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Sebastian

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2004

As I sat at my computer last night, a cry arose from outside the window. A woman, distressed about something. Figuring it was just a television, reveler from a nearby party, or someone facetiously wailing about trivial things to a friend on the phone, I ignored it and went back to my work. But they continued, the distressed cries. I began to catch snippets of her lamentations:

“Sebastian…why…don’t leave me…accident…don’t die…can’t live without you…”

Concerned, I got up and went to the window in the living room. I could hear her more clearly here, talking to herself or maybe to God. Her dog Sebastian had had an accident of some sort. The woman was almost hysterical at this point, so it was hard to tell what had happened or if Sebastian was alive or dead.

Thinking that the dog had fallen out a window into the space between my building and the next (about an eight to ten foot distance), I opened the window and stuck my head out to investigate. No sign of Sebastian. I could hear the woman even more clearly than before, still repeating the same words over and over. I strained out the window, trying to locate her apartment; she needed some help from a calm party, someone who could call 911, 311, the emergency pet hospital, or whatever one does for critically injured pets. The sound bounces around so much between the buildings that she could have been anywhere, my building, the building across the way, even in the buildings behind ours.

I was about to put my shoes on to see if I could find the woman somewhere in our building when I heard dialing. She’d finally snapped herself out of her hysteria and was calling a friend. The conversation calmed her; after a couple sentences, her distressed voice lowered and I couldn’t hear her anymore. A few minutes passed, my heartrate slowed, and I heard a buzzer (on the floor below, I think) and then running up the stairs. As the woman answered the door and let the person in (her friend? a paramedic?), I heard very little, just a “hi, where is he?”

A lot of people in NYC live alone, and all they have to keep them company sometimes are their pets. Sounds silly to some, but a person can love a pet as much as they can a person, and their death is no less shocking and painful. I hope Sebastian is alright; it sounds like that woman really cared about him. Makes me sad thinking about it. Hope he’s OK.

We Work Remotely

Michael took some photos of Manhattanhenge

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2004

Michael took some photos of Manhattanhenge. The sunset aligned with the street grid in Manhattan last week.

Matt Webb has put Leonardo Da Vinci’s

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2004

Matt Webb has put Leonardo Da Vinci’s notebooks on his site and is using an RSS feed to nudge him to read one page of them a day.

It seems like this super rash is

posted by Jason Kottke   May 31, 2004

It seems like this super rash is something I should be concerned about, but since it’s in the NY Post, I think they’re probably making most of it up..

Excerpt of The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2004

Excerpt of The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki. “…large groups of people are smarter than an elite few, no matter how brilliant — better at solving problems, fostering innovation, coming to wise decisions, even predicting the future”

The Effects of a Global Thermonuclear War

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2004

The Effects of a Global Thermonuclear War.

The Way the Music Died

posted by Jason Kottke   May 30, 2004

The Frontline special on the music industry covered a lot of ground, perhaps too much for just an hour. The main theme of the show was that music hasn’t fared too well as an industry. Media companies, including the big five record labels and the radio station chains, have lost touch with their customers, marketing what will sell instead of providing a good product. Big media blames the industry downturn on free music availability on the Internet, but as Michael “Blue” Williams, Outkast’s manager, puts it, the labels have gotten lazy and are pushing out crap; he says if the labels “started putting out good records, quality records, the public will buy”.

If you missed it, don’t worry; the entire episode is available on the PBS Web site in either Windows Media or Realplayer format**. Also on the Web site are all sorts of additional interviews and information.

** Go PBS for putting episodes online. As taxpayers, the shows are ours anyway…we should be able to choose when and how we watch them. This way, we don’t need to go downloading illegal copies of missed episodes of our favorite shows.

(Oh, and I tried looking for the weblog world’s reaction to the show, but all three of the blog search engines I tried — Daypop, Blogdex, & Technorati — were down, so you’ll have to dig that up on your own. Will someone make a reliable weblog search engine that doesn’t suck? Hello, business opportunity!)

Forget postmodern pet furniture, how about a $25,000

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2004

Forget postmodern pet furniture, how about a $25,000 Loius XV Style Pavilion for your dog?.

Hey honey, where did we put those

posted by Jason Kottke   May 29, 2004

Hey honey, where did we put those supermassive black holes? Yeah, I checked my other pants…. Ah, here they are. It’s always the last place you look, anchoring faraway galaxies.

I imagine all the dogs I see

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2004

I imagine all the dogs I see being carted around in Louis Vuitton carriers all have designer pet furniture in their homes.

Computer gamers are professional athletes in Korea

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2004

Computer gamers are professional athletes in Korea. Some players are making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, wear uniforms, and have rabid fans.

Area man’s new computer monitor prompts apology

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2004

After not having a computer monitor at home for the past year and a half — I’ve been using the laptop screen instead, which has been a little sucky for doing design — I went out and splurged on a 20” Apple Cinema Display. Jesus, what an amazing monitor; I concur completely with Justin’s Apple display lust.

The first thing I did after getting the monitor hooked up was fire up kottke.org in Safari. At this point, I’d like to apologize to those of you who visit my site with a Mac and an Apple display (or a similarly bright and crisp display). Holy burning retinas! Seeing that yellow green color at the top of the site was like staring directly into the sun. When the page first loaded, I recoiled, fliched my head to one side, clenched my eyes shut, and threw my hand up in front of my face to prevent any permanent damage to my retina. My efforts may not have been quick enough…when I closed my eyes to go to sleep that night, a bright white bar bounded by a dotted line beneath pulsed on the inside of my eyelids, delaying my slumber for quite awhile.

So, apologies.

Each year on May 28th (today!) and

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2004

Each year on May 28th (today!) and July 12th, the sun sets on the centerline of Manhattan’s gridded streets.

Clive Thompson raves about a circular version

posted by Jason Kottke   May 28, 2004

Clive Thompson raves about a circular version of Breakout, the classic video game.

What Else Happened in America While Lewis

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

What Else Happened in America While Lewis and Clark Explored the West. “For each day of the Lewis and Clark expedition two hundred years ago I post, on the corresponding day in the present, a little summary of what the expedition did on that day and also a little summary of something else that happened in American history on that day.”

Following in the footsteps of Gyford’s Pepys

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

Following in the footsteps of Gyford’s Pepys project, the Wisconsin Historical Society is publishing some notable historic diaries online in a bloggish format.

iTunes playlists by celebrities can suck

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

iTunes playlists by celebrities can suck. But mostly celebs listen to what everyone else listens to.

Transcript of Al Gore’s speech calling for

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

Transcript of Al Gore’s speech calling for the resignation of Bush and Rumsfeld.

Fermilab building a 500 megapixel camera

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

Fermilab building a 500 megapixel camera. That’s equivalent to an image 28,000 by 18,700 pixels or 32.5 x 21.6 feet when viewed on screen at 72 PPI.

Wired profile of Nick Denton and Gawker Media

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

Wired profile of Nick Denton and Gawker Media. Nice to see some of my work featured in Wired, the print version even uses Gawkeresque date tabs as story illustrations.

The new issue of McSweeney’s, edited by

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

The new issue of McSweeney’s, edited by Chris Ware, is gorgeous and I can’t recommend it enough.

Overview of a chat with Malcolm Gladwell

posted by Jason Kottke   May 27, 2004

Overview of a chat with Malcolm Gladwell. Avec pictures; Malcolm’s hair is headed from afro to Kenny G.

Syllabus for college course on McSweeney’s

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

Syllabus for college course on McSweeney’s. texts include those from Eggers, Wallace, Lethem, and Lydia Davis.

Clifford Ross has invented an ultra high

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

Clifford Ross has invented an ultra high resolution camera; it creates 2.6 gigabyte images with great detail.

Alison Lewis’ Think of Me rings keeps

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

Alison Lewis’ Think of Me rings keeps you connected with loved ones. Touch one ring and the ring on the other wearer glows and heats up.

Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

Audience, Structure and Authority in the Weblog Community. Cameron differentiates between link types to better analyze authority in the blogosphere.

The Way We Eat Now: Ancient bodies

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

The Way We Eat Now: Ancient bodies collide with modern technology to produce a flabby, disease-ridden populace.

Andy introduces us to Wayne White, an

posted by Jason Kottke   May 26, 2004

Andy introduces us to Wayne White, an artist who buys art at garage sales and adds 3-D type to them.

Errol Morris describes his unique interviewing device, The Interrotron

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

Errol Morris describes his unique interviewing device, The Interrotron.

Mt. Everest climbing record is actually just over 8 hours

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

Mt. Everest climbing record is actually just over 8 hours. Crickey!

Picturing Business in America, Hedcuts in The Wall Street Journal

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

Picturing Business in America, Hedcuts in The Wall Street Journal. Great Smithsonian exhibit on the WSJ’s black and white portrait drawings.

A sherpa climbed Mt. Everest in under 13 hours

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

A sherpa climbed Mt. Everest in under 13 hours. The ascent usually takes days.

A more visible version of the orange

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

A more visible version of the orange XML box that everyone knows and loves.

Thinking differently

posted by Jason Kottke   May 25, 2004

Jane Jacobs, when asked about the potential negative effects of computers on communities and neighborhoods, replied that the opposite may be true; that navigating the Web shows people how networks function and how to think in a more non-linear fashion:

[There is] a very persuasive argument that the computer, in the form of things like the World Wide Web and the Internet, is actually [giving] people firsthand experience with use of a Web and making virtual changes in a Web-like way. This is not real. But after all, quirks and quarks and atoms are not real, for all we know. But thinking of them, picturing them and seeing the world with these things, really illuminates our understanding. It may be untruthful and it may be wrong, but usually, each of these things gets a little nearer the truth. So this Web-thinking in the place of the mechanical, cause/effect kind of thinking is certainly closer to the truth. The use of the computer [may be] indispensable to this, both for the complications we have to understand and have begun to understand and also because of a different notion this gives people. You know it’s always been available to people that they be hermits. But think of how few of them have been. So, no, I don’t think the human race will suddenly be smitten with an overwhelming urge to become hermits because of a new machine.

I’m on a bit of a Jacobs kick right now, reading Dark Age Ahead and poking around online for essays and interviews I’ve missed.

Look for a slew of books from

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

Look for a slew of books from bloggers in the next few months/years. West coast bloggers write tech books, east coast bloggers write novels.

Panoramas made by stitching together frames from Futurama

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

Panoramas made by stitching together frames from Futurama.

How to unlock your cellphone

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

How to unlock your cellphone.

Excerpt of chapter one of Dark Age

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

Excerpt of chapter one of Dark Age Ahead by Jane Jacobs.

Photo taken a couple of weeks ago

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

Photo taken a couple of weeks ago by a friend of the now-collapsed Terminal 2E in Paris’ Charles de Gaulle airport.

Personal Democracy Forum is today in NYC

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

Personal Democracy Forum is today in NYC and it’s being blogged.

John Gruber dives deep into the OS X security flaws

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

John Gruber dives deep into the OS X security flaws.

This may be the world’s dumbest idea,

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2004

This may be the world’s dumbest idea, but couldn’t this security hole be used to deliver a “friendly” program that patches the hole?. And use weblogs to distribute the patch.

Roll your own reruns

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2004

Last week’s season finale of The West Wing was on smack dab in the middle of game 6 of the Timberwolves/Kings series. I opted to watch the game instead of the Wing. Of course, since NBC wants to make their media artificially scarce, the episode wasn’t replayed later in the evening nor will it until later in the summer (if you haven’t seen it, it’s new to you!). This weekend, I found a torrent for the finale…without commercials and in letterbox no less. A couple hours of downloading later and voila, my own personal rerun.

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 wins Palme D’Or at Cannes

posted by Jason Kottke   May 23, 2004

Michael Moore’s Fahrenheit 9/11 wins Palme D’Or at Cannes.

How to import or export a MySQL database

posted by Jason Kottke   May 22, 2004

How to import or export a MySQL database. For backup purposes or what have you.

Cops in the subway

posted by Jason Kottke   May 22, 2004

As I walked to the subway through the crowds in Grand Central Terminal last night, a police officer yelled out to a young man accompanied by his mother, “hey, you gotta take that cap off in here!” The youngster, startled, tugged on the bill of his Red Sox hat, looked at the now-grinning cop, and smiled broadly, realizing he’d been had. “That’s worth a summons around here, ya know,” the cop continued, chuckling along with boy, his mother, me, and a few other folks within earshot. In stark contrast, that same morning at the Times Square subway station, commuters gave a wide berth and apprehensive looks to a hulking police officer holding the leash of the biggest German Shepherd I’ve ever seen.

Swirling, swirling, swirling

posted by Jason Kottke   May 21, 2004

Swirling, swirling, swirling. I almost fell into a trance watching this.

Eyebeam’s Fundrace site gets a nice writeup

posted by Jason Kottke   May 21, 2004

Eyebeam’s Fundrace site gets a nice writeup in the NY Times.

Office 2004 out for Mac OS X

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

Office 2004 out for Mac OS X.

The musical stylings of Franz Ferdinand are growing on me

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

The musical stylings of Franz Ferdinand are growing on me.

OS X browser Camino releases 0.8 beta, more

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

OS X browser Camino releases 0.8 beta, more than a year after the last version.

Interesting idea of using a slider to

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

Interesting idea of using a slider to scroll back and forth through Web pages instead of using the browser’s back and forward buttons.

Fantastic one-pager on the London Tube map

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

Fantastic one-pager on the London Tube map with tons of links.

Why Athletes Pee on Their Hands, does

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

Why Athletes Pee on Their Hands, does urine really toughen the skin?.

Anil is moving to San Francisco

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

Anil is moving to San Francisco. I don’t know why 6A wants to close their New York “office”, but oh well.

New David Sedaris book out soon, “Dress

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2004

New David Sedaris book out soon, “Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim”.

Who knew O’Reilly’s Programming Perl could be so stimulating?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

Who knew O’Reilly’s Programming Perl could be so stimulating?. Not really that safe for work.

New Yorker cartoons and the subway

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

On my way to lunch the other day, I noticed a new exhibit at the Annex of the NY Transit Museum in Grand Central: New York: The Ride, Subway Cartoon and Cover Art from The New Yorker. That’s two of my favorite NY things together, so I swung by for a look today. It’s a tiny exhibit and takes only 5-10 minutes of your time, but if you’re in the vicinity, it’s worth the effort. Here’s my favorite piece, Hell: The Fifth Avenue Entrance by Mick Stevens:

Hell: The Fifth Avenue Entrance

Here’s the description of the exhibit:

Throughout the years, cartoons and cover art from The New Yorker have brilliantly captured this city, its hopes and aspirations, its people and their foibles, and their daily routines. Subway humor has been a staple of The New Yorker since the magazine’s 1925 inaugural issue.

While offering an entertaining survey of subway satire from the 1920s to the present, the exhibition also explores changing perceptions of the subway over the course of nine decades. Original artwork, reproductions of The New Yorker covers and cartoons, and original magazines, whose subject matter is the subway system and the people who ride it, are on view.

The exhibit continues through July 18.

Jane Jacobs on The Greening of the City

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

Jane Jacobs on The Greening of the City. Urban ecology is on the rise; I heard a similar talk about animals in the city at Poptech last year.

Nice article on how Mail.app’s spam filtering works

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

Nice article on how Mail.app’s spam filtering works. It’s all about the LSI, yo.

Chicagoist, a new Chicago-centric blog by the

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

Chicagoist, a new Chicago-centric blog by the Gothamist gang, is currently in beta. Don’t much care for the name…

I heartily support The Carbohydrate Manifesto

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

I heartily support The Carbohydrate Manifesto.

Recent results suggest that our universe is

posted by Jason Kottke   May 19, 2004

Recent results suggest that our universe is at least 78 billion light years across.

A breakdown of New York City’s ethnic neighborhoods

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

A breakdown of New York City’s ethnic neighborhoods.

Frontend Editing for MovableType

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Frontend Editing for MovableType. I’ve been doing this for more than a year now and always meant to write it up…but now I don’t need to.

The task of the office

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Designs for Working, a New Yorker acticle by Malcolm Gladwell from a few years ago, draws parallels between good office design and the ideas in Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities:

The task of the office, then, is to invite a particular kind of social interaction—the casual, nonthreatening encounter that makes it easy for relative strangers to talk to each other. Offices need the sort of social milieu that Jane Jacobs found on the sidewalks of the West Village. “It is possible in a city street neighborhood to know all kinds of people without unwelcome entanglements, without boredom, necessity for excuses, explanations, fears of giving offense, embarrassments respecting impositions or commitments, and all such paraphernalia of obligations which can accompany less limited relationships,” Jacobs wrote. If you substitute “office” for “city street neighborhood,” that sentence becomes the perfect statement of what the modern employer wants from the workplace.

Jacobs’ book is pretty much a must-read for anyone constructing environments for social interaction (cities, offices, software, restaurants, libraries, etc.).

People are offering mix CDs, weblog posts,

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

People are offering mix CDs, weblog posts, and videos of naked coeds for Gmail accounts on Gmail Swap.

Tutorial: PHP + Flash MX + MySQL

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Tutorial: PHP + Flash MX + MySQL.

Crackpot family members of man who coined

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Crackpot family members of man who coined the term “googol” are considering legal action against Google.

Photo gallery of new Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Photo gallery of new Koolhaas-designed Seattle Public Library.

Six Apart wants to know how you’re using Movable Type

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

Six Apart wants to know how you’re using Movable Type.

What the heck is semiotics?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

What the heck is semiotics?.

The New Yorker has rediscovered itself through timely news reporting

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2004

The New Yorker has rediscovered itself through timely news reporting.

101 Ways to Save Wired

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2004

101 Ways to Save Wired. An oldie from the Stating the Obvious archive.

Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2004

Do Penis Enlargement Pills Work?. Penis enlargement blogger concludes that pills (when combined with exercise) do work; he got 1.1 inches bigger in 16 weeks.

Morgan Spurlock, writer/director of Super Size

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2004

Morgan Spurlock, writer/director of Super Size Me documentary, is writing a weblog on Indiewire.

TV over IM

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2004

My dream of distributing couch potato behavior has been realized by Simon Thornton: Sending Live Television Via iChat. Simon says:

However, if you just so happen to be someone that has purchased an analogue video -> DV (firewire) converter box in the past, such as the Formac Studio, you might be suprised to learn that when it’s plugged in it is presented to the Mac (and specifically the iChat application) as a perfectly valid firewire input device. In other, shorter, easier, words: you can use your converter box to stream live video from something - oooh, let’s just say your Sky Digibox for example - to someone else using iChat anywhere else in the world. If you happened to have one of the outputs of your Sky box (it has two) connected up to the inputs of your converter box, you might see how this could work.

Fantastic. No wonder the entertainment companies want all sorts of DRM built into everything.

Whitney Biennial 2004

posted by Jason Kottke   May 17, 2004

Yesterday was a wonderful day to be in New York City. After a warm, sunny walk through Central Park (you can rent small remote control sailboats at the Conservatory Water!), we went over to the Whitney to take in the 2004 Biennial. While I didn’t like many of the individual pieces, the show as a whole was worth seeing, if only to check the pulse of the contemporary art world.

I’d love to point you at some of the pieces I enjoyed, but of course the Biennial Web site is in Flash, rendering individual artist biographies and artworks unlinkable. I know artists have a fear of functionality, but you’d think they could make an exception in this case. Anyway, I dug up a link to one of my favorite pieces from the show, Hamburger Hill by Barnaby Furnas. The bullets tear his Civil War-inspired paintings apart in straight lines — looks just a bit cubist to me — flattening several minutes of action into one still frame. Wonderfully active, vibrant, and visceral.

The New Yorker: did Rumsfeld’s orders lead

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2004

The New Yorker: did Rumsfeld’s orders lead to the abuse at Abu Ghraib?.

PulpFiction is a new Mail.app-like newsreader for OS X

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2004

PulpFiction is a new Mail.app-like newsreader for OS X. Now available for purchase; does filters, labels, AppleScript, Atom, flags, etc.

Revised pricing structure for Movable Type Personal Edition

posted by Jason Kottke   May 16, 2004

In response to concerns by their customers (as well as non-customers, Slashdot readers, and pretty much anyone with a blog and an opinion), Six Apart has modified the pricing structure for the Personal Edition of Movable Type 3. A couple of quick thoughts on this:

1. Six Apart is listening to their customers. Based on the specific concerns of their customers, they updated their pricing in just two days time. That Six Apart has sincerely listened to their customers in the past and continues to do so as a quickly growing company seeking to sustain itself is worth some goodwill on our part toward 6A. Many other companies wouldn’t have bothered.

2. The tiered personal pricing still doesn’t make sense. Mena writes:

Our best explanation for the tiering is that we feel a personal user who sets up weblogs for 50 of his friends should pay more for a license than one who uses only one weblog for himself.

Someone hosting 50 people should pay more, but that should be handled as a non-personal situation on a case-by-case basis. What I feel is happening instead is that 6A is offloading a business problem of theirs that concerns only a small portion of their user base (i.e. the folks hosting 50 friends on one install) to all of their customers. Because of a few potential offenders, customers have to deal with pricing tiers, definitions of weblogs and users, keeping track of how many active weblogs and users they have, upgrading their licenses when they add authors or weblogs, etc. We shouldn’t have to do that. I don’t want to get out my credit card every time I want to add a guest author to my weblog. Do I get a refund if I purchase a 13 weblog/13 author license but 10 of those authors and 7 of those weblogs are inactive after 90 days?**

The solution is to make it as straightforward as possible for customers. In addition to the free version (1 author, 3 weblogs), offer the Personal Edition for $70-$100 for unlimited weblogs and authors with the condition that too many (10? 20?) “weblogs for friends” will be considered non-personal use of the software and will be subject to extra fees. That way, the customer’s ownership of the product is vastly simplified and the burden of dealing with the non-personal use of the Personal Edition shifts back to 6A where it belongs.

** The license states that after 90 days of inactivity, weblogs and authors don’t count toward the pricing limits.

Jason Zada raves about a new kind

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2004

Jason Zada raves about a new kind of green screen for video/film work.

Dumb Slashdot thread on MT new pricing structure

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2004

Dumb Slashdot thread on MT new pricing structure. Sometimes I think the Web’s primary function is aggregating stupidity.

Trailer is out for The Incredibles, Pixar’s new movie

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2004

Trailer is out for The Incredibles, Pixar’s new movie. Looks, um, incredible

The end of free

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2004

In all the hullabaloo about Six Apart’s new pricing structure for Movable Type (check out the announcement from Mena — with what has to be a record 373 Trackbacks — for some idea of what people are whining about), the best and most concise comment I’ve seen comes from Dave Winer today:

Yesterday we saw people complain about spending $60 for a big useful piece of software like Movable Type. I paid $60 for a cab ride in Geneva. A good dinner is $100. A hotel room $150. You want the software, find a way to help companies like Six Apart instead of making them miserable. You’ve now got the tools to communicate. Use them well. Use them better.

The bottom line, as Dave suggests, is that MT 3.0 is worth charging money for. Period. The fact that it was free up until now is largely irrelevant…except that for 2 1/2 years Six Apart has provided people with a very powerful, flexible piece of software for free and will continue to do so in the future. Those bastards!

The one thing I do think 6A got wrong is the pricing structure for personal users. Tiered pricing of software based on the number of users was designed to make sure large companies paid more for software than did small companies…so that a company like Wal-Mart pays $3 million for a database application for 20,000 users and a smaller company like Nantucket Nectars pays $30,000 for the same software with 250 users. The same pricing structure doesn’t make sense for personal users. I know they priced it that way so that someone can’t install MT and then host weblogs for 50 of their friends. I can understand that…that seems like an abuse of the “personal” license to me.

But in my case, I have 10 weblogs and 22 authors on my MT install. All of those weblogs are primarily mine except for one group weblog (which is not public at this time). All of the weblogs can be found on one domain (no subdomains), although some are password-protected. Most of the authors in the system are part-time…they aren’t actively posting to weblogs nor will they in the future, but they need to remain in the system to retain authorship of their posts. By my reckoning, I’m one person using MT in a exclusively personal manner to maintain one Web site. But looking at the pricing chart, there’s not even an option on there for me and the highest option they do offer is $190 for 9 users and 10 weblogs. How much would 22 authors (and counting…) cost me? $250? Or would I have to move to a commercial license for $700?

Why not make the personal edition a flat fee of ~$60 for unlimited users and weblogs (in addition to the free version with 1 author/3 weblogs)? Here’s the reasoning. Tiered personal use (per above) doesn’t make much sense. Trust that people using the personal edition will use it in a personal way. The guy offering 50 of his friends MT weblogs on subdomains isn’t going to pay for MT, not what you want him to pay anyway. If people start using it in that way, suggest an upgrade to the non-personal edition might be appropriate. If they refuse, they weren’t going to pay you anyway.

In exchange for lowering the price on the high-end, you get community goodwill and, more importantly, you get people using your software in a freewheeling way. When people, particular the power users that will be attracted to MT, have the freedom to use your software however they wish (and not having to choose, for instance, between paying $50-$90 extra and not having guest authors on their site or not starting that extra weblog to keep track of the books they’ve been reading), you get a picture of what your software is really for. And since MT is ultimately the backend for TypePad (a for-pay service), that knowledge is valuable. My feeling is that susidizing freewheeling personal use of MT is an investment that will pay off handsomely in the future.

In the meantime, I’ve got options. My copy of MT (v2.63, for which I donated $45) isn’t any less flexible or powerful than it was yesterday. It works just fine for my current needs, it will continue to work well into the foreseeable future, and I remain a satified customer of Six Apart.

Six Apart has released a developer edition

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2004

Six Apart has released a developer edition of MT 3.0 ahead of the official release.

Google’s new groups do have Atom feeds;

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2004

Google’s new groups do have Atom feeds; here’s the one for the alt.fan.tarantino group. Thx, Steve.

New version of Google Groups adds mailing

posted by Jason Kottke   May 13, 2004

New version of Google Groups adds mailing lists to the Usenet archives. Maybe each group should have a RSS/Atom feed?

Skipping lunch

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Instead of eating lunch today, I skipped it to fight hunger and donated the money I would have spent to City Harvest (I rounded up to $10). Not that it was that simple. I had good intentions this morning in deciding not to eat at noontime, but then my stomach weighed in with something along the lines of, “but…you’re hungry, stupid.” To appease my appetite, I devised a seemingly clever plan: I would both eat and donate.

However, upon further reflection, that seemed like cheating. The idea behind Skip Lunch Fight Hunger Day is to go hungry so someone else may eat, not to just donate money. So, I ended up skipping that second lunch as well and donated $20 to City Harvest: $10 for the original skipped meal and another $10 for the meal I tried to sneak past my conscience. Luckily I stopped thinking about planning — and subsequently donating the necessary funds for — further lunches or I could have put quite a dent in my bank account by the time dinnertime rolled around.

French man authors a 233 page book without any verbs

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

French man authors a 233 page book without any verbs. “The verb is like a weed in a field of flowers. You have to get rid of it to allow the flowers to grow and flourish.”

Fendi Juke Box bag designed to carry

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Fendi Juke Box bag designed to carry some of Karl Lagerfeld’s 40 iPods.

Google PR is already editing stuff written

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Google PR is already editing stuff written on the official Google Blog. That was quick.

2004 James Beard awards announced

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

2004 James Beard awards announced.

Hubble photographs unique rectangular nebula

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Hubble photographs unique rectangular nebula.

The International Space Station will totally eclipse

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

The International Space Station will totally eclipse Jupiter, but the “path of totality” is only ~260 feet wide. Last bit of the article: “Bright. Silent. Inhabited. Don’t miss it!”

A few digital photography hacks

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

A few digital photography hacks. The camera strap tripod idea is genius.

Today is Skip Lunch Fight Hunger Day

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Today is Skip Lunch Fight Hunger Day. I’m participating.

Another big game for Kobe after a day in court

posted by Jason Kottke   May 12, 2004

Another big game for Kobe after a day in court. It would be interesting to get a psychologist’s take on what that might say about his guilt or innocence in the case.

And then there was one (RSS feed)

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2004

As promised, I’ve done away with all but one of my RSS feeds for the main weblog. The RSS feed for kottke.org is located at http://www.kottke.org/index.xml (RSS 2.0 format, if that matters), contains all posts except the remaindered links (rl feed here), includes only a short excerpt of each post, and contains no HTML, not even links (except for the book posts).

You shouldn’t need to worry about this, but I’ve used Apache’s mod_alias module to automatically and permanently redirect your newsreader from the old feed URLs to the new location. You shouldn’t have noticed a thing (PulpFiction handled it like a champ). Apologies if your newsreader didn’t make the transition as smoothly as I intended it to…it probably doesn’t handle 301 redirects properly (i.e. it’s busted). If your newsreader didn’t handle it well, please update the RSS URL for kottke.org to http://www.kottke.org/index.xml. Thanks!

I think we should probably stop calling it syndication

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2004

I think we should probably stop calling it syndication. People are still confused about this.

More on Blogger’s redirection of links within comments

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2004

More on Blogger’s redirection of links within comments. The redirects combat comment spam and ensure PageRank fairness.

More on Flickr’s photo annotation

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2004

More on Flickr’s photo annotation. They’re working on importing/exporting JPEGs with annotations intact.

The official Google weblog

posted by Jason Kottke   May 11, 2004

The official Google weblog. Authors are anonymous?

You can annotate Flickr photos now? Kick. Ass.

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

You can annotate Flickr photos now? Kick. Ass..

This aerial photo by Vincent Laforet of

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

This aerial photo by Vincent Laforet of a lone cab moving through Brooklyn after a snowstorm is awesome.

How does a man on a motorscooter

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

How does a man on a motorscooter catch a runaway ostrich?. Answer: he doesn’t.

The knuckleball is getting its groove back

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

The knuckleball is getting its groove back. Red Sox GM and Moneyballer Theo Epstein currently has two more knuckleballers in the pipeline with which to torment the Yankees.

Adam Gopnik talks with Jane Jacobs on

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

Adam Gopnik talks with Jane Jacobs on her return to New York and her new book.

“States with higher IQ vote Democrat” meme is a hoax

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

“States with higher IQ vote Democrat” meme is a hoax. Stupid gullible liberals!

In case you’re wondering who Mark Lombardi is

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

In case you’re wondering who Mark Lombardi is.

New version of the excellent They Rule

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

New version of the excellent They Rule. Create your own diagrams a la Mark Lombardi.

Doug Bowman on the Blogger redesign

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2004

Doug Bowman on the Blogger redesign. The “publish thoughts, get feedback, find people” explanation of blogging on the front page of the site is as good as I’ve seen anywhere.

New version of Blogger launches

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2004

New version of Blogger launches. With new features — like comments and single page archives — and the now-ubiquitous double drop shadowed design.

First season of Dukes of Hazzard on DVD

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2004

First season of Dukes of Hazzard on DVD. Looks like Knight Rider and A-Team DVDs are available as well. What, no Diff’rent Strokes?

German instructional forklift training video

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2004

German instructional forklift training video.

The Great Mahakali Write-A-Thon

posted by Jason Kottke   May 09, 2004

The Great Mahakali Write-A-Thon. Contestants have 58 hours to write an entire novel. Takes place next weekend (May 14-16).

Is Bush sorry or “sorry” for the Iraqi prison abuse?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2004

Is Bush sorry or “sorry” for the Iraqi prison abuse?.

What is art direction?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2004

What is art direction?.

Will Andy Kaufman return from the dead after 20 years?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2004

Will Andy Kaufman return from the dead after 20 years?.

Photoblogs from some troops in Iraq

posted by Jason Kottke   May 08, 2004

Photoblogs from some troops in Iraq.

NBC’s weird Friends scheduling hosed many TiVo

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2004

NBC’s weird Friends scheduling hosed many TiVo users, if you’ve got it on TiVo, you probably missed the last 5 minutes. I expect we’ll see a few news stories about this today or tomorrow.

Wired News on Sam Arbesman’s Memespread Project

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2004

Wired News on Sam Arbesman’s Memespread Project. Boy, is my wishy-washy rambling ill-suited for quoting or what?

“The Personal Democracy Forum will bring together

posted by Jason Kottke   May 07, 2004

“The Personal Democracy Forum will bring together political figures, grassroots leaders, journalists and technology professionals to discuss the questions that lie at the intersection of technology and politics”. May 24th, NYC.

Read Print, a collection of public domain

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

Read Print, a collection of public domain books, poems, and short stories. This is how Project Gutenberg should look/work.

Enough Star Trek Books To Get Anyone Laid

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

Enough Star Trek Books To Get Anyone Laid.

Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

Making Sense of Marcel Duchamp.

This is our president

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

This is our president.

Pizza Party is a command line program for ordering pizza

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

Pizza Party is a command line program for ordering pizza.

New Jane Jacbos book: Dark Age Ahead

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

New Jane Jacbos book: Dark Age Ahead.

Pablo Picasso

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

Pablo Picasso. His Garcon a la Pipe just sold for $104 million at auction.

Genius

posted by Jason Kottke   May 06, 2004

This seems familiar:

It made Feynman think wistfully about the days before the future of science had begun to feel like his mission — the days before physicists changed the universe and became the most potent political force within American science, before institutions with fast-expanding budgets began chasing nuclear physicists like Hollywood stars. He remembered when physics was a game, when he could look at the graceful narrowing curve in three dimensions that water makes as it streams from a tap, and he could take the time to understand why.

Sucre

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Surely the cartoonist knows the French word for pen.

What football is all about

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

What football is all about.

War correspondent Peter Maass reveals what gadgets

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

War correspondent Peter Maass reveals what gadgets are both helpful and essential in war-zone reporting.

Recent archaeological find suggests that Mayan culture

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Recent archaeological find suggests that Mayan culture began hundreds of years earlier than previously suspected.

Jason is the 24th most common male

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Jason is the 24th most common male name in the US, but there are also about 2550 US women named Jason. There were 4 Jasons in my 11th grade World History class. The teacher resorted to pointing and calling everyone “you”.

A reading list for a hypothetical Economics and Philosophy class

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

A reading list for a hypothetical Economics and Philosophy class.

Disney is blocking Miramax’s distribution of Michael

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Disney is blocking Miramax’s distribution of Michael Moore’s new film, Fahrenheit 911.

Finding the speed of light with marshmallows

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Finding the speed of light with marshmallows and a microwave oven.

Intricate geometric paperclip sculptures

posted by Jason Kottke   May 05, 2004

Intricate geometric paperclip sculptures.

Faux prototype of wristwatch iPod + phone

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

Faux prototype of wristwatch iPod + phone. Complete with wireless earbuds.

50 big moments in the 50 years of pop history

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

50 big moments in the 50 years of pop history. A bit Brit-heavy, but then so is the history of rock and roll.

The younger generation of New Yorker cartoonists

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

The younger generation of New Yorker cartoonists. I want to see some of Sam Brown’s explodingdog goodness in the NYer.

Why is morons.org a Google News source?

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

Why is morons.org a Google News source?. Surely if they let them in, they should be relaxing their policy about not letting any weblogs in.

Richter magnitude scale

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

Richter magnitude scale. Another page I read said a 12.0 would “fault [the] Earth in half through center”. Soon to be a major mini-series event, I’m sure.

Kevin Garnett wins NBA MVP award. Finally.

posted by Jason Kottke   May 04, 2004

Kevin Garnett wins NBA MVP award. Finally..

Bad Scrabble hands

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2004

Bad Scrabble hands.

Paul Rand’s geometry books

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2004

Paul Rand’s geometry books.

The 2 to the Nth feature

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2004

Overheard at work today regarding the number of mail accounts on our system:

We’ve got more email groups [eg. marketingteam@example.com] than we do user accounts [eg. jim@example.com], by a factor of more than 2 to 1.

Bit of a lesson in that statement for software developers, I think. If you’ve got N users on your system, those N users can form ~2^N groups. For example, a system containing 50 users can form ~1,120,000,000,000,000 groups for a total of ~1,120,000,000,000,050 different entities in the system. If your feature set, interface, and performance metrics only cater to the 50 users, you’re ignoring most of the possible entities. In developing software, build features for groups and watch your garden grow.

Note: this also easily applies to mp3 players (N songs, 2^N playlists), weblog software (N posts, 2^N “categories”), and newsreaders (N feeds, 2^N feed collections and/or N posts, 2^N post collections).

Another note: thanks to Stephen, Simon, and Graham for correcting my poor back-of-the-envelope math. It’s 2^N, not N^2.

UnreBlogging

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2004

My week-long stint as Eyebeam’s reBlogger is over. Thanks to all those who sent in suggestions for reBlog feeds and to Eyebeam for letting me play in their sandbox. I had to use an RSS reader for the week (oh, the humanity!), but it was interesting to have to read and filter content I don’t normally pay that much attention to. Taking over for me will be the lovely Andrea Harner, photographer, exclamation point fan, and friend to animals everywhere.

Netflix Flash movies

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2004

Netflix Flash movies. If you’re epileptic, you’ll want to skip this.

Matt takes the greatest photoblog photo of all time

posted by Jason Kottke   May 02, 2004

Matt takes the greatest photoblog photo of all time. Ingredients: closeup flower shot, the NYC High Line, mirror shot (in the sunglasses), and Jason Kottke (holding the sunglasses).

Pac Manhattan takes the popular 80s game

posted by Jason Kottke   May 01, 2004

Pac Manhattan takes the popular 80s game to the streets of Manhattan around Washington Square Park.

The amount Google chose to raise in

posted by Jason Kottke   May 01, 2004

The amount Google chose to raise in their IPO is the mathematical constant “e” times 1 billion. So nerdy!.

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