Business 2.0 presents the Bottom Line Design Awards. "Good design is nice to look at, but great design exhibits beauty that's more than skin-deep -- it integrates form, function, and market need."
NPPA Best of Photojournalism 2005: Still Photography Winners. Be prepared to spend a few minutes or hours with this one.
History of the NES (Nintendo Entertainment System) in the US. The first video game system I ever owned was an NES "Deluxe Set". I sold that stupid robot shortly thereafter at a garage sale and used the proceeds to buy another game. (Rad Racer, maybe?)
Low stakes Finnish Hold 'Em MAR 31
After sitting down to dinner at Moustache in the East Village, a bunch of us pulled out our phones, which activity I've noticed is some kind of nerd group tic. Several at the table had the Nokia 7610 and we were still futzing with them when the waiter came up to take our order. When he saw the phone, his eyes went wide. "What phone is this? You all have the same one? What is this phone and where did you get them?"
We told him a little about the phone and he seemed impressed. Smirking a little, he set down his order pad and reached into his pocket. "Here is my phone," he said as he placed a recently-released uber-thin Motorola RAZR down on the table, stepped back, and crossed his arms proudly. We all pulled back slightly from the table, silent for a moment, and then leaned in to get a closer look with a collective "oooooh...." The waiter beamed, happy at besting a bunch of geeks at a hand of cell phone poker.
Screenshots of Katamari Damacy 2. I'll be a little disappointed if this is basically the same game with new levels.
In 1983, Stanislav Petrov resisted pushing the missle launch button in the face of an incoming attack (which later turned out to be false). In the 50 years of the Cold War, it's amazing that we didn't destroy ourselves, accidentally or otherwise.
Postsecret: send your secret in on a postcard and it'll get put up on this site. Like grouphug.us, but way more effective because of the handmade cards.
What is link prefetching? MAR 31
What is link prefetching?. Page authors can tell Mozilla/Firefox to preload a "next page" while the user is still on the current page.
Buzz Bin updates weekly about the most talked about movies. Die Hard 4? In 5 years time, all movies will be sequels.
Witold Rybczynski on the poor exterior architecture of the MoMA. "The five-story wall slices down next to the sidewalk with the finality of a guillotine. The brutal scalelessness resembles something out of a Kubrick science-fiction fantasy."
January was a rough month for me and I needed a break from all the "heavy" nonfiction I usually read, so I picked up Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, a well-received fantasy novel. I'm normally not much of a fantasy reader, but I was in the mood for something fanciful and besides, JS&MN isn't really fantasy. It contains fantastic things like magicians, Raven Kings, and faeries but belongs more to the 19th century British novel genre...more Jane Austen than JRR Tolkien. (Clarke lists Austen as her favorite author on the book's site.)
And it's just plain good, whatever the genre. The simple bold cover drew me in (it looks like the font used is a close cousin to Caslon Antique), but the plot kept me in "I can't put it down" mode until I had finished. A surprise was how clever and funny Clarke's writing was...I found myself laughing out loud several times at the book's cutting deadpan wit. The book weighs in at ~780 pages, but my only disappointment upon finishing was that the story was over...I felt like I'd just gotten to know the characters and wanted to follow them on all sorts of adventures. Luckily, Clarke is working on a sequel of sorts, according to the book's web site:
The next book will be set in the same world and will probably start a few years after Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell finishes. I feel very much at home in the early nineteenth century and am not inclined to leave it. I doubt that the new book will be a sequel in the strictest sense. There are new characters to be introduced, though probably some old friends will appear too. I'd like to move down the social scale a bit. Strange and Norrell were both rich, with pots of money and big estates. Some of the characters in the second book have to struggle a bit harder to keep body and soul together. I expect there'll be more about John Uskglass, the Raven King, and about how magic develops in England.
P.S. For fun, here are Amazon's Statistically Improbable Phrases for this book: new manservant, madhouse attendants, fairy roads, practical magician.
Edward Tufte and Richard Feynman's van. "The Feynman-Tufte Principle: a visual display of data should be simple enough to fit on the side of a van."
Wordpress is using its high Page Rank to game Google AdWords. This stinks like last week's fish. Is Wordpress and wordpress.org an open source project like we've all been told or is it a company? Either way, contributing to spam noise on the web is annoying.
Where are they now? MAR 30
Where are they now?. What ever happened to the folks behind bluemountainarts.com, Ain't It Cool News, and Webgrrls?
A quick list of advice about writing. I like this one: "if you can't get started, tell someone what you plan to write about, then write down what you said".
Gastronomica on the traditional sumo diet. Use the link to the PDF version to read the entire article.
Bob and Harvey Weinstein to leave Miramax. Oddly, they'll still make movies for Disney with their new company.
Gluehands MAR 30
When we were kids, my sister and I didn't have a lot of toys. What toys we did have were fairly basic but open-ended...blocks, lincoln logs, crayons, construction paper, glue, (very dull) scissors, paints, etc., stuff we could use to make all sorts of different things. One of my favorite things to do (and this lasted well into high school) was to take a bottle of plain white Elmer's Glue, spread glue all over my hands, let it dry, and then peel the glue off like old skin. I don't know why I liked this activity, but there was something about the peeling that was *so* completely satisfying. When the glue was drying, I could barely wait to tear it off my hands.
Imagine my delight then upon discovering some kindred gluehands
addicts aficionados. A few weeks ago, while Youngna was constructing a birthday card for a friend, we busted out the Elmer's and went crazy with the gluehands. Here's some photographic documentation of our gluehands bender. More than 15 years later, the peeling is still so satisfying. I may have to pick up some glue the next time I'm at the drug store.
Josh Schachter has taken on some outside investment and is doing del.icio.us full-time. Congratulations to Josh...looking forward to seeing what happens.
Tim Bray is considering switching from a Mac to something else. "[Apple] controls the message, nothing that's not part of the message can be said, nobody is allowed to say anything except for Steve, and they'll sue your ass if you step out of bounds."
"The Web is not really a web MAR 29
Atul Gawande on doctors, insurance, and money, a trifecta that is a pain in the ass for everyone involved. "To me, all the members of the team deserved a million dollars for [saving my son's life]. Others were footing the bill-so it's left to them to question the price. Hence the adversarial relationship doctors have with insurers."
Measuring How NBA Players Help Their Teams Win. Over the past two years, Kevin Garnett has been the most valuable player for his team...by a significant margin.
Huge projections onto the cooling tower of a nuclear facility. Use "zuruck" and "weiter" to see more photos of the project.
Conservatives want to see more quotes from other conservatives on Starbucks' coffee cups. The content of the quotes don't seem to be an issue, only the political leanings of the contributors.
13 things that science doesn't have the answers for. Dark matter, the Pioneer anomaly, cold fusion, the placebo effect, etc. Some great opportunities for discovery.
Update: New Scientist recently published a list of 13 more things that don't make sense.
Dot-Con Job: The Seattle Times looks at the rise and fall of InfoSpace. Very good reporting; the "mansions, cars, yachts" section is worth a chuckle...Jean-Remy Facq sounds like a very special kind of idiot.
Interview with some French food bloggers about the French paradox. "How do French women manage to enjoy chocolate, wine, cheese and bread without gaining weight?"
Be Cool MAR 28
Anything but cool, I wanted my money back at the end of this one. Catching a John Travolta film is always a gamble and he was alright in this, playing his typical Vincent Vega character, but the rest of it was just crap. I expected to like Vince Vaughn's character more, but it took about two seconds for you to get his whole schtick and then it just became really really tiresome. I did laugh out loud once -- Cedric the Entertainer as a reformed gangbanger-turned-rapper/producer/millionaire rolls up with his posse and they're all wearing tshirts with basketball jerseys over them and Cedric has a **button-down** shirt with a jersey over it -- but that was the only highlight. Metacritic, I will never doubt you again.
Five Ford hybrid vehicles race to find the slowest commute into Manhattan. The Holland Tunnel and the George Washington Bridge placed 1st and 2nd.
Andy made some significant changes to Upcoming, his collaborative calendaring site. You can now add personal events, tag events, get email/SMS event reminders, etc. Oh, and a REST API.
Bloggers in Malaysia are covering the earthquake. Several links to Malasian bloggers and aggregators.
The latest tsunami bulletin says "there has been no major tsunami observed near the epicenter". "There was however a small tsunami observed on the Cocos tide gage."
MSNBC is collecting first-hand accounts of the earthquake here. No reports of a tsunami, "everything is calm" in Banda Aceh near the epicenter and "most people have returned to their homes" there.
Scientists predicted another quake in Indonesia last week. "[Scientists] report in Thursday's issue of the journal Nature that stress is building in the Sumatra fault, where the magnitude 9.0 quake struck December 26".
USGS data for the 8.2 Indonesian earthquake. No word on any tsunami activity yet...let's hope it stays that way.
An magnitude 8.2 earthquake just happened off the coast of Indonesia on the same fault line as the 9.0 back in December. "'There is a potential for some wave activity,' said Julie Martinez, a geophysicist at the U.S. Geological Survey's National Earthquake Information Center, in Golden, Colo."
Adobe is announcing a new version of Photoshop soon. "Adobe says it added numerous features to Photoshop CS2 in response to requests from users and the changing needs of the digital imaging industry."
Is this me in a protest video from the RNC?. I actually can't tell, but it sure looks like me. The only weird thing is the bag...the one I have is not exactly like that.
Pretending to be a cook MAR 28
Progress on learning to cook like a proper human being has been slow because I've been so busy the past month or so. But baby steps are better than no steps at all and in the past weeks, I've tackled cheeseburgers and pancakes. (Ok, you can stop snickering...I said *baby steps*!)
The first time I tried frying up a burger, I filled my apartment with the thick smell of burning cow flesh. Ok, medium heat then. After that initial misstep, I got it down. Burger goes in the pan, flip it once or twice, slap on a piece of cheese, and stick it on a bun with lettuce, sliced raw onion, thinly sliced tomato (there can be no going back to thickly sliced tomatoes now that I've done thin), mayo, and ketchup. I've eaten better burgers, but I've never had one that was more satisfying than one I've cooked myself. I can't wait until summer rolls around...I'm going to get a little grill and have some friends round for a BBQ** in the backyard.
The pancakes, oh, the pancakes were way yummier, fluffier, and moister*** than I would have ever expected from a novice cook working without a measuring cup on a halved recipe. I'm a fucking pancake-making natural!
** Hello to my readership south of the Mason-Dixon. When you grow up in Wisconsin, BBQ (or barbeque) means any meal cooked on a grill, regardless of the presence of slow-cooking, smoked meat, or some kind of sauce. Apologies to you and your delicious cuisine for my unfortunate regional vernacular.
*** Oh, it's a word alright.
An account of how a little amateur detective work helped a guy catch some identity thieves. "It seems that just this morning, the thieves made a purchase at a Denny's Restaurant at [a local zip code]."
The new issue of "This is not a Magazine" is a 5 MB Powerpoint presentation. Highlights include an analysis of the perfect Vogue Italia photograph and the political career of George W. Bush as high-calibre contemporary performance art.
The Smoking Gun has a violent Flash animation done by the teen who killed 10 people in northern MN. He also listed Gus Van Sant's Columbine-inspired movie "Elephant" as a favorite.
Fascinating interview with Jonathan Hoefler and Tobias Frere-Jones. Their dedication to their craft is inspiring: "I put together a list of words so that for every possible letter combination there is a word that contains it somewhere in the middle of it".
Do organisms have the capability to "bypass unhealthy sequences from their parents and revert to the healthier genetic code possessed by their grandparents or great-grandparents". "Pruitt speculates that the plants carry a previously undiscovered store of the related molecule RNA, that acts as a backup copy of DNA. Such molecules could be passed into pollen or seeds along with DNA and used as a template to correct certain genes."
Jeff Veen rightly rips into the entries in interactive design competitions. I can't even look at the results of these contests anymore because they're often so bad and non-web.
Transparent screens pool on Flickr. Making it look like laptop, computer, and cell phone screens are transparent.
Today's New York Airfare Report. This looks like essential reading for finding travel deals to/from the NYC area.
The Mona Lisa gets her first day off in more than 30 years. "In short, Mona Lisa has become like so many pop icons: a prima donna who puts outrageous demands on her handlers."
Bloggie Howser, M.D. MAR 24
After I posted about the DVD for season one of Doogie Howser, M.D. being the worst DVD release ever last week, a reader emailed me the following:
Remember how each episode of Doogie Howser ended with him typing a diary entry into his PC?
So ... he had an electronic journal that was read by millions. Not a particularly conventional distribution medium, but wouldn't that technically make him the first, if not among the first, blogger?
Awesome! Doogie, you trailblazer, I'm sorry I bashed you.
Update: I've gotten two emails about prior art on this. Pete asks if Mr. Belvedere would count since he wrote in a journal during every show, and J. Curtis believes that Captain Kirk was one of the first audio bloggers (or perhaps podcasters?) for doing his captain's log each episode.
Iceland grants citizenship to former chess prodigy and current fugitive Bobby Fischer. Fischer is wanted in the US for "breaking international sanctions by playing a match in Yugoslavia in 1992" and has been stranded in Japan since July without a country.
Google is displaying ad keywords on AdSense publishers' sites. Another attempt by Google to turn ads into content (as opposed to everyone else who just wants to make ads *appear* to be content).
More fun unauthorized art: a plaque placed next to a museum fire alarm that read, "Untitled, 1993. Red plastic.". The "artist" took photos of the work, made up postcards, and they were sold at the gift shop.
More Banksy mischief: last year he erected an unauthorized statue in Clerkenwell Green. "It shows the figure of justice - whose statue overlooks the Old Bailey in London - with US dollar bills stuffed into her garter and a plaque on the plinth saying: 'Trust no-one.'"
Steven Johnson about why he doesn't blog during the book writing process. "[Blogging while writing a book is] like trying to compose a new melody in your head while standing in the middle of a full-throated choral group."
A previous Banksy unauthorized art placement took place in the Natural History Museum in London. "The graffiti artist Banksy has managed to smuggle in his latest work, a dead rat in a glass-fronted box, into the Natural History Museum where it was exhibited on a wall for several hours."
Stealing gallery space MAR 23
This is the best thing I've seen on the web in the last few weeks. An artist from the UK named Banksy went into four of NYC's most prominent museums -- the Met, the Museum of Natural History, the Brooklyn Museum, and the MoMA -- and installed four of his own pieces of art:
Dressed as a British pensioner, over the last few days Banksy entered each of the galleries and attached one of his own works, complete with authorative name plaque and explanation.
He says - "This historic occasion has less to do with finally being embraced by the fine art establishment and is more about the judicious use of a fake beard and some high strength glue." Banksy continues -"They're good enough to be in there, so I don't see why I should wait"
Staff at the New York Met discovered and removed their new aquisition early Sunday morning while Banksy's discount soup can print took pride of place in the MoMA for over three days before being torn down.
As of now, the other two pieces currently remain firmly in place.
Be sure to click through to see the photos. As far as I'm concerned, this is probably more interesting than most of whatever else is happening in the art world right now and instead of tearing it down, the MoMA should move it into their contemporary art collection. Thanks to cityrag for the link.
Doing permalinks in Flash MAR 23
Doing permalinks in Flash. Back button still doesn't work properly, but this is a good step in the right direction.
Ridiculously detailed bitmappy poster of London from eboy. They also have NYC wrapping paper, but would love to see a poster.
New technology could send data over human skin to all sort of different devices. "It may soon be possible to trade music files by dancing cheek to cheek, or to swap phone numbers by kissing".
Quick micropatron gift note MAR 23
I've begun the process of informing the winners of the micropatron gifts via email. So if you contributed $30 or more during the fund drive, watch the email address you have listed at PayPal for an email in the next couple of days.
For the rest of you, here's a fun board game that combines Tetris with Go.
A post of mine made it into MAR 23
A post of mine made it into the "Trackback" sidebar in the April 2005 issue of Wired. My 24 yo self can die happy now.
Fascinating look at how all kinds, shapes, and sizes of life adheres to quarter-power scaling laws. "In subsequent decades, biologists have found that the 3/4-power law [relating mass to metabolic rate] appears to hold sway from microbes to whales, creatures of sizes ranging over a mind-boggling 21 orders of magnitude."
Riding Shanghai's maglev, the world's fastest train. "Four minutes of gravity-simulator-style acceleration later, in which the taxis on the parallel highway lose ground slowly, then quickly, then disappear as fast as if they were parked and you were whipping by at 220 miles per hour, you reach the peak speed for the tiny 20-mile run."
Postings to a neo-Nazi message board by the MN teen who killed 10 people. "Once I commit myself to something, I stay until the end..."
Superstar CEOs underperform the market after they win awards. "A study of a hundred recent corporate crises suggests that bosses who are charismatic autocrats are 'a major source of organizational decline.'"
pb is writing Yahoo! Hacks for O'Reilly. Paul, you've become a book writing machine!
The most expensive album never made. The story of Guns N' Roses' last album, many years in the making but never completed.
Eyebeam fellowship MAR 21
When I started thinking about taking kottke.org full-time, one of the things I wanted to do was not work out of my apartment most of the time. But office/work space in NYC is expensive and I figured I wouldn't have room in the budget for it. There was also the matter of the proper environment. I just didn't want to exchange working alone in my apartment for working alone in an office. A smallish workplace with like-minded folks focused on similar projects was my goal.
So, I'm pleased to report that starting sometime later this month, I will be an Eyebeam R&D Senior Fellow for the next year or so. Eyebeam aims to be a center for art and technology and with recent projects like Fundrace, ForwardTrack, and ReBlog, there's quite a bit of overlap in what Eyebeam and I are interested in. They are not supporting me financially and I won't be officially working on any projects for them, but I will be working in their new R&D space in Chelsea. The hope is I'll not only have a physical place to work but that both parties will benefit from my presence in that space. That is, if some of their chocolate gets into my peanut butter (and vice versa), that would be a good thing.
So thanks to Eyebeam for their support of my personal digital exploration and am looking forward to working with the other researchers, artists, and fellows. Here's their post on the subject.
A young Harvard economist named Roland Fryer Jr. wants to use economic tools to "figure out where blacks went wrong". One of his papers addresses the six-year gap in life expectancy for blacks versus whites; he aruges that saltier black slaves were selected for the ocean voyage from Africa and that salt sensitivity has lead to "higher rates of cardiovascular disease, stroke and kidney disease".
Time to market for DVDs keeps getting shorter and shorter. Studios make more money on DVD releases, so they're eager to piggyback the DVD release on the big screen marketing campaign.
Menu collection from 1856-1930 comprised of over 5000 menus. Part of the extensive, near-exhaustive New York Public Library's Digital Gallery.
AMS2HID is an application that utilizes the motion sensor in the new Powerbook as a input device. Of course, one of the coolest uses is to control gameplay...one could imagine using AMS to play games like Katamari Damacy.
Ashes and Snow MAR 21
Some friends and I checked out the Ashes and Snow a couple of weeks ago here in NYC. The exhibition features the photography and films of Gregory Colbert, who documents "the wonderous interactions between human beings and animals". Colbert spent ten years traveling the world collecting the moments for this show, which will be displayed around the world in a "nomadic museum". The museum, constructed out of shipping containers, is currently placed on Pier 54 on the west side of Manhattan, just below 14th Street, but will continue to travel around the world after it leaves NYC on June 6.
As much as I liked the photography, the building designed by Shigeru Ban was the star of the exhibit for me. The simple wooden path surrounded by rocks, over which the photographs were displayed and beautifully lit, the industrial feel of the shipping container walls, and the way the sunlight reflected off the Hudson River and danced through the cracks in the walls and across the ceiling...all the elements came together to create a wonderful environment for viewing Colbert's work.
Celebrities that look good or not so good on HDTV. "[Britney] is still in her early 20s, but she looks about 10 years older in high-def. Her face is puffy and she's starting to show wrinkle marks around her lips, reportedly from a two pack-a-day cigarette habit."
Barry Diller to buy Ask Jeeves soon?. Diller is responsible for the horrible Ticketmaster.
Genes in a woman's "dormant" X chromosome may not be as inactive as once thought. "Because the genes expressed from the inactive X are also expressed from a woman's active X, women get a higher dose of these genes than men. So these genes may underlie traits that differ between the sexes."
On Darren Aronofsky's next movie, The Fountain. It's "a love story that spans 1,000 years as a man searches for a cure for his terminally ill wife".
The history of yelling "Freebird" at concerts. I wonder if this ever happens at 50 Cent concerts?
Notes on George Dyson's Etech talk about Von Neumann. This is the one talk I'm very sad to have missed at Etech.
Online casinos offer bonuses to entice new players but you need to bet a certain amount to get it. But by playing blackjack by the numbers and betting the minimum, you barely lose any money and get to keep the whole bonus. Online casino hacks!
Seven years MAR 18
I started kottke.org seven years ago this week. I forget the anniversary until after the fact every year even though I know it's sometime in March (for whatever reason almost everything important in my life has happened in March, at least for the last few years). Seven years is way longer than I would have guessed keeping the site going on a near-daily basis...it's the longest I've ever done anything, even longer than all but a handful of friendships. So happy birthday, old friend, it's been fun. (0sil8 started in March as well...nine years ago.)
March's evil award goes to the idea "of being too quick to judge others without knowing the burdens they bow to". "And [to] the poor providers of content, who given the choice between allowing others to improve on their work - even when enacted by companies like Google - and keeping it all to themselves, would rather 'opt out', hoard up their treasures, and forbid anyone else from touching it."
Interview with Danny O'Brien about life hacks. "I suppose what I learnt here is that going public improves the benefits of your work generally, though not always to yourself. Things that you put on the Web have a better chance of getting done, though necessarily by you."
When looking at the distribution of wealth, rich people follow a power law curve, but the rest don't. "While economists' models traditionally regard humans as rational beings who always make intelligent decisions, econophysicists argue that in large systems the behaviour of each individual is influenced by so many factors that the net result is random, so it makes sense to treat [the non-rich] like atoms in a gas."
Here's a look at the new screen fonts that Microsoft will start shipping in 2006. "The Microsoft collection includes two serif, three sans serif, and a monospaced face for use in programming environments. They are intended to be text typefaces as opposed to display faces that are used in larger sizes for headlines."
Google search for "micropatron". From 0 to ~73,300 in three weeks. Not bad.
Jessica Helfand wonders how scrapbooking fits into graphic design. My mom does scrapbooking...it's fun to share my interest in design with her when we look at the scrapbooks she's done.
Final call for micropatrons MAR 17
Well, it's been about three weeks and it's time to wind down the kottke.org fund drive. This is your last chance to contribute to the fiscal health of kottke.org before the fund drive ends at noon ET on Friday (3/18). If you haven't contributed, here's the place to go to do that. If you still need some convincing, perhaps another look at my introductory post, the list of my business influences, or the list of gifts available to some lucky micropatron who has contributed $30 or more will get that wallet flexing.
So yeah, after Friday I'll post a wrap-up (because I've gotten lots of queries as to how it's going), contact the winners of the gifts, and then it's full-speed ahead, which will be nice because the overhead created by the fund drive, while necessary, has really slowed my progress on other stuff for the site.
Final call for kottke.org micropatrons. Fund drive ends Friday at noon ET...contribute now if you haven't already.
Trailer for Old Boy MAR 17
Trailer for Old Boy. This won the Grand Jury Prize at Cannes and will be out in the US soon.
The house where Pedro lived in Napoleon Dynamite is for sale. Only $105,000.
Electronically file your federal income tax for free. "The Fed was going to develop a free efile site because its so much cheaper when you efile than paper file. TurboTax threw a fit because it would destroy their business. They came to an agreement that TurboTax would develop a free version instead of the government, then they just don't advertise it."
Eliot Shepard of slower.net is showing photos at Jen Bekman gallery. Opening is 3/22, exhibition is 3/23-4/30.
Family Guy Live!, four performances in NYC the last week of April. "The sensational voices behind the Griffin family will perform live readings of a classic episode" plus a bunch of other stuff.
SXSW 2005 adventures MAR 17
I'm on the plane back to NYC from what was my fifth SXSW. I hadn't been for a couple of years and it was good (and a little weird) to be back. Some thoughts, in rough chronological order:
Best panels I attended: tie between Jason Fried's How to Make Big Things Happen with Small Teams and Malcolm Gladwell's keynote. Having read Blink and seen him speak on it twice before, there was nothing much new in Malcolm's talk, but he's a fantastic speaker...knows his shit cold, didn't utter a single "um" or "like", could make the phone book seem interesting, but doesn't have to caper about the stage to be compelling.
Everyone was nice. Well, there was that one guy who was an asshole, but I think everyone pretty much ignored him. But everyone else, so nice to get to meet you or see you again.
Overheard in the hallway: "no woman who knows that much about CSS should be that good looking", "here's how I met Marc Canter for the first time: I'm standing outside at a conference, he comes up beside me and farts", "I have no idea who you are", "surf the glue", "no one will get naked in the hot tub with me", and "Imagine Malcolm Gladwell...with breasts. That's how busy it will be."
My two panels sandwiched the keynote conversation between Bruce Sterling and Alex Steffen, so I was only able to catch about 20 minutes of it. But that was long enough to hear Bruce talking about smoking his shoes. LOL for reals.
BBQ! BBQ! In what could be a record for a bunch of folks who can't pay attention to any particular thing for more than 10 minutes at a time, fifteen of us waited an hour and a half for a table at Stubb's (cool menu pictured at right). I can't speak for the rest, but my beef brisket was worth the wait. As a bonus, Kathryn accidentally walked away with the primary object of our obsession during our 90 minute wait, the buzzing/blinking table-readiness notification coaster. I'm sure said coaster will be a treasured guest at many SXSWs to come.
Ben Brown, because he asked me to. Many, many times. Ben, I expect you to comply with the terms of the restraining order from this point forward.
And finally, I'm at the airport ready to leave just after getting through security and I hear, "your attention please, Jason Kottke to security check 3 for a lost item pickup". Bag, check; rollie, check; coat, check; phone and wallet, safely stowed in the zipper pocket of my bag. What the heck could they have found and how on earth do they know it's mine? I zipped over the security check point and was waved over by a friendly/stern police officer. "You Jason?" "Yep." He holds up my wallet, which I swear on a stack of The Origin of Species was in my bag. "Holy crap," I said. "And that's not the worst part," he says with the most serious look I've ever seen on anyone's face.
Uh oh, I feel a full body cavity search coming on.
He pulls out my social security card and lectures me for two minutes on how I shouldn't be carrying it because it's all someone needs to steal my identity. Relieved that I'm not about to be hauled into a tiny windowless room for interrogation, I'm sort of chuckling at this point, which he takes to mean I don't believe him about the SS card. "Do you see me looking you right in the eye, son? That's how serious I am about this." Mr. Sir, as soon as I'm home, I'm taking my SS card out of my wallet and putting it in the safest place I can...right after I change into some clean underwear.
Yahoo! 360 MAR 16
Yahoo! 360. Looks like Yahoo! has created its own version of Livejournal (blogs + social networking)...Flickr will fit into this nicely. ;)
Doogie Howser, M.D. Season One, quite possibly the most worthless DVD release ever. Sometimes the Long Tail should be a little shorter.
Amazon is searching inside its library for "statistically improbable phrases". A good way to discover proto-memes.
Mmmm, chunks MAR 16
Some new research is showing that the number of things humans can hold in our heads while solving problems is fairly small, three or four things at the most. Chunking makes it possible to remember more complex tasks:
It's difficult to measure the limits of processing capacity because most people automatically use problem solving skills to break down large complex problems into small, manageable "chunks." A baker, for example, will treat "cream butter, sugar and egg together" as a single chunk -- a single step in the process -- rather than thinking of each ingredient separately. Likewise she won't think, "break egg one into bowl, break egg two into bowl." She'll just think, "add all of the eggs."
I wonder how much the process of learning is just chunking task variables into larger and larger bits, building layers of abstraction the way a programmer might build an OO program.
Interview with Jason Fried about Basecamp. "If you don't trust your developer to choose the right environment, then how can you trust him to build the best application?"
After ice skating with friends in Central Park the other day, we hit the Burger Joint in Le Parker Meridien hotel for some much needed sustenance. This is one of those classic New York juxtapositions, a burgers-only greasy spoon (dinner: $8) in a midtown four-star hotel (rooms start at $300/night)...kinda like discovering an In-N-Out Burger in a Four Seasons hotel. Duck behind the curtain in the lobby and you'll find good burgers, beer (Sam Adams only), and an eclectic music mix (Bobby McFerrin, Edwin Starr's War, and some opera).
After we ate, JCN inquired at the counter how such an odd arrangement came to be. A hip bar previously occupied the space, but the bartender left and took a bunch of his clientele with him. The space lay fallow for a time while they figured out what to do with it, but renovating the space and building up a new clientele was too daunting for them. Someone had the idea of putting a burger place in there, so they put walls on the space and gave it a try. Judging by the full house in there and the terrific lines at lunchtime on weekdays, it's succeeded pretty well.
Game makers are designing games that are less daunting for the new player. With the side effect that the games are not so addictive, meaning that you can have a full life in and out of these games.
Their design approach is a big reason for Apple's success. Don Norman: "If you follow my [guidelines], it will guarantee good design. But Steve Jobs doesn't want good design. He wants great design, and my method will never give you that."
A lot of spam from Spamalot MAR 14
A lot of spam from Spamalot. A rogue script gave spammers access to email addresses of people who signed up for info on Eric Idle's Broadway play, Spamalot.
A blog reporting on the Second Life game. Discovered at the Journalism and Blogging About Online Worlds panel at SXSW.
The Long Tail of PayPal MAR 14
While setting up the contribution mechanism at PayPal, I got to thinking about how PayPal is (or certainly has the potential to be) a Long Tail business. With lots of features, extensive documentation, tons of implementation examples, and no up-front fees, they make it so easy to sell anything to anyone worldwide that the cost of doing business for individuals and small businesses is almost nothing. My friends Tamara and Julie make soap in their apartment and sell it online for a few bucks a bar, with PayPal handling the checkout process and some of the order fulfillment stuff as well. And there are millions of little cottage industries like this scattered across the web, businesses enabled by PayPal each selling maybe a few items a week or month.
However, there are a couple of issues with PayPal's attempt to harness the Long Tail of online retail. Shipping costs are proportionally more expensive for less expensive items...it's roughly the same price to ship a $350 iPod as it is to ship a $20 book or tshirt. PayPal's fees are a bigger percentage of the total sale for cheaper items as well; they take $0.30 right off the top. That doesn't sound like a lot but for a merchant selling $3.00 items, that's 10% less gross (and a more significant percentage of profit), which could be a bit of a deterrent in wanting to sell cheap items through PayPal. It'll be interesting to see if PayPal sees a Long Tail effect benefiting their bottom line and tinkers with the fees to encourage more cheap offerings.
A day in the life of Darth Vader. "What it would be like if Darth Vader spent a day in his shoes, speaking only in memorable quotes from the original Star Wars."
"Under the Bush administration, the federal government has aggressively used a well-established tool of public relations: the prepackaged, ready-to-serve news report that major corporations have long distributed to TV stations to pitch everything from hea. Suffice it to say, I don't think this is a good use of the government's time/money, no matter who the president is.
Babu, a new restaurant in the Village, opened without prices on the menu, allowing diners to pay what they thought the meal was worth. There's a place in London that's been doing this for years.
AOL changes the terms of service for AIM. Update: IM conversations are still private, the TOS change was for public web forums.
Airplane hacks MAR 13
Airplane hacks. Flight attendant fixes bad plane odor by wiping coffee scent everywhere.
Fantastic bunch of rants about the gaming industry. Really, this is what all conferences should be like all the time.
Apple to start shipping OS X 10.4 in April. Oboyoboyoboyoboyoboy...
The next Star Trek movie will contain no character from any of the other movies or series. The film, due out in 2007, takes place 160 years BK (before Kirk).
Collection of photos and drawings of the New York that might have been. See what Bryant Park would have looked like if they'd never removed the Croton Reservoir.
New Star Wars trailer MAR 11
Once every three years, the first trailer for yet another crappy George Lucas Star Wars movie is released somewhere to great fanfare. And each time, I watch said trailer and get all excited. It looks great, I'll say. Maybe it'll actually be good. My hopes start to rise. And then the movie comes out, Natalie Portman is transformed by Lucas' awful direction into the worst actress ever, and I leave the theatre disappointed that a cherished childhood institution has been handled in such a piss-poor manner. With the impending release of Episode III and the trailer during last night's episode of The OC, I have vowed not to get my hopes up. Never again, George Lucas, will you disappoint me.
OMFG THE TRAILER FOR THE NEW STAR WARS MOVIE IS SOOO GREAT AND EXCITING AND THIS MOVIE IS GOING TO KICK SO MUCH ASS!!!
First the Kelly Clarkson thing and now this...I don't know what's going on here. I promise there's an interesting scientific explanation for all this. I'll write about it soon, honest. Malcolm, Steven, James, can you help me out here? Something about the Blinking Long Tail of a Mind Wide Open Tipping Point Wisdom of Crowds of a Nonzero Moral Animal visiting the Cathedral and the Bazaar on the Cluetrain Freakonomics Selfish Gene Emergence. Lollipop. hopscotch.
peenut butr samwitches,,,
Daisy, Daisy, give me your answerrrr ddddooooooooo..... Iiiiimmmm hhhhhaaaaallffffff craaaaaaa....
[Sorry about that. Jason's been sent off to Austin for repairs. He'll be back in a few days, right as rain. -ed [ps. STAR WARS FOREVER!!!! -ed]]
How do you decide who is a journalist?. "Those who advocate a special legal privilege for journalists must accept that anyone who thinks he's a journalist is a journalist, and figure out how to protect the activity rather than a defined group of people."
Scientists may have discovered why I can't stop listening to that Since U Been Gone song. "When familiar tunes played, the cortex activity continued during the blanks - and the volunteers indeed said they still mentally 'heard' the tunes."
Does Godel matter? MAR 10
Does Godel matter?. "His work was revolutionary, yes, but it was a revolution of the most unusual kind: one that abolished the constitution while leaving the material circumstances of the citizens more or less unchanged."
How to move an obelisk MAR 10
How to move an obelisk. Includes an account of how Cleopatra's Needle was moved from Egypt to NYC.
Earworm MAR 10
I participate in a forum with a few friends where we discover new music together. A couple of weeks ago, someone posted about a song by Kelly Clarkson, former American Idol winner. I was busy so I didn't pay it much mind...and also, American Idol!??...how good could the song really be?
But then over the next two weeks, these supposed indie rock fiends kept talking about this pop song, how it was the best thing ever, and I was just like, wtf? and all annoyed with them for being dumb. News broke that Ted Leo had covered the song at a recent show and you can imagine the excitement that generated in indie land. When a copy of the covered song was produced, I finally caved and listened to both versions of the song. After two listens of each, I still didn't get it. What the hell is wrong with my friends?
This morning as I stumbled out of bed and into the shower, I'm humming a little tune. Couldn't figure out exactly what it was though...I was still shaking the sleep from my body and wasn't really paying attention. Still humming. Hmmm, catchy. Then. About halfway through my shower, in my best Ted Leo-esque falsetto:
"Since u been gone..."
Followed quickly by, in a very loud voice:
"Goddammit! That song!"
The neighbors probably think I'm crazy, and they're right...my stupid brain is nuts for this song. I'm not saying Since U Been Gone is good, but it certainly is catchy and I can't help but like the damn thing. Merlin, Matt, Lia, Anil, and Kathryn, I owe each of you a sock in the face for introducing me to this maddeningly infectious crap. A pox on your iPods! Now if you'll excuse me, I need to concentrate on mustering up the necessary courage to unclick the "repeat one song" button on iTunes.
The Lucky Beggar Purse "closely resembles the famous New York City coffee cup with the words 'We are happy to serve you' printed on it". Some of the proceeds from sales go to help the homeless.
A Salon interview with Dave Eggers. He's working on a screenplay with Spike Jonze for a film adaptation of "Where the Wild Things Are".
The marijuana connections of the Ocean's 12 cast and crew. "Partying on the set in Amsterdam apparently got pretty stoney due to stars' easy access to legal pot. According to insiders, Warner Bros got word that the toking was causing production delays, translating into increased costs to get the film made."
Unphotographable: "a text account of pictures missed". "And this is a picture I did not take of the second man I saw standing on his head today on the sidewalk in-front of Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, under the gaze of a bored cop."
BlogPulse has published a paper on the Political Blogosphere and the 2004 U.S. Election. "Liberal and conservative bloggers also had clear preferences for mainstream news sources that they cited. Fox News (89%) and the National Review, (92%) for example, received most of their links from conservative-leaning blogs. By contrast, 91% of Salon.com's links came primarily from liberal-leaning blogs."
Puppy Purses: carry your dog like a purse. For people who really hate their dogs?
Trustees vote to eliminate the journalism programs and school papers at Ventura College and Oxnard College. Ostensively this is a budget issue, but probably had more to do with school officials wanting to limit negative on-campus press.
My business influences MAR 09
As you may have noticed by reading the site in the past year, I've been reading and thinking a lot about companies...how they succeed, why they fail, how to approach them from a holistic sense so they make sense on a human scale and not just from a business perspective, that sort of thing. In deciding to start my own little company of one, here are a few things I've run across that have influenced how I'm approaching it.
Coudal Partners is a design studio based in Chicago. Like many blogs (their site is a little more than a blog, but we won't get into that now), their site features advertising in the form of text ads in the top left corner of the page. But they only accept advertising from companies whose products they have used: "sell us something then we'll sell you an ad." I love this because it ties advertising back into its word-of-mouth origins, makes it more human, personal, and believable. (More on advertising stuff in a few days.)
I don't have many heroes, but Craig Newmark is definitely one of them. He's had offers to sell craigslist for millions of dollars, many offers from VCs, he could charge for all listings on the site, or he could fill the site with advertising, but this is what he wants out of craigslist (via Wired): "get yourself a comfortable living, then do a little something to change the world". The many articles I've read about Craig have really reinforced for me that you need to let your values drive business decisions and not the other way around.
I've mentioned this a few times on the site before, but Ludicorp, the makers of Flickr, has the one of the best quotes about business I've ever read on their about page. It's an excerpt from Disclosing New Worlds: Entrepreneurship, Democratic Action and the Cultivation of Solidarity by Charles Spinosa, Fernando Flores & Hubert Dreyfus:
Saying that the point of business is to produce profit is like saying that the whole point of playing basketball is to make as many baskets as possible. One could make many more baskets by having no opponent.
The popularity of Flickr has put Ludicorp in a tight spot and it seems like they'll need to get big somehow in order to keep up with it (rumor is they've been purchased by Yahoo!). It's a reminder that you may succeed beyond your wildest dreams and you need to be ready for it to happen. Whatever their path is, I hope they can keep true to the values that have guided the company thus far.
When Google decided to pursue their IPO, the filing included an "owner's manual" written by Larry Page, one of Google's two founders. Google is aiming high -- focusing on the long term, trying not to be evil, taking on risk, not giving too much control of the company over to shareholders -- and it will be interesting to see how they fare over the long term. Google's gotten a lot of shit for aiming so high, especially about the "don't be evil" stuff, just like the NY Times gets criticized for attempting to produce objective journalism, but I think that's unfair. I'll choose a company with ideals they're trying to live up to over a business that's aiming for the status quo any day of the week.
TextDrive, a hosting company, eschewed venture capital and went right to their users and asked them to pay their startup costs (in exchange for lifetime hosting). They raised $40,000 in 75 hours from the VC200. That's what's called "creative thinking".
Dave Eggers gets a lot of crap, but I like the way he's trying to run McSweeney's:
But the way that McSweeney's is run is, "Can there be a way that what they call mid-list authors, people who don't sell in the Danielle Steel category, can still have an audience and still make a living?" McSweeney's has very little overhead, to the degree that we can sell 6,000 copies of somebody's book, and he can still get a decent amount of money, because he's getting more per book because of the low overhead. That's still our goal. I was just sort of going along with the same business model, like, "If we sell 50,000 copies, then everyone will do fine, and life will stay quiet."
Not trying to take over the world, just doing something in balance with the lives of everyone concerned.
David Bull is an artist who makes fantastic woodblock prints. He doesn't number his prints, doesn't sell through collectors, doesn't even offer individual prints, and yet he's been making a living from his art for more than 16 years. He sells subscriptions of his prints through his site and here's a bit of his philosophy on that:
I like making prints, and am not afraid of the physical work of printing them. Unlike many artists, who prefer to keep their edition sizes small (to save work, or to keep things 'exclusive') and who must thus charge high prices for their prints, I prefer to make more of them and keep the cost to each collector as low as possible.
There are lots more people other there doing wonderful things with their business lives (37signals, the independent Mac developers like Ranchero, Delicious Monster, and Panic, etc.) but that's enough for now.
It's a dancetravaganza with Napoleon Dynamite vs. Fender, a robot from that movie Robots. This is the weirdest cross marketing thing I've ever seen...but I like it. (And Napolean is currently winning with 61%.)
The rise of comic journalism MAR 09
The rise of comic journalism. "But since the renaissance of the mid-eighties, more and more writers and artists have been producing serious nonfiction comics about current events, from war crimes to hip-hop."
Zopa removes (most of) the middlemen in the lending/borrowing scheme; no more going through banks or credit card companies. Company takes 1% up front from the borrowers. UK-only for now. Fantastic idea...I'm in favor of anything that introduces a little competition into the collusive world of banking and credit cards.
Bakers in Denmark are experimenting with tastier communion wafers. Consumers these days are so used to having many varieties of everything to choose from that this almost makes sense.
Transformational geometry and iteration in cornrow hairstyles. "The Cornrow Curves software lets you use the geometric knowledge from cornrow hairstyles to create your own simulated cornrow designs on the computer."
Some other names for God MAR 08
Some other names for God. "The archangel Gabriel was summoned by the will of God. Gabriel bowed his head and replied, 'How may I serve you, Jimmy? I mean, Lord?' Thus followed the awkwardest silence in the history of heaven."
NY Times is getting rid of the Circuits section. Disappointing, but a bold move by the Times...they're putting coverage where it belongs, regardless of whether it's "digital" or not.
if:book on the hypertextuality of David Foster Wallace's recent article in the Atlantic Monthly. "Most interesting is how the aesthetic draws inspiration from the web: the boxed notes suggest pop-up windows (or the electronic - not so much the paper - version of Post-It notes), especially when they're layered. And the boxed phrases suggest nothing so much as the underlining that the Web has taught us signifies a hyperlink."
Danny Meyer's Shake Shack to reopen for business on April 1st. I hope this isn't some cruel April Fools joke.
Update 3/9/05 @ 9:16 AM: Dave Sifry, CEO of Technorati, has a nice writeup of the situation from Technorati's perspective. Not only are they not censoring their employees' weblogs, they are sticking by an employee (and a relatively new one at that) who did something foolish when they could have just pulled the plug on him. I especially liked the point about the speed at which the situation was handled...people these days want instant results (it's easy to see how weblogs tie into this), but things don't always work that way. Note to self: slow down sometimes, will ya?
Update 3/8/05 @ 9:11 AM: Niall has posted an apology on his site with a little more information on what happened. Here's his most recent take on Technorati's policy:
It is for this reason it is recommended that Technorati employees seek the opinion of a coworker if they are unsure of how a post might be interpreted by others, to lend a fresh pair of eyes and an experienced mind to your intended message.
Read the whole thing...I don't think Technorati's position on this is unfair at all. It's a tough issue and it's going to be messy at times (as we saw with Mark Jen's situation at Google). Companies in the past have typically been very top down with everything, including the "message", emanating from upper management. As companies have become more open, they've relied on their employees "drinking the Kool-Aid" to ensure a uniform message to the outside world. But lately, customers have been wanting something more authentic and some companies, particularly in the blogging space, are attempting to provide it. And they're probably gonna get a little bloodied for it in the short term. Is it even possible for a company to participate in a conversation in the marketplace with multiple opinions represented, some of which may even be in direct opposition with each other? How will customers react to a company disagreeing with itself in public? (Answer: probably not very well in the short term.)
Note: I modified the title of the post to something more accurate and less inflammatory given the situation as it currently stands.
On Saturday, Niall Kennedy posted some Photoshopped "propaganda posters from the 1940s to express how corporations would like to control what their employees say on a weblog, at a bar, or even to their families". At some point after that, he took the post down after Technorati (his employer) complained about it and replaced it with the following:
Technorati would rather I did not express an opinion on issues such as corporate blogging policies that are affecting the world of weblogs. This post has been overwritten and my artwork posted to Flickr is now marked as private and available only to Flickr contacts marked as friends.
Yes, I was threatened with "serious consequences" for not seeking corporate approval for a weblog posting relating to an industry issue. Tomorrow will undoubtedly bring many conversations about if employees are allowed to have their own voice and write weblog entries without passing through an executive mouthpiece first.
It should be interesting. A blogging company applying strong filters to employee weblogs about public issues that affect the community.
If my original post is not up for a while, you will know how things turned out. I love the industry and writing about weblogs, technology, and search and hope to continue to share my personal point of view in the future.
The original post is back up on Niall's site (update: looks like the post is down again) with the following disclaimer:
The commentary expressed on this weblog is my point of view and may not necessarily represent the point of view of Technorati.
On a post about this on Buzzhit, Niall explains what happened (italics mine):
Technorati executives are concerned about how employee weblogs expressing opinions may be interpreted as an official Technorati position. All Technorati employees have been asked to review weblog posts with staff members before posting. I reinstated my original post this morning and I am ready to willing to hear the community's response to my individual voice. I hope to continue to share my passion for the industry through my weblog without editorial oversight.
For a company that relies on aggregating content by scraping full posts from almost 8 million blogs, vetting their employees' personal writing seems like a curious (not to mention ironic and hypocritical) position for Technorati to take. Aside from this specific incident, I've noticed that blogs written by people who go to work in the blogging industry usually get updated less, are less about blogging than they were before as well, and are also less critical of blogging. If everyone who's really into blogging gets snatched up by blogging companies and eventually clam up, I don't see that as a positive thing for the industry as a whole.
The Thai government has plans to build a museum with a simulated tsunami wave. "And at the same time, because tourism is an enjoyable product, we would also... like to (use technology) to make the museum more attractive and interesting by making a simulation of a tidal wave." Wah?
The US Government and identification requirements. "I would voluntarily give up credit and other information for a card to avoid long airport lines, but I am not sure the Internal Revenue Service should have access to that data."
Best of NYC Food 2005 from New York magazine. The Shake Shack, serving a west coast-style burger, garners the coveted Best Burger title.
Google Desktop Search goes 1.0 and adds API support. Another block of the GooOS. And no doubt now that Google is Microsoft's biggest competitor.
Videos of three lecutres given by Hans Bethe in 1999. "The presentation makes use of limited mathematics while focusing on the personal and historical perspectives of one of the principal architects of quantum theory whose career in physics spans 75 years."
Hans Bethe, one of the last surviving giants of the nuclear age, dies aged 98. The NY Times has a nice extended obit.
When knowledge workers are the most valuable part of the business, business is going to run into problems. "The upshot is that in many knowledge businesses the employees often do better than the shareholders."
Help a newbie blogger out MAR 07
A few days ago, I got a letter from a reader named Randy:
I am father to a 2 1/2 yr old girl with her second cancer who is going for a bone marrow transplant in late March. I have just started to think about fundraising when I was forwarded your interview in Wired and it got me thinking that perhaps I could use the same approach to raise money for Julia.
I have been keeping a blog since she was diagnosed the 2nd time on 12/30/04. Although I am a web architect, I know next to nothing about blogs and am spending all my time researching cancer. Thus, the format, graphics, and look and feel have been completely neglected -- the main focus has been the content in order to -- keep a record for family, journal for Julia for when she is older, help me philosophize about life and put her illness into perspective, etc.
I was hoping you could give me some tips on getting started -- some questions that come to mind:
- Finding an ISP that allows you access to the servers (I am currently hosted at Geocities and would have to upgrade just to get PHP and MySQL).
- How to set up processing for micropayments? (We have a fundraising idea around Julia's treatment and progress which would require periodic debit from an account.)
- Tips for building traffic.
- Links to 1) sites that help a blogger, 2) sites to blogs you would consider top-notch, anything else you feel is useful
I know I could find this stuff myself, but I was hoping that you could jump me up the learning curve so that I could get Jules' site up and running.
I emailed him some recommendations but I figured you folks would have some good advice as well. Are there alternatives to PayPal for donations? Tips and sites for beginning bloggers would be helpful as well...Google was only moderately helpful and most links I found skew towards business uses of blogs. Try and keep the duplicate information to a minimum and when in doubt, be more verbose rather than less..."Bitpass is good for micropayments because..." rather than "Try Bitpass". Alright, go.
The Internet Revolution has Little to do with Technology. A kid watching TV is "unlikely to ever be involved in the production of any television" but that's not so with the internet.
Great watercolor paintings of the creation of the NYC subway from third graders. I love the last one with the guy holding the black box aloft...very Rocky Balboa.
New book claims Nazi Germany did nuclear bomb testing as early as 1944. But experts (and I) disagree. There's no way they had the infrastructure necessary to make enough enriched uranium for a functioning weapon.
The making of Gunner Palace MAR 05
The making of Gunner Palace. Filmmaker Michael Tucker cut the entire film on location in Baghdad and in his living room with Final Cut Pro.
Newsweek on "The Blogosphere's Matt Lauer" (i.e. me). On full-time blogging, microcelebrity, and journalism.
Using bumptunes and the Powerbook's new accelerometer to control iTunes playback. "You rock the machine backwards for the next track, and rock it forwards for the previous track." Could use the same technique for "rapid-fire email filing (tilt right to delete, left to keep, like you're driving through time through your mail inbox)". Awesome.
Photo gallery of 25 years of skateboarding. Audio narration by old school skater Steve Alba.
Well, we're a week and a half into the three-week "fund drive" (if you're just tuning in, start here) and it's time for a shout-out to the kind people and companies who have contributed gifts for some lucky kottke.org micropatrons (contribute $30+ and you have a chance). If you haven't looked at the list in awhile, you'll notice some additions.
I chose the gift contributors fairly carefully. With one or two exceptions, most of the list is comprised of either friends/acquaintances of mine who are supportive of what I'm doing, companies that have an interest in blogs and blogging, products I've used, or people who have gone or are going out on a limb to do something entreprenurial in their lives (selling photography, software, soap, books, etc...labors of love and commerce). I have a special place in my heart for the latter group because they're in a boat similar to mine and it makes me happy than I can help get the word out about their projects.
Recent additions to the list:
- Copies of Blink by Malcolm Gladwell. What's there left to say about Gladwell?
- Gift certificate to Threadless. My near-exclusive supplier of tshirts.
- Signed copies of Spacebloom: A Field Guide to Cosmic Xflora. This looks fantastic...and published in the year 2267?
- Signed first edition hardcover of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom from Cory Doctorow. Cory co-edits BoingBoing and somehow manages to write award-winning novels in the meantime.
- One handmade Italian journal from Eastgate Systems. These look beautiful.
- Gift certificate for handmade jewelry from I Like Beads. I like Alison.
- One VIP Rip gift certificate from Ripshark. Ship 'em your CDs and they'll convert 'em all to MP3.
- One 12" x 18" signed print by Marshall Sokoloff. Love Marshall's photography.
- T-shirts from Diesel Sweeties. Note the sweet use of Silkscreen.
- Gift sets of bath and beauty products from Petal My favorite is the Oatmeal & Honey soap.
Solid gold platinum executive class founder gifts:
- Photo prints from Eliot Shepard. Great photography.
- Print of an explodingdog drawing from Sam Brown.
- Copy of "Thinking of You" by Sam Brown. Various works from explodingdog collected into a book.
- Copies of PulpFiction from Fresh Squeezed Software. Mail.app-like newsreader for OS X.
- Subscriptions to Heather Champ's Print Club 2005. One print a month for a whole year!
- Flickr Pro accounts from Ludicorp. Everyone loves Flickr.
- Basecamp accounts. Web-based project management made easy.
- Copies of NetNewsWire and MarsEdit. Award winning newsreader and blog editor for OS X.
- Copy of TopStyle from Bradbury Software. An XHTML/CSS editor for Windows from the creator of HomeSite.
- Copies of FeedDemon from Bradbury Software. Feature-packed newsreader for Windows.
- Movie-sized jewel cases from Jewelboxing. High quality jewel cases for your DVD projects.
- Pixiesdiscs. Audio CDs of each of the Pixies stops on their recent tour.
- 2006 SXSW Interactive Festival registration. The conference of choice for bloggers everywhere.
- Copy of Studio MX 2004 with Flash Professional from Macromedia. Flash, Freehand, Dreamweaver, and Fireworks for Windows or OS X.
- Signed hardcover copies of Emergence from Steven Johnson. One of my favorites from the past few years.
- A coveted spot in TextDrive's "webhosting for life" offer. They will host your site until you or the company dies.
- Personal license for Movable Type or a lifetime discount on Typepad from Six Apart. Choose from two popular blogging systems.
- Signed copies of The Wisdom of Crowds from James Surowiecki. He writes the excellent financial column for the New Yorker.
Again, here's the detailed list and here's how you become a micropatron for a shot at one of the above.
How to find mp3s with Google MAR 04
How to find mp3s with Google. A much more comprehensive guide than you may have seen previously.
Segway introduces three new models. An offroad option, a golf cart option, and a sportier model.
Flirting via iTunes MAR 04
Flirting via iTunes. This is all the fun that the RIAA wants to wring out of music.
Now movie trailers have trailers themselves. "Here's a look at a television spot announcing the [Star Wars] trailer debut, including the first glimpses of some new Revenge of the Sith footage." I can't wait for the making-of the television spot of the trailer of the movie...
The Transom Review features essays from guests and then conversations based on those essays. Lots of good stuff here; they've talked with Ira Glass, Errol Morris, John Hodgman, etc.
How (some) Americans think: this woman knows SUVs are unsafe and polluting, but she wants one anyway. Update: turns out I'm the stupid American...the article is satirical.
Grant Achatz, the chef at a Chicago restaurant called Alinea, is on the cutting edge of exploratory cuisine. During the 30-course tasting menu, you may sample the mozzarella bubbles with tomato foam; he used to make what is essentially a truffle soup dumpling.
Photos of the 1910 Paris flood. Love the final photo of the Notre Dame.
Tips from NYC delivery guys MAR 03
Tips from NYC delivery guys. If you pay by credit card, tip in cash.
On the constitutionality of displaying the Ten Commandments in government and public properties. "1. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Shit. Oops, sorry, I mean holy shit. I thought I was going to have to dig a bit deeper to find something that would be offensive to someone who doesn't believe in a christian (or jewish) god."
Sajax is a PHP toolkit for Ajax. No more excuses...playing around with this is to commence in a few days.
Friendster has blogs now, still a stupid company. The new new new economy business model: just add blogs!
Share your iTunes Library via iTunes Music Sharing or over the web. I was just listening to songs from someone's library over the web and it worked great.
Telephoto Is for Cowards: on shooting candid photos. "Real photographers don't shoot candids with telephoto lenses."
Yahoo! is ten years old MAR 03
Yahoo! turned ten years old this week which makes me feel like I'm about ready for the retirement home. As part of their celebration, they put up a copy of their home page from 1995. I poked around a little and found a copy from December 1994 from when the site was still hosted at Stanford on a server called akebono. To do it up right, download an early version of Mosaic or Netscape, change your screen resolution to 640x480 with 256 colors, and surf the page that way. Just don't blame me if you get all weepy after seeing the gray background and pulsing N in the corner of the browser.
Note: I have no idea if any of these browsers will even work on OS X or Windows XP...you might need to dust off that 486 running Win95 or a 7100 running System 8.
Grant Barrett has updated his excellent MTA fare analysis document to account for the recent price hikes. If you're a pure communter (10 uses a week), the 30-day unlimited card is no longer your best value.
In NYC, delivery is king MAR 03
In NYC, delivery is king. You can get any kind of food you want delivered to your door in 30 minutes.
Applying Moneyball tactics to the NBA. "What really matters, Oliver and other analysts say, is not how many points a player scores but how efficiently he uses his possessions."
"Flocabulary: the first vocabulary building exercise to combine hip hop music with the most popular and challenging vocabulary words". Study for the SATs by rapping vocabulary words. According to the site, "IT WORKS."
For the old schoolers: Entropy8Zuper celebrates 10 years online. Entropy8 completely dazzled this young designer when I was soaked behind the ears.
Sasha Frere-Jones on ringtones. "I spent three days of productive work time listening to polyphonic ringtone versions of speed metal, trying to find exactly the ringtone that expressed my personality with enough irony and enough coolness that I could live with it going off ten times a day."
Google Toolbar AutoLink MAR 02
I'm a bit wary about throwing myself in the middle of the whole Google Toolbar AutoLink business (Dan Gillmor has a good summary and lots of trackbacks to opinions, pro and con), but I'm sort of dumbfounded that so many people are so vehemently against it...at least for the reasons being given. The three main points I've heard articulated by those opposed to the feature are:
1. Browsers and toolbars should not modify the content or layout of Web pages...they should render them only as stored on the Web server.
2. Microsoft tried to do this with Smart Tags in Windows XP and everyone hated it so why are we willing to give Google a pass with a similar feature?
3. Google can unfairly use their growing clout to exploit AutoLink users.
I'll address the second point first because it's sort of beside the point and not an argument at all. One of the big reasons why people were so upset about Smart Tags is that Smart Tags were on by default in early preview releases of IE. The browser was automatically rewriting every single page you loaded, adding links here and there. I agree that this sucks (although users may become used to things like this in the future and not think it's such a big deal), but AutoLink is not on by default. It's optional...you have to specifically push a button to make something happen.
But the main reason people seem to be up in arms about AutoLink is that Google is modifying the content and display of other people's content and that browsers and toolbars should not be allowed to do that. Aside from the first part of that statement being factually incorrect (more on that below), browsers and toolbars already modify other people's content and no one really complains about it. In fact, people love it:
- There are tons of bookmarklets and browser extensions that let people modify the page they're viewing in interesting ways (this one inserts links to Feedster on NY Times and WaPo article pages).
- Since the early days of the web right on up to the present, browsers have purposely misrendered badly written HTML so that people could view the pages instead of getting junk or a blank page.
All of these features break the supposedly cardinal sin of "thou shalt not modify the content providers content from the way it was intended by them to be viewed" and I don't hear anyone complaining about it. The fact is, once a user downloads a copy of a content provider's web page from their server, the page becomes just that, a copy. As a user, I should be able to use whatever software is available to me to manipulate, modify, or otherwise remix that copy which I've downloaded for my own personal use. If I can, for my own personal use, photocopy magazine articles, rip my CDs to mp3, make backup copies of my DVDs, and scribble in the margins of books, surely I can do the same with copies of web pages I've downloaded.
Now, if you're against AutoLink because you think Google is becoming too big, they're evil, they're abusing their power, or they bought another blog company instead of yours, then that's fine. Just be up front about why you're upset. It's a trust issue. Do you trust Google's software to do what it says its going to do and not take advantage of you? If the answer is no, don't use it. But if you're saying that Google should not provide this feature at all and that consenting adults in the privacy of their own homes can't choose to use the feature themselves, I don't think that's a good deal for the users. As content providers, let's not try and reach into our readers' computers and dictate what they can or can't do with the copies of our content that they've downloaded for their personal use...let's leave that sort of wishful thinking to the nutballs in Hollywood.
Michael Wolff on the media biz, the decline of the WSJ, and blogs. From where I'm sitting, his "information wants to be free" thing and his negative views on blogs are in opposition with each other.
You can't buy a personalized jersey from the NFL Shop with the "naughty" words "gay" or "lesbian" on the back.. Includes a link to an extensive list of banned words.
Wists lets your build visual bookmark lists. I've heard this described as a cross between Flickr and del.icio.us.
La Coquette is covering the pret a porter shows in Paris. She mentions my favorite model of the moment, Daria Werbowy, who's also a fair bowler but looks a bit like a man when she's off duty.
What famous chefs eat when they're on the road. Thomas Keller used to eat Whoppers with extra cheese, but now he's all about the In-N-Out Burger and Krispy Kreme donuts.
Garry Winogrand on how to approach street photography. "He never developed film right after shooting it. He deliberately waited a year or two, so he would have virtually no memory of the act of taking an individual photograph. This, he claimed made it easier for him to approach his contact sheets more critically."
More giant figures found carved into Peru's landscape. "About 50 giant figures were etched into the earth over an area of roughly 90 square miles (145 square kilometers) near the city of Palpa".
IN Network is an "extended cell phone life-art performance about distance, communication, intimacy, telepresence, and living together while apart". 300 miles away, a couple uses cell phones to spend time together: "driving to/from work, eating dinner, giving lectures to students, going for a walk, having a cocktail, reading books in silence, falling asleep and waking up." Podcasts are available.
Heading to SXSW MAR 01
I'll be at SXSW this year after an absence of a couple years. My goals this year are to not get food poisoning and to be fully present at both the panels I'm participating in (I was slated to do a keynote but got bumped by Gladwell...whaddya gonna do?):
- Blogging vs. Journalism: Versus? Oy, that's quite the setup, isn't it? Hopefully it'll be a little better than that.
- Spam, Trolls, Stalkers: The Pandora's Box of Community: How does it go...social software is the stuff that gets spammed?
If you're at the conference, amble up and say hi...but be warned that I might ask you for money (not really, I'm just kidding [sadly, he's not just kidding, but was about the Gladwell thing -ed]).
Photos on Flickr depict some fascinating occupations. Pastry cheffing, undertaking, and pet doctoring, among others.
PDF of David Foster Wallace's article on talk radio from this month's Atlantic Monthly. Features hypertext-ish footnoting...words are highlighted with color and the footnote is displayed in a sidebar in the corresponding color.
How to edit your photos like a professional. "Most amateurs are so bad at editing that they don't have to look any further for the reason why their photography is not as good as it could be."
The cultural pursuits of George W. and Laura Bush. "Mrs. Bush shares some of the same sentiment [as Jon Stewart] that many of those shows on TV have become one side yelling at the other and the other yelling back and no one has any idea what they're talking about."
Yahoo announces Web Services, includes search, images, news, etc.. Since launching their Web Services, Google has somewhat embarrassingly not updated their offering at all and is now way behind Yahoo.
Video interview with Chris Ware. It's a large file, subtitled in French, and available only via Bittorrent, but worth it if you're a Chris Ware fan.
Meeting Paul Rand isn't all it's cracked up to be. "Paul Rand then looked at me again and said, 'You're never going to wash that hand again, are you kid?'"
Maybe dark energy isn't to blame for the expansion of the universe...could just be that gravity is leaking into other dimensions. "By shooting lasers at the mirrors [on the moon], a reflected beam can be monitored from Earth to measure tiny orbital fluctuations. Dvali said deviations in the Moon's path around Earth might reveal whether gravity is really leaking away."