Entries for December 2004 (January 2005 »    February 2005 »    March 2005 »    Archives)

 

Ayn Rand Institute: the US should not help tsunami victimsDEC 31

Ayn Rand Institute: the US should not help tsunami victims. All of the giving should come from private organizations and individuals.

I crapped out on my 52 magazines inDEC 31

I crapped out on my 52 magazines in a year project, but David achieved his goal of reading 52 books in 52 weeks.

The NY Times has an amazing packageDEC 31

The NY Times has an amazing package of infographics and photos of the Indian Ocean tsunami. The photos are heartbreaking and gut-wrenching.

The Economist is using Salon's "day pass"DEC 31

The Economist is using Salon's "day pass" idea to offer their premium content to non-subscribers. Huzzah!

Mouseradio doesn't have any buttons or knobsDEC 31

Mouseradio doesn't have any buttons or knobs. Tip the speaker end up to turn it on and slide it around to control the volume and tuning.

Apparently kottke.org was on the TV last nightDEC 31

Apparently kottke.org was on the TV last night.

"Dear 2004, I love you, now please fuck off"DEC 31

"Dear 2004, I love you, now please fuck off". Ditto.

"memcached is a high-performance, distributed memory objectDEC 31

"memcached is a high-performance, distributed memory object caching system, generic in nature, but intended for use in speeding up dynamic web applications by alleviating database load".

List of banished words for 2005DEC 31

List of banished words for 2005. "Red/blue states", "blog", and "you're fired" make the list.

An interview with a Pixar employeeDEC 30

An interview with a Pixar employee. "I think that movies are mirrors, and what people find in them usually says more about the viewer than the movie."

Two NY Times movie critics discuss directors,DEC 30

Two NY Times movie critics discuss directors, technology, actors, and other filmmaking issues.

Ebert's favorite movies of 2004DEC 30

Ebert's favorite movies of 2004.

On the eve of the 100th anniversaryDEC 30

On the eve of the 100th anniversary of his annus mirabilis, an overview of Einstein's early career. "Einstein believed that quantum mechanics was describing some sort of statistical average of an underlying phenomenon that was deterministic."

Are humans designed to cope with theDEC 30

Are humans designed to cope with the always-on, just-in-time, emailus interruptus 21st century?. "Are we allowing life to be the sum of tasks, the short term always the priority? Are we so connected that we're actually disconnected?"

Some insanely complicated mapsDEC 30

Some insanely complicated maps.

Ways to fix your life: quit your jobDEC 30

Ways to fix your life: quit your job.

This holiday season, New York is both crowded and desertedDEC 30

This holiday season, New York is both crowded and deserted. Theme restaurants are packed while places normally frequented by natives are deserted.

A store in midtown is telling itDEC 30

A store in midtown is telling it like it is with a "business sucks sale".

William Drenttel remembers Susan SontagDEC 29

William Drenttel remembers Susan Sontag. "I was never among her closest of friends. But I was her graphic designer."

Improve your world with Steven's bedroom cleaning techniqueDEC 29

Improve your world with Steven's bedroom cleaning technique.

A company called Accentus is using musicDEC 29

A company called Accentus is using music to communicate market data to financial traders. If you hear a "short ascending clarinet melody", it means that the Canadian dollar gained 0.1 percent against US dollar.

Copyright double billingDEC 29

Having seen many of his presentations and read many of his articles, it's been enjoyable watching Larry Lessig refine his copyright arguments over the past few years. Many still wrongly assume that he's anti-copyright, but his views are much more nuanced than that, certainly more subtle than those of the media industry or the US government. Here's a short passage from his latest article on copyright term extensions:

We rightfully grant the monopoly called copyright to inspire new creative work. But once that work has been created, there is no public justification for extending its term. The public has already paid. Term extension is just double billing. Any wealth it creates for copyright holders is swamped by the wealth the public loses in lower costs and wider access.

A limited term of protection in exchange for freely available creative work...sounds reasonable to me.

MSNBC's Year in Pictures 2004DEC 29

MSNBC's Year in Pictures 2004.

The Washington Post's best photos of 2004DEC 29

The Washington Post's best photos of 2004.

Creative Commons announces the Science Commons projectDEC 29

Creative Commons announces the Science Commons project. "The mission of Science Commons is to encourage scientific innovation by making it easier for scientists, universities, and industries to use literature, data, and other scientific intellectual property and to share their knowledge with others."

How to help tsunami victims: donate to the Red CrossDEC 29

How to help tsunami victims: donate to the Red Cross. Amazon has raised $1.5 million so far.

Jerry Orbach, who played Detective Lenny BriscoeDEC 29

Jerry Orbach, who played Detective Lenny Briscoe on Law and Order, died Tuesday aged 69. Aw crap. We'll miss you, Jerry.

Wired article about BitTorrent and its creator, Bram CohenDEC 29

Wired article about BitTorrent and its creator, Bram Cohen.

Ken Jennings will compete for $2 million in Super TournamentDEC 29

Ken Jennings will compete for $2 million in Super Tournament. His opponents will be "two survivors of a competition between nearly 150 past five-time winners".

These folks are raising money to buildDEC 29

These folks are raising money to build themselves a habitable Hobbit hole.

The NY Times Year in Pictures 2004DEC 28

The NY Times Year in Pictures 2004.

Ten ways in which you can protectDEC 28

Ten ways in which you can protect your privacy as a consumer.

Stewart Brand reviews Jared Diamond's new book for WiredDEC 28

Stewart Brand reviews Jared Diamond's new book for Wired.

How to fix Mom's computerDEC 28

How to fix Mom's computer. Gina does battle with a spyware-infected Win98 box and lives to tell us how she fixed it.

Profile of Sean Thackrey, wine craftsman extraordinaireDEC 28

Profile of Sean Thackrey, wine craftsman extraordinaire.

The last Americans: environmental collapse and theDEC 28

The last Americans: environmental collapse and the end of civilization by Jared Diamond. Why did the once-mighty Maya civilization collapse?

Buy "How Wal-Mart is Destroying America andDEC 28

Buy "How Wal-Mart is Destroying America and The World" book at Wal-Mart.

New York magazine tells us where toDEC 28

New York magazine tells us where to eat in NYC in 2005.

Animation of the spread of the Indonesian tsunamiDEC 28

Animation of the spread of the Indonesian tsunami.

Survey results: American views on science issuesDEC 28

Survey results: American views on science issues. Surprisingly, "well over one-third of college graduates are also strict creationists".

The floating logos projectDEC 28

The floating logos project.

Popular Songs Renamed Along the Lines ofDEC 27

Popular Songs Renamed Along the Lines of the Cattlemen's Beef Board Ad Campaign "Beef, It's What's for Dinner.". "London, It's What's Calling".

Nutty video of some guy's fingers doingDEC 27

Nutty video of some guy's fingers doing tricks with a 2 1/2 inch skateboard.

More violent societies have more left-handers, hintingDEC 27

More violent societies have more left-handers, hinting that lefties thrive in environments where fighting is important. "While there is no suggestion that left-handed people are more violent than the right-handed, it looks as though they are more successfully violent."

Discover chooses the top 100 stories in science for 2004DEC 27

Discover chooses the top 100 stories in science for 2004.

What is a tsunami?DEC 27

What is a tsunami?. "Near the source of submarine earthquakes, the seafloor is 'permanently' uplifted and down-dropped, pushing the entire water column up and down. The potential energy that results from pushing water above mean sea level is then transferred to horizontal propagation of the tsunami wave".

A Washington Post writer's amazing account ofDEC 27

A Washington Post writer's amazing account of swimming in the ocean when the tsunami hit. "I felt afraid, powerless to prevent myself from being washed out to sea."

Wikipedia is covering the Indonesian earthquake/tsunamiDEC 27

Wikipedia is covering the Indonesian earthquake/tsunami. Their breaking news coverage is impressive.

A collection of first-person accounts of theDEC 27

A collection of first-person accounts of the Indonesian earthquake and tsunami from LiveJournal.

Malcolm Gladwell on Jared Diamond's new bookDEC 27

Malcolm Gladwell on Jared Diamond's new book on how societies go extinct. "We can be law-abiding and peace-loving and tolerant and inventive and committed to freedom and true to our own values and still behave in ways that are biologically suicidal".

Caleb Smith walked every street in ManhattanDEC 27

Caleb Smith walked every street in Manhattan over the past 31 months. And a bonus mention of photoblogger Mike Epstein at the end of the article.

rating: 4.0 stars

The AviatorDEC 26

When I first saw the trailer for this movie several months ago, I thought it would suck for sure. Surprisingly, it did not. Not at all actually. DiCaprio continues to refuse to let his career be defined by Titanic, Scorsese is almost entirely transparent** as the director, and Cate Blanchett does a pretty convincing (and fun) Katherine Hepburn. When Hughes straps himself into his sleek experimental plane and breaks the speed record, the scene was shot so well that it made me want to go flying after I left the theatre.

** This is a compliment...as architect Yoshio Taniguchi said of the new MoMA: "Raise a lot of money for me, I’ll give you good architecture. Raise even more money, I’ll make the architecture disappear." Scorsese made the director and the directing disappear.

RSS updateDEC 26

Just in time for the holidays, I've updated my RSS file to include the full text of my posts. For those that get off on such things, now you have absolutely no reason to visit kottke.org in a browser anymore.

Also, you can subscribe to kottke.org on Bloglines or on My Yahoo!.

(Oh, and my remaindered links have their own RSS file and subscribe at Bloglines and at My Yahoo!)

The cartoons of the New YorkerDEC 26

The cartoons of the New Yorker.

The best and worst of the new MoMA buildingDEC 26

The best and worst of the new MoMA building. I like the Matisse in the stairway...it doesn't attract a crowd there and you can stand as long as you want looking at it.

Manohla Dargis' favorite films of 2004DEC 26

Manohla Dargis' favorite films of 2004.

Child's Play II: Kids review more old school video gamesDEC 26

Child's Play II: Kids review more old school video games.

Emergency cufflinksDEC 25

Emergency cufflinks. Just punch them out of this metal card, fold, and wear.

How US communities are reusing big box store buildingsDEC 25

How US communities are reusing big box store buildings. What happens to the old shells when Home Depots, Wal-Marts, and K-Marts scuttle off to their new homes?

WorldChanging interview with Thomas BarnettDEC 25

WorldChanging interview with Thomas Barnett. A good introduction to his ideas about the Functioning Core of Globalization and the Non-Integrating Gap.

Profile of Antanas Mockus, former mayor ofDEC 25

Profile of Antanas Mockus, former mayor of Bogata, and his innovative governing techniques.

Some Amish communities have serious problems withDEC 25

Some Amish communities have serious problems with rape, incest, and pedophilia. A reminder that religious fundamentalism is harmful no matter where it occurs.

The WSJ on Apple's potential halo effectDEC 24

The WSJ on Apple's potential halo effect. "The runaway success of iPods could drive sales of Apple computers".

Meg, Ev, Paul Bausch, Ben, and MenaDEC 23

Meg, Ev, Paul Bausch, Ben, and Mena are PC Magazine's People of the Year. Recognized for something called "blogging".

The Best Links 2004DEC 22

In doing this site for the past six and a half years, I've grown quite fond of short form writing, especially nonfiction short form writing. Magazine articles, newspaper pieces, weblog posts, etc. As I've said before, I'd love to compile an end-of-the-year Best Online Writing book or do a monthly Reader's Digest-style magazine that compiles the best short-form writing from a variety of sources, but there's a lot of hassle to deal with (securing rights, working with publishers, killing trees).

Luckily, the magic of the Internet allows you to do things that aren't quite perfect but work well enough that it's worth the trade-off. In lieu of a book or magazine compilation of the best writing of 2004, here are some of the best things I linked to in the past year. The list consists mostly of magazine and newspaper articles with a few other types of media sprinkled in and is more objective than my favorite weblogs of 2004 list. If, unlike me, you've got a little bit of slack time at the end of the year at your place of employ, this should keep you busy for the rest of the day. Enjoy.

The Buddhabrot Set. An amazing universe of structure, spirituality, and mathematical intrigue.
Jared Tarbell, Gallery of Computation

Big and Bad. How the S.U.V. ran over automotive safety.
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

Victoria's Secret. A look at one of Prada's top saleswomen.
Mimi Swartz, The New Yorker

Street Smarts. Learning from JetBlue
Norm Brodsky, Inc. Magazine

Khaaan!!
khaaan.com

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

Microsoft Research DRM talk
Cory Doctorow, craphound.com

What the Bagel Man Saw. Honesty and breakfast.
Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, The New York Times Magazine

The Decline of Fashion Photography. An argument in pictures.
Karen Lehrman, Slate

mashuga's Fotolog. Portraiture of the homeless.
Gary F. Clark, fotolog.net

Ikeaphobia and its discontents
Adam Greenfield, v-2 Organisation

Birnbaum v. Michael Lewis. Moneyball, Red Sox, journalism, and screenwriting.
Robert Birnbaum, The Morning News

A Corporation That Breaks the Greed Mold
Jim Hightower, AlterNet

New Details Surface. Dick Cheney and Pat Leahy throw down.
Paul Sims, The New Yorker

The Anarchist's Cookbook. John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods.
Charles Fishman, Fast Company

Week in Review. Hand drawn representations of the news.
Week in Review

Why don't we do it in the road? A new school of traffic design says we should get rid of stop signs and red lights and let cars, bikes and people mingle together.
Linda Baker, Salon

Discovery of Flores Man. It sounds too incredible to be true, but this is not a hoax.
Nature

The Searchers. Radiohead's unquiet revolution.
Alex Ross, The New Yorker

On the Record: David Neeleman, JetBlue Airways. Interview with the CEO of JetBlue
San Francisco Chronicle

How not to buy happiness. Can money make you happy?
Robert H. Frank, Daedalus

The Vice Guide to Everything. The DOs and DONTs of modern life.
Vice Magazine

Misinterpreted Movie Titles. Renaming movies with literal descriptions of their movie posters.
Something Awful

Blinded By Science. How 'Balanced' Coverage Lets the Scientific Fringe Hijack Reality.
Chris Mooney, Columbia Journalism Review

The True Story of Audion. How a piece of software got made.
Cabel Sasser, Panic

Something Borrowed. Should a charge of plagiarism ruin your life?
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

The Bell Curve. What happens when patients find out how good their doctors really are?
Atul Gawande, The New Yorker

Skeletal Systems. A character study of 22 present and past cartoon characters.
Michael Paulus, michaelpaulus.com

The Ketchup Conundrum. Mustard now comes in dozens of varieties. Why has ketchup stayed the same?
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

Decentralized Intelligence What Toyota can teach the 9/11 commission about intelligence gathering.
Duncan Watts, Slate

The way I rolled. A report on the Usher concert.
Mr. Sun, Mr. Sun!

Memory and Manipulation. The trials of Elizabeth Loftus, defender of the wrongly accused.
Sasha Abramsky, LA Weekly

Designs For Working. Why your bosses want to turn your new office into Greenwich Village.
Malcolm Gladwell, The New Yorker

Born of the Fourth of July. The statistics are not good for a baby born in the 24th and 6th day of gestation.
Eric C. Snowdeal III, snowdeal.org

John Stewart on Crossfire. You're as big a dick on your show as you are on any show.
CNN Crossfire

Neal Stephenson Responds With Wit and Humor. An interview with the noted SF author.
Slashdot

Fear Itself. Learning to live in the age of terrorism
Gene Weingarten, The Washington Post

Consider the Lobster. For 56 years, the Maine Lobster Festival has been drawing crowds with the promise of sun, fun, and fine food.
David Foster Wallace, Gourmet

Aerial Photography. Earth from above.
Yann Bertrand

Child Portraiture. Muted works of vibrant mundanity.
Loretta Lux, lorettalux.de

Food Without Fear. When it comes to food, Americans have the tendency to lose all reason.
Dan Barber, The New York Times

John Maeda's got himself a weblog called, what else, SimplicityDEC 22

John Maeda's got himself a weblog called, what else, Simplicity.

The Graphing Calculator StoryDEC 22

The Graphing Calculator Story. "I was frustrated by all the wasted effort, so I decided to uncancel my small part of the project. I had been paid to do a job, and I wanted to finish it. My electronic badge still opened Apple's doors, so I just kept showing up."

There are four types of parkers at the mallDEC 22

There are four types of parkers at the mall. I am a hybrid parker: a one pass at the front row "search and destroyer" and then a "see it and take it".

Richard Dawkins on the alleged marriage between religion and scienceDEC 22

Richard Dawkins on the alleged marriage between religion and science. "We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further."

What's the deal with the number 11 in The Life Aquatic?DEC 22

What's the deal with the number 11 in The Life Aquatic?.

A demo of "Interactive Activation and Competition"DEC 22

A demo of "Interactive Activation and Competition" neural networks, built with Processing.

My favorite weblogs of 2004DEC 22

I love lists, especially those end of the year ones. Following Rex's lead, here are some of my favorite weblogs from 2004. (Note: This list is not objective. I'm not surveying the entire landscape of weblogs and picking the best ones, just choosing my favorites from among those I follow on a somewhat regular basis.)

12. Mr Sun! - The funniest celestial object in the blogoverse.

11. Collision Detection - Clive's got some writing chops -- he's a professional journalist -- but his enthusiasm for the subject matter is what I look forward to when clicking through his site.

10. Gothamist - As Jen's posting frequency has decreased (that she kept that pace for so long is amazing), the site has become a little aimless, but it's still worth a few daily visits.

9. Dooce - Heather can (and does) talk about anything and make it funny. Despite several challenging episodes in her life over the past couple of years, Dooce is still going strong and from what I can tell, keeps getting better. One small request though: TONE DOWN THE ALL CAPS SHOUTING. Please?

8. Slower - Except for the celebrity photos, which he posts specifically to irritate me, Eliot's work somehow gets better with each visit. Well, I don't much like all the people photos he's been posting recently. On second thought, maybe I should reconsider...

7. Anil Dash - His professional duties for Six Apart has resulted in a substantial decrease in volume on his site, but Anil was a must-visit for me in the first half of the year.

6. My del.icio.us inbox - Josh, I know you're hurting, but hook me up...I need my del.icio.us inbox back!

5. Gulfstream - The best weblog that you don't read. Michael updates somewhat irregularly, but every single link he posts is gold.

4. Boing Boing - Cory's the engine that makes BB run...when he's posting regularly, the site shines.

3. Waxy.org - One of the best edited sites on the web. Andy highlights so much interesting stuff.

2. The Morning News - Apologies to Rosecrans and Andrew for including TMN in this list of weblogs, but the site's too good not to mention because of semantics.

1. Photos from my Flickr friends - Flickr is the most fun on the web right now. Period. It's the closest thing I've experienced online to hanging out with your friends at the coffeeshop. (Note: your Flickr friends page looks different when you're logged in and is a lot more useful.)

And a special mention...

0. Kottke.org - Oh man, am I gonna get mail about this one...the nerve! But I really enjoyed doing my site this year and I've already told you this isn't really a "best of" list. Earlier in the year, I was thinking about quitting entirely and the site's been a little, uh, crappy the last couple of months (if you haven't noticed, you're not paying enough attention...wake up out there!), but other than that, the site's been really good to me. Thanks for reading, your emails, your comments, and for indulging me. Expect good things next year.

The Pioneer AnomalyDEC 21

The Pioneer Anomaly. Something appears to be slowing the Pioneer spacecraft down, but no one knows what it is yet.

A mysterious something is "washing" the solarDEC 21

A mysterious something is "washing" the solar panels on the Mars rover Opportunity. The lifetime of the rovers was thought to be limited because of the dust clogging the solar panels, but Opportunity is still operating near peak output.

The Long Tail is the working blog (DEC 21

The Long Tail is the working blog (woblog?) for Chris Anderson's new book of the same title. It'll be interesting to see how these book-in-progress blogs affect the end product.

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg on their purchaseDEC 21

Slate editor Jacob Weisberg on their purchase by The Washington Post. I've come to like Slate a lot and wish them well in their new environment.

Richard Dawkins on the evolution of the eyeDEC 21

Richard Dawkins on the evolution of the eye.

These kids don't like Santa very muchDEC 21

These kids don't like Santa very much.

Culinary Trends That Never Quite Caught OnDEC 21

Culinary Trends That Never Quite Caught On.

An updateDEC 21

So, I didn't mean to leave everyone hanging with regard to the Sony/Jeopardy/Ken Jennings situation, but these kinds of things are often not well suited to be discussed in public until certain issues have been decided/settled/etc. I still can't say too much about it, but Sony and I have retreated to our respective corners, both a little battered and bruised and unwilling to come out for another round. I wish it could have ended better for both parties...this thing blew up at a really bad time for me and made my life a living hell for about a week and Sony probably didn't enjoy getting dragged through the mud as much as they were. Would have been nice to find a solution that was mutally beneficial, but it's hard to do so when legal proceedings are involved.

In a completely unrelated matter *cough*, for those of you who were kind enough to offer me financial support in this matter, you may want to think about giving some money to the EFF:

[The Electronic Frontier Foundation] was created to defend our rights to think, speak, and share our ideas, thoughts, and needs using new technologies, such as the Internet and the World Wide Web. EFF is the first to identify threats to our basic rights online and to advocate on behalf of free expression in the digital age.

I obviously believe that what the EFF does is extremely important and I'm grateful to them for doing so much on our behalf. Now, go give 'em a cuddle.

Donate to the EFFDEC 21

Donate to the EFF. Come on, one last tax deduction for 2004.

Kernin' in the boys roomDEC 21

Kernin' in the boys room. Someone wrote "bitch" on the wall of a men's bathroom at Parsons and someone else corrected their kerning.

Imitation chickenDEC 21

Imitation chicken. Like Kentucky Fried Chicken, but not.

An interview with Noah Baumbach, co-writer ofDEC 20

An interview with Noah Baumbach, co-writer of A Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.

Michael Crichton: Aliens Cause Global WarmingDEC 20

Michael Crichton: Aliens Cause Global Warming.

Giving Away the Store, Amazon's web servicesDEC 20

Giving Away the Store, Amazon's web services.

Top 10 key scientific advances of 2004DEC 20

Top 10 key scientific advances of 2004. Discovery of water on Mars tops the list.

What's cuter than a hoodie for your iPod?DEC 20

What's cuter than a hoodie for your iPod?.

Flickr gets a nice writeup in SalonDEC 20

Flickr gets a nice writeup in Salon.

Fast Company cover article on Malcolm GladwellDEC 20

Fast Company cover article on Malcolm Gladwell.

The Vintage Subway Tea Party was pretty funDEC 19

The Vintage Subway Tea Party was pretty fun.

Here's how the JavaScript for Google Suggest worksDEC 18

Here's how the JavaScript for Google Suggest works.

"RealClimate is a commentary site on climateDEC 18

"RealClimate is a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists". "We aim to provide a quick response to developing stories and provide the context sometimes missing in mainstream commentary."

How I Appeared on Jeopardy!DEC 18

How I Appeared on Jeopardy!.

Those crazy cats at Honda have their Asimo robot runningDEC 18

Those crazy cats at Honda have their Asimo robot running. I've watched this video about 12 times and the walking to running transitions still make me chuckle.

Very interesting interview with Admiral Bob InmanDEC 17

Very interesting interview with Admiral Bob Inman about American intelligence and politics.

British mathematicians crochet a representation of Lorenz equationsDEC 16

British mathematicians crochet a representation of Lorenz equations. Cool! Now do a Menger sponge.

The nice Firefox ad that ran inDEC 16

The nice Firefox ad that ran in the NY Times today.

Misspell blogspot.com and you get a "DEC 16

Misspell blogspot.com and you get a "mega-site of Bible, Christian and religious information and studies".

The good and bad of NYC's shared public spacesDEC 16

The good and bad of NYC's shared public spaces.

Too much of a good thingDEC 16

Too much of a good thing. "My ability to produce and acquire has far outstripped my ability to consume."

The Presidential Medals of FailureDEC 16

The Presidential Medals of Failure.

At the end of his latest novel,DEC 15

At the end of his latest novel, Michael Crichton has attached a personal statement saying that "the theory of global warming is speculative at best". "World powers, he says, use global warming to keep citizens in a state of fear, just as they did with the Cold War."

What sort of city should New York be?DEC 15

What sort of city should New York be?. "You truly become a New Yorker when the city seems more to you than your workplace and a collection of shops and restaurants, when you start caring about the city itself, beyond your daily route, outside of your neighborhood, about the city we were and the city we might become."

Some words and definitions that aren't inDEC 15

Some words and definitions that aren't in the dictionary, but probably should be. Examples: "Caterpallor (n.): The color you turn after finding half a grub in the fruit you're eating." or "Circumvent (n.), the opening in the front of boxer shorts."

Great interview with Thomas Keller about bistros,DEC 15

Great interview with Thomas Keller about bistros, success, celebrity, and experience.

Greg notes that personal web design isDEC 15

Greg notes that personal web design is currently a bit stagnant.

Short review of Thomas Barnett's book The Pentagon's New MapDEC 14

Short review of Thomas Barnett's book The Pentagon's New Map. I heard Barnett speak at PopTech; his was one of the best talks.

Quitting the paint factory, on the virtues of idlenessDEC 14

Quitting the paint factory, on the virtues of idleness. If I had a manifesto, parts of this essay would be in it.

How to make teeny tiny oranges out of clayDEC 14

How to make teeny tiny oranges out of clay.

The 10 most accurately rated artists in rock historyDEC 14

The 10 most accurately rated artists in rock history. These artists are neither overrated or underrated.

Short but good interview with Steven JohnsonDEC 14

Short but good interview with Steven Johnson.

A Leaf by Bronislaw MajDEC 14

Read on the subway this morning:

A leaf, one of the last, parts from a maple branch:
it is spinning in the transparent air of October, falls
on a heap of others, stops, fades. No one
admired its entrancing struggle with the wind,
followed its flight, no one will distinguish it now
as it lies among the other leaves, no one saw what I did. I am
the only one.

I might need more poetry in my life.

Scientists have devised a way to makeDEC 14

Scientists have devised a way to make embryos that cannot grow into a baby. "This could provide a more ethically acceptable way of creating 'embryonic' stem cells".

Google will scan millions of books fromDEC 14

Google will scan millions of books from several libraries and allow people to search them online.

Get yer Chris Ware-signed McSweeney's #13 dust jackets while they lastDEC 13

Get yer Chris Ware-signed McSweeney's #13 dust jackets while they last.

Dave Eggers on the musical adaptation ofDEC 13

Dave Eggers on the musical adaptation of Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

Some Amazon reviewers don't like Barbie hookingDEC 13

Some Amazon reviewers don't like Barbie hooking up with Blaine after her break with Ken. "This is harmful to children. This teaches lack of responsibility towards those we claim to love. And moreso, this is depressing. Children should not have to fear broken hearts so early and accept that even a relationship of nearly 50 yrs...should and will be followd by a rebound fling."

One of the Scissor Sisters recounts theirDEC 13

One of the Scissor Sisters recounts their year of success in the UK.

Mr. Sun has some trouble with anDEC 13

Mr. Sun has some trouble with an intimate moment in ESPN's Dale Earnhardt biopic. "If I were to write down a list of people I'd like to visualize naked and getting busy, I could use all the paper in an Office Depot and not get to Dale Earnhardt."

Sideways named top film by NY andDEC 13

Sideways named top film by NY and LA film critics and is in AFI's top ten.

Now offering cheap air travel, rental cars,DEC 13

Now offering cheap air travel, rental cars, and Internet access, easyGroup will soon offer cheap hotel stays. Tiny easyHotel rooms in London will go for ~5 pounds per night.

Cells produce faint sounds which could beDEC 13

Cells produce faint sounds which could be used to detect cancer (among other things).

Cable companies may cripple their DVRs soDEC 13

Cable companies may cripple their DVRs so that, for example, you can't keep an episode of Six Feet Under for more than a couple of weeks.

rating: 4.5 stars

Good Bye, LeninDEC 12

Like many movies I enjoy, Good Bye, Lenin doesn't fit neatly into any particular genre. It's billed as a comedy, but could easily be considered a drama or even a romance. I loved the dual Kubrick homages...the overt 2001 reference and the later less obvious Clockwork Orange reference. (Of course, I may have missed a nod to Full Metal Jacket...I'm not sure how "Private Snowball" translates into German.)

This should be Cory's new book jacket photoDEC 12

This should be Cory's new book jacket photo.

Everything is being sampled nowadays, even handbagsDEC 11

Everything is being sampled nowadays, even handbags.

Sabermetrics for footballDEC 11

Sabermetrics for football. "Romer found that football coaches punt far more than they ought to -- perhaps acting out of fear of the worst outcome (going for it on fourth down and failing), rather than rationally balancing risk and reward."

Here's what happens when you only getDEC 11

Here's what happens when you only get one trip to the salad bar in China.

Trailer for Tim Burton's remake of CharlieDEC 10

Trailer for Tim Burton's remake of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.

1994 Guardian article did fairly well in predicting things 10 years onDEC 10

1994 Guardian article did fairly well in predicting things 10 years on. One uncanny prediction: Arnold as governor of California.

Dave Pell used Google Suggest to findDEC 10

Dave Pell used Google Suggest to find the suggestions for each letter of the alphabet. May or may not be strictly popularity-based, and looks to be filtered by humans for porn-based stuff.

Pictures of the Year 2004 from Yahoo NewsDEC 10

Pictures of the Year 2004 from Yahoo News.

Dan Gillmor is leaving the San JoseDEC 10

Dan Gillmor is leaving the San Jose Mercury News to work on a "citizen-journalism project".

Google Suggest beta suggests search terms as you typeDEC 10

Google Suggest beta suggests search terms as you type. I just made this my home page.

For $20, you can get a photo convertedDEC 09

For $20, you can get a photo converted into an iPod ad. There's even an option to add an iPod to the photo.

The 100 oldest currently registered .com domain namesDEC 09

The 100 oldest currently registered .com domain names.

Find out a bit about how yourDEC 09

Find out a bit about how your brain works at the Mind Hacks blog.

Mia Hamm has played her final matchDEC 09

Mia Hamm has played her final match with the US women's national team. In the second half, she wore a jersey with her new last name (Garciaparra).

The low carb fad is waningDEC 09

The low carb fad is waning.

This homemade NYC subway map is moreDEC 09

This homemade NYC subway map is more useful than the official one in some ways. The addition of Metro North, PATH, and the AirTrain routes is helpful.

Web magazinesDEC 09

Before weblogs ruled the realm, a typical way to publish content online was in a Web magazine format. Suck, Feed, Netly News, Smug, Stating the Obvious, etc. Sites like Salon, The New Yorker, Slate, and even most online newspapers publish in the magazine format, but sites like The Morning News and McSweeney's Internet Tendency are more culturally similar to those early Web magazines (in sensibility and because there's no offline component). Are there any other sites that you read that are still publishing regularly in this format?

Parents go on strike protesting their kids'DEC 09

Parents go on strike protesting their kids' lack of help with household chores. How did they let their kids get this in control of the parent/child relationship? A strike isn't going to reverse the effects of 17 years of bad parenting.

For those that missed it in theDEC 09

For those that missed it in the magazine, David Foster Wallace's excellent Gourmet article about the Maine Lobster Festival is available here in PDF format.

A new form of literature is born:DEC 08

A new form of literature is born: IM status message memoir.

Search for "i love jews" and GoogleDEC 08

Search for "i love jews" and Google asks "Did you mean: i love jesus".

Various "Dear cell phone user" messages fromDEC 08

Various "Dear cell phone user" messages from SHHH!: Society for HandHeld Hushing.

rating: 2.0 stars

Shrek 2DEC 08

For all the corny potshots that Dreamworks takes at Disney in Shrek 2, they're hard at work exploiting their own set of rapidly tiring cliches, an approach that eventually steered Disney's reputation for creativity straight into the ground. I know it made lots of money and that the kids love green ogres (and green ogre Happy Meals), but the movie just wasn't very good (apart from some Puss in Boots moments). Animation aside (are we done judging CG-heavy films largely by how cool they look yet?), Shrek 2 was just another lame romantic comedy with big name stars and barely funny pop culture references; it couldn't have taken any more than 15-20 minutes to write the screenplay. Anthony Lane noted something similar in his review of The Incredibles and was spot on:

[Brad Bird] has bothered to think through the impact of his outlandish designs, whereas one of the depressing things about a big summer hit like "Shrek 2" was that it nodded at other recent movies, and commercial fads, purely on the ground that they were recent and would thus grab a temporary laugh. The "Shrek" pictures, like "Shark Tale," will date fast, eaten by the rust of their own cynicism, while "The Incredibles," silly as it is, retains just enough innocence to suggest that it might hang around.

Cambodian soldiers, first hiding and then lostDEC 08

Cambodian soldiers, first hiding and then lost in the jungle, return home after 25 years. They thought the war was still going all that time.

A new comet will be visible toDEC 08

A new comet will be visible to the naked eye for the next couple of months.

Satellite image of clouds responsible for lake-effect snowDEC 08

Satellite image of clouds responsible for lake-effect snow.

PVRBlog interviews TiVo's Director of User ExperienceDEC 08

PVRBlog interviews TiVo's Director of User Experience.

Pinhole of Ireland YardDEC 07

Pinhole of Ireland Yard. Great photo.

TV Catch Phrases That Weren'tDEC 07

TV Catch Phrases That Weren't.

A poorly designed coin-operated Donald Duck children's rideDEC 07

A poorly designed coin-operated Donald Duck children's ride. Complete with leering glance at rider's bathing suit area.

A new way of traffic engineering: useDEC 07

A new way of traffic engineering: use minimal signage and make all traffic (foot, car, bike, etc.) use the same roadway. The result is that all traffic slows down and relies on communication between participants to negotiate the traffic space.

The six myths of creativityDEC 07

The six myths of creativity.

Disguise yourself as a Canadian when travelingDEC 07

Disguise yourself as a Canadian when traveling abroad to avoid answering questions about US politics.

Even after 20 years, string theory hasn't explained much of anythingDEC 07

Even after 20 years, string theory hasn't explained much of anything. But it hasn't been disproven either.

Purple Hearts, a photo gallery of woundedDEC 07

Purple Hearts, a photo gallery of wounded soldiers sent home from Iraq.

Japanese are arranging group suicides over the InternetDEC 07

Japanese are arranging group suicides over the Internet. But the social aspect of these "suicide clubs" can also keep people from killing themselves.

Some fine examples of infographics by Funnel Inc.DEC 07

Some fine examples of infographics by Funnel Inc..

The Online Film Critics Society's "Top 100 OverlookedDEC 07

The Online Film Critics Society's "Top 100 Overlooked Films of the 1990s".

Blocking RSS advertisingDEC 06

When we last chatted, you and I, about RSS advertising here on kottke.org two years ago, there were only a couple of sites experimenting with advertising in RSS files. Many sites are now putting ads in their RSS/Atom files and several companies -- including Overture and Kanoodle -- are offering or partnering with companies to offer consumers the ability to put ads in their RSS/Atom files.

When banner advertising first appeared on HTML pages, it took several years before browser makers (and 3rd party toolbar makers) gave users the ability to block advertising (both popups and banners).

Given that people who use newsreaders are still of the early adopter sort who are used to blocking ads with Firefox or fast-forwarding through commercials with their TiVos, it seems likely that blocking advertising in RSS/Atom files might soon become an issue. To get the ball rolling on this issue, I asked a few of the major newsreader developers if they would build ad blocking capabilities into their software. Here's what they had to say:

Nick Bradbury, FeedDemon:

I'm not planning any features designed explicitly for blocking ads, but I am planning to add per-feed filters that could be used to filter out ads. For example, FeedDemon would enable you to filter the Boing Boing feed so that only items from a specific author, or items containing specific keywords (or negative keywords), would be shown (or not shown). So, while this is designed as a usability feature rather than an ad-blocking tool, I imagine that more than a few users would configure it to hide ads.

Brent Simmons, NetNewsWire:

The future of aggregators is, in part, about *importance*. Items most important to you should bubble to the top, and items less important should sink to the bottom or just get deleted.

This isn't a function of one specific feature but of a group of features -- smart lists, filters, scriptability, statistics, ratings, searching, and so on -- that are important even if there were no such as thing as ads in RSS/Atom.

I don't expect to get asked for ad-blocking-specific features, since I don't think ad-blocking-specific features will be needed. These already-existing and already-planned features will be highly effective at ad-blocking.

Here's a very simple example of something you can do right now with the many aggregators that let you use a custom style sheet for displaying news items. Say a feed includes graphical ads from some service. You could add a line to your style sheet that says that all graphics from that domain should not be displayed. This feature -- custom style sheets -- doesn't exist to block ads, but it can easily be used to block ads.

The whole point of aggregators is about user control and smarts. Ad blocking is, and will be, just a side effect.

I don't think that ads in RSS are a good idea, anyway. Here's why:

1. If you have a feed with summaries, and the summaries are compelling enough to cause me to go read the full entry on the site -- then I'll actually go to the site and see the ads there. If you don't have a feed, I may *never* go to your site. Even with full-content feeds I often open pages in my browser -- and, again, I end up seeing the ads.

2. Using RSS/Atom feeds increases your readership among webloggers. A weblogger will then link to stories at your site rather than stories at sites that don't have feeds. So feeds can help drive traffic to your site. Including ads in your feed increases the likelihood that people will unsubscribe, and you'll miss out on this effect.

I suspect that people link to the New York Times far more often than they link to CNN, since CNN doesn't have feeds. And I think this is significant. As a feed provider, your goal should be to get people to *link* to your pages: *that's* how you build traffic and ad views.

Erik Barzeski, PulpFiction:

1) We filed this bug report ("filter out ads") before PulpFiction's 1.0 release.

2) there are different kinds of advertising. I've seen advertisements inside of feeds. I've seen posts that are nothing but ads (like every 10th post). And so on. PulpFiction's browser already blocks pop-up ads (optionally), and we hope to let users remove regular ads. However, how difficult this may or may not be is yet to be seen.

3) At current levels I'm seeing, advertising - and filtering them out - simply isn't worth the time. Especially as PulpFiction lets you switch over to simply using permalinks for viewing content if you wish (or switching to it with cmd-D). However, we appreciate that users have a very low threshhold for advertising tolerance, and as such we're monitoring the situation closely.

But really, we have to _see_ more ads before we know just what to filter and remove.

Thanks to Erik, Nick, and Brent for taking the time to answer. I also emailed folks from NewsGator, SharpReader, and Bloglines but got no response...perhaps they and other newsreader makers will respond in the thread.

A few questions related to this issue:

  • Do you (or will you) want ad blocking in the newsreader you use?
  • Will the structure of RSS/Atom files make ad blocking easier than in HTML or not?
  • Newsreader makers...how will you react to pressure from feed advertising companies like Overture or Kanoodle or companies that rely on feed advertising as a revenue stream to encourage you to keep ad blocking capabilities out of your software? Are you worried about getting sued by CNN or the NY Times (for example) if you allow users to block ads in their feeds?
  • In the inevitable(?) arms race between ad blockers and advertisements, what happens to the separation between editorial content and advertising? Ads disguised as content are harder to block, but how can the reader distinguish them from content? Are you folks with ads in their RSS/Atom files concerned about that?

I concur with Anthony Lane's review ofDEC 06

I concur with Anthony Lane's review of the House of Flying Daggers.

If you're building a band/label site,DEC 06

If you're building a band/label site, don't do these five things. That goes double for movie sites...the Flash/no deep-linking thing really chaps my ass.

Drawings of cartoon skeletons, including Hello Kitty,DEC 06

Drawings of cartoon skeletons, including Hello Kitty, Fred Flintstone, and Betty Boop. Fantastic...link of the day as far as I'm concerned.

rating: 5.0 stars

Touching the VoidDEC 06

This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time and I recommend it unequivocally. One of the most amazing things about Touching the Void (among many amazing things) was how engaging, gripping, and suspenseful it was (much more so than any fictional drama or horror film) even though you know from the very start how it all turns out. No M. Night Shyamalan Law & Order twist needed...just a great story and solid storytelling.

Default passwords for all sorts of hardware and softwareDEC 05

Default passwords for all sorts of hardware and software.

A new category of meat: flushing meatDEC 05

A new category of meat: flushing meat.

The Economist's list of the best books of 2004DEC 05

The Economist's list of the best books of 2004.

New York Times Book Review's list ofDEC 05

New York Times Book Review's list of the 100 notable books of 2004.

Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick, and his Zeiss 50mm f/0.7 lensesDEC 04

Barry Lyndon, Stanley Kubrick, and his Zeiss 50mm f/0.7 lenses.

Some clever New Year's greeting cardsDEC 04

Some clever New Year's greeting cards. "Mappy nude rear", flappy blue ear", etc.

Aubrey de Grey: "I think the firstDEC 03

Aubrey de Grey: "I think the first person to live to 1,000 might be 60 already.".

Homemade Lord of the Rings Monopoly gameDEC 03

Homemade Lord of the Rings Monopoly game.

Journalists, paid speaking engagements, and conflicts of interestDEC 03

Journalists, paid speaking engagements, and conflicts of interest.

China now has the largest mall inDEC 03

China now has the largest mall in the world, but no one is buying anything.

Finding Neverland named best film of 2004 byDEC 03

Finding Neverland named best film of 2004 by National Board of Review of Motion Pictures. No Eternal Sunshine in the top 10?

rating: 4.0 stars

Jersey GirlDEC 03

Like Gigli, Jersey Girl suffered unfairly at the box office because of the whole Bennifer thing. I liked a couple of Kevin Smith's previous films but the poor acting always bothered the heck out of me (I think he and George Lucas have a similar tendency to treat actors as props (but in different ways)), but the acting in Jersey Girl was surprisingly good. And the kid in the movie was great. Like most movie children, she was a bit precocious and interacted with the rest of the characters as if she were an adult, but it worked because she was essentially standing in for her mother in the eyes of Affleck's character. Affleck has his moments as well...he can be a surprisingly good actor when he wants to be.

A list of 100 things to do beforeDEC 03

A list of 100 things to do before you die, with a scientific bent. My favorite: DIY DNA extraction using salt water, soap, and gin.

Marcel Duchamp's urinal voted most influential pieceDEC 03

Marcel Duchamp's urinal voted most influential piece of modern art in poll of experts. Picasso (x2), Warhol, and Matisse round out the top five.

Interview with Fabrice Frere, creative director ofDEC 03

Interview with Fabrice Frere, creative director of CITY magazine, on running an award-winning magazine on a small budget.

Flickr is up for a place inDEC 03

Flickr is up for a place in the 2005 Fast 50...go rate or post a comment.

What happens when you get a bunchDEC 03

What happens when you get a bunch of Guinness record holders together in the same room?. You learn that some guy scaled Mt. Fuji on a pogo stick.

Excellent article on medicine's bell curve: whyDEC 03

Excellent article on medicine's bell curve: why are some hospitals so much better than others?. The author visited an average hospital, was impressed by the level of care, but then went to a top hospital and discovered the average hospital wasn't doing so well in comparison.

Forget the building, what about the artDEC 03

Forget the building, what about the art at the new MoMA?. Verdict: still good.

William Safire on the slang that theDEC 03

William Safire on the slang that the kids are using these days.

"Is Bigger Better? Corporate Clouds on the Organic Horizon"DEC 03

"Is Bigger Better? Corporate Clouds on the Organic Horizon".

Joe Gillespie, one of the Web design'sDEC 02

Joe Gillespie, one of the Web design's early pioneers, is retiring his influential Web Page Design for Designers site. Good luck in your new career, Joe.

Photos of New York, from today and the 1930sDEC 02

Photos of New York, from today and the 1930s.

Timely article in the NY Times aboutDEC 02

Timely article in the NY Times about journalism, weblogs, and the protection of confidential sources.

Jennings' final appearance on Jeopardy was broadcast 4DEC 02

Jennings' final appearance on Jeopardy was broadcast 4 days early on WMAZ in Macon, GA. Seems the result wasn't quite so secret after all.

Sony, Ken Jennings, and meDEC 02

Things may be a little quieter around here in the short term as I deal with some stuff going on in the real world. One of the reasons for the silence is that my legal difficulties with Sony about the whole Ken Jennings thing have yet to be resolved. I can't say too much about it (soon perhaps), but it sure has had a chilling effect on my enthusiasm for continuing to maintain kottke.org. As an individual weblogger with relatively limited financial and legal resources, I worry about whether I can continue to post things (legal or not) that may upset large companies and result in lawsuits that they can afford and I cannot. The NY Times can risk upsetting large companies in the course of their journalistic duties because they are a large company themselves, they know their rights, and they have a dedicated legal team to deal with stuff like this. In the current legal climate, it may be that the whole "are blogs journalism?" debate is moot until bloggers have access to a level of legal resources similar to what large companies have. I'm certainly thinking very seriously about whether I can keep this site going in this kind of environment.

Update: Thanks for all the support everyone...I've gotten many nice emails and various offers of assistance. Several people have asked if they can help monetarily, which I very much appreciate, but the process is not quite to that point yet (and might never reach it) and I don't want to be responsible for refunds or anything like that. But again, I appreciate the support.

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