.

- An audience member asked space architect Constance Adams about sex is space (within the context of designing habitats for procreation), and she indicated that erections in space are difficult to achieve because in zero gravity, blood tends to collect in the head and feet.

- Robert Wright, author of the excellent Nonzero, is tall, handsome, witty, so very smart, and possesses impeccable timing. I think I am in love.

How to improve your restaurant dining experienceOCT 20

How to improve your restaurant dining experience.

Flash genres, things that age poorlyOCT 20

Flash genres, things that age poorly. David Carson, drum & bass, etc.

The nTag sleep attackOCT 20

The badges at Pop!Tech were wee interactive computers called nTags. When engaged in conversation with someone, you could choose to send your contact information to that person, see what that person is interested in (based on your interests), get recommendations on people that they have met that you should meet, and generally augment (or hamper) networking.

Many attendees liked them and used them happily, but others revolted. Some people started trading their badges with others. Early on during the conference, Whit Diffie hacked his nTag badge to send a sleep command to any nTag badge in range, effectively deactivating them. As word spread of the hack, people sought him out to sleep their hated badges. Others were pissed that he was turning off their badges without permission; someone asked at the end of the conference if sending a sleep command constituted an attack (When Sleep Attacks!). Following Diffie's lead, a woman hacked her badge to send the sleep command and a disgrunted Pop!Tech goer tried to rip her badge from around her neck (When Liberal Nerds Attack!).

I didn't particularly like my nTag badge (it was too heavy for one), but I can't argue that it didn't result in some interesting social behavior, though perhaps not the behavior that the nTag folks promised in facilitating networking.

Top NYC restaurants for 2004OCT 20

Top NYC restaurants for 2004. As determined by Zagat's

John Gaeta interview about third Matrix movieOCT 20

John Gaeta interview about third Matrix movie. I heard Gaeta is a typical Hollywood prima donna putz

Pop culture will feed itselfOCT 19

There's a football team in Massachusetts called the New England Patriots. There are a group of women called the New England Patriots Cheerleaders who dance and cheer for the team & fans during the game. To promote themselves, the cheerleaders have produced a swimsuit calendar for 2004. To support the making of that calendar, there's a DVD about the making of the 2004 New England Patriots Cheerleaders Swimsuit Calendar. Personally, I'm waiting for the anime movie based on the album based on the book based on the DVD based on the swimsuit calendar of the cheerleaders for the New England Patriots. That'll be good.

A house built of CSS tricks and bordersOCT 18

A house built of CSS tricks and borders.

Changed terms and conditions for Google AdSenseOCT 18

In response to some pressure from their customers and potential customers, Google has changed the terms and conditions for their AdSense program. I only took a quick peek at it, but it looks like they've dialed back some of the more draconian provisions. Nice to see Google trying to do the right thing here.

Enter the British Blog Awards 2003OCT 17

Enter the British Blog Awards 2003.

Dance dance revolutionOCT 17

Holy cow!! They just had the guy from the Kollaboration 2000 talent contest perform in between talks. Fucking amazing.

Nanotech snoozeryOCT 17

This is the second time I've listened to a talk about nanotech from someone representing the Foresight Institute (the first was Robert Drexler), and both times the talks were full of politics and not that interesting at all. They seem to have so much baggage attached their efforts that it's impossible for them to take a fresh look at it. Disappointing.

Translate your name into Egyptian HieroglyphicsOCT 17

Translate your name into Egyptian Hieroglyphics.

The kids of today play the video games of yesterdayOCT 17

The kids of today play the video games of yesterday.

At Pop!TechOCT 17

I'm at the Pop!Tech conference for the weekend in Camden, Maine. Maine is the 47th US state I've visited...hopefully I'll get to see a bit of it while I'm here. More to come if I feel like posting.

iTunes for Windows now availableOCT 16

iTunes for Windows now available.

Verisign to sell Network Solutions, but willOCT 16

Verisign to sell Network Solutions, but will keep control over .com and .net registry. Bottom line: we're still subject to the whims of Verisign, i.e. the SiteFinder foolishness

Staten Island Ferry crash kills 10, pilot rushesOCT 15

Staten Island Ferry crash kills 10, pilot rushes home to attempt suicide.

TiVo time warpOCT 15

Since Meg's a big Red Sox fan, we watched the Sox-Yankees game tonight. The game started at 4:30, so we TiVoed it to watch after work. Meg hurried home, carefully avoiding any evidence of the game already in progress, and we started it from the beginning about an hour and a half after the actual starting time.

It's perilous, watching time-delayed sporting events, and we had a couple of close calls with the TiVo. When our ordered pizza came, Meg scampered into the bathroom of our tiny apartment and turned on the faucet to avoid any accidental mention of the game's progress by the delivery guy. Then Meg's phone rang. She picked it up and looked at it, distracted by the game and unsure of what to do with it. I immediately realized it was her parents, calling with word of the completed game.

"No, no, don't answer it!" I yelled. "It's your parents! They're calling from the future!"

From theOCT 15

I fired up my HTML editor just now, intending to write a post for this site. Instead of writing whatever it was that I wanted to write, I wrote "From the" and then sat staring at it for about 3 minutes. I have no idea where "From the" came from, except maybe from the lingering weekend tiredness brought on by talking to many more people than I'm used to and a bit of sickness. It certainly wasn't the opening line to the post I had in mind when I started typing. I wish I could have continued writing after those first two words to find out what my brain would have come up with on autopilot. Or maybe I've got the beginnings of some multiple personality thing going on.

This is the photo next to "tacky" in the dictionaryOCT 15

This is the photo next to "tacky" in the dictionary.

David Foster Wallace talks about his new book on NPROCT 15

David Foster Wallace talks about his new book on NPR. scroll a little (damn lack of anchor links)

Segway Personality TesterOCT 15

Before and after my Segway ride, I watched several other people ride it. In addition to being a personal transporter, the Segway is also a remarkably accurate personality tester. You can cheat on a Myers-Briggs test, lie to your therapist, or fool a lie detector, but there's no hiding who you are the first time your brain and a self-balancing scooter do battle. Your timidity, your gregariousness, your mistrust, your creativity, your confidence, they're all on display.

Bob Frankston, who has a most energetic and enthusiastic mind, careened frentically around on it in full freestyle experimentation, nearly giving the owner a heart attack as he scrambled to keep a grip on the handbars so that Bob didn't break anything or anyone. Ben Trott took a controlled ride, no surprise to anyone who knows Ben. Cameron Marlow had a confident ride, in control and horsing around at the same time.

Segway announces new cheaper "p series"OCT 15

Segway announces new cheaper "p series". "p" for personal or portable, I think

Profile of a suspected crackerOCT 15

Profile of a suspected cracker.

1928 NYer piece on the "voice culture" created by talking moviesOCT 15

1928 NYer piece on the "voice culture" created by talking movies.

Personal ad in periodic table formatOCT 15

Personal ad in periodic table format.

Segway!OCT 12

Kottke on a Segway

Woo! I got to ride a Segway today. As Cameron said, it takes about 3-4 seconds for your brain to get used to it, but after that it's cake. Many thanks to Phillip for letting me dork around on it for a couple of minutes.

The October installment of Judging Books by Their CoversOCT 11

The October installment of Judging Books by Their Covers.

Malcolm OS X: "when the people createOCT 11

Malcolm OS X: "when the people create a program, you get action.".

Jake's photos frpm the Radiohead show last nightOCT 10

Jake's photos frpm the Radiohead show last night.

*Fantastic* Van Gogh-like Polaroid of the MillenniumOCT 10

*Fantastic* Van Gogh-like Polaroid of the Millennium Bridge in London, no Photoshop.

Great article on why Oakland lost to the Red SoxOCT 09

Great article on why Oakland lost to the Red Sox.

Old American Airlines route maps and schedulesOCT 09

Old American Airlines route maps and schedules.

Test drive a Xerox Alto at theOCT 09

Test drive a Xerox Alto at the Vintage Computer Festival in Mountain View this weekend.

Nokia phones explodingOCT 09

Nokia cell phones are exploding in people's pockets and Nokia wants to put the blame on using non-Nokia batteries, which they call "counterfeit" [boldface mine]:

Nokia has cited faulty batteries from independent electronics manufacturers for similar incidents in the past. The company has said these manufacturers violated security requirements that should prevent the battery heating up after short-circuiting, for instance, after the phone is dropped.

According to Bruce Schneier in his book, Beyond Fear, Nokia intentionally cripples non-Nokia batteries:

Nokia spends about a hundred times more money on battery security than on communications security. The security system senses when a consumer uses a third-party battery and switches the phone into maximum power-consumption mode; the point is to ensure that consumers buy only Nokia batteries. Nokia is prepared to spend a considerable amount of money solving a security problem that it perceives -- it loses revenue if customers buy batteries from someone else -- even though that solution is detrimental to consumers. Nokia is much less willing to make trade-offs for a security problem that consumers have.

I'm wondering if Nokia's lack of concern for the consumer and this "maximum power-consumption mode" business might have something to do with the exploding battery problem, adding an explosive deterrent for those who don't wish to pay $17 for "security" features that they don't need.

Radiohead show is tomorrow night and I'mOCT 09

Radiohead show is tomorrow night and I'm quite chuffed about it.

I was runningOCT 09

For the thirty years I've been on this earth, I've been getting by on my good looks. Or so I thought. Recently I realized that this approach had never worked for me and was probably doing more harm than good. I further realized that my pretty face wasn't going to help me get my ass into shape. Not that I'm out of shape exactly. It's more of a health thing. I eat alright and briskly walk several blocks a day, but mostly I sit in front of various screens (computer, TV, movie) all day. I'm feeling unexercised and no amount of Brad Pitt-ness is going to help with that.

It is with all this in mind that I began thinking a few weeks ago that I needed to start exercising. But what sort of exercise? The gym is out because, well, I'm not a gym person. Getting one of those home gyms is also out because we'd need to get rid of the bed to fit such a contraption into our tiny apartment, and sleep takes much priority over exercise. Team sports are generally more competitive than I'd like (I just want to play, I don't want to hear about how much I suck and how you're going to kick my ass), so those are out too. Swimming? Tennis? Curling? Inline skating? Restaurant dining? All out for various reasons.

What's left? Running. And so I found myself jogging yesterday for the first time in my life ever.

Running and I have never seen eye to eye. It just always seemed dorky and purposeless. Running where and for what purpose? Why not put a racquet in your hand, grab a friend and head for the tennis court? Now there's some fun exercise.

Meg has always said that running is fun, that it provides an environment for thinking, almost like being in a trance. I know that feeling; I get it when I play basketball, just me, the ball, and the hoop. After a few minutes of play, I get "in the zone". The ball and hoop disappear, as does most of me, excluding my brain, which becomes a fertile loam for the sowing of ideas, thoughts I'd never have any other way. It's how I meditate.

I was doing anything but meditating during last evening's run, so self-conscious was I about how goofy I looked, running for no purpose other than to run, decked out in my new running shoes and rumpled exercise clothes rescued from the bottom of my dresser drawer, finishing exactly where I had started, no discernible progress made. That and concentrating on my form and not pushing myself too much the first time out. And tiredness. I'm sure the zen-like state will kick in at some point and running will become an enjoyable and rewarding activity for me. If not, I can always give the good looks thing another shot.

Matt Jones is collecting timelines; let's help him outOCT 08

Matt Jones is collecting timelines; let's help him out.

Governor SchwarzeneggerOCT 08

Almost everyone I know is upset about Arnold Schwarzenegger being elected governor of California. Really upset. What is it exactly that bothers you about this? That Arnold is a womanizer? Hitler admirer? Orgy participant? That he hasn't revealed any of his views on any specific issues? That he's stupid? That the voters are stupid? That California is fucked up? That he's a Republican? That he's a moderate Republican? That you're a Democrat? That you'll think he'll help the power companies not repay California for overcharging them for electricity? That Davis was recalled? That the recall was initiated in the first place? That the power companies conspired with the Republicans to recall Davis so that their replacement candidate would cut the energy companies a break? That California law allows for election recalls in the first place? That the Democrats were helpless to do anything about it? That American politics in general are screwed up and the recall is just a maddening example? That it may have been unclear on the ballot that a "no" vote on the recall does not negate your vote for a replacement and this could have had an impact on the election? That the voting process is general is ridiculous? That far less than 100% of the eligible population turned out to vote? Please, share your frustrations.

All I ask is when you do, keep in mind that Davis was recalled by 55% of the voters and Schwarzenegger received 48% of the total vote among ~130 candidates, besting 2nd place Bustamante by more than 1.4 million votes. The state of California spoke loudly and clearly: we want Arnold Schwarzenegger to be our next governor. Why are you so upset with this decision, made in good faith by ~8 million people?

Stop worrying about your hairOCT 08

From Leslie Harpold's The Morning News article on How to Road Trip:

Your hair looks fine

On the road even the most meticulous must let go of the expectations they have of their hair. Strange water, sample-size shampoos, the wind, and tiny mirrors all conspire to make your hair so willful it may seem like an additional passenger at times. Let it go. This isn't about looking good, it's about feeling something new; all new feelings worth their salt eventually mess up your hair.

Not just good road trip advice, that's good life advice.

OS X 10.3 to hit stores on Oct 24OCT 08

OS X 10.3 to hit stores on Oct 24.

Rephotographing Eugene Atget's photos of ParisOCT 08

Rephotographing Eugene Atget's photos of Paris. I wanted to do this someday.

Looks like Zeldman's A List Apart siteOCT 08

Looks like Zeldman's A List Apart site will be one of the first Weblogs, Inc. sites.

German interview on GoogleOCT 08

I did an interview about Google for netzeitung.de, a German news web site. If you don't read German, I've included an English version of what I sent them:

Q: Mr. Kottke, how far away is Google from "being evil" in general in your opinion?

Google is doing better in the corporate morality department than a lot of other companies. From all accounts, their leadership wants to not be evil, they treat their employees well, they take great pride in the usefulness and relevancy of the results of their free search service. The terms of service for their AdSense program is definitely a step in the wrong direction, like they're letting marketing and legal determine their approach to business instead of the other way around. But Google is a long way from a Verisign/De Beers/Enron level of evil.

Q: But that was Google's rule number one, wasnt it?

I think every corporation's real #1 rule is "make money". That Google wants to make not being evil an equally important priority is commendable.

Q: How effective is Google still, given the springing up of Google Spam (lots of doorway pages leading to sponsored links) and the "noise" coming from weblogs etc.?

Google's search results are at least as relevant as they have always been, if not moreso. I can almost always find what I'm looking for in the first 10 results or so. I think part of the problem is perception. The perception is that their results should continue to improve as they refine their search methods and algorithms, but there's an inherent limitation in their approach that limits the maximum possible utility. There's only so much information about how pages relate to each other that you can glean from scraping web pages, and if Google is close to reaching that limit, any changes they make will only result in small changes in usefulness.

Q: Can Google do anything about this?

Perhaps they might want to start grouping web pages and sites into groups and analyzing the sites in each group in a unique way to improve the overall database. Weblogs are a good example of a group that could be analyzed differently. Weblogs consist of separate posts, which should be treated individually to get the best possible data from them. Weblog posts often contain more metadata than a typical web page, things like date and time of publication, categories, backlinks, etc. Google can use that post-level metadata to get better information about the sites that weblogs point to without having to pump the weblogs up in the overall rankings -- as many people have complained is not so good. Many weblogs also have RSS feeds with structured metadata that could be analyzed to improve general search results.

Q: Does Google need more competition?

A little competition for Google would be a good idea. Microsoft and Yahoo have both announced efforts to improve their search engines, but I don't see them developing anything to threaten Google's search.

Q: What will the Google of the future look like?

Given that the look of their site hasn't changed significantly since the beta version, I wouldn't look for it to change much in the near future. The biggest change will probably be more personalized search results where my results for a given search would be different than yours based upon our usage of the site.

[Hopefully that all makes more sense in German.]

Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 HoursOCT 08

Teach Yourself Movable Type in 24 Hours. Had to look at the URL about 4 times to verify that this wasn't a joke page

Does Google (and other companies that scrapeOCT 07

Does Google (and other companies that scrape sites) violate the terms of many weblogs' Creative Commons licenses?. Or for that matter, plain old copyright notices?

Addiction koan + some good commentsOCT 07

Addiction koan + some good comments.

How to fake live election results with JavaScriptOCT 07

How to fake live election results with JavaScript.

Slate on bad ballot design and some possible solutionsOCT 07

Slate on bad ballot design and some possible solutions.

The second Virtual Book Tour is off and runningOCT 07

The second Virtual Book Tour is off and running. The book is Screening Party by Dennis Hensley

Frozen caveman presidentOCT 07

A Talk of the Town piece by Andy Borowitz in the latest New Yorker pointed to this AP story on George Bush's news consumption habits:

Bush said he insulates himself from the "opinions" that seep into news coverage by getting his news from his own aides. He said he scans headlines, but rarely reads news stories. "I appreciate people's opinions, but I'm more interested in news," the president said. "And the best way to get the news is from objective sources, and the most objective sources I have are people on my staff who tell me what's happening in the world."

I think in order to find someone with less perspective on the world, you'd have to look to Papua New Guinea for a member of one of the last remaining Stone Age tribes.

rating: 3.5 stars

ComedianOCT 07

This isn't the most interesting or insightful documentary I've seen, but comedians can't help being funny.

A London Tube map with walklinesOCT 06

A London Tube map with walklines.

TypePad is out of beta and officiallyOCT 06

TypePad is out of beta and officially live. Congrats to Ben, Mena, Anil, and the rest of the team.

Weird Google search results for "candle truck"OCT 06

Weird Google search results for "candle truck".

Media guidelines for reporting on suicideOCT 06

Media guidelines for reporting on suicide.

Sage? Saint? Lunatic?OCT 06

Sage? Saint? Lunatic?.

2003 MacArthur genius grant winnersOCT 05

2003 MacArthur genius grant winners.

rating: 2.5 stars

SecretaryOCT 04

Maggie Gyllenhaal talks about her role in Secretary with Nerve in an interview called Spanking the Flunky.

The first rule of Google AdSense is, don't talk about Google AdSenseOCT 03

Have you noticed that Google is acting more and more like a stupid marketing/advertising company lately? It's one of the side effects of not really being a search engine company and seems to fly in the face of Sergey Brin's Google rule #1: "Don't be evil".

According to this post on Russell Beattie's site, Google recently changed their Terms and Conditions to prohibit criticism of their AdSense "service" terms and conditions on participating sites. Yuck. This move follows Russell's analysis of the AdSense T&C as a result of Erik Thauvin's removal from the program.

Since when is Google providing a service by paying people for advertising placed on their sites? This seems backwards; people are providing a service by placing the Google's ads on their sites. Google has every right to place whatever limits they wish on people who use their "service", but terminating said service without recourse when money is potentially owed by Google *and then* not allowing any site using Google AdSense (which may eventually include media sites like Salon, NY Times, MetaFilter, Slashdot, and even kottke.org) to comment on the Terms and Conditions that brought about the termination is just plain bad (evil?) and should give serious pause to anyone considering using any Google service.

You Google employees out there in weblog land, take a look at these links and see if it's worth taking this issue to someone internally who can do something about it. I might run into Larry Page at a retreat next weekend...we'll see what he thinks about it.

Update: Lest you think I'm aimlessly Google-bashing here, Cory Doctorow's comments on this matter sum up my feelings very well:

But that doesn't mean that they should get a free ride. Google wants to be a company that makes money wihtout being evil, and I support that goal! Being not-evil is good, and so's making some dough. But part of being not-evil is that you have to incur liability over and above that which your counsel recommends as the safest path -- just as a shop-owner can't reasonably ask all her customers to submit to a strip-search to contain shoplifting liability, Google shouldn't ask all its users to submit to an unreasonable restriction on their speech in order to contain the spread of negative information about its service.

Derek Powazek got the boot from AdSense for "inappropriate clicks" as did Kathy Shaidle. Kathy writes:

When I complained [about the ads that were showing up on the site], they explained: my blog, which deals with religion, politics and other non-dinner-table topics, was 'potentially negative'. I asked (on the blog) if there was gonna be a 0th Amendment drawn up to protect 'potentially negative' speech.

We back and forth'd a bit, my readers complained to them on my behalf, but Google wanted me to go through my archives, delete everything I'd ever said about them, good and bad, then republish. You can guess my response.

Wanna be the next Lego Master Builder?OCT 02

Wanna be the next Lego Master Builder?.

Jimmy Fallon and his fansOCT 02

I was just at the Barnes and Noble on 48th & 5th. Jimmy Fallon and his sister were there signing copies of their new book, I Hate This Place: The Pessimist's Guide to Life. As I browsed through a couple of magazines, I noticed three girls standing in the bargain books aisle. Well, everyone in the store noticed them standing there because one of them was crying and shrieking uncontrollably and her two friends were taking turns calming her down or revving her up.

"Oh my God! I can't believe Jimmy Fallon kissed me!!"

"I know!!!"

[They all scream.]

"I'm never going to wash this cheek again."

[Sobbing intensifies. The girl is alternating between trying to regain her composure and going completely bats with the crying. She's having a hard time standing.]

This goes on for a minute or two. Then a woman, dressed to the nines and obviously a lifelong New York resident, annoyed that these silly girls are between her and whatever purchases she wants to make, pushes by them while loudly announcing to the rest of the store, "my God, I don't understand what the big deal is, seeing some guy and then crying like a baby, yelling, and blocking the aisle. I hate this fucking store."

The Morning News interviews Malcolm GladwellOCT 02

The Morning News interviews Malcolm Gladwell.

Sounds like the terms of service for Google's AdSense suckOCT 02

Sounds like the terms of service for Google's AdSense suck. Google is paying for *our* services...we should be able to dictate the terms, not them

Thomas Keller on his return to New YorkOCT 02

Thomas Keller on his return to New York.

rating: 2.0 stars

Phone BoothOCT 01

The film in general seemed thrown together, but Colin Farrell was surprisingly good.

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, and Body Language CuesOCT 01

The Nonverbal Dictionary of Gestures, Signs, and Body Language Cues.

Your Dock, if you pleaseOCT 01

Giles Turnbull wrote a fun piece for O'Reilly showcasing the Docks of some OS X users. This is my Dock (well, as of last week...the one on my new Powerbook looks a bit different now). What does yours look like? Post a screenshot to your site and paste a link (and description if you'd like) to it in the comments.

iTunes usage methods, how people listen toOCT 01

iTunes usage methods, how people listen to music on their Macs.

Louis Menand on citations, Word, and TheOCT 01

Louis Menand on citations, Word, and The Chicago Manual of Style for The New Yorker.

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