Enter the 4th Annual Everyman Photo Contest. Amateurs only, deadline is 10/4/2004.
The Teacher's Lounge is a wiki for teachers to share lesson plans. It could use some contributions...forward this along to any K-12 teachers you know.
The Peace Corps is looking for some Web developers and designers. Volunteer or pass the word along.
Google's IPO site is live JUL 30
Google's IPO site is live. Read the prospectus, view the Meet the Management presentation, get a bidder ID, and get information about the auction.
Is the Bush administration capturing Al Qaeda operatives only when it's politically convenient to do so?. I've seen many others wonder about a timely Bin Laden capture at the end of October.
NYPD critical response mobilizations designed to intimidate populace. Isn't this pretty much what terrorism is?
The preservation of jazz history and the iTunes Music Store. What we're losing in the mp3ing of all music.
Paleoclimatologist sniffs that he wouldn't see The Day After Tomorrow unless someone gave him $100. Usenet readers successfully take up a collection and send him to the theatre.
2004 Election Guide from the NY Times. Great info-packed Flash presentation.
Craft and the Shake Shack JUL 30
Meg and I went to Craft earlier this week. The restaurant's schtick is to present fresh food as simply as possible. The heirloom tomatoes were sliced, salted, peppered, and placed on a white dish with a wee bit of basil. The wild salmon came with a few onions, making it the most accented dish of the evening. The striped bass was served braised in its own juices with a couple of carrots. Plain sautéed hen-of-the-woods mushrooms. The lamb shank was served alone in its own juices, still in the container it was cooked in. Green beans, unbuttered. Mashed potatoes, lightly buttered. Cinnamon and chocolate donuts on a simple white plate. A single slice of brioche pain perdu with small pitchers of caramel and chocolate to flavor it. I enjoyed the no-nonsense presentation, but the tastes were a little too spare for my, um, taste. Verdict: The food was great, the novelty of the preparation was fun, but I don't think I'd go again.
The next day, we checked out Danny Meyer's new Shake Shack in Madison Square Park, located at the opposite end of the NYC food spectrum from Craft. We each had a Shack Burger with fries and shared a chocolate shake. The food came in a box and the burgers in little bags, reminding me of In-N-Out Burger. The fries were way too crispy, but the burger was one of the best I've had in NYC. (Good burgers are one of the few things I miss from California. Not that good hamburgers can't be found in NYC, but it's just not a hamburger town.) I'm looking forward to trying the Chicago-style hot dog (Nathan's aside, give me a Vienna Beef dog any day of the week over a NYC dog) and the frozen custard on my next visit.
New species of worm discovered in the ocean. They eat the fat- and oil-rich remains of whales.
Crick and Watson's original letter to Nature on the structure of DNA. "We wish to put forward a radically different structure for the salt of deoxyribose nucleic acid."
O'Reilly has a page up about their new magazine called Make. "This is a magazine that celebrates your right to tweak, hack, and bend any technology to your own will."
Swiss Army knife with USB storage. In the future, everything will have memory.
NY Times on Web diarist hoaxes and Plain Layne. Includes a photo of Odin Soli, the man behind Layne.
The Source is a neat info-sculpture on the "floor" of the London Stock Exchange. "The Source will mark the start of the London markets every day at 8.00am, displaying an arrow to indicate whether the markets have opened up or down and giving the opening price of the FTSE 100 index."
Review of Restaurant Tycoon, a restaurant management sim. "One might assume that a game about restaurant management would be dull, but this isn't. It helps if you've fantasized about running a restaurant, of course."
Time Magazine on prediction markets. Using markets, BP hit its greenhouse emissions reduction target *9 years early*.
Google IPO price per share JUL 28
I've seen several references to the price per share of Google stock being priced too high ($108-135) for people to buy it, most notably in this article by Dan Gillmor:
At least, I wouldn't consider [investing in Google] at the nosebleed-altitude prices that Google suggested to the world Monday. This is starting to feel frothy.
This is silly. If you buy 74 shares of Google stock for $10,000 and 352 shares of Microsoft stock for $10,000, your stake in each company is worth $10,000 even though you've got five times more MSFT shares. A more relevant question to ask is whether or not a company is worth its overall valuation...or better yet, whether it will be worth such and such a value in X number of years. There's a pyschological factor involved here. People think they're somehow getting more with a higher share price. Reminds me of stock splits...if a stock splits 2-for-1, you get twice the number of shares (woo hoo, I'm rich!) but at half the price per share (hey, wait a minute...).
Frank Gehry and the MIT Media Lab collaborate on a concept car. There's a huge coat hanger on the top of the car.
MTA is exploring corporate branding opportunities for NYC subway stations. In 30 years, everything (individuals, pets, the beach, US currency, the atmosphere, national parks, Spain, etc.) will be branded by a corporation.
Google's IPO information page. There's no info here yet, but will be soon.
Odd tidbit of the day...both Keira Knightly and Sofia Coppola were in Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace. They each played one of Queen Amidala's handmaidens.
The state of the report JUL 27
Wired News has an article on the guerilla conversion of the 9/11 Commission Report (published by the government online only in PDF format) into various formats, including HTML, text, audio, and a more accessible PDF format. The HTML version I did of the executive summary is mentioned. On a whim yesterday afternoon, I googled for several variations of "9/11 commission report" and my site came up in the top 5-6 results for most of them (for instance). Usually a high ranking on a such a hot topic means lots of traffic from Google, but when I checked my stats this morning, there was almost nothing coming from Google for any of those search terms. So even though the book version is a bestseller, few seem to be looking for the online version.
Also, it looks as though Dave Winer might handily win his bet with Martin Nisenholtz of the NY Times...both kottke.org and Boing Boing rank above CNN, MSNBC, Time, and the Times in the search results for "9/11 commission report".
Photos of the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe. "I've never been in a space that is more in tune with the nature that surrounds it".
Last 100 posts, part 2 JUL 26
(This is a biweekly-ish wrap-up thing that I'm trying. Here's the first installment.)
Lance Armstrong won the Tour de France, but you already know that. Enroute to victory, Armstrong tangled with an off-the-bike rival...or was it just smart game theory? Heather has photos (1, 2) from the final stage in Paris.
Ken Jennings is still alive on Jeopardy as the show goes on summer vacation. Tapings begin again in August. I see no end in sight to his reign. More Jennings links than you would ever want:
- Ken Jennings Wikipedia entry
- The various ways in which Ken has signed his name
- An enormous list of movies Ken likes
- Lots of discussion on the Jeopardy Forums. Jennings himself even participates in some of the discussions; here's a list of his posts.
hello, typepad ties it all together in a post about Lance, Jennings, me, and (respectively) our continued dominance of the Tour, Jeopardy, and Google.
The discussion of the Fast Company article on Whole Foods is a reminder of why it's so much fun for me to do this site. The thread contains both pro and con responses, including one from the boyfriend of a satisfied Whole Foods employee. What's odd is that the article generated zero comments on the actual article page on FC. I wonder why?
Re: the HTML version of the 9/11 Commission Report Executive Summary I posted last week, here's the whole report (HTML TOC links to PDF (FYI LOL)) with permalinks for each section. Should be a Wired article appearing soon about the guerilla reformatting of the report.
For the announcement of the new iPod, we were promised out-of-the-ordinary publicity. Instead, we got the cover of Newsweek. Boooor-ring. Does anyone have one of these bad boys yet?
I tested the wisdom of a crowd by opening up comments on the Wisdom of Crowds post. How'd the crowd do? Well, it would have been more interesting had any of the commenters actually read the book. I've thought of starting a kottke.org book club where I post what book I'm currently reading, invite others to read along with me, and then have a discussion about the book when we've finished reading. I'm not completely sold on the idea for a variety of reasons, but would there be any interest in this?
In response to my problems with MTAmazon, Adam Kalsey, the creator of the plugin, writes in with a possible solution (haven't tried it yet, so I don't know). He says it's a problem with Amazon's ever-changing API, which makes sense because nothing with my MT install changed to make the plugin break. Thanks to Adam taking the time to help and for making MTAmazon freely available. Amazon's API aside, it's one of my favorite plugins.
The DNC bloggers are gearing up to do their thing. (What "thing" that is exactly remains to be seen.) I'm a little irritated about not being there; I didn't find out that they were letting bloggers into the convention until it was too late to sign up. Sounds like an interesting experience.
Other than that, last week was a hard week. I'm setting up a new server and, after 40+ hours of monkeying around with installation of software and configuring everything, the hard drive threw a wobbly. Luckily I got the data back, and I'm only out a few bucks and a few hours for my trouble. I've got it back to where it was (more or less) and am currently working on an rsync-based backup solution before I go any further. From what I've seen so far, rsync is quite a cool application.
The six degrees of the PBS show, American Masters. See how Clint Eastwood and Albert Einstein are connected.
The band connector JUL 26
The band connector. "A band is officially regarded as connecting to another if they both share a legitmate band member".
One man's crusade against Big Oil. "They are taking advantage of people's anxiety about the war."
Hello, Nintendo-playing shades-wearing dumbass. Hey, it was bright in there!
The cult of Ken Jennings JUL 24
The cult of Ken Jennings. Just in case you missed it the first time.
Rumors are true, Microsoft is looking to sell Slate. Slate's one of the best online magazines; I hope nothing bad happens to it.
How to detect if someone is lying through observation during questioning. "Experienced interviewers know they cannot count on any one indicator to deception; the pattern is the key".
Catwoman is getting horrible reviews. It's currently hovering just above Gigli territory.
Aggregating posts from bloggers at the DNC. I had no idea so few bloggers got chosen to attend.
Evidence of rogue waves uncovered with satellite photos. Waves 80-100 feet high can form in otherwise calm seas.
Today is the last day of the JUL 23
If you blow out the white on JUL 22
The first one is free JUL 22
Sveasoft have produced a new firmware for a Linksys wireless router. The software, like the original software, is based on Linux, and is licensed under the GPL: once you own a copy, you're free to give it to anyone you want. However, Sveasoft themselves will only give you a copy of "pre-release" version of their software if you pay to "subscribe" to this service. Ordinarily they wouldn't be able to charge very much for their software, because once one person has a copy of the software, they are legally allowed to give it to all their friends. (They could also sell it for less than Sveasoft charges.) However, the deal with Sveasoft is that if you do this, they won't sell you newer versions of their software. According to the FSF, this is quite okay.
Sveasoft will give you their pre-release software for free and allow you to distribute it, but if you do, you can't get support or buy future versions of the pre-release software. When I first read about this, it seemed to run counter to the free software philosophy, but upon further reflection, I don't see any real technical or philosophical objections to what Sveasoft is doing.
The 9/11 Commission released their findings today (WaPo PDF of the Executive Summary). I've created an HTML version of the Executive Summary with permalinks for each paragraph for easy linking and copy/paste.
GD Library restores GIF read/write support due to expiration of the GIF patent. Was just there yesterday looking for this; must have missed it by a couple of hours.
Perhaps the Dutch tulip bubble in the 1600s wasn't a bubble after all. Might have been caused by a rule change, not mass delusion.
NYC protestors accept march route (up 7th Ave) and rally spot (on the West Side Highway) for Republican National Convention protest. Not a bad proposal...they get to march right past where the convention is being held. I bet they'll have a lot of touble keeping the march moving around MSG.
idealist.org is holding a nonprofit design contest. "This competition seeks to promote excellence in design in the nonprofit sector and to reward and acknowledge those designers who move beyond limitations to create works that are functional and aesthetically powerful while also promoting social impact."
In NYC, even the opening of a new Target store is a big deal. The likes of Chloe Sevigny, Sandra Bernhard, and Maggie Gyllenhaal turned up to shop for Britta water filters and bathmats.
This electoral vote predictor is currently showing a sizable win for Kerry. Data is taken from state polls.
Results of the 2004 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest. This year's "dark and stormy night" includes the phrase "like Martha Stewart ripping the sand vein out of a shrimp's tail".
Fast Company on Whole Foods' successful blend of hard-core capitalism and social responsibility. I highly recommend this article...fascinating stuff.
Camera fiends JUL 20
Boy howdy, if this don't sound familiar:
The appearance of Eastman's cameras was so sudden and so pervasive that the reaction in some quarters was fear. A figure called the "camera fiend" began to appear at beach resorts, prowling the premises until he could catch female bathers unawares. One resort felt the trend so heavily that it posted a notice: "PEOPLE ARE FORBIDDEN TO USE THEIR KODAKS ON THE BEACH." Other locations were no safer. For a time, Kodak cameras were banned from the Washington Monument. The "Hartford Courant" sounded the alarm as well, declaring that "the sedate citizen can't indulge in any hilariousness without the risk of being caught in the act and having his photograph passed around among his Sunday School children."
These days, there's talk of banning camera phones from anywhere you could possibly carry one: locker rooms, battlefields, subways, and movie theatres. Awake, citizenry! Our indulgence in hilariousness is at stake here! (via red)
It's "weblog" not "web log" JUL 19
It's "weblog" not "web log". Once more with feeling; today's WSJ is the latest offender.
The top 10 weapons of mass distraction. I'd like to see a conservative top 10 in the same vein.
Details on the new iPods JUL 19
Details on the new iPods. Cheaper, better battery life, iPod mini "Click Wheel", playlist creation, and adjusting the speed of audiobook playback.
Dick Cheney and Pat Leahy square off on the Senate floor. "Most of the rhymes kicked therein cannot be quoted in a family publication, but observers gave Mr. Cheney credit for his deceptively laid-back flow."
Spiderman 2 JUL 18
Considering how much I didn't like the first one, I was quite surprised at how much I enjoyed the sequel. Still a few cheesy bits (the laughing mask needs to go), but the action, love story, and comedy were great.
The AI Web game designed to support the Spielberg film was built by Microsoft. First person account from one of the game builders.
Manhattan by helicopter JUL 18
For a friend's birthday, her wife arranged for a helicopter ride and invited a few people along. Never having been on a helicopter before, I happily joined in.
The ride up and down the Hudson only lasted about 7 minutes, but it was great fun. Reminded me a lot of flying with my dad as a kid. And seeing Manhattan from a different angle was a real treat. Here are a few photos I took of the ride.
Cool MPEG movie of sand acting like water. Movie was filmed at 1000 frames per second.
Think Secret says Apple is introducing the new models of the standard iPod on Monday (contrary to an earlier announcement). More interesting is this little puzzler:
Apple will not announce the new models through a press event, though Think Secret has learned that the announcement will be delivered through an out-of-the-ordinary publicity medium.
An "out-of-the-ordinary publicity medium"? Said medium is either a weblog (a new Apple blog? one of the many iPod news sites? Engadget or Gizmodo?), skywriting, with chalk from the back of a bicycle, or a free concert in Central Park by Prince.
Further update: Predictably, Gizmodo and Engadget both have the Newsweek cover as their top story. Can you tell which one of the gadget sites is which? (I've removed the logos from the screenshots...and this is a mostly rhetorical questions...I don't need your answers via email.) And while we're on the subject, based on the latest stats, how long before Nick moves all his Gawker properties over to porn? Fawker, Boinkette, and Jismodo anyone?
In the zone JUL 16
Until this evening, I'd never actually seen any of Ken Jennings' 30+ appearances on Jeopardy. Now that I have, I sincerely believe that he cannot be beat. The man is a frigging machine. Unbelievable. I'm beginning to think this is actually plausible.
Albert Einstein's FBI file JUL 16
Albert Einstein's FBI file. "An investigation was conducted by the FBI regarding the famous physicist because of his affiliation with the Communist Party."
A Pause for Hindsight from the NY Times. "If we want Mr. Bush to be candid about his mistakes, we should be equally open about our own."
Trekkies 2 available on DVD JUL 16
Trekkies 2 available on DVD. Wasn't released in the theatres so this is your first chance to see it.
July rumors bring August iPods. Smaller, multi-colored, iPod mini-ish.
Possible Follow-up Songs for One-Hit Wonders. "How Are We Going to Get These Dogs Back In?"
Stephen Hawking says: "I have solved the black hole information paradox and I want to talk about it". Might lose a bet he has with another physicist by his own hand.
The cult of Ken Jennings JUL 15
Various news articles have stated that Ken Jennings, the Jeopardy contestant who has won 31 straight games and $1 million, is back in Utah after taping the currently airing episodes months ago, implying that he lost at some point (neither Jennings nor Jeopardy employees can reveal any details about future Jeopardy episodes).
But what if the show is just on a summer break from taping? Perhaps Jennings is still the reigning champion and will remain champion for years to come. The nerdy Mormon's appearance on television will become a part of normal life in America. Lincoln's on the $5 bill. Sun rises in the east, sets in the west. Michael Bay's movies suck. Ken Jennings is the Jeopardy champ. There are now three constants in life: death, taxes, and Ken Jennings.
In short order, the ratings of the now-live show go through the roof, singlehandedly propping up the dying network television networks. To placate the increasingly vocal anti-Jennings contingent of viewers, the producers start throwing all sorts of special contestants at him. Harvard professors, Disney Imagineers, Rhodes Scholars, a 10 yo genius from South Korea, Danny Hillis, David Foster Wallace, Edward Witten, and even Ben Stein. Jennings defeats them easily, deciding the games well before Final Jeopardy, much to the glee of Jennings' burgeoning fan club.
Jennings, now making hundreds of millions of dollars in endorsements (he's under exclusive contract to Nike, promoting their sportswear geared toward the "intellectual athlete") protests when -- starting in early 2009 -- contestants are allowed to use Google's new S4 (Synaptic Semantic Search System) interface during the show to research answers, but still defeats all challengers. In 2012, the first contestants sporting genetically enhanced "buzzer thumbs" appear on the program. In 2013, the first computer systems to pass the Turing test are allowed as contestants. Jennings handles them all, au naturel.
Inevitably, a Jennings-based religion springs up. A young Mormon living a few blocks from the studio where Jeopardy tapes, reveals he has recently discovered a previously unknown book of the Old Testament. The lost book, coincidentally entitled "Trebek", tells of a living God from "the land of salt, jazz, and many wifes Who shall smite His enemies with a magical rod and infinite wisdom for the amusement of His followers" and promises salvation and everlasting life for whosoever believeth in him. After the new religion's leader appears on Oprah, the Church of Jennings becomes the fastest growing religion in the world.
And then, on January 17, 2026, Jennings loses to a young woman from Ohio (they later marry) by $1 on a Final Jeopardy question about the short-lived talk show Cooking with JK Rowling & Jay-Z. Many die. Upon seeing Jennings' wager come up short, Alex Trebek suffers a massive pulmonary embolism on set. His last words were, "Alex Jennings...I like the sound of that". The elderly, always susceptible to harsh conditions, are hit hardest; Jeopardy becomes the third leading cause of death that year for the 80-100 demographic. Network TV almost collapses (saved only by Survivor: Mare Tranquilitatis), and Jeopardy ratings fall well below pre-Jennings numbers. Jennings retires to Utah, now wholly owned by the Church of Jennings, Inc. And very gradually, people adjust to a world without Ken Jennings as reigning Jeopardy champion.
Flickr and Feedburner collaborate to offer feed splicing. I've been doing this for months with my various types of weblog posts.
Wisdom of Crowds JUL 14
"The problem with the global village is all the global village idiots."
-- Paul Ginsparg
"You don't do good software design by committee."
-- Donald Norman
"There's no justice like angry-mob justice."
-- Principal Seymour Skinner
"A person is smart. People are stupid."
-- Agent K
The wisdom of crowds you say? As Surowiecki explains, yes, but only under the right conditions. In order for a crowd to be smart, he says it needs to satisfy four conditions:
1. Diversity. A group with many different points of view will make better decisions than one where everyone knows the same information. Think multi-disciplinary teams building Web sites...programmers, designers, biz dev, QA folks, end users, and copywriters all contributing to the process, each has a unique view of what the final product should be. Contrast that with, say, the President of the US and his Cabinet.
2. Independence. "People's opinions are not determined by those around them." AKA, avoiding the circular mill problem.
3. Decentralization. "Power does not fully reside in one central location, and many of the important decisions are made by individuals based on their own local and specific knowledge rather than by an omniscient or farseeing planner." The open source software development process is an example of effect decentralization in action.
4. Aggregation. You need some way of determining the group's answer from the individual responses of its members. The evils of design by committee are due in part to the lack of correct aggregation of information. A better way to harness a group for the purpose of designing something would be for the group's opinion to be aggregated by an individual who is skilled at incorporating differing viewpoints into a single shared vision and for everyone in the group to be aware of that process (good managers do this). Aggregation seems to be the most tricky of the four conditions to satisfy because there are so many different ways to aggregate opinion, not all of which are right for a given situation.
Satisfy those four conditions and you've hopefully cancelled out some of the error involved in all decision making:
If you ask a large enough group of diverse, independent people to make a prediciton or estimate a probability, and then everage those estimates, the errors of each of them makes in coming up with an answer will cancel themselves out. Each person's guess, you might say, has two components: information and error. Subtract the error, and you're left with the information.
There's more info on the book at the Wisdom of Crowds Web site and in various tangential articles Surowiecki's written:
- Search and Destroy (on Google bombs)
- The Pipeline Problem (drug companies)
- Hail to the Geek (government and information flow)
- Going Dutch (IPOs)
- The Coup De Grasso (fairness in business)
- Open Wide (movies and "non-informative information cascades")
It's official, Shaq traded from Lakers to Miami Heat. The Lakers are correct in trading Shaq (past his prime), I just don't know if they got much in return.
Wil Wheaton's new book is available. Ensign Crusher on being a struggling adult actor, blogger, Linux nerd, and family man.
Mena steps down as CEO of Six Apart. A good move...6A is a fundamentally different company than when it started and it needs different leadership.
Colors of the Flickr rainbow JUL 14
Inspired by Dana's post about Flickr colors, here's the Flickr spectrum, starting with the Flickr Homeland Security Advisory System:
SEVERE: brick, flag, carpet
HIGH: flower, sunset, kitty
ELEVATED: daisy, cab, fries
GUARDED: sky, jeans, hair
LOW: tree, wasabi, watermelon
couch, blueberries, flower
football, ice cream, hats
cat, tie, sky
sky, feet, chairs
tile, sculpture, polaroid
maude, bitch whips, pillow
The NY Times is not the paper of record on the Web. They're handcuffed by a deal with Lexis-Nexis. Shouldn't the continued existance of a deal so unfavorable to their readership be evaluated?
How many links does it take to get to your site from Google.com?. Without using the search box, wiseass.
Diary of Hulk still going strong. "Hulk not allowed at library anymore. Hulk just wanted to help library woman keep place quiet!"
Elephant JUL 13
Trolling around the Web for reviews of Gus Van Sant's rumination on Columbine, I came across this anecdote from Roger Ebert:
Let me tell you a story. The day after Columbine, I was interviewed for the Tom Brokaw news program. The reporter had been assigned a theory and was seeking sound bites to support it. "Wouldn't you say," she asked, "that killings like this are influenced by violent movies?" No, I said, I wouldn't say that. "But what about 'Basketball Diaries'?" she asked. "Doesn't that have a scene of a boy walking into a school with a machine gun?" The obscure 1995 Leonardo Di Caprio movie did indeed have a brief fantasy scene of that nature, I said, but the movie failed at the box office (it grossed only $2.5 million), and it's unlikely the Columbine killers saw it.
The reporter looked disappointed, so I offered her my theory. "Events like this," I said, "if they are influenced by anything, are influenced by news programs like your own. When an unbalanced kid walks into a school and starts shooting, it becomes a major media event. Cable news drops ordinary programming and goes around the clock with it. The story is assigned a logo and a theme song; these two kids were packaged as the Trench Coat Mafia. The message is clear to other disturbed kids around the country: If I shoot up my school, I can be famous. The TV will talk about nothing else but me. Experts will try to figure out what I was thinking. The kids and teachers at school will see they shouldn't have messed with me. I'll go out in a blaze of glory."
In short, I said, events like Columbine are influenced far less by violent movies than by CNN, the NBC Nightly News and all the other news media, who glorify the killers in the guise of "explaining" them. I commended the policy at the Sun-Times, where our editor said the paper would no longer feature school killings on Page 1. The reporter thanked me and turned off the camera. Of course the interview was never used. They found plenty of talking heads to condemn violent movies, and everybody was happy.
Some folks don't cotton to Ebert, but I like him fine.
Slashdot, Blogger, MT all seemingly in violation of Oracle's content management patent. Will someone please patent the patent system and sue the damn thing into compliance with reality?
Clear Channel won't put up anti-war billboard in Times Square. Is there such a thing as a tasteful ad in Times Square? They're all pretty much in your face.
Problems with MTAmazon JUL 13
Some of you may have noticed that the Wisdom of Crowds post disappeared from the front page. I've been having lots of trouble with the MTAmazon plug-in that helps power the books section of the site. The basic problem is that the cache is somehow getting corrupted and/or the Amazon API is down and the site won't publish if there's a book post on the front page, which pretty much renders the whole site useless from an updating perspective. It worked well for months and now, poof, it doesn't...without any changes having been made in how it works. Several others on the MTAmazon-users mailing list are having the same problem, and up until today, deleting the cache fixed the problem (as suggested), but even that doesn't work now. With the caching mechanism, you'd think it would fail more gracefully than that.
Anyway, has anyone run into this problem and discovered a solution?
Follow a guy on a Segway as JUL 12
51 page guide to creating product and company names. Branding agency generously shares its process.
A biblical view of the Grand Canyon from a book approved by the National Park Service. "The vast majority of the sedimentary layers in the Grand Canyon were deposited as the result of a global flood that occurred after and as a result of the initial sin that took place in the Garden of Eden."
Microsoft employee hacked into Altavista to obtain source code. Suspect works on MSN Search.
Man downloads 100 millionth song from iTunes Music store and wins Powerbook, iPod, and 10,000 free songs. Winning song was by Zero 7 and remixed by Danger Mouse.
Last 100 posts JUL 12
(Trying out a new feature on kottke.org today in which I revisit the last 100 or so posts -- about 2-3 weeks worth -- and follow up on some of them. We'll see how it goes.)
Ken Jennings is still 0wn1ng Jeopardy. He's won 28 straight games and $920,960. If he ever loses, expect a book deal and a made-for-TV movie, I Was Never Really in Jeopardy: The Ken Jennings Story.
Apple has created a bit of a shitstorm with Dashboard. Cries that they ripped off Konfabulator have given way to the improper addition of new tags to HTML, improper namespaces, and even that a new round of browser wars are beginning. Does anyone dare try to add new features to HTML before the lumbering W3C can get around to it? (Yes, please.) Dave Hyatt is publishing lots of info on his site about Dashboard and Safari.
The whole Plain Layne thing continues to limp along. First noted here, it was eventually revealed to be a hoax. Odin Soli, the man behind the curtain, is still publishing as Plain Layne, but now that everyone knows it's fictional, it's unclear whether anyone will still be interested in reading it (I'm not).
Friendster, which can't make up its mind about their priorities with regard to security, is allowing Dreamworks to create fake profiles to promote Anchorman (noted early on by waxy.org, a favorite source of Wired News stories), even after they raised a hell of a stink about the whole fakesters thing. No, no, this is different, says the company...there's money involved this time. Friendster gets dumber every day.
Fahrenheit 9/11 has taken in $80 million so far at the US box office and will probably be the first documentary to break $100 million at the box office. People are fact-checking the movie and I'm sure there will be fact-checking of the fact-checking, ad infinitum, but with all the partisanship going on around this movie, actual facts will be hard to come by. On the plus side, I will never again forget how to spell Fahrenheit.
Celcius Celsuis Selcius Centigrade is another matter.
Got lots of emails that the 8th grade exam from 1895 is a hoax. Wrong. What Snopes actually says is the assertion that "an 1895 graduation examination for public school students demonstrates a shocking decline in educational standards" is false. That may be, but the test itself is authentic (PDF).
Greece prevailed in the final match of Euro 2004. If you missed seeing the game in the US (because it cost $20 on PPV), Fox Sports World is showing reruns of the quarters, semis, and finals. Check your local listings.
This is actually a Google recruiting Web site. A correct answer takes you to Google's Web site.
Pennsylvania man gets flipped off by George W. Bush. Between this and the Cheney "fuck", the current administration seems almost human.
Low carb, schmo carb, how you approach eating is as important as what you eat. The French paradox goes double for the Italians.
The John Ashcroft Video Project contest. "Sexiest one minute video that includes a discussion of Attorney General John Ashcroft"
Yahoo! acquires Oddpost JUL 10
Yahoo! acquires Oddpost. Yahoo! to get Gmail-esque GUI and a newsreader.
Antarctica has its own currency. Who knew?. Check out all the currencies from other countries as well.
What webloggers are reading this summer. You reading anything good?
Area man on an unprecedented tear on Jeopardy. Streak stands at 26 games and $868,960.
It appears that "Plain Layne" is blogging again. The man behind the site is continuing his experiment in realtime fiction.
Wired News on blogger burnout. Couple quotes from me, including one in which I drop the f-bomb a la Dick Cheney.
While NYC goes with Gotham for Freedom Tower cornerstone, Jersey goes with Times New Roman for its 9/11 memorial. "Both Gotham and New Times Roman will suitably render the names of the victims of 9/11, and will do so with clarity and consistency."
Typeface on Freedom Tower cornerstone is Gotham, designed by Tobias Frere-Jones. I told you 2004 was the year of Frere-Jones.
Explore the links between ExxonMobil and the funding of climate change skeptics. From the creator of They Rule.
I think this is either Gothamist's new LA blog or a blog about Southeast Asians. Or is that laoist.com?
A small update on my recent policy post, wherein I quote a Friendster rep saying in a Wired article:
We have a policy that we are not being hacked. Security isn't a priority for us. We're mostly focused on making the site go faster.
A couple of readers pointed out that in the article I linked to, the text actually read:
We have a policy that we are not being hacked. Security is a big concern. We haven't seen this problem, though. No complaints about it.
The statement I quoted in last week's post was from the print version of the online article, which I suspect is the original version. At some point, it seems that Friendster realized the braindead aspect of the original and got Wired to change it.
Does anyone have the paper copy of the June 2004 version of Wired to compare? Contact me if you do.
Update: Several people wrote in to say that the paper version of the article did indeed contain the "security isn't a priority for us" version of the quote. Scott has a scan of the text. (Thx, everyone.)
Also, I got this dumb SuperFriends email from Friendster. Why are some small/medium-sized companies in such a hurry to act like big stupid companies?
Gmail and fuzzy whitelisting JUL 06
Many feel that Google's invite-only distribution of Gmail accounts is a shrewd marketing move designed to create artificial demand. More likely, they're just rolling the service out slowly; it is still in beta testing after all and 40 million people at once would probably have been a nightmare for them to deal with.
But wouldn't it be fun if the real reason that Google is distributing accounts the way they are is to build whitelisting into their system? With the Gmail economy that's sprung up to facilitate the trafficking of invites (now somewhat curtailed), not all Gmail users are known by the people who invited them, but certainly some fuzzy whitelisting could be utilized to improve Gmail's spam filtering.
Fantastically detailed illustration of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship. Zoom, zoom, zoom in to see details.
Wee pocket bikes all the rage in Cali. May the pocket SUV craze follow.
Google removes the definition links from their search results. Noooooooooo!!!! I use that all the time! Update: the defs are back. Phew.
Somehow I missed this story about dating hackers in last month's issue of Wired. Quite interesting. Near the end of the article is a bit about hacking social networking sites like MySpace and Friendster:
Notified of the security holes Moore and Chisholm exploit, Friendster rep Lisa Kopp insists, "We have a policy that we are not being hacked." When I explain that, policy or no, they are being hacked, she says, "Security isn't a priority for us. We're mostly focused on making the site go faster."
"We have a policy that we're not being hacked." That's my new favorite thing right there. No longer do I need to acknowledge any deficiencies in my life; policy will take care of that. I have a policy that I'm fabulously wealthy. I have a policy that I can dunk a basketball. I have a policy that I'm the the life of the party. I have a policy that I'm dating Nicole Kidman *and* Gwyneth Paltrow. I. Feel. So. Free. You really should try this for yourself. I have a policy that it's great.
Encrypt your iChat conversations with iChat Barrier. Why isn't everything like this (IM, email, Web browsing, etc.) encrypted by default?
The problem of just-in-time media reviews. The blogosphere gets around this by attacking the problem from thousands of different angles.
Amazon.com Knee-Jerk Contrarian Game. Way more fun than it sounds.
On Oblivion: "David Foster Wallace has perfected a particularly subtle form of horror story -- so subtle, in fact, that to judge from the book's reviews, few of his readers even realize that's what these stories are.". After the 3rd or 4th story in, I had the same thought: "DFW is writing horror stories now?"
The mysteries of Wilco JUL 01
The mysteries of Wilco. "The album is like an aimless, droning lecture by a guy who every 20 minutes does a magic trick that blows your mind".