Entries for October 2004 (November 2004 »    December 2004 »    January 2005 »    Archives)

 

Online version of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of SpeciesOCT 31

Online version of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

Bhutan, the world's largest bookOCT 31

Michael Hawley gave the Poptech audience a wonderful tour of Bhutan and the giant book that resulted from his journeys there. A couple of photos of the book at Poptech:

Bhutan book

Bhutan book

Turning the pages involved a short walk. If you'd like to own this baby, it's available for only $10,000 on Amazon.

Spinalcat is an optical turntable that playsOCT 29

Spinalcat is an optical turntable that plays paper records that are printed out.

A list of human universalsOCT 29

A list of human universals. All known human cultures share these attributes.

Danny Meyer is in charge of theOCT 29

Danny Meyer is in charge of the restaurants at the new MoMA.

Better living through dentistryOCT 29

Maybe it's the vicodin talking, but I'm really wanting to share with all you beautiful people the aftermath of getting my wisdom teeth yanked out.

1. Yay, vicodin!

2. I'm running out of spoons. Everything I've eaten the last two days has been in the so-called "liquid food" group.

3. I've been pondering the nutritive value of pudding. How long can one eat a diet consisting only of Swiss Miss Chocolate Pudding and Haagen Dazs Vanilla Ice Cream before dying of malnutrition? If I don't survive my liquid diet, a loved one armed with my MT username and password will let you know the answer in a few days.

4. The left side of my face looks like Muhammad Ali and I went a few rounds in the ring. Well, maybe only a few seconds. He floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee...I cried like a baby and ran like a frightened child. Point is, I have a swollen left jaw and a lopsided face.

5. Been watching lots of movies. God bless cable television and TiVo. Wish I still had Netflix tho.

6. I can use my laptop while lying down. If I had a bed and laptop at work, I'd probably be there. The loss of work productivity in the US by workers recovering from wisdom teeth removal due to a lack of beds in the office must be staggering.

7. I haven't had to worry about the religious discussion of database normalization happening elsewhere on this site. A helpful side effect of all this pain and pudding consumption.

Brown Paper Tickets, "the first and only fair-trade ticketing companyOCT 29

Brown Paper Tickets, "the first and only fair-trade ticketing company. Event producers, use this please instead of evil Ticketmaster. People shouldn't have to pay 20% extra to TM just to buy tickets.

BiomimicryOCT 29

One of my favorite talks at Poptech was Janice Benyus' presentation on biomimicry, or innovation inspired by nature:

Biomimicry is a new science that studies nature's models and then imitates or takes inspiration from these designs and processes to solve human problems, e.g., a solar cell inspired by a leaf. [It] uses an ecological standard to judge the "rightness" of our innovations. After 3.8 billion years of evolution, nature has learned: What works. What is appropriate. What lasts. Biomimicry is a new way of viewing and valuing nature. It introduces an era based not on what we can extract from the natural world, but on what we can learn from it.

In the talk, Janine outlined 12 ways in which nature can inform the development of technology:

1. Self assembly
2. Chemistry in water
3. Solar transformations
4. The power of shape
5. Materials as systems
6. Natural selection as an innovation engine
7. Material recycling
8. Ecosystems that grow food
9. Energy savvy movement and transport
10. Resilience and healing
11. Sensing and responding
12. Life creates conditions conducive to life

Those are a little vague and I wish I'd written down more notes, but it was hard to type and really listen at the same time. To fill in the gaps, you can listen to the audio of her 30 minute presentation.

Steven Johnson announces his new book, EverythingOCT 29

Steven Johnson announces his new book, Everything Bad Is Good For You. Pop culture is making us smarter, not dumber...it'll be an interesting read because I'm not entirely sure I agree with that (and not just in a knee jerk sort of way).

Never Forget is an online political film festivalOCT 29

Never Forget is an online political film festival. Includes clips from a lot of the different shows and films currently going around.

Thinking Machine 4OCT 28

Thinking Machine 4. Watch a chess playing computer work through what moves to make. I like the waves of influence.

A map of creative projectsOCT 28

A map of creative projects.

Typographica thread on Clearview, the new typeface for US highwaysOCT 28

Typographica thread on Clearview, the new typeface for US highways.

Top 100 American speechesOCT 28

Top 100 American speeches. "I Have a Dream" tops the list.

The special kottke.org version of the iPodOCT 27

The special kottke.org version of the iPod. It comes stocked with 25,000 photos of me.

Wow, new hominid species discovered on small Indonesian islandOCT 27

Wow, new hominid species discovered on small Indonesian island. The tiny humans -- they were around 1m tall -- potentially inspired island folklore and may still be around today.

Some behind-the-scenes photography from Jeff BridgesOCT 27

Some behind-the-scenes photography from Jeff Bridges. The Dude abides with photos.

Steve Landsburg is voting for George BushOCT 27

Steve Landsburg is voting for George Bush because John Edwards is xenophobic for opposing the outsourcing of American jobs. In most cases, America should have to compete for jobs, but calling Edwards a bigot is ridiculous. Is it bigoted to prefer that your spouse has a certain job rather than your neighbor? To discriminate on the arbitrary basis of marriage?

Normalized data is for sissiesOCT 27

I'm not a hot shot programmer by any means, but I've done quite a bit of playing around with getting data in and out of databases programmatically. Something that's always confused me is the near-religion of data normalization among programmers and database admins. Every developer I've ever worked with has told me that when you're building a database, you need to normalize your data -- basically this means organizing your data in such a way that removes redundancy -- and failure to do so would result in public ridicule and possible revocation of access to any computing device. But I've always wondered, given that hard drives are cheap and getting cheaper, what's the problem with using more storage space in exchange for greater speed?

I was delighted when I read Cal Henderson's take on normalized data from a recent talk he gave about Flickr (from page 27):

- Normalised data is for sissies
- Keep multiple copies of data around
- Makes searching faster
- Have to ensure consistency in the application logic

To which I would add: hard drives are cheap.

Cal presents normalization as a trade-off that, depending on your circumstances, might be worth looking at...which is a much more useful way of approaching the situation than what I've typically heard (normalize or die!). Want faster access to your data? Replicate it in the database but be aware that it'll cost you some storage space and you'll need to keep track of the extra data in your application (which can be a pain in the ass). In Flickr's case, they have 13 SELECTs for every INSERT, DELETE, and UPDATE statement hitting their database. Normalization can slow SELECT speed down while denormalization makes your I/D/Us more complicated and slower. Since the application part of Flickr depends so heavily on SELECTs from the database, it makes sense for them to denormalize their data somewhat to speed things up.

Here's an analogy for the smokers in the audience...what sucks worse than realizing you left your lighter at home and you're stuck in traffic on the way to the office? The solution is to buy a bunch of lighters, one for your car, one for your coat pocket, one for the drawer in your office, one for your purse, etc. It's a trade-off. Your initial cash investment is greater (but lighters, like hard drives, are cheap) and you need to be diligent about leaving each lighter in its proper place, but you're never without a lighter when you need one.

Fundrace Block PartyOCT 26

Fundrace Block Party. Input your address and you get back a list of politically active folks that you can contact for a neighborhood Kerry, Bush, or democracy party.

When your waiter saves your life withOCT 26

When your waiter saves your life with the Heimlich, you'll want to tip him more than 10% for the meal.

View your weblog in a Powerpoint-like formatOCT 26

View your weblog in a Powerpoint-like format.

iPod Photo turns your iPod into aOCT 26

iPod Photo turns your iPod into a portable photo gallery thingie. Conceivably you could do crude movies with them...play an mp3 soundtrack as you scroll slowly through the frames of the "film".

Gothamist interviews Errol Morris about his KerryOCT 26

Gothamist interviews Errol Morris about his Kerry switch ads and The Fog of War. I liked his take on an old adage: "those who are unfamiliar with the past are condemned to repeat it without a sense of ironic futility".

Just another messy rock showOCT 26

Alex Ross posted a story he wrote for the New Yorker about Radiohead, the last few paragraphs of which recount the Oxford show I attended in 2001:

Radiohead came onto the South Park stage at eight-thirty. It was not the most flawless show of the past few weeks, but it may have been the most intense. Yorke's voice glowed with emotion. If Terence Gilmore-James had been there, he would have been happy; you could hear how Radiohead's storm of sound was centered on a singing line. During "How to Disappear Completely," a drenching rain began to fall. The crowd, religiously attentive, stayed in place. Yorke appeared alone for the last number, and hit a few plangent chords. His instrument went dead. "Es ist kaputt, ja?" he said. "I have another idea." The others came back onstage, and together they launched into the familiar strains of "Creep," which had gone unplayed since 1998. G major wheeled majestically into B. Jonny made his Beavis-and-Butt-head noise. Yorke sang, "What the hell am I doing here?"

Afterward, in the dressing room, Yorke looked happy. "Don't know if you could tell," he said to Colin's wife, Molly, "but I was in tears for the last part of it." Then the perfectionist in him reawakened. "Horrible diesel smell coming from somewhere," he said.

Good times.

Might be possible to use Bayesian techniquesOCT 26

Might be possible to use Bayesian techniques to detect when people are lying. "If people truly hold a particular opinion, they tend to give higher estimates that other people share it."

Pop-up stores are ultra-hip, carry limited editionOCT 26

Pop-up stores are ultra-hip, carry limited edition products, and may only last a week at any one location.

CEO of Google says "We are not building a browser"OCT 26

CEO of Google says "We are not building a browser". Note that this is not the same as "we're not releasing a browser" or "we're not building a Web-enabled desktop app that we're not calling a browser for whatever reason".

A Very Long Engagement, a new filmOCT 25

A Very Long Engagement, a new film starring Audrey Tautou by the director of Amelie.

The New Yorker's endorsment of Kerry wasOCT 25

The New Yorker's endorsment of Kerry was the first endorsement in the magazine's history.

Stupidest hip fashion trend ever: moon bootsOCT 25

Stupidest hip fashion trend ever: moon boots.

Joe's Pizza location to closeOCT 25

Joe's Pizza location to close. This is a real bummer...cities and neighborhoods need diversity to thrive and high rents are driving out certain types of businesses.

Google's stock price is going bonkersOCT 25

Google's stock price is going bonkers. It's up 22% in the last two days.

Literal movie postersOCT 25

Literal movie posters. "Back to the Future" becomes "Oh Shit, My Car is On Fire"

A reblog of a post about aOCT 25

A reblog of a post about a reblog of a post about a reblog (I think). Can't help it, gotta keep it going...remember folks, I'm just a vessel through which content flows.

Gladwell on rising prescription drug prices andOCT 25

Gladwell on rising prescription drug prices and how they are not exclusively the fault of the big drug companies.

Unsurprisingly, The New Yorker endorses John Kerry for PresidentOCT 25

Unsurprisingly, The New Yorker endorses John Kerry for President. Although from reading the article, it's more about emphatically not endorsing Bush.

Errol Morris' political switch adsOCT 25

As I mentioned earlier this fall, Errol Morris has produced several political ads in the vein of his Apple Switch ads. The 30-second spots feature folks that voted for Bush in 2000 that are voting for Kerry in 2004.

John Kerry Switch ads by Errol Morris

They're presented in Morris' signature style, regular folks talking directly to the camera against a white background about why they're switching. I find these highly effective, but I (and many of you) are already planning to vote for Kerry. Some of these are going to show on TV (I think), but how can we get these ads in front of undecided-but-leaning-Republican voters in swing states? Paging George Soros...surely you've got enough money to get these suckers on Fox News during primetime...

Ethan Zuckerman's notes on Thomas Barnett's talkOCT 24

Ethan Zuckerman's notes on Thomas Barnett's talk at Poptech, IMO one of the best presentations of the three days.

The Earth drags space-time around as itOCT 23

The Earth drags space-time around as it spins, just like the theory of relativity says. It's amazing that relativity still works after 100 years given the pace of change in that time.

Poptech photos on FlickrOCT 23

Poptech photos on Flickr. Check out those related tags, woo!

The Google Desktop Proxy allows you orOCT 23

The Google Desktop Proxy allows you or anyone else to use Google Desktop Search to search your machine from anywhere.

Ben and Mena reblog my post about them rebloggingOCT 23

Ben and Mena reblog my post about them reblogging. We're factchecking each others' asses!

Flickr photoset of boxing kidsOCT 23

Flickr photoset of boxing kids.

Alphachimp comes to your conference, gathering, etc.OCT 23

Alphachimp comes to your conference, gathering, etc. and draws comics to help people understand what went on. "You talk. We draw. The pictures tell the story."

Brand association charts for Bush and KerryOCT 23

Brand association charts for Bush and Kerry. Kerry is Starbucks, Bush is Bud Light.

More snippets from PopTechOCT 23

I'll write more in-depth about a few of the speakers here, but for now, here are some soundbites (my comments in brackets):

- Andrew Zolli: All societies have an image of the future. Those that have optimistic images have better outcomes than those with pessimistic images. [The US right now seems optimistic overall, but getting a bit more pessimistic. At PopTech this year and last, about 1/2 the speakers said during their talks something to the effect of "we're screwed".]

- Malcolm Gladwell talking about a chapter from Blink:
One of the many ways in which asking someone what they think isn't necessarily the best way to find out what they want: people move away from the more sophisticated idea and they go for the simpler choice because they don't have the necessary "vocabulary" to explain their real feelings. [You may prefer The Hours to Goldeneye, but when asked to justify that choice, you may find yourself favoring the Bond flick more than you would if you didn't have to justify it.]

- Frans de Waal studies primate behavior to gain insight into human behavior. One of his findings: aggression does not disperse, it brings primates together more often than normal. [Destruction is creative. Creativity is destructive. Or something.]

- Bruce Mau: Not all countries have embraced democracy, but most have embraced traffic (individual transportation). [There are many different ways in which openness can be introduced into a culture.]

- Thomas Barnett: China is 30% Marxist Communist, 70% The Sopranos.

- Phillip Longman: Secular societies that cannot reproduce will be replaced by fundamentalist countries where children are an economic asset and a gift from God. And in Brazil, television viewing time predicts birth rate...the more TV a woman watches, the less likely she is to have children.

"Yay for standards, but they are killing design"OCT 22

"Yay for standards, but they are killing design". Heather Champ on the monotony and inflexibility of standardization.

Poptech miscellaneousOCT 22

You can always tell (well, I can always tell) I'm enjoying a conference when I'm not writing much about it at the time. I've got the computer open for taking notes, but that's about it...not doing a lot of connecting the dots with online research or anything and not trying to write any of it up yet. In lieu of actual content, here's some random stuff from the last day or so:

- The conference badges here are fantastic. The names are huge for easy glancing and the entire conference booklet (with schedules, author bios, etc) fits in the badge holder. It's got all the info that you need and it's still small enough that it doesn't weigh you down.

- There is a 2 square foot area in the park across the street from the conference that is the only area in a 30 mile radius in which my cell phone gets reception. Hi-tech conference, hell.

- Driving to the conference this morning, I noticed a car from New Hampshire in front of me. The state motto was emblazoned on the license plate: "live free or die". But the screws affixing the plate to the car were positioned in such a way that it actually read, "olive free or dio". Hmmm.

WorldChanging: "models, tools, and ideas for buildingOCT 22

WorldChanging: "models, tools, and ideas for building a bright green future".

Massive Change is a project by BruceOCT 22

Massive Change is a project by Bruce Mau Design and the Institute without Boundaries.

Rolling Stone interview with John KerryOCT 22

Rolling Stone interview with John Kerry.

George W. Bush and John Kerry livingOCT 21

George W. Bush and John Kerry living together in The Sims.

The NYC Public Library is auctioning offOCT 21

The NYC Public Library is auctioning off a private dinner by Mario Batali, Eric Ripert, and Nobu on eBay.

405, a short filmOCT 21

405, a short film.

"The Living Links Center was established in 1997OCT 21

"The Living Links Center was established in 1997 for primate studies that shed light on human behavioral evolution".

Poptech presentationsOCT 21

If you're not here in Maine, you can catch the Poptech presentations on ITConversations. Malcolm Gladwell, the patron saint of kottke.org, is speaking right now.

Satellite radioOCT 21

I'm in Maine for the Poptech conference and my rental car is equipped with satellite radio (courtesy of Sirius). As I drove up from Portland last night, I tried it out...strike one because it wasn't broadcasting the baseball game. But this morning, some energetic electronica propelled me quickly into town...which is nice because I don't think Maine has too many stations playing that kind of thing. I'll let you know how it goes as I use it some more.

Sox win! Sox win!OCT 21

Sox win! Sox win!. The improbability of the Sox comeback from 3 games down is matched only by the magnitude of the Yankees' collapse.

Great interview with Neal Stephenson on SlashdotOCT 20

Great interview with Neal Stephenson on Slashdot.

Home alone: On time apart and changing one's mindOCT 20

Home alone: On time apart and changing one's mind.

Wikipedia entry on Apple's typographyOCT 20

Wikipedia entry on Apple's typography.

Ben and Mena are reblogging at EyebeamOCT 20

Ben and Mena are reblogging at Eyebeam. Maybe they'll reblog this for some hot meta action!

Watching the people who come to see the Mona LisaOCT 20

Watching the people who come to see the Mona Lisa. I've seen it twice and I actually paused to look at it because what's the point otherwise?

The most branded object in the worldOCT 20

The most branded object in the world.

Non-narcotics which are gateway drugs for other non-narcoticsOCT 20

Non-narcotics which are gateway drugs for other non-narcotics. Barney is a gateway drug for Pokemon, etc.

Red Sox force improbable game 7OCT 20

Red Sox force improbable game 7. I think the Second Coming of Christ would need to happen at Yankee Stadium tonight for game 7 to be more exciting than the last three games.

John Kerry and George W. Bush areOCT 19

John Kerry and George W. Bush are actually very distant cousins. Is this family tree for real? Unsurprising that Bush, despite his folksy ways, is just as blue blooded as Kerry is.

The Republican Switchers blog details Republicans whoOCT 19

The Republican Switchers blog details Republicans who are not voting for Bush in 2004.

Screenfull is like Superbad in weblog formOCT 19

Screenfull is like Superbad in weblog form.

Music Lab is looking at how peopleOCT 19

Music Lab is looking at how people form opinions about music. "If you participate in Music Lab you will have a chance to download free new music."

The revolution will be commercializedOCT 19

Out of Technorati's top 100 most-linked weblogs**, only 16 don't feature advertising or are otherwise noncommercial:

Scripting News
Doc Searls
kottke.org
Jeffrey Zeldman
The Volokh Conspiracy
Scobleizer
Lileks
Joel on Software
Rather Good
Joi Ito's Web
RonOnline
USS Clueless
BuzzMachine
Vodkapundit
Baghdad Burning
Crooked Timber

Lots of interesting observations to be made about the commercialization of weblogs...the quick uptake of advertising on blogs, the increasingly false perception of blogs as inherently unbiased by commercial interests (and therefore preferable to "big media"), the continuing shift from blogging as a hobby to blogging for a variety of reasons, the number of weblogs launching lately that have ads from day one, the demographic difference between the typical circa-2002 blogger and the blogger of today, etc.

Just a couple of years ago, almost every weblog on a top 100 list would have been noncommerical and the blogosphere in general was mostly opposed to advertising on blogs. Now it's accepted to the point where I haven't heard anyone complain about it in months...even Boing Boing's audience didn't protest too much when they added advertising a couple of months ago.

** In compiling this list, I ignored the many entries on the top 100 list that weren't weblogs, are no longer being updated, or are artificially popular, so the total sample is somewhat less than 100.

Update: I just wanted to clarify that when compiling the above list, I counted sites with tip jars or non-ad affiliate links (e.g. Amazon) as primarily noncommercial. In specifying what was commercial, I was most concerned with advertising (text, banner, popup) and overt commercial situations (company blogs, blogs for magazines & newspapers, etc.). There's no clean distinction between commercial and noncommercial sites, but I think the "ads & pro blogs vs everything else" distinction is useful in talking about how the situation has changed in the past couple of years.

The Guardian hears from US citizens aboutOCT 19

The Guardian hears from US citizens about their initiative to write to undecided voters in Ohio. Among the Brits' many transgressions: bad teeth, tea sipping, colonizing North America, and shitty food. We're kind of an angry country, aren't we?

AsianMack Super Filter "[sifts] through Apple's iTunesOCT 19

AsianMack Super Filter "[sifts] through Apple's iTunes Music Store so you don't have to!".

Profile of typographers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-JonesOCT 19

Profile of typographers Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones.

Paul Shambroom will share his photographs ofOCT 19

Paul Shambroom will share his photographs of American town meetings this Wed at the Apple Store.

Why the Zagat's guides suckOCT 19

Why the Zagat's guides suck. The new guide is "fairly creepy", "equivocating", and "supposedly pithy", compiled by "majority rule"; use the Web instead of this "hornswoggling humbug". "SooooEEEE."

Tommy Corn from I Heart Huckabees hasOCT 19

Tommy Corn from I Heart Huckabees has a weblog on Blogspot. Recent topics: The Petroleum Situation, Caterine Vauban, and the meaning of life.

The extended DVD version of The ReturnOCT 18

The extended DVD version of The Return of the King is available for pre-order on Amazon. The film is now 4 hours and 10 minutes long, although the credits alone probably take up about 20 minutes.

Nick Denton, pornographerOCT 18

Nick Denton, pornographer. Fleshbot is releasing its own porn films.

The faith-based Presidency of George W. BushOCT 18

The faith-based Presidency of George W. Bush. My main problem with Bush has always been not what he thinks, but how he thinks it. He could be pro-choice, against the Patriot Act, pro-science, for gay marriage, favor individual rights over corporate rights, etc. and I still wouldn't vote for the guy.

Even evil needs some salad every once in a whileOCT 18

Even evil needs some salad every once in a while.

Steve Jobs is back to work atOCT 18

Steve Jobs is back to work at Apple after time off for cancer surgery.

Will Amazon enter the DVD rental market?OCT 18

Will Amazon enter the DVD rental market?.

More clues point to a Google IM clientOCT 18

More clues point to a Google IM client.

Tag surfingOCT 17

Since I don't live near a warm beach, I did some Flickr tag surfing this weekend instead. In roughly the order I discovered them, a story:

If you're on drugs, you may end up getting a kiss at a party from a crazy drunk person. If you're lucky, that someone might be a sexy blonde model with a great ass in a bikini.

(Kiss is my favorite, particularly with the hard rock fans sprinkled in.)

PowerPoint to the People is a PowerPointOCT 16

PowerPoint to the People is a PowerPoint contest being held in Berkeley. If Lessig showed up, he would 0wn.

National Novel Writing Month is coming upOCT 16

National Novel Writing Month is coming up.

Jon Stewart for PresidentOCT 15

Jon Stewart for President. His recent Crossfire appearance is both sad and hilarious.

Novacaine addledOCT 15

While handing my cup of soup over the counter, the African-American woman who ladled it out for me asked in such a way that the "s" was almost silent, "crackers?" I nearly shot back, "what'd you call me?" as a joke but instead bit my tongue, smiled, and thanked her. Lucky for me the bite didn't hurt due to the massive amounts of novcaine coursing through my mouth from a morning jaunt to the dentist...although that and the accompanying dull aching pain may have contributed to almost putting my foot in my mouth in the first place.

The World is a new development byOCT 15

The World is a new development by a company called Nakheel that is "an enormous world map made up of 300 individual islands".

The super sizing of Star Wars action figuresOCT 15

The super sizing of Star Wars action figures. "In each image, the Star Wars figure on the left is from 1979 and the one on the right is the re-issued version from 1997."

12 areas to watch for the effects of global warmingOCT 15

12 areas to watch for the effects of global warming. "Climate scientists say they have identified a dozen weak links around the world, regions where global warming could bring about the sudden, catastrophic collapse of vital ecosystems."

Dear Internet, you think you know meOCT 15

Dear Internet, you think you know me but you don't so keep your advice to yourself. "My God, I was just trying to tell a story."

Tests show promise for malaria vaccineOCT 15

Tests show promise for malaria vaccine.

Google already has an IM client of sortsOCT 15

Google already has an IM client of sorts.

On using Legos in a practical way (OCT 14

On using Legos in a practical way (to spool film in this case). Great hack.

Campaigns should be using Google AdWords toOCT 14

Campaigns should be using Google AdWords to advertise on topic-based search results. I had assumed the campaigns were doing this...I'm kinda stunned that they aren't.

Eyetrack 2004 HeatmapOCT 14

Eyetrack 2004 Heatmap. Great way of showing how people look at news sites.

Google DesktopOCT 14

(Rambling ahead...) Google Desktop beta. Early impressions anyone? I think it's pretty damn cool...a baby step towards the GooOS. Do a regular Google search and GD results are inlined right at the top (see screenshots for how it all works). How are they doing that technically?

I've cranked up the size of my browser cache...now that GD can index every page I've ever viewed in my browser, can I afford to throw any of it away? This one-ups what A9 is doing in caching visited sites and searching past search results.

Could this be Google's portal play? If they've got info on all the files on my computer, why not display my latest calendar items, emails, online buddies, etc. right on Google's home page?

But then there's the privacy issues. Is Google using information from my local drive to improve my search results? Should they? "Mr. Kottke, I see you've mentioned 'President Bush' in a recent email. Here are some Google News stories on that topic." Useful, but well, you know.

A co-worker wants to put Google Desktop on a Web server and use that as a search engine for a Web site. Not sure if that would work, but it's an interesting idea. I'm sure some smart hacker will soon figure out how to expose his/her GD search results to the outside world.

Google launches beta of Desktop SearchOCT 14

Google launches beta of Desktop Search. Windows only...hopefully Mac support is on the way?

Quadriplegic man can play a mean gameOCT 14

Quadriplegic man can play a mean game of Pong and check his email with a computer connected to implanted sensors in his brain.

1,049 federal rights depend on marital statusOCT 14

1,049 federal rights depend on marital status.

Analysis of the third debate from the National ReviewOCT 14

Analysis of the third debate from the National Review.

Inner ear protein is likely a "key to hearing"OCT 14

Inner ear protein is likely a "key to hearing". It helps convert sound waves into electrical impulses that the brain can understand.

The 9/11 Commission Report is a National BookOCT 14

The 9/11 Commission Report is a National Book Award finalist in the nonfiction category.

Light painting photography by Chris BeckerOCT 13

Light painting photography by Chris Becker. "Light painting is a technique in which light sources are projected or "painted" in selective areas during the camera exposure."

Business motivationOCT 13

A friend of mine has always maintained that if Apple had emerged from the 80s as the dominant PC company instead of Microsoft, Apple would be the 800-pound gorilla of the technology world and we'd all be grousing about Apple and MS would be playing up their position as David to their Goliath (much as Apple does now). But I don't think that ever would have happened because, as Steve Jobs explains in this interview with Business Week, Apple was not about sales and market share but products and innovation (emphasis mine):

I used to be the youngest guy in every meeting I was in, and now I'm usually the oldest. And the older I get, the more I'm convinced that motives make so much difference. HP's primary goal was to make great products. And our primary goal here is to make the world's best PCs -- not to be the biggest or the richest.

We have a second goal, which is to always make a profit -- both to make some money but also so we can keep making those great products. For a time, those goals got flipped at Apple, and that subtle change made all the difference. When I got back, we had to make it a product company again.

It took Apple (and Jobs) awhile to come to this realization and recognize it as a strength -- hindsight is 20/20 and it certainly helped that Apple just couldn't compete on price, the primary factor in how people choose consumer electronics -- but now that they've realized it, they're back on track. Apple is basically a luxury computer and software company, akin to Gucci, Bang & Olufsen, and Calphalon in their respective industries. They aim to produce well-designed innovative products, provide a high level of service, and charge a premium for it. Much has been made of Apple's paltry OS/hardware market share, but when you think about it, when a designer label can capture even 5% of a market that competes heavily on price, that's an impressive achievement.

Dorking out at the Mall of AmericaOCT 13

Dorking out at the Mall of America.

The results of Timex's Future of Time design competitionOCT 13

The results of Timex's Future of Time design competition. I love the fingernail watch by Napoleon Merana.

Nick Nolte's Diary, powered by Movable TypeOCT 13

Nick Nolte's Diary, powered by Movable Type.

This Philly cheese steak goes for $100OCT 13

This Philly cheese steak goes for $100. It's got Kobe beef, truffles, foie gras, and heirloom tomatoes on brioche with truffle butter. Where's the caviar?

The folks at The Morning News recommendOCT 13

The folks at The Morning News recommend Fall 2004 media and events.

The lost art of meaningful mix tapesOCT 13

The lost art of meaningful mix tapes.

The 20 greatest equationsOCT 13

The 20 greatest equations. Euler's equation is my pick for #1. It's got e, pi, i, 1, and 0...beautiful.

NYC Eats becomes A Full Belly, aOCT 13

NYC Eats becomes A Full Belly, a NyC and SF-centric weblog about "eating well".

Dear diary readersOCT 13

It's been awhile since we've talked, all of you and I. Here's what's going on with me:

I took the day off yesterday. Recovering from sickness.

I'm trying out TextMate after hearing good things about it from Jason Fried. I'm not a huge fan of BBEdit, so I'm always on the lookout for good text editors. Still getting the hang of it.

Last week, I saw a guy almost get hit by a van while crossing the street. He was pissed and understandably so. He was in the crosswalk with the walk signal and the guy in the van was super aggressive in trying to get through; the guy actually had to run out of the way to avoid being knocked down. The guy was so pissed that when the van finally stopped to let him pass, he reached through the window and beat the driver on the head with his cell phone. As a sympathetic pedestrian, I almost went over there to help him.

You can't even begin to imagine the fascinatingly insightful concept I was explaining in this photo. Perhaps "I can't believe my eyebrows are so bushy" or "That bottle of water...it's like, whoa."

If you look in the Activity Viewer and see that the Finder process is pegging your CPU at 90-95%, ask yourself if you've dragged a photo from iPhoto to the Desktop. If so, trash it and try to empty the Trash. If you cannot empty it because the file is still in use, run Force Empty Trash, reboot, and you're golden. God bless Google for helping me with the answer.

I owe you a post about McSweeney's #13. Jesus, that was more than 2 months ago. I'm sorry. (I also owe you a Last 100 Posts roundup. Sorry.) (Oh, and I also owe you the answer to the Ken Jennings question, but I can't actually tell you what it is yet. Nor can I tell you why I can't tell you. Sorry.) So basically, I'm really behind on a lot.

I miss when this weblog was more freeform. Stupid post titles and permalinks.

Got a new camera. Results soon.

So what's up with you?

Lots of good medical weblogs in this roundupOCT 12

Lots of good medical weblogs in this roundup.

The Onion's 2004 Election GuideOCT 11

The Onion's 2004 Election Guide. "Nation's Liberals Suffering From Outrage Fatigue".

The screwed up economics of the free broadcast spectrumOCT 11

The screwed up economics of the free broadcast spectrum.

The six degrees of terrorism: Saddam linkedOCT 11

The six degrees of terrorism: Saddam linked to bin Laden through love of Kevin Bacon movies. That's some damning evidence.

New kind of ape found in the Congo?OCT 11

New kind of ape found in the Congo?. Sounds like that Michael Crichton book of a few years ago.

Question of the day: What's your estimateOCT 11

Question of the day: What's your estimate on the amount of mobile storage available on the iPods of NYC's citizenry?. "Are we talking many, many terabytes? Or are we talking even petabytes of music storage?"

Jason Fried argues for smaller, more nimbleOCT 11

Jason Fried argues for smaller, more nimble companies in Web 2.0 roundup.

Dr. Strangelove hit fairly close to the boneOCT 11

Dr. Strangelove hit fairly close to the bone. That's what makes it such a good film.

Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004OCT 11

Christopher Reeve, 1952-2004.

Review of Thomas Keller's Per Se in the GuardianOCT 10

Review of Thomas Keller's Per Se in the Guardian.

Photos of people in headphones by Laura HolderOCT 10

Photos of people in headphones by Laura Holder.

Sometimes all you want to do isOCT 10

Sometimes all you want to do is lean your head against the wall.

Hot mannequin upskirt action!!OCT 09

Hot mannequin upskirt action!!.

You can skin Gmail with a custom stylesheet in FirefoxOCT 08

You can skin Gmail with a custom stylesheet in Firefox. Nice little hack.

After being in intensive care for threeOCT 08

After being in intensive care for three month, micropreemie Eric is finally home. The biggest and warmest congratulations go out from me to Eric and his family.

The beginnings of a Dropcash APIOCT 08

The beginnings of a Dropcash API. Which reminds me, I have a lot of Dropcash stuff on my plate...and some stuff to write about it as well.

Open House New York is this weekend in NYCOCT 08

Open House New York is this weekend in NYC.

Web 2.0 wrap upOCT 08

So, the Web 2.0 conference was pretty good and I'd like to thank John and Tim for inviting me to participate. There was a fair amount of hype present, but that's to be understood (and I've been guilty of a fair amount of irrational cheerleading on this issue myself). Largely, I think that Web 2.0 as it was presented at the conference is a bit of a pipe dream** (partially because guessing about what the Web is going to be like in 3 years is bound to be fraught with difficulty), but there is a lot of neat stuff happening that feels like it's part of a new kind of Web.

Everyone at the conference had their own definition of what Web 2.0 was about, but I think Bezos got it right when he said it was about machine to machine communication versus the machine to human communication that typified the early days of the Web. And that's nothing new..it's just that it's starting to really take off as an idea that people are buying into, both literally and figuratively. Portable structured data formats (e.g. XML) have been around for several years now, but it wasn't until an ecosystem evolved around RSS (blogs producing freely available content and newsreaders to read said content) that people had tangible evidence that, yes, this structured data thing has legs.

** Bloggers, journalists, please don't quote this part out of context because if you keep reading, there's a Sir Mix-a-Lot-sized but after it.

Big Brother 2.0OCT 07

Right now, the face of Jerry Yang, Chief Yahoo!, is up on the giant screen here in the ballroom. A few rows back, a gray-haired gentleman snoozes in his chair, occasionally snoring audibly. It's the 2004 version of George Orwell's Big Brother: The Man is up on the screen telling us what to do and we're snoozing instead of touching our toes.

Yahoo! circa 1994OCT 07

Yahoo! circa 1994.

Odd photos on Flickr from some soldiers in IraqOCT 07

Odd photos on Flickr from some soldiers in Iraq. WMD, LOL!!

Web 2.0, Day Two PlusOCT 07

Jot - Bringing structured data to wikis. Actually let's not use the word wiki, because Jot isn't that. It's part Word, part Excel, part database, but deployed through a Web browser and published as Web content (as well as email and probably in other ways as time goes on). If you had asked me a year and a half ago what software I would like to build if I had the money, time, and programming chops to do it, a wiki-ish program with structured data capability where you don't have to worry about people learning the wiki-ish formatting syntax would have been near the top of the stack. (The last remaining big wiki problem is that the fundamental unit of wikis is the page. Wikis need to be less dependant on the page (think chunks instead, like weblog posts)...TiddlyWiki is a good step in this direction.)

Rojo - Sigh. This is moving toward what Kinja was supposed to be.

I stupidly left the music panel yesterday before Danger Mouse could drop some science about the music industry:

Artists are responsible, because for some reason we think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don't worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won't be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.

Thanks to Veen for the quote (visit his post for another good DM quote.)

Mary Meeker - Don't forget about China. There is huge Web/mobile/gaming business going on in China right now. If you believe Jared Diamond's hunch (which I do), the so-called dominance of Western Civilization in the world is just a blip on the radar as far as China's actual dominant position goes.

The Voting Booth Project is a "groupOCT 07

The Voting Booth Project is a "group of prominent designers and artists re-imagine actual Florida voting booths from the 2000 Presidential election".

Danger Mouse: "We [artists] think we shouldOCT 07

Danger Mouse: "We [artists] think we should be millionaires for making people smile. But I don't worry too much, because it will be over soon. There won't be a market for making people smile because kids will just do it for free.". Damn, that's good.

Fahrenheit 9/11 is available on DVDOCT 07

Fahrenheit 9/11 is available on DVD.

Query Google via SMSOCT 07

Query Google via SMS.

Ray Kurzweil is taking 250 nutritional supplements perOCT 07

Ray Kurzweil is taking 250 nutritional supplements per day in order to reprogram his body for longer life.

The evolution of Nintendo's MarioOCT 07

The evolution of Nintendo's Mario.

Six Apart gets $10 million in a series B funding roundOCT 07

Six Apart gets $10 million in a series B funding round. Mena said I had to post this or she would come in through the MT backdoor and delete my archives.

An introduction to using pattern in Web designOCT 06

An introduction to using pattern in Web design. After Christopher Alexander's A Pattern Language.

Zoom quilt. Trippy.OCT 06

Zoom quilt. Trippy..

If you haven't seen it, it's new to youOCT 06

And if you're living on Internet time, perhaps even if you have seen it. The most overused phrase at Web 2.0, aside from "at the end of the day", is some variation of "next generation" applied to software or services. Every new app being talked about here is next generation or revolutionary or __[fill in the blank]__. The sheer amount of supposed novelty being blasted at the audience is exhausting...everything is changing the world in a significant way. I imagine many of the attendees -- those who read 900 Atom/RSS files in their newsreaders daily perhaps -- find this energizing, but it saps my energy. No wonder Meg left the biz to focus on something a little less suppositious.

Photos on Flickr taken at Web 2.0OCT 06

Photos on Flickr taken at Web 2.0.

Re: Technorati's stats on the screen rightOCT 06

Re: Technorati's stats on the screen right now @ Web 2.0: they're still wrong.

Hundreds of video game consoles for saleOCT 06

Hundreds of video game consoles for sale on eBay in one huge lot.

Design for Web 2.0OCT 06

Jason Fried, Jeff Veen, and I did a workshop yesterday on Design for Web 2.0. In preparing for the informal chat we had among ourselves and with the audience, we prepared a list of questions to consider. There's about 15 of them, presented here unedited without context or answers:

- Right now, Web design feels like talking to the del.icio.us API and blending Flickr RSS with Upcoming iCal subscriptions. What happens when design(ers) has little to do with what's on the page?

- Blogs democratized publishing, now "tags" could be considered to democratize information architecture. What's behind this? Are powerful tools in the hands of millions really better than well-trained experts?

- How do we justify the high upfront costs of doing user research? Is there a magic bullet formula that will tell us if it's worth it?

- I love quick wins. Find something you can fix in two weeks. Measure how it works now. Fix it. See how the numbers change. Repeat until you run out of stuff. Why is this so shocking to corporate Web sites?

- It feels to me that IT departments still operate under the assumption that technology is a precious resource that should be guarded carefully and trickled out. This is like a pair of handcuffs to most Web teams. Why do so many enterprises treat their Web sites like shrink-wrapped software and not publications?

- Can usability drive innovation? What's the balance between giving the user what they need but also giving them what they do not yet know that they need?

- How do you go about designing for groups? When the "user" is a collection of people rather than a single person?

- Do brochureware sites still have a place on today's Web?

- What does user experience mean in the context of cross-media services? How do you keep it consistent when you're using T-Mobile's interface to email your photos to Flickr or updating your blog with your TiVo using your Blackberry as an input device?

- home pages -> sites -> "posts" -> ????

- Q for Veen re: your content management is a process, not a software package mantra. Is there a lesson here for software in general?

- How would you design a web-based application differently today than 3 years ago? What do we have in our design war chests today that is capable of making the experience feel 3-years more mature?

- Do you think design "talk" is too focused on technological achievement ("Look mom, no tables!") these days, or is it a step in the right direction?

- Should one design fit all? Should designers worry about their web designs working on alternate devices by default, or should each device have its own unique design?

- What is your feeling on Personas? Do they really help drive the visual design process or are they just process for process sake? What does it really mean to know your audience might be represented by a 30-something single female who likes to watch Friends, prefers paying her bills by mail, gets coffee every morning at Starbucks, and has a 56K connection at home?

- Who should we follow into the Web 2.0? What are some of the best examples of interaction design today?

I've opened the comments if you'd like to discuss any of these questions amongst yourselves.

Google is ramping up their Print service...OCT 06

Google is ramping up their Print service...they're offering to scan books for free.

Hep is a universal translator of sortsOCT 06

Hep is a universal translator of sorts for Web bits (posts, emails, etc.). Got a demo of this last night...it's quite neat.

JotSpot, a wiki with structured data capabilitiesOCT 06

JotSpot, a wiki with structured data capabilities.

Web 2.0, Day OneOCT 06

I've got a few minutes before things get going here at Web 2.0 today, so I thought I'd wrap up what happened here yesterday.

During his interview with John Heilemann, John Doerr (who sits on Google's Board) indicated that the Web browser space is ripe for some action again, but that Google is not doing anything. No Google Browser?

Demos of the Snap and A9 search sites. Two interesting things about Snap: the data they've purchased from a "large ISP" about what people do after they search (e.g. how many pages they visited on Wal-Mart's site and if they bought anything) and the exposure of their statistics information, including how much money they're making on any given day. However, I'm not sure I want search results that looks like an Excel spreadsheet.

In general, I'm very skeptical about these search engines that offer second-level searching (Snap, Clusty, A9) or personalized search. I'm not convinced that people are going to spend that much time tinkering with their searches. Search results are not a mp3 collection or photos...I don't know how much time people are going to want to spent organizing them.

Heard a curious phrase last night...companies are doing lots of deals with other companies because they're "not Google". That is, Google would rather hire people to build stuff for them than partner with companies (which seems a bit self-centered to me). So it seems there's lots of opportunities out there for smaller companies trying to compete with Google to partner with Google's larger competitors.

And finally, the design of the paper program here at Web 2.0 is, shall we say, less than optimal. There's no single listing of events in the program that contains the 3 vital bits of information attendees need: event description, time, and place. The description and time are listed on one page and then you need to flip to another page to figure out where it's being held. Annoying, especially since it seems like the program is designed for maximum ad space rather than for usability.

Ev leaves GoogleOCT 05

Ev leaves Google.

Categorizing your bookmarks in the browserOCT 05

Categorizing your bookmarks in the browser.

FoodBALL is a new restaurant by theOCT 05

FoodBALL is a new restaurant by the folks who brought you Camper shoes.

Bruce Schneier has a new weblog about securityOCT 05

Bruce Schneier has a new weblog about security.

Extensive NY Times article on nuculer weapons,OCT 05

Extensive NY Times article on nuculer weapons, Iraq, and the intelligence failure leading up to the war.

Kottke for President!OCT 05

Kottke for President!. I've got my own illustrated monkey! And freckles!

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne wins the X PrizeOCT 04

Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne wins the X Prize. The prize was offered to promote low-cost commercial space travel.

Where to visit on the Web ifOCT 04

Where to visit on the Web if you like books, writers, and such.

Tim Shey on rebloggingOCT 04

Tim Shey on reblogging. So many of these observations apply to blogging in general that it makes me wonder: what's the difference between blogging and reblogging?

The Smaller Picture: collective typographyOCT 04

The Smaller Picture: collective typography. This is brilliant.

There was a "blogs" category on Jeopardy the other dayOCT 04

There was a "blogs" category on Jeopardy the other day.

Who gets more wet in the rain,OCT 03

Who gets more wet in the rain, a walker or a runner?.

Some impromptu Internet art exhibitsOCT 03

Some impromptu Internet art exhibits. Gallery space provided by Google Images.

New personal techniques which are unstoppableOCT 03

My new fighting, filing, chatting, voting, hand holding, glazing, brain eating, planting, shirt folding, updating, blogging, waxing, screaming, litter scooping, sewing, theater going, parenting, dressing, programming, turning cool, randomization, swiping, Election Day news gathering, exercise, hamburgering, atomic browsing, laundry folding, penguin smacking, fucking, coloring, dustpan, thread killing, replying, actionscripting, tabbed browsing, publishing, vote rigging, Rumsfeld fighting, reinforcement learning, designing, folding, hibernating, muffin eating techniques are unstoppable.

Credit: the original new personal technique and a few Google searches.

The impressive new version of Amazon LightOCT 03

The impressive new version of Amazon Light ties together all sorts of Web services, including Gmail, Dropcash, delicious, Netflix, and Amazon.

The 36 possible plots of role playing games,OCT 03

The 36 possible plots of role playing games, adapted from a list of the 36 dramatic situations.

Seven fallacies in architectural cultureOCT 03

Seven fallacies in architectural culture.

How Google (or another company) might build audio search servicesOCT 03

How Google (or another company) might build audio search services.

Slideshow of Richard Avedon's work for the New YorkerOCT 03

Slideshow of Richard Avedon's work for the New Yorker.

The Forbes 400 Richest BloggersOCT 03

Ok so there's not 400 on the list, but there are at least three billionaires who blog:

- Pierre Omidyar, $10.4 billion

- George Soros, $7.2 billion

- Mark Cuban, $1.3 billion

A little bit surprising that Bill Gates, Paul Allen, Steve Jobs, Sergey Brin, Larry Page, David Filo, Jerry Yang, and Oprah aren't on the list. Come on gang, TypePad is only $4.95/mo.

Go see some design in Williamsburg this weekendOCT 02

Go see some design in Williamsburg this weekend.

I'm playing around with Flickr a littleOCT 02

I'm playing around with Flickr a little bit, posting a few photos.

Ichiro Suzuki breaks George Sisler's 84-year-old recordOCT 02

Ichiro Suzuki breaks George Sisler's 84-year-old record for most hits in a season. It's an impressive feat...everyone else in the top 10 played earlier than 1931.

Fonts for programmersOCT 01

Fonts for programmers.

This tshirt doesn't require any more cowbellOCT 01

This tshirt doesn't require any more cowbell.

Some Possibilities in a Half-Hearted Campaign toOCT 01

Some Possibilities in a Half-Hearted Campaign to Rename the Middle West. I liked "America's Meth Basket" and "National Endangered Goatee Reserve".

Some photos by Richard Avedon, who passed away today aged 81OCT 01

Some photos by Richard Avedon, who passed away today aged 81.

Color photos of World War IOCT 01

Some color photos of World War I. More here.

Speaking at Web 2.0OCT 01

I'll be doing a workshop on Design for Web 2.0 at the Web 2.0 conference next week with Jeff Veen and Jason Fried:

Web design and development has come a long way in the past ten years. Early assumptions have been replaced by mature decisions based on tested principles and clear best practices. We're taking what we've learned in those ten years and presenting the workshop attendee -- be you a designer, technologist, or businessperson -- with a collection of practical tips and techniques for designing Web sites, Web applications, APIs, feeds, and everything else that makes up the next-gen Web. So join us for a lively discussion of Web design as it continues to move beyond the browser.

Given the freewheeling nature of the workshop format, that description may not be entirely accurate, but it's close enough and if you show up, you won't be disappointed. (For a chuckle, if you look at the rest of the workshop roster, there's me and my one-man band stuck in amongst a bunch of CEOs, Partners, Directors, and VPs. Good times.)

Amazon UK borks up a birthday orderOCT 01

Amazon UK borks up a birthday order but recovers wonderfully with an employee *hand-delivering* a portable DVD player to a delighted 8-yo. And they swallowed the 50 pound difference in cost as well.

Amateur revolutionOCT 01

Amateur revolution. "From astronomy to computing, networks of amateurs are displacing the pros and spawning some of the greatest innovations."

Washington Post to buy Slate?OCT 01

Washington Post to buy Slate?.

What's your favorite key combination?OCT 01

I like to learn from my mistakes, so I'm partial to Cmd-Z. Judging by how much I use it during the course of the day, I must be learning a lot. Either that or Cmd-Tab...my productivity in OS X jumped dramatically when they finally got that feature working correctly.

100 most frequently banned booksOCT 01

100 most frequently banned books. Twain, Angelou, Steinbeck, Blume, and Salinger are all in the top 20.

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