Entries for January 2007 (February 2007 »    March 2007 »    April 2007 »    Archives)

 

Harvard Business Review has compiled a listJAN 31

Harvard Business Review has compiled a list of breakthrough ideas for 2007. "Our annual survey of emerging ideas considers how nanotechnology will affect commerce, what role hope plays in leadership, and why, in an age that practically enshrines accountability, we need to beware of 'accountabalism.'" The first idea on the list comes from Duncan Watts, whose research shows that it's not so-called influentials who are responsible for driving cultural trends (as argued in The Tipping Point) but the presence of many ordinary people who are able to be influenced within a given social network.

Formulas for writing reviews of music, restaurants,JAN 31

Formulas for writing reviews of music, restaurants, and boutique clothing stores (???). "What the a lacked in x, the b made up for in y. Where a = a menu item, x = a characteristic often used in conjunction with fast cars, b = a menu item, and y = an adjective generally used by Victorian novelists to describe a young woman." (via airbag)

Music industry: CD prices are being drivenJAN 31

Music industry: CD prices are being driven down by $9.99 albums on iTunes Music Store. "Physical retailers are pressuring the labels downward on price (of course, Wal-Mart is the biggest culprit) because they don't want to be undercut by iTunes 9.99 on all single albums. We're rapidly moving to a 9.99 world on the big sellers (the ones stocked in Target and Wal-Mart and Best Buy)."

A review of Nicholas Negroponte's influential BeingJAN 31

A review of Nicholas Negroponte's influential Being Digital, 12 years after its publication. "Page 204: Today a game like Tetris is fully understandable too quickly. All that changes is the speed. We are likely to see members of a Tetris generation who are much better at packing a station wagon, but not much more." He wrong about Tetris *and* the future availability of station wagons. (via matt)

What's the cut-off date for wishing someoneJAN 31

What's the cut-off date for wishing someone a happy new year? Is the end of January too late?

Mac geek proposes to girlfriend via F12JAN 31

Mac geek proposes to girlfriend via F12 key and a Dashboard widget. See also Apple Store marriage proposal.

Flickr is switching their earliest members fromJAN 31

Flickr is switching their earliest members from a Flickr login to a Yahoo login and many of those folks are none too happy about it. Flickr is handling this tough situation very well, even though I'm personally disappointed at having to use Yahoo's login myself. Few sites do customer service and community management better than Flickr...it's impressive and inspiring to watch in action. They just tell people the truth, with humor, patience, and not too much spin...it's as simple as that. (via waxy)

OhMiBod is the ultimate iPod accessory: aJAN 31

OhMiBod is the ultimate iPod accessory: a vibrator that hooks up to the iPod and buzzes in time with the music. "I will never listen to music the same way again." Don't miss the playlists compiled specifically for OhMiBod use. NSFW. (thx, tania)

Fotolog overtaking Flickr?JAN 31

Quick! Which photo sharing site community thingie is more popular: Fotolog or Flickr? You might be surprised at the answer...but first some history.

Fotolog launched in May 2002 and grew quite quickly at first. They'd clearly hit upon a good idea: sharing photos among groups of friends. As Fotolog grew, they ran into scaling problems...the site got slow and that siphoned off resources that could have been used to add new features to the site, etc. Problems securing funding for online businesses during the 3-4 years after the dot com bust didn't help matters either.

Flickr launched in early 2004. By the end of their first year of operation, they had a cleaner design than Fotolog, more features for finding and organizing photos, and most of the people I knew on Fotolog had switched to Flickr more or less exclusively. They also had trouble with scaling issues and downtime. Flickr got the scaling issues under control and the site became one of the handful of companies to exemplify the so-called Web 2.0 revitalization of the web. The founders landed on tech magazine covers, news magazine covers, and best-of lists, the folks who built the site gave talks at technology conferences, and the company eventually sold to Yahoo! for a reported $30 million.

Fotolog eventually got their scaling and funding issues under control as well, but relative to Flickr, the site has changed little in the past couple of years. Fotolog has groups and message boards, but they're not done as well as Flickr's and there's no tags, no APIs, no JavaScript widgets, no "embed this photo on your blog/MySpace", and no helpful Ajax design elements, all supposedly required elements for a successful site in the Web 2.0 era. Even now, Fotolog's feature set and design remains planted firmly in Web 1.0 territory.

So. Then. Here's where it gets puzzling. According to Alexa1, Fotolog is now the 26th most popular site on the web and recently became more popular than Flickr (currently #39). Here's the comparison between the two over the last 3 years:

Alexa - Fotolog vs. Flickr

This is a somewhat stunning result because by all of the metrics held in high esteem by the technology media, Web 2.0 pundits, and those selling technology and design products & services, Flickr should be kicking Fotolog's ass. Flickr has more features, a better design, better implementation of most of Fotolog's features, more free features, critical praise, a passionate community, and access to the formidable resources & marketing power of Yahoo! And yet, Fotolog is right there with them. Perhaps this is a sign that those folks trapped in the Web 2.0 bubble are not being critical enough about what is responsible for success on the Web circa-2007. (As an aside, MySpace didn't really fit the Web 2.0 mold either, nobody really talked about it until after it got huge, and yet here it is. And then there's Craigslist, which is more Web 0.5 than 2.0, and is one of the most popular sites on the web. Google too.)

What's going on here then? I can think of three possibilities (there are probably more):

1. Fotolog is very popular with Portugese and Spanish speakers, especially in Brazil. According to Wikipedia, almost 1/3rd of all Fotolog users are from Brazil and Chile. In comparing the two sites, what could account for this difference? Fotolog has a Spanish language option while Flickr does not (although I'm not sure when the Spanish version of Fotolog launched). Flickr is more verbose and text-intensive than Fotolog and much of Flickr's personality & utility comes from the text while Fotolog is almost text-free; as a non-Spanish speaker, I could navigate the Spanish-language version quite easily. Gene Smith noted that a presentation made by a Brazilian internet company said that "Flickr is unappealing to Brazilians because they want to the customize the interface to express their individual identities".

Cameron Marlow noticed that Orkut is set to pass MySpace as the world's most popular social networking site (Orkut is also very popular in Brazil), saying that "Orkut's growth reinforces the fact that the value of social networking services, and social software in general, comes from the base of active users, not the set of features they offer". Marlow also notes that Alexa's non-US reporting has improved over the past year, which might be the reason for Fotolog's big jump in early 2006. If Alexa's global reporting had been robust from the beginning, Fotolog may have been neck and neck with Flickr the whole time.

2. Flickr is more editorially controlled than Fotolog. The folks who run Flickr subtly and indirectly discourage poor quality photo contributions. Yes, upload your photos, but make them good. And the community reinforces that constraint to the point where it might seem restricting to some. Fotolog doesn't celebrate excellence like that...it's more about the social aspect than the photos.

3. Maybe tags, APIs, and Ajax aren't the silver bullets we've been led to believe they are. Fotolog, MySpace, Orkut, YouTube, and Digg have all proven that you can build compelling experiences and huge audiences without heavy reliance on so-called Web 2.0 technologies. Whatever Web 2.0 is, I don't think its success hinges on Ajax, tags, or APIs.

Update: You can see how much Fotolog depends on international usage for its traffic from this graph from Compete. They only use US statistics to compile their data. I don't have access to the Comscore ratings, but they only count US usage and, like Alexa, undercount Firefox and Safari users. (thx, walter)

[1] Usual disclaimers about Alexa's correctness apply. The point is that among some large amount of users, Fotolog is as popular (or even more) than Flickr. Whether those users are representative of the web as a whole, I dunno.

80 wonderful handdrawn typographic posters by Job Wouters. (JAN 31

80 wonderful handdrawn typographic posters by Job Wouters. (via type for you)

Dumb interface, but here are some neatJAN 31

Dumb interface, but here are some neat maps of global fish catch locations, mostly tuna. For example, on these maps you can see the dramatic increase of purse seine fishing from 1964-1998. (thx, spencer)

A paper by Linda Bilmes of Harvard'sJAN 30

A paper by Linda Bilmes of Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government concludes that in addition to the stated cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by the Bush administration, it will cost $350 - $700 billion for the US gov't to provide health benefits and care over the lifetimes of soldiers who served there. More from the Christian Science Monitor. (thx, marcus)

Antony Hare is one of the fewJAN 30

Antony Hare is one of the few people from the olden days (i.e. 8-10 years ago) that I still check in on regularly...I really dig his simple illustrations. For the past few months, he's been putting time-lapse videos of some of his drawings on YouTube, including a drawing of Steve Jobs, one of Robert Altman, and another of David Lynch.

Creators vs. lawyersJAN 30

Here's a fun rumor. I heard that the staff of the Daily Show and Colbert Report upload the shows to YouTube as soon as they can after the shows air and then the next day, lawyers from Comedy Central hit YouTube with takedown requests for the uploaded shows. Which makes total sense...sort of. The people making the shows want them to be seen while the lawyers want to ensure that people are paying to see them. It's a crazy media world we live in.

From what looks like an informative andJAN 30

From what looks like an informative and insightful blog on film, two posts: one on planimetric composition or "mug-shot framing" in films (you may have seen Wes Anderson using it) and the other is an update on The Hobbit movie and Peter Jackson's involvement (or lack thereof) with it. The Hobbit item is old news, but it fills in so many blanks left by traditional and typical online media coverage that it's worth the read if you're at all interested in the subject. (thx, ajit)

Chema MadozJAN 30

Photographer Chema Madoz

Some clever photography by Chema Madoz.

Some of the default Microsoft Vista wallpapersJAN 30

Some of the default Microsoft Vista wallpapers are licensed from Flickr users and Microsoft employees. Doubtful that Apple would do something like this.

Update: A former Apple employee writes: "Almost all of the photos in iLife (the ones for the themes and so on) are from employees." I was talking more about the Flickr part, but point taken.

Is it worth paying $700 for a bottleJAN 30

Is it worth paying $700 for a bottle of wine? Well worth it, says Slate's wine columnist, for the right bottle. "My father took a sniff of his glass, and he immediately registered a look of shock that called to mind the expression on Michael Spinks' face when Mike Tyson first landed a glove on him in their 1988 title fight. Unlike Spinks, however, my father managed to remain upright. I took a sip of the wine and quickly pronounced the same verdict I had rendered 20 months earlier: 'Holy shit.'"

An update on Bryant Simon, the fellowJAN 30

An update on Bryant Simon, the fellow who's studying Starbucks from around the world in order to write a book about the company. An observation from Britain: "Starbucks is dirtier in Britain. Americans have been taught to do part of the labour, and they clean up after themselves. In the US, part of Starbucks' appeal is its cleanness." 2006 New Yorker piece about Simon and his Temple University page. (via bb)

A 3-D world map that depicts economic activity. (via mr)JAN 30

A 3-D world map that depicts economic activity. (via mr)

Map of the Land of Oz. "OzJAN 30

Map of the Land of Oz. "Oz is completely surrounded by deserts, insulating the country from invasion and discovery. The isolation may be splendid, it is not total: children from our world got through, as well as the Wizard of Oz and the more sinister Nome King. To prevent further incursions, Glinda created a barrier of invisibility around Oz."

Reggie Watts, one-man sampling human beatbox. "NoneJAN 29

Reggie Watts, one-man sampling human beatbox. "None of this was manipulated by editing." Be sure to catch the slow-motion bit starting around 3:18. I saw Reggie in person at PopTech 2006...very entertaining.

Update: Kid Beyond does something similar during his live performances. (thx, derek)

Top 10 most litigious US companies from 2001-2006 (JAN 29

Top 10 most litigious US companies from 2001-2006 (based on trademark cases): 1. Microsoft. 2. Cendent. 3. Altria/Philip Morris. 4. Best Western. 5. Dunkin' Donuts. 6. Lorillard Tobacco. 7. Levi Strauss. 8. Baskin-Robbins. 9. Chanel. 10. Nike. Found in the sidebar of this article on Levi Strauss suing other jeans companies for their triangle pockets.

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to "embed"JAN 29

Nasty Nets used CSS positioning to "embed" one YouTube video into another. "Be sure to hit 'play' on both YouTubes." Reminds me of the animated GIF mashups (more).

A new form of gambling called historicalJAN 29

A new form of gambling called historical racing allows people to "wager on horse races that have already taken place" and promises to be as fast & addictive as slots. (via mr)

Update: Here's a company that provides an historical racing service. (thx, sam)

In today's NY Times, Robert Sullivan arguesJAN 29

In today's NY Times, Robert Sullivan argues that NYC is falling behind the rest of America in making the city hospitable for pedestrians, cyclists, and takers of public transportation. "London now charges drivers a fee to enter the core business area, but here such initiatives are branded as anti-car, and thus anti-personal freedom: a congestion fee, critics say, is a tax on the middle-class car commuter. But as matters now stand, the pedestrian is taxed every day: by delays and emissions, by asthma rates that are (in the Bronx) as much as four times the national average. Though we think of it as a luxury, the car taxes us, and with it we tax others."

Andy Warhol would have loved this round-the-clockJAN 29

Andy Warhol would have loved this round-the-clock webcam view of the Empire State Building...it's like a sequel to Empire that never ends. (via cyn-c)

Wikipedia explains R&B: "She ordersJAN 29

Wikipedia explains R&B: "She orders a milkshake and begins to blow bubbles into it (a possible allusion to oral sex). She continues to prance throughout the restaurant and walks into the kitchen, 'helping' the chef remove biscuits from the oven as she purposely moves her buttocks (which the biscuits are shaped like) near his face to possibly make him wish to have sex with her, yet he shows no interest in her and she leaves in dismay."

Steven Shapin reviews the history of vegetarianism,JAN 29

Steven Shapin reviews the history of vegetarianism, from Pythagoras to Hitler to organic Zambian green beans. "Recent epidemiological studies suggest that adult vegetarians tend to have lower blood pressure, lower cholesterol levels, lower rates of obesity, and, more controversially, higher childhood I.Q.s -- though vegans tend to have lower I.Q.s than their carnivorous peers, and the nature of the links between vegetarianism, health, and I.Q. is unclear."

Hey you, web designer! Looking for a job?JAN 29

Serious Eats is looking for a web designer who's familiar with blogs, isn't afraid of a little PHP code, and is located in (or is planning on relocating to) NYC. Serious Eats is a start-up that is focused on sharing food enthusiasm through blogs and online community. You'll be working with a fine group of folks. SE is headed up by Ed Levine, who Gourmet editor-in-chief Ruth Reichl calls the "missionary of the delicious" and Meg Hourihan, who co-founded blogger.com and happens also to be married to me. Alaina Browne, formerly of A Full Belly and Mule Design, and Adam Kuban, pizza and burger expert, round out SE's crew of passionate food people.

Fringe benefits: you can't imagine all the culinary goodies that make their way into that office everyday. Meg comes home and casually says things like, "oh, we had a private tasting of the new Haagen-Dazs flavors in the office today" all the freaking time. If you're a web designer with an interest in food, this is your place.

How to disable the stupid Snap PreviewJAN 29

How to disable the stupid Snap Preview things that are popping up on everyone's site these days. (via df)

In this video, an autistic woman speaksJAN 29

In this video, an autistic woman speaks in her native language and then translates it into English. But it's not really a direct translation because, as she states, her language is not limited to expressing her thoughts to other human beings...it's more about her reacting to every element of her environment. More about the video on MetaFilter (one commenter calls the thread "perhaps the most enlightening thing I've ever read on MetaFilter"), including a comment from the video's creator.

David Shenk is writing a book aboutJAN 29

David Shenk is writing a book about genius, specifically "how science is unveiling a rich new understanding of talent, 'giftedness,' and brilliance -- and the lessons we can all apply to our own lives", and he's using a blog to help him while he researches and writes it.

Good People, new fiction by David FosterJAN 29

Good People, new fiction by David Foster Wallace in the New Yorker.

Google mixes their chocolate and peanut butterJAN 29

Google mixes their chocolate and peanut butter to map out locations found in books on Google Maps. Check out the maps for Around the World in Eighty Days or War and Peace (near the bottom of the page). More information about this project here.

Some RSS and remaindered links changesJAN 29

As promised, I've made some long overdue changes to the kottke.org RSS feeds and the remaindered links. I've combined the two kottke.org feeds -- previously one contained main posts, movie posts, and book posts and the other contained the so-called remaindered links -- into one feed, located here:

http://feeds.kottke.org/main

If you're already subscribed to the main feed, you shouldn't have to change a thing. If you're subscribed to the remaindered feed, your newsreader (if it's smart enough) should automatically and permanently redirect you to the new feed. If not, just change the subscription to point at the above feed. If you're subscribed to both, unsubscribe from the remaindered feed. The new combined feed will mirror the front page of the site...whatever appears there will appear in the feed.

Second thing: the remaindered links are dead. Long live the remaindered links. Oh, they're still here on the site, but it's been a long time since they were just links...they're more like mini posts with no titles -- some of them are actually longer than the non-mini posts. The distinction made sense when they were included in the sidebar on the front page, but not anymore. Functionally that means no separate RSS feed, no separate archives, and no separate index page...they're all gone (or will be soon). All the remaindered links posts are still available, but they're in the main monthly archives now. The point is, you don't need to worry about any of this. Just subscribe to the above feed or come to the front page each day and you'll get everything that's new on kottke.org everyday. Simple.

Things should have worked this way for, oh, the past two years, but I just never got around to changing it. What finally kicked my butt into action were two things that happened in the past two weeks. I had coffee with Cory Doctorow last weekend. He asked how things were going with kottke.org and remarked that I'm not posting nearly as much as I used to. I replied that I had been posting as much as ever, but got the feeling that Cory was only subscribed to the main RSS feed, which only accounted for about 15-20% of my total effort on the site. I wondered how many other people out there were only subscribed to the main feed and started to, oh, I guess "fret" is the right word.

Fret turned to panic when I checked my server logs. Bloglines sends along how many people are subscribed to an RSS feed in the user-agent string that's deposited in the referer logs on the server, like so:

Bloglines/3.1 (http://www.bloglines.com; 200 subscribers)

When I compared the number of subscribers to the main feed to the number subscribing to the remaindered feed, the main feed number was nearly 3 times higher. Even worse is when I looked at my server logs for the feeds (I stopped looking at my stats months ago)...visits to the main feed are outpacing visits to the remaindered feed 5:1. Which means that somewhere between 75-85% of the people who are reading kottke.org via RSS aren't even getting most of what's on the site! Which was dumb, dumb, dumb of me to let happen for all these months and why I've now corrected the situation. Interestingly, the stats from Rojo indicate the opposite situation...way more people are subscribed to the remaindered links feed than the main feed. Weird. (Another RSS stats tidbit: I've served up 58 gigabytes of RSS so far this month. That's crazy!)

As always, your bug reports, questions, and concerns are appreciated and may be directed to jason@kottke.org.

Calvin Trillin, parallel parking expert, parks aJAN 27

Calvin Trillin, parallel parking expert, parks a self-parking car. "As you ease up gradually on the brake, the wheel turns on its own to make one reverse swoop into the spot. Watching the wheel turn by itself is a bit like watching a player piano, except in traffic."

Lots of nice photographs on Flickr ofJAN 27

Lots of nice photographs on Flickr of Comet McNaught, the brightest comet seen by the earth since 1965. This one by John White is stunning.

Photos by Bill Sullivan of people goingJAN 27

Photos by Bill Sullivan of people going through NYC subway turnstiles. I love the moments of recognition depicted here. (via dooce)

Social network map of the New Testament.JAN 26

Social network map of the New Testament. Jesus Christ, supernode. (via waxy)

A list of 16 genuinely good Oscar-winning songs.JAN 26

A list of 16 genuinely good Oscar-winning songs. As noted in the comments, Lose Yourself by Eminem should have been included.

Ho. Ly. Shit! Muji is planning onJAN 26

Ho. Ly. Shit! Muji is planning on opening "two Muji stores in New York between July and December". Anyone have a sub to WWD...email me the text of this article? Got it, thanks Nixta! (via the cap'n)

Before NBA player Jason Kidd split withJAN 26

Before NBA player Jason Kidd split with his wife, his free throw routine included blowing a kiss to her. After the ugly breakup, he kisses his fingers and wipes them on his butt...kiss my ass!

Long audio interview with Michael Lewis byJAN 26

Long audio interview with Michael Lewis by economist Russ Roberts on "the hidden economics of baseball and football". "Michael Lewis talks about the economics of sports -- the financial and decision-making side of baseball and football -- using the insights from his bestselling books on baseball and football: Moneyball and The Blind Side. Along the way he discusses the implications of Moneyball for the movie business and other industries, the peculiar ways that Moneyball influenced the strategies of baseball teams, the corruption of college football, and the challenge and tragedy of kids who live on the streets with little education or prospects for success."

Do The Right ThingJAN 26

I don't typically write about many new Web 2.0 products, but Do The Right Thing is doing something interesting. The site works on a modified Digg model. If you see a story you like, you click a button to declare your interest in it. But then you also rate the social impact of the subject of the story, either positive or negative. Over time and given enough users, you can look at all the stories about a company like Starbucks and see how they're doing. This is something that people do when reading the news anyway -- e.g. "I feel worse about Exxon Mobil because they outsourced 20,000 jobs to India" -- and having them explicitly rate stories like this is a quick way of taking the temperature of the social climate around issues & companies and recording the results for all to see.

It would be interesting to see if people would be willing to specify some demographic information (provided that it's not sold to a third party) like sex, age, race, religion, political party affiliation, and income bracket...that would allow the social impact data to be sliced and diced in interesting ways. Even without that data, the opportunities for data analysis are intriguing...like graphs of a company's social impact over time.

Music video for Rock Me Amadeus byJAN 26

Music video for Rock Me Amadeus by Falco. Not to be confused with the Dr. Zaius song from The Simpsons.

Google is now including YouTube videos inJAN 26

Google is now including YouTube videos in Google Video search results. I love the smell of synergy in the morning.

Chicago Bears vs. Prince rematch at Super Bowl XLIJAN 26

When the Chicago Bears take the field against the Indianapolis Colts in early February for Super Bowl XLI, a former foe of the Bears will be close at hand. A kottke.org reader writes:

The "Super Bowl Shuffle" earned The Chicago Bears a [1987] Grammy nomination for best Best Rhythm & Blues Vocal Performance - Duo or Group. They lost to Prince and the Revolution's "Kiss".

Prince is headlining the halftime show at the Super Bowl this year. Will there be a battle of the bands at halftime between Prince and the '86 Bears? Come on, The Fridge needs the work! In the meantime, here's the Super Bowl Shuffle music video:

Oh, the humanity. Kiss has held up much better. (thx, m)

Two structural engineers pick their ten favorite man-made structures.JAN 26

Two structural engineers pick their ten favorite man-made structures.

"Until a few decades ago, Gustav KlimtJAN 25

"Until a few decades ago, Gustav Klimt was relatively ignored by the art establishment. Now his paintings are among the most expensive ever sold. How did the Viennese painter's prices rise so high so fast?"

Smart or Stoopid is a neat quickJAN 25

Smart or Stoopid is a neat quick intelligence test. (thx, mark)

kottke.org 5.0.0.1JAN 25

Apologizing for not posting much lately is liable to get a fellow burned at the stake around these parts but since I'm feeling a little chilly today, I figured why not. Things outside kottke.org have been taking up much of my attention for the last week or so and they've made posting here regularly and with gusto more difficult than usual. Apologies.

But also, and more relevantly, I've been working on a number of improvements for kottke.org and I'm finally rolling some of them out. On the front-end, the part you see, the changes are relatively minor but things are working differently now on the back-end. I'm still using Movable Type to edit the site, but now there's a layer of PHP that takes what MT spits out, works some magic, and presents it to you folks, an arrangement that is probably a little nuts to anyone who knows their bangs from their octothorpes, but it promises to allow me more flexibility with how I want to present things around here.

Anyway, here's what's new:

  • Slight changes on the front page, including dates for the short entries and separate listings for each movie "review".
  • Monthly archives are now combined. Instead of going to separate pages to see the December 2006 entries for movies, books, remaindered links, and main entries, all entries are presented on one page. Books and movies are still available on their own pages.
  • A pared down the archive page to remove the superfluous monthly archives, as well as little changes to pages here and there for the same reason.
  • Something fun: a page of random posts from the kottke.org archives, featuring lots of broken links, really poor writing, but also some nice posts from back when. The posts randomize every time I update, which is every hour or two during the day.

That's it for now. There will be more over the weekend, I hope, including some looooooooooooooooooong overdue changes to the RSS feeds and remaindered links. As always, your bug reports, questions, and concerns are appreciated and may be directed to jason@kottke.org.

If Roger Federer keeps going the wayJAN 25

If Roger Federer keeps going the way he's going, he could one day be considered the greatest sportsman in history.

Update: Via email, a nomination for Pakistani squash player Jahangir Khan, who engineered a 5+ year unbeaten streak during which he won the International Squash Players Association Championship without losing a single point. (thx, abbas)

Update: Also via email, a vote for darts champion Phil Taylor, who has won 13 world titles, including 11 out of the last 13. (thx, krush)

How to photograph cool smoke pictures. OrJAN 25

How to photograph cool smoke pictures. Or you can skip the smoke altogther and make smoke-like images with Processing. (thx, shay)

Designers often have the design disease, whereJAN 25

Designers often have the design disease, where you "can't stop looking at things through your designer eyes". "But it's not just books, it's everything. You'll choose wine by the design of the label and you'd stay [at a hotel] because of the sign." (via emdashes)

Update: Bruce writes: "A parallel affliction to the Design Disease is Climber's Complaint, wherein someone who takes up rock climbing begins to see every object and architecture as potentially climbable. Similarly, Skater's Disorder afflicts those for whom every surface is seen to exhibit some measure of skate-worthiness."

Lego reproductions of some well-known photos.JAN 25

Lego reproductions of some well-known photos.

Update: Another set from a different person, this time representing well-known paintings. (thx, derek)

Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics.JAN 25

Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics.

Finally, a book unafraid to speak theJAN 25

Finally, a book unafraid to speak the truth: MySpace for Dummies. I keed, I keed.

A pair of fine sports-related headlines fromJAN 25

A pair of fine sports-related headlines from The Onion: Confused Bill Simmons Picks The Departed To Win Super Bowl and Bears Lead Rex Grossman To Super Bowl. "All season long, the Bears have shown that they can win, even in the presence of Rex Grossman."

Tupper's Self-Referential Formula is an equation thatJAN 25

Tupper's Self-Referential Formula is an equation that when graphed, displays the formula itself.

Update: In computing, a quine is a program which "produces its complete source code as its only output". (thx, sam)

1993 New Yorker piece on Barry Diller's searchJAN 25

1993 New Yorker piece on Barry Diller's search for his future and that of television, cable, and technology. This article is a time capsule of the optimism surrounding technology in the early 90s. Note that no one saw the internet coming then...the word doesn't even appear in the article even though most of the things hoped for by the media barons came to pass on the web without their involvement. This interesting exchange between Diller and Steve Jobs happens about halfway through: "After studying NeXT's brilliant software and graphics -- 'It's the most magical computer,' Diller says -- he recalls telling Jobs, 'You've made this thing too hard. It shouldn't be this hard.' 'No,' Jobs answered. 'It's like learning to drive. It takes two months.' 'No, it takes very little time to drive,' Diller said. 'A computer is not that -- it's hard. Why make it harder?'"

Running the Numbers, a great new seriesJAN 24

Running the Numbers, a great new series of photography from Chris Jordan, is kind of a combination of Chuck Close and Edward Burtynsky, with a bit of Stamen thrown in for good measure. (via conscientious)

Human slingshot video. I so want aJAN 24

Human slingshot video. I so want a four-wheeler and a big backyard! (via cyn-c)

The top 100 fonts as determined by aJAN 24

The top 100 fonts as determined by a panel of designers and type experts. Top 10: Helvetica, Garamond, Frutiger, Bodoni, Futura, Times, Akzidenz Grotesk, Officina, Gill Sans, and Univers. A PDF of the results (with photos, in German) is also available. (via type for you)

How to extract stem cells from aJAN 24

How to extract stem cells from a placenta and store them for possible future use, all from the comfort of your own home. The cost runs in the thousands of dollars but it's totally doable at home.

A report encompassing the work of thousandsJAN 24

A report encompassing the work of thousands of climate experts says that "global warming will happen faster and be more devastating than previously thought". "The really chilling thing about the IPCC report is that it is the work of several thousand climate experts who have widely differing views about how greenhouse gases will have their effect. Some think they will have a major impact, others a lesser role. Each paragraph of this report was therefore argued over and scrutinised intensely. Only points that were considered indisputable survived this process. This is a very conservative document -- that's what makes it so scary."

The making of an Al Qaeda operativeJAN 23

One of the most interesting articles I've read in the New Yorker in recent months is Raffi Khatchadourian's piece on Adam Gadahn, an American who is a member of Al Qaeda and "one of Osama bin Laden's senior operatives". In it, Khatchadourian describes how a kid from Southern California coverts to Islam, becomes a radical activist, and ends up making anti-American videos in Pakistan for ObL. Near the end of the article, we're told about the work of forensic psychiatrist Marc Sagemam, whose study of Al Qaeda members and their motivations formed the basis of his book, Understanding Terror Networks (on Google Book Search):

Sageman discovered that most Al Qaeda operatives had been radicalized in the West and were from caring, intact families that had solidly middle- or upper-class economic backgrounds. Their families were religious but generally mainstream. The vast majority of the men did not have criminal records or any history of mental disorders. Moreover, there was little evidence of coordinated recruitment, coercion, or brainwashing. Al Qaeda's leaders waited for aspiring jihadists to come to them -- and then accepted only a small percentage. Joining the jihad, Sageman realized, was like trying to get into a highly selective college: many apply, but only a few are accepted.

Perhaps his most unexpected conclusion was that ideology and political grievances played a minimal role during the initial stages of enlistment. "The only significant finding was that the future terrorists felt isolated, lonely, and emotionally alienated," Sageman told the September 11th Commission in 2003, during a debriefing about his research. These lost men would congregate at mosques and find others like them. Eventually, they would move into apartments near their mosques and build friendships around their faith and its obligations. He has called his model the "halal theory of terrorism" -- since bonds were often formed while sharing halal meals -- or the "bunch of guys" theory. The bunch of guys constituted a closed society that provided a sense of meaning that did not exist in the larger world.

Within the "bunch of guys," Sageman found, men often became radicalized through a process akin to oneupmanship, in which members try to outdo one another in demonstrations of religious zeal. (Gregory Saathoff, a research psychiatrist at the University of Virginia and a consultant to the F.B.I., told me, "We're seeing in some of the casework that once they get the fever they are white-hot to move forward.") Generally, the distinction between converts and men with mainstream Islamic backgrounds is less meaningful than it might seem, Sageman said, since "they all become born again." Many Muslims who accept radical Salafist beliefs consider themselves "reverts." They typically renounce their former lives and friends -- and often their families.

It's easy to see the power of this approach. A recruiter only needs to use the potential recruit's own feelings of isolation, loneliness, and social alienation against him and after that it's like a stone rolling downhill. Reading this, I thought about similar the situation sounds to recruitment at college fraternities or the armed forces. Different ends of course, but the technique is similar: give a guy in a tough spot a comforting social framework, some self-esteem, and a bit of responsibility and eventually he'll go to war with you, sometimes literally. Anyway, fascinating article.

Ticklebooth has tracked down online clips ofJAN 23

Ticklebooth has tracked down online clips of three (and 1/2) of the short films nominated for an Oscar this year.

Andy Baio has a report on OscarJAN 23

Andy Baio has a report on Oscar nominated films showing up online. Out of the 34 films nominated in one form or another, 31 have been released online. "The average length of time between a film's USA release and its first appearance online is 12 days."

Bubble Bobble street art in London. BBJAN 23

Bubble Bobble street art in London. BB is one of my favorite arcade games ever. (via wonderland)

Is Food Network doing subliminal advertising duringJAN 23

Is Food Network doing subliminal advertising during its shows? This video shows a McDonald's ad that was displayed for only one frame during a recent episode of Iron Chef America. (via the grumpiest)

Update: Additional information from my inbox: "Thank you for pointing out that Food Network one frame commercial! They do this _all the time_ and the technique was driving me batty: not only is it annoying, I didn't know if anybody noticed/cared. There is at least one other channel (either HGTV or TLC) that does that exact same thing." (thx, alex)

Update: Michael Buffington writes: "You sure the single frame ad isn't a case of local market cable ads getting dropped onto the national feed? When I had cable, I'd see this all the time. A single frame for some well known brand suddenly hijacked by Cal Worthington and his 500 used cars."

Map of the world as described inJAN 23

Map of the world as described in George Orwell's 1984. (via strange maps)

Ben Brown has a built a littleJAN 23

Ben Brown has a built a little site that takes the content from kottke.org's RSS feeds and adds the ability to comment on them. "Unfortunately, for a variety of reasons, Jason does not allow readers to leave comments. Kottke Komments contains the same stuff as Kottke.org, but with comments turned on!" Here's more from Ben on the why/how. "The site [...] is already built to parse, combine, and remix multiple sources of content. BoingBoingBlurbs, anyone?"

Two lists, both alike in dignity: theJAN 23

Two lists, both alike in dignity: the top 10 best best actress Oscar winners and the top 10 worst best actress Oscar winners. Anyone they missed?

The Oscar nominees have been announced. CompareJAN 23

The Oscar nominees have been announced. Compare with the top movies as determined by the film critics.

Photos of patterns taken from public transportJAN 23

Photos of patterns taken from public transport vehicles. Gotta make it ugly enough to hide the stains, I guess.

Interview with Jill Youse, who started theJAN 22

Interview with Jill Youse, who started the International Breast Milk Project because she has excess breast milk that she wanted to donate to African babies in need. "Breast milk has this fascinating aspect to it. It's not something you look at in your freezer and say, 'Mmmm, boy, I'm hungry.' It's kind of gross, but it's also kind of cool, and there's this element of pride to it. It's got this ick factor and this awe factor. So I had my baby and I had my breast milk, and I thought that donating seemed like an easy thing that I could do."

Why is meat the most shoplifted itemJAN 22

Why is meat the most shoplifted item in America? "So, more innovation is required in the battle against meatlifting. Meat-sniffing dogs pop to mind, though some shoppers might object to having a Doberman nosing around their crotches in search of stolen steaks. But you know what they say about civil liberties in a time of crisis." That must have been a fun article to write.

CEOs of companies whose board members areJAN 22

CEOs of companies whose board members are socially well-connected get paid significantly more than those who work at companies with less connected board members. "Academics have found little evidence that higher executive pay leads to better company performance, and the recent study of three thousand companies actually found that the firms whose directors were the most well connected -- and which paid their C.E.O.s most lavishly -- in fact underperformed the market. Markets work best when people make independent decisions about how much a commodity -- in this case, the C.E.O. -- is worth. They stop working well when people simply imitate what others are doing, or when non-market factors (like how well you get along with the boss) intrude."

No nofollowJAN 22

All links on Wikipedia now automatically use the "nofollow" attribute, which means that when Google crawls the site, none of the links it comes across get any PageRank from appearing on Wikipedia. SEO contest concerns aside, this also has the effect of consolidating Wikipedia's power. Now it gets all the Google juice and doesn't pass any of it along to the sources from which it gets information. Links are currency on the web and Wikipedia just stopped paying it forward, so to speak.

It's also unclear how effective nofollow is in curbing spam. It's too hard for spammers to filter out which sites use nofollow and which do not and much easier & cheaper just to spam everyone and everywhere. Plus there's a not-insignificant echo effect of links in Wikipedia articles getting posted elsewhere so the effort is still worth it for spammers.

How to use Photoshop to make yourJAN 22

How to use Photoshop to make your car look like one of the characters in Pixar's Cars.

Celine Dion singing a cover version ofJAN 22

Celine Dion singing a cover version of AC/DC's You Shook Me All Night Long. Sadly, what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas. (via bitterpill)

I like these photos of humans byJAN 22

I like these photos of humans by Mohammadreza Mirzaei. (thx, bardia)

For the Designing the City of theJAN 22

For the Designing the City of the Future contest held by the History Channel, New York-based architecture firm ARO developed "a vision of New York recovering from massive flooding in low lying areas of New York as a result of global warming". Photos of their entry are available on Flickr. "In order to co-exist with fluctuating sea levels, ARO proposed a new building type called a 'vane.' Part skyscraper, part viaduct, 'vanes' are built in, on, and over flooded streets, reconnecting to the classic street grid and making up for lost square footage."

Here's the public's first look at theJAN 22

Here's the public's first look at the newest Pixar film (after Ratatouille): Wall-E. Looks like it's about robots and is directed by the guy who did Finding Nemo, in my estimation the best Pixar film to date. (via waxy)

Photograph of every advertisement in Times Square.JAN 22

Photograph of every advertisement in Times Square. Somehow I thought there would be more.

Character actors who are trapped in aJAN 22

Character actors who are trapped in a leading man's body: Kevin Bacon, Johnny Depp, George Clooney, Joseph Fiennes. (via quarterempty)

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and ZeldmanJAN 22

Video: web designers Jeffreys Veen and Zeldman fight in Wii Boxing. More web designer Miis here and an explanation here.

I've been asked to eat crow inJAN 22

I've been asked to eat crow in public on this one: "Rex Grossman, 6/19, 34 yards, 0 TDs, and 3 INTs; or why the Chicago Bears, despite their current 10-2 record and weak NFC, aren't getting anywhere near the Super Bowl this year." Mmmm, that's good crow. Still, the Bears are the worst team ever picked to go 16-0.

Surprising no one but her husband, HillaryJAN 20

Surprising no one but her husband, Hillary Clinton has announced that she's running for President in 2008.

Choire Sicha is returning to edit Gawker.JAN 20

Choire Sicha is returning to edit Gawker. What's the line from Godfather 3? "...but they keep pulling me back in." Here's a post about it on the big G itself.

Beginning January 23, 2007, US citizens need a passportJAN 19

Beginning January 23, 2007, US citizens need a passport if they're travelling by air to/from Canada or Mexico.

Diagram that charts instances of the "xJAN 19

Diagram that charts instances of the "x is the new y" snowclone from 2005. See also: a list I compiled last last year.

Tremble funnyman Todd Levin dons the Non-Expert'sJAN 19

Tremble funnyman Todd Levin dons the Non-Expert's hat over at The Morning News to explain how to buy wine. "FANCY SERIF FONT + PARCHMENT LABEL + SOMETHING YOU KIND OF REMEMBERED FROM THE MOVIE SIDEWAYS + $12-$16 PRICE TAG = SUCCESS"

Winning the Nobel Prize gets you moreJAN 19

Winning the Nobel Prize gets you more than $1 million...and two extra years of life.

The rate of suicides off of theJAN 19

The rate of suicides off of the Golden Gate Bridge increased sharply in 2006, in part because of the local screening of The Bridge, a documentary about Golden Gate Bridge suicides. "The Bridge premiered locally in April. In May, four people jumped to their deaths and another 11 tried to commit suicide. Normally, no more than two people succeed per month, and an average of four others attempt to jump."

Adam Gopnik on the current health ofJAN 19

Adam Gopnik on the current health of New York City. "This transformation is one you see on every street corner in Manhattan, and now in Brooklyn, too, where another local toy store or smoked-fish emporium disappears and another bank branch or mall store opens. For the first time in Manhattan's history, it has no bohemian frontier. Another bookstore closes, another theatre becomes a condo, another soulful place becomes a sealed residence. These are small things, but they are the small things that the city's soul clings to."

"Extra-terrestrials have yet to find us becauseJAN 19

"Extra-terrestrials have yet to find us because they haven't had enough time to look."

English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects, orJAN 19

English Sentences Without Overt Grammatical Subjects, or the grammar of swearing. "Chomsky observes that the adverbial elements of (39)-(42) are outside of the verb phrase and that only elements within the verb phrase play a role in strict subcategorization of verbs. That principle would clearly be violated if fuck were a verb."

Rejoice, netizens! The hunt is over forJAN 19

Rejoice, netizens! The hunt is over for the weirdest thing on the web. I give you photos of people who have gotten a piercing on their third nipple. NSFW and possibly not safe for your psyche either.

Totally crazy video of cars sliding aroundJAN 19

Totally crazy video of cars sliding around on an icy Portland Street. The soundtrack in my head is playing The Blue Danube when I watch this. (via bb)

From the June 2000 Esquire, what Julia ChildJAN 18

From the June 2000 Esquire, what Julia Child has learned. "There is nothing worse than grilled vegetables." (via ag)

A list of Reel Pop's ten favoriteJAN 18

A list of Reel Pop's ten favorite dystopian films. Running Man, La Jetée, and Blade Runner all make the cut.

BET is showing season one of TheJAN 18

BET is showing season one of The Wire. Not the best way to watch the show (with commercials and edited for television), but handy if you don't have other access to it.

The Prada mobile phone.JAN 18

The Prada mobile phone.

NYC plans to allow people to send photos to 911 and 311.JAN 18

NYC plans to allow people to send photos to 911 and 311.

The upper reaches of the northern hemisphereJAN 18

The upper reaches of the northern hemisphere are warming so much that new islands are being discovered, including those once thought to be peninsula. "A peninsula long thought to be part of Greenland's mainland turned out to be an island when a glacier retreated."

The best niche blog yet: it's devotedJAN 18

The best niche blog yet: it's devoted to the use of the lowercase "L" in otherwise uppercase text. "WHAT THE HEll? WHY DO PEOPlE WRITE lIKE THIS?"

Pentagram has redesigned the Doomsday Clock, whichJAN 18

Pentagram has redesigned the Doomsday Clock, which depicts the world's proximity to nuclear annihilation. The funny thing is that they designed the 12 o'clock face, which will never actually be needed because we'll all be dead before the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists has a change to move it forward.

Cute little pixelated Albert Einstein video from eBoy.JAN 17

Cute little pixelated Albert Einstein video from eBoy.

Doin' the robot has never looked soJAN 17

Doin' the robot has never looked so good in this video for Uniqlo. (via wider angle)

The web is perfect for taking jokesJAN 17

The web is perfect for taking jokes too far: a list of the phrase "my hovercraft is full of eels" in dozens of languages.

Neat little infographics video.JAN 17

Neat little infographics video.

A list of fads that were popularJAN 17

A list of fads that were popular in the US. Hypercolor shirts! (via fimoculous)

Notes from Apartment #5. "Dear Neighbor. When youJAN 17

Notes from Apartment #5. "Dear Neighbor. When you arrive late every night, you are probably concentrating on your chores and don't realize that this building, this street, the traffic, the people are all very still, very quiet."

David Pennock on the steep rise ofJAN 17

David Pennock on the steep rise of Apple's stock after announcing the iPhone: "Jobs's speech could not possibly have revealed over $8 billion in previously undisclosed information".

Update: On the other hand, analysts think that Steve Jobs' mere presence at the company is worth $20 billion.

Ze Frank is headed to Hollywood to "JAN 17

Ze Frank is headed to Hollywood to "pump that area". (via fimoculous)

A study by researchers at the UniversityJAN 17

A study by researchers at the University of Georgia suggests that women ingesting caffeine (say, in coffee or soda) before a heavy workout reduces post-workout muscle pain by almost 50%, more than Aleve, aspirin, or Advil. (via cd)

Jargon watch: "book" as a synonym for "JAN 17

Jargon watch: "book" as a synonym for "cool". Sample usage: "That YouTube video is so book." As books are decidedly uncool, you might wonder how this usage came about. Book is a T9onym of cool...both words require pressing 2665 on the keypad of a mobile phone but book comes up before cool in the T9 dictionary, leading to inadvertent uses of the former for the latter. (thx, david)

Singer Ben Gibbard, from The Postal ServiceJAN 17

Singer Ben Gibbard, from The Postal Service and Death Cab for Cutie, is playing a part in the film adaptation of David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews with Hideous Men, to be directed by John Krasinski, who plays a character on the US version of The Office, which is based on the original UK version by Ricky Gervais. To sum up: indie rock book nerd tv junkie explosion!

Think locally, act globallyJAN 16

Back in December, Philip Greenspun was debating the gift of a water buffalo to a poor family in Asia through Heifer International, but he found out that the animal is merely a symbolic gift:

A friend got a water buffalo for Christmas from her dad. She won't actually take delivery of the animal. The Web page says that it will be given to a family in Asia. If you read the fine print on the page, however, it turns out that there is no actual buffalo and no actual family and you won't get a photo of your family and your buffalo. The money simply gets dumped into the common fund at the charity. We are trying to decide if this is the crummiest possible Christmas present.

Bob Thompson, currently a resident of Yunnan province in China, read Greenspun's post and offered to help him donate an actual water buffalo to an actual family in the area. Greenspun and his friend Craig MacFarlane took him up on the offer and an animal was purchased for ~US$460 and given to a family in need:

Water Buffalo

Thompson made an 8-minute video of the whole process which is well worth viewing. (thx, tom & eric)

Interview with Dr. Nina Jablonski, student ofJAN 16

Interview with Dr. Nina Jablonski, student of the skin. "[My skin] is my unwritten biography. My skin reminds me that I'm a 53-year-old woman who has smiled and furrowed her brow and, on occasion, worked in the desert sun too long. I enjoy watching my skin change because it's one of the few parts of my body that I can watch. We can't view our livers or heart, but this we can."

The Twilight Years of Cap'n Crunch, anJAN 16

The Twilight Years of Cap'n Crunch, an article on olde tyme hacker, phone phreak, and tech legend John Draper. I met Draper at Etech one year; he seemed like a brilliant man not quite at ease with society. (Also, when you see a phrase like "rave scene" in a WSJ article, it's probably a euphemism for something.)

On the site for his new novel,JAN 16

On the site for his new novel, The End As I Know It, Kevin Shay is blogging pre-Y2K internet postings. "On This Day Pre-Y2K is updated daily with one or more verbatim quotations drawn from a variety of online sources, from today's date, eight years ago." One of my favorite posts describes "the great geek exodus from the cities late next year".

How the newspaper gets made: 1. The WashingtonJAN 16

How the newspaper gets made: 1. The Washington Post runs an article on Dec 24, 2006 about how the New Yorker picks its cartoons, which article mentions in passing that several of the magazine's cartoonists gather weekly at a Manhattan restaurant. 2. Three weeks go by. 3. The NY Times publishes a piece profiling said weekly gathering of the cartoonists at the Manhattan restaurant.

The ocean blue and acidicJAN 16

Most of what we hear about global warming concerns the atmosphere and its carbon dioxide levels. In the New Yorker a few weeks ago, Elizabeth Kolbert wrote about what's happening in the ocean (not online, unfortunately it is online (thx, tim)). It turns out that like all tightly coupled systems, the ocean and the atmosphere like to be in equilibrium with each other, which means that the chemistry of the ocean is affected by the chemistry of the atmosphere. Much of the extra carbon dioxide pumped into the atmosphere by humans over the past two hundred years is being absorbed into the ocean and slowly making the ocean more acidic.

The CO2 dissolves, it produces carbonic acid, which has the chemical formula H2CO3. As acids go, H2CO3 is relatively innocuous -- we drink it all the time in Coke and other carbonated beverages -- but in sufficient quantities it can change the water's pH. Already, humans have pumped enough carbon into the oceans -- some hundred and twenty billion tons -- to produce a .1 decline in surface pH. Since pH, like the Richter scale, is a logarithmic measure, a .1 drop represents a rise in acidity of about thirty per cent.

As Kolbert later states, "from the perspective of marine life, the drop in pH matters less that the string of chemical reactions that follow". The increased levels of carbonic acid in the water means there are less carbonate ions available in seawater for making shells, meaning that thousands of species that build shells or skeletons from calcium carbonate are in danger of extinction. As a particularly troubling example, coral use calcium carbonate taken from the seawater to construct themselves. Climate modeller Ken Caldeira believes that if humans keep emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere at the same rate as today, by 2075 the world's coral reefs will begin to disappear because their rate of natural erosion will surpass their ability to grow fast enough to keep up.

The truly worrisome thing about all this is that the ocean is an extremely slow moving machine and that once in motion, it's difficult to stop or change its course.

Profile of "radical chef" David Chang andJAN 16

Profile of "radical chef" David Chang and his restaurants, Momofuku Noodle Bar (one of my favorite restaurants) and Momofuku Ssam Bar, an Asian version of Chipotle. After a vegetarian customer threatened to sue Chang for not offering vegetarian broth, he took all but one of the veggie options off the menu. "We added pork to just about everything[...] Fuck it, let's just cook what we want."

Six weeks ago, a blogger began aJAN 16

Six weeks ago, a blogger began a Wii workout regimen to see if he could lose weight by playing Wii Sports. He lost 9 pounds and almost 2% body fat.

A list of the hardest novels toJAN 16

A list of the hardest novels to film. Ulysses tops the list. How about The Mezzanine?

Lengthy interview with Steve Jobs from 1995. "I'mJAN 16

Lengthy interview with Steve Jobs from 1995. "I'm convinced that about half of what separates the successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance."

Ethics books gets stolen more often thanJAN 16

Ethics books gets stolen more often than non-ethics books. "Missing books as a percentage of those off shelf were 8.7% for ethics, 6.9% for non-ethics, for an odds ratio of 1.25 to 1." (via mr)

This three minute scene from Fawlty TowersJAN 16

This three minute scene from Fawlty Towers is just about my favorite bit of television ever. (via cyn-c)

Kottkes in the news! Hikers Albert andJAN 16

Kottkes in the news! Hikers Albert and Peter Kottke rescued camper Carolyn Dorn, who had been missing in the New Mexican wilderness for five weeks. To everyone who emailed: no relation.

The original trailers for Star Wars andJAN 16

The original trailers for Star Wars and The Empire Strikes Back. Oh, and here's a Return of the Jedi trailer.

Here's how MacRumors did their livecast ofJAN 16

Here's how MacRumors did their livecast of Steve Jobs' MacWorld keynote. At one point, the site had 213,000 simultaneous visitors.

David Pogue's iPhone FAQ, part 2. Part 1 is here.JAN 14

David Pogue's iPhone FAQ, part 2. Part 1 is here.

Booksquare surmises that turned sideways, the iPhoneJAN 12

Booksquare surmises that turned sideways, the iPhone -- with its bright 160 ppi screen -- will be pretty decent for reading books and such. (via o'reilly)

Video of the World Freehand Circle DrawingJAN 12

Video of the World Freehand Circle Drawing Champion. I read somewhere recently that everyone seems to have a talent like this, something a little odd that they can do better than most people. I can spit watermelon seeds a great distance (I've won two contests!). What can you do?

Video from CBS News of an iPhone demonstration. (via blurbomat)JAN 12

Video from CBS News of an iPhone demonstration. (via blurbomat)

Regarding some of the points in myJAN 12

Regarding some of the points in my iPhone round-up from yesterday, David Pogue has some answers to those questions and a whole lot more in his iPhone FAQ. "Is it ambidextrous? -No." What does that even mean? As a lefty, am I out of luck? (via df)

Good news, everyone! (spoken in my bestJAN 12

Good news, everyone! (spoken in my best Professor Hubert J. Farnsworth from Futurama): one Mars thingie (the Reconnaissance Orbiter) has spotted another Mars thingie, the Pathfinder lander and its Sojourner rover.

Which of the following works would youJAN 12

Which of the following works would you choose to be lost, if only three could be saved: Michelangelo's Pieta, Shakespeare's Hamlet, Mozart's Don Giovanni, or Einstein's 1905 paper on relativity? Not so sure I agree with the conclusion here...surely Einstein's paper stands as a work unto itself, apart from the discovery it contains. Plus, maybe someone else (or a group of someone elses) wouldn't have given us relativity as elegantly and usefully as Einstein did. (via 3qd)

Back in the late 60s and early 70JAN 12

Back in the late 60s and early 70s, the New Yorker serialized the first chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses in the theater listings for long-running productions. "In 1970, New Yorker edidor Gardner Botsford explained to Time magazine that he began the serialization of Ulysses because he got bored writing the same straight capsule reviews week after week."

iPhone round-upJAN 11

By now you've all heard about the iPhone and read 60 billion things about it, so I'll get straight to it. I've been tracking some of the best points from around the web and jotted down some thoughts of my own.

Caveat: Evaluating an interface, software or hardware, is difficult to do unless you have used it. An interface for something like a mobile phone is something you use on the time-scale of weeks and months, not minutes or hours. There are certain issues you can flag as potential problems, challenges, or triumphs after viewing demos, descriptions of functions, and the like, but until you're holding the thing in your hand and living with it day-to-day, you really can't say "this is going to work this way" or "I don't like the way that functions" with anything approaching absolute confidence. With that said:

  • In his keynote announcing it, Steve Jobs said the killer app for the iPhone was voice. The thing is, many people you talk to who are are under 35 use their phones more and more for text and less and less for voice. Same thing for Treo and Blackberry aficionados. Does the text entry via the touchscreen work as well as text entry via a mini keyboard? The tactility of raised buttons provides a lot of feedback to the typer's fingers that a touchscreen does not. (Jason Fried said: "When you touch the [iPhone] it doesn't touch you back.") Can you type on it with your thumbs? What about if your thumbs are large? I know people who can text without looking at the keypad and/or Blackberry keyboard, that's out the window with the touchscreen. Can you dial with one hand?

    The touchscreen text entry is the biggest issue with the iPhone. If it works well, the iPhone has a good shot at success, and if not, it's going to be very frustrating for those that rely on their mobile for text...and every potential customer of the iPhone is going to hear about that shortcoming and shy away.
  • The price is pretty high. So was the price for the first iPod. And the Macintosh. Apple will approach this in a similar way to the iPod...start with a premium product at the high end and work their way down to shuffle-land. It isn't difficult to imagine an iPhone nano that just does voice, SMS, music, and a camera. (Or an iPhone shuffle...you press the call button and it randomly calls someone from the ten contacts the shuffle synched from your computer that morning.)
  • I guess we know why iPod development has seemed a little sluggish lately. When the Zune came out two months ago, it was thought that maybe Apple was falling behind, coasting on the fumes of an aging product line, and not innovating in the portable music player space anymore. I think the iPhone puts this discussion on the back burner for now. And the Zune? The supposed iPod-killer's bullet ricocheted off of the iPhone's smooth buttonless interface and is heading back in the wrong direction. Rest in peace, my gentle brown friend.
  • How long before the other iPods start working like the iPhone? I imagine a widescreen video iPod with touchscreen but without a phone, wifi, camera, etc. will be introduced at some point after the iPhone comes out in June. Without the need for the clickwheel, the shape of the video and nano iPods becomes much more flexible. If they can cram all the memory and electronics into a smaller space, the nano could be half its current height with a touchscreen.
  • What's really kind of sad about the intensely exuberant reaction to the iPhone is that the situation with current mobile phones are so bad in the first place. It's not like we didn't see any of this coming or couldn't imagine the utility of the iPhone's features. Visual voicemail is a good idea, but the reason Nokia or Motorola didn't introduce it years ago is that the carriers (Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile, etc.) don't want to support it despite its obvious utility and ease of implementation. (T-Mobile sends my Nokia phone a text message every time I get a voicemail...what could be simpler than sending the number along with it and shunting those messages to a special voicemail app on the phone to see a list of them? Listening to them out of sequence would be a bit harder, but doable. Blackberry announced they were doing this back in 2005.) Integrated Google Maps, email, and search makes obvious sense too. As for the touchscreen, we've all seen Jeff Han's work on multi-touch interaction, Minority Report, and Wacom's Cintiq, not to mention the mousepads on the MacBooks and the iPod's clickwheel. The Japanese are pretty unimpressed with the whole thing.

    What *is* fantastic about the iPhone is the way that they've put it all together; features are great, but it's all about the implementation. Apple stripped out all the stuff you don't need and made everything you do need really simple and easy. (That's the way it appears anyway...see above caveat.)
  • Regarding the above, a relevant passage from a Time magazine article on how the iPhone came about:

    One reason there's limited innovation in cell phones generally is that the cell carriers have stiff guidelines that the manufacturers have to follow. They demand that all their handsets work the same way. "A lot of times, to be honest, there's some hubris, where they think they know better," Jobs says. "They dictate what's on the phone. That just wouldn't work for us, because we want to innovate. Unless we could do that, it wasn't worth doing." Jobs demanded special treatment from his phone service partner, Cingular, and he got it. He even forced Cingular to re-engineer its infrastructure to handle the iPhone's unique voicemail scheme. "They broke all their typical process rules to make it happen," says Tony Fadell, who heads Apple's iPod division. "They were infected by this product, and they were like, we've gotta do this!"

  • From the video, it looks like it take four clicks (after unlocking the phone) to make a phone call. For everyday use, that seems excessive. I hope there's going to be some sort of speed dial mechanism...with my current phone, pressing "2" and then "send" calls my wife (which I can basically do without looking, BTW).
  • I don't know what the state of the art is in voice recognition these days, but I'm a little surprised that's not an input option here. To call someone, you say their name (my current phone does this). To text someone, you speak the message and they get the text on their end. Speaking "Google Maps, sushi near 10003" would have the expected result.
  • Or maybe drawing graffiti on the screen with your fingers and other gestural input methods? You could have different swipes and taps as a speed dial mechanism...swipe the screen from top left to bottom right and then tap in the lower right hand corner to call mom, that sort of thing. Or Morse code maybe? ;)
  • The OS X included with the phone obviously isn't the version that's running on my Powerbook right now. John Gruber proves that footnotes are often more interesting than the referring text and offers this little tidbit:

    That is to say the core operating system at the core of Mac OS X, the computer OS used in Macs, and "OS X", the embedded OS on the iPhone. More on this soon in a separate fireball, but do not be confused: Mac OS X and OS X are not the same thing, although they are most certainly siblings. The days of lazily referring to "Mac OS X" as "OS X" are now over.

    Several people have speculated that the iPhone's version of OS X is actually a preview of what we'll be getting with Leopard, the next version of Mac OS X.
  • Lance warns us of the dreaded version 1.0 hardware from Apple.
  • My favorite thing about the iPhone is the Google Maps integration. I would use that at least 4-5 times a week.
  • Will phone numbers and addresses detected on web pages in Safari be clickable? Click to dial a phone number, click to look up an address with Google Maps, that sort of thing. Update: There's a video online somewhere (anyone?) of a demo that shows a URL in an email and/or text message that's clickable. (thx, Deron)
  • The resolution of the screen on the iPhone is 160 ppi. People who have seen it close up report that the screen is extremely crisp and clear. Apple displays have been higher than 72 ppi for quite awhile, now but not as high as 160. How soon can we expect 160 ppi on the MacBooks?
  • Double the width of the iPhone and you've got the iTablet. 640x480, a bigger virtual keyboard to type on, etc. Just a thought.
  • My friend Chris suggested that it should ship with a dock that hooks directly to a monitor. Attach a keyboard and mouse to the monitor and voila!, you've got the world's smallest portable computer.
  • iPhone trademark dispute between Apple and Cisco: booorrrrr-ring.
  • This is one of the biggest questions in the hardcore technology community: will Apple allow 3rd party development of widgets and apps for the iPhone? Right now it seems like they might not, but there's a lot of speculation in the absence of information going on. It sure would be nice if they did, but Apple doesn't have a good track record here. I bet the Dodgeball and Upcoming folks are looking at the integrated Google Maps and wishing they could integrate their apps in the same way. (And Flickr too!)
  • Games! A no-brainer. Probably lots you can do with the motion sensors and proximity detectors, not to mention the touchscreen. Although the touchscreen does make it difficult to see and control the onscreen action at the same time. How would you play Pac-Man on the iPhone?
  • Available in more than one color? Probably a few months after launch...or it could be right away.
  • Parallels running on the iPhone was a joke, folks. Just pulling your ARM.
  • Don't you think that maybe every company should fire their founders after a few years and then hire them back a few years later? I mean, how crazy is it that Apple birthed the Apple II and the Macintosh -- each a significant achievement that taken alone would have sealed Apple's reputation for innovation in the history of computing -- and then fired the guy that got them there, stumbled badly enough that they were heading for mediocrity and obscurity, and then brought Jobs back, who spurred a string of successes that has nearly overshadowed the company's earlier achievements: OS X, the iMac, the iBooks/PowerBooks/MacBooks, the iPod, iTMS, and now the iPhone. It's insane! Not to mention fun to watch. Perhaps Google should fire Larry and Sergey with the idea that they'll take them back in a few years when they're a little older, a little wiser, a little more seasoned in business, with a new perspective, and possessing an enormous amount of motivation to prove that their dismissal was a bad move.
  • My favorite comment from the Digg thread about the model iPhone I made out of cardboard: "Nothing says you've never kissed a girl like toting around a paper iPhone."
  • From the Time article, a quote from Steve Jobs about how Apple does business: "Everybody hates their phone and that's not a good thing. And there's an opportunity there."
  • Interesting thoughts from Adam Baer in the wake of the iPhone announcement:

    Apple has figured out a way to retain a hold on hearts and minds in a business previously based on bytes. I applaud its designs, I worry about its tactics and what they mean for the future of marketing and group think. A group that wants our devotion but doesn't need the press, doesn't want the press, can't keep the press off its backs, is a group that's more interested in mind control than in improving lives with its products.

  • Some miscellaneous links: Watch the MacWorld keynote with the iPhone announcement. Fortune piece on how Apple kept the iPhone a secret for two years. David Pogue got an hour of hands-on time with the iPhone. The Digg post of the announcement got almost 20,000 diggs, more than 1,400 comments, and nearly crashed my browser when I went to look at it.

And that's enough, I think.

New Scientist recently compiled a list ofJAN 11

New Scientist recently compiled a list of strange substances (with accompanying video): ferrofluids, non-Newtonian liquids, superfluids, and materials that get thicker when stretched. (via bb)

An appreciation of Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 100JAN 11

An appreciation of Picasso's Les Demoiselles d'Avignon 100 years after it was painted. "It's not just 100 years in the life of a painting, but 100 years of modernism. Les Demoiselles d'Avignon is the rift, the break that divides past and future. Culturally, the 20th century began in 1907."

I love this analysis of the originalJAN 11

I love this analysis of the original Star Wars movie based on the happenings in episodes I-III. "If we accept all the Star Wars films as the same canon, then a lot that happens in the original films has to be reinterpreted in the light of the prequels." Chewie and R2 are top Rebellion spies, Yoda and Obi-Wan keep in touch via Qui-Gon's ghost, and Kenobi feigns indifference when he first meets R2 (I don't remember owning any droids, wink, wink). Fascinating stuff.

Over at Typophile, they're debating the 20 mostJAN 11

Over at Typophile, they're debating the 20 most important type designers of all time.

The dance of the flight attendant.JAN 11

The dance of the flight attendant.

iPhone running ParallelsJAN 10

The iPhone runs on OS X, right? So theoretically, shouldn't you be able to run IE for Windows XP in Parallels?

iPhone ruiing Parallels, har har

An Elvis taxon is the apparent rediscoveryJAN 10

An Elvis taxon is the apparent rediscovery of an animal that has vanished from the fossil record, but that is really the discovery of a look-alike animal. "The term Elvis taxon is used because of the large number of sightings of Elvis Presley long after his death, as well as for his many impersonators."

The future of moviesJAN 10

David Denby had a great piece in the New Yorker last week about the present and future of movies. I was surprised to learn that Hollywood hates the movie theater-going experience as much or more than the rest of us:

Consider the mall or the urban multiplex. The steady rain of contempt that I heard Hollywood executives direct at the theatres has been amplified, a dozen times over, by friends and strangers alike. The concession stands were wrathfully noted, with their "small" Cokes in which you could drown a rabbit, their candy bars the size of cow patties; add to that the pre-movie purgatory padded out to thirty minutes with ads, coming attractions, public-service announcements, theatre-chain logos, enticements for kitty-kat clubs and Ukrainian bakeries-anything to delay the movie and send you back to the concession stand, where the theatres make forty per cent of their profits. If you go to a thriller, you may sit through coming attractions for five or six action movies, with bodies bursting out of windows and flaming cars flipping through the air-a long stretch of convulsive imagery from what seems like a single terrible movie that you've seen before. At poorly run multiplexes, projector bulbs go dim, the prints develop scratches or turn yellow, the soles of your shoes stick to the floor, people jabber on cell phones, and rumbles and blasts bleed through the walls.

If we want to see something badly enough, we go, of course, and once everyone settles down we can still enjoy ourselves. But we go amid murmurs of discontent, and the discontent will only get louder as the theatre complexes age. Many of them were randomly and cheaply built in response to what George Lucas conclusively demonstrated with "Star Wars," in 1977: that a pop movie heavily advertised on national television could open simultaneously in theatres across the country and attract enormous opening-weekend audiences. As these theatres age, the gold leaf doesn't slowly peel off fluted columns. They rot, like disused industrial spaces. They have become the detritus of what seems, on a bad day, like a dying culture.

Denby also considers what happens to movies when the primary target audience (12-30 year-olds make up 50% of the movie-going population) may prefer to watch movies on DVD, their computers, or on iPods.

No exhibition method is innocent of aesthetic qualities. Platform agnosticism may flourish among kids, but platform neutrality doesn't exist. Fifty years ago, the length of a pop single was influenced by what would fit on a forty-five-r.p.m. seven-inch disk. The length and the episodic structure of the Victorian novel -- Dickens's novels, especially -- were at least partly created by writers and editors working on deadline for monthly periodicals. Television, for a variety of commercial and spatial reasons, developed the single-set or two-set sitcom. Format always affects form, and the exhibition space changes what's exhibited.

As a fan of watching movies on the big screen of a theater, I hope that sort of movie making doesn't go away anytime soon.

Analysis of some studies that link politicalJAN 10

Analysis of some studies that link political tendancies and factors like education level, how afraid we feel, and personality traits. "[A study] found that conservatives have a greater desire to reach a decision quickly and stick to it, and are higher on conscientiousness, which includes neatness, orderliness, duty, and rule-following. Liberals are higher on openness, which includes intellectual curiosity, excitement-seeking, novelty, creativity for its own sake, and a craving for stimulation like travel, color, art, music, and literature." And an interesting conclusion about the effects of rational thought on all this.

Nicholas Felton's personal annual report for 2006. "Disclaimer:JAN 10

Nicholas Felton's personal annual report for 2006. "Disclaimer: Alcoholic beverages were consumed during the collection of this data and the author acknowledges that the occasional drink may have gone unrecorded." Here's the one for 2005. LOVE this.

Maybe one of the reasons that theJAN 10

Maybe one of the reasons that the US hasn't embraced global warming as a national priority is because the country is so large that it never experiences collective weather extremes the way Europe does.

Whole Foods' stock is going down, butJAN 10

Whole Foods' stock is going down, but maybe it shouldn't be. "The whole idea of good food and gourmet eating has begun to transcend the PBS-store bag toter."

The folks in the Christmas Tree CarcassesJAN 10

The folks in the Christmas Tree Carcasses group on Flickr are keeping track of discarded Christmas trees. (thx, richard)

New York magazine tracked the media dietsJAN 10

New York magazine tracked the media diets of 3 New Yorkers for a week. Lightweights. (via fimoculous)

Comparison of the iPhone with other smartJAN 09

Comparison of the iPhone with other smart phones...a nice companion piece to the comparison of my cardboard iPhone to various iPods, mobile phones, etc. So far, the market thinks that Apple's got something good on their hands: Apple stock was up $7.10 today while RIMM (makers of Blackberry) dropped $11.16.

The Apple iPhoneJAN 09

Apple's new iPhone looks like a thing of beauty. Widescreen touch interface, no buttons, runs OS X, useful widgets, integrated email, Google Maps, Google/Yahoo search, visual voicemail (see who voicemail is from before you call), SMS, Wifi, etc. etc. Oh, and it plays music.

A lot of people are wondering just how big this thing is. Using the technical specs from apple.com, I grabbed some cardboard, scissors, and glue and made a scale model of the iPhone. Here it is:

cardboard iPhone

My hands aren't that big (I can barely palm a basketball on a good day), but it still seems to fit pretty well. How does it stack up against similar devices?

Here's the iPhone vs. my current mobile phone, the Nokia 7610:

iPhone vs. Nokia 7610

iPhone vs. a 5G iPod:

iPhone vs. 5G iPod

Thickness of the cardboard iPhone vs. the 5G iPod:

iPhone vs. 5G Ipod thickness

1G iPod shuffle, 3G iPod, 5G iPod and the iPhone:

1G iPod shuffle, 3G iPod, 5G iPod and the iPhone

iPhone vs. a TiVo remote and a Wii remote:

iPhone vs. TiVo remote

iPhone vs. Wii remote

That's all the gadgets I could find on a couple of hours notice.

I also dug up something I wrote a couple of years ago in the gigantic text file I keep on my Powerbook of ideas for kottke.org posts. 99% of the stuff in that file is completely dunderheaded, but I have to say I hit close to the mark on this one:

true convergence of phone + mp3 player will happen when someone solves this user experience puzzle: physically not enough room for two optimized interfaces (one for calls, one for music) on same small device. possible solution: no buttons, replace with touch screen that covers the whole front with one-touch switching between modes...

Once we're able to get our hands on it and use the interface, the iPhone could turn out to be a disappointment, but they're heading in the right direction at least. More thoughts soon.

(Like this story? Digg it.)

Apple introduces their iPhone. Keynote info here.JAN 09

Apple introduces their iPhone. Keynote info here.

MacWorld 2007JAN 09

Yesterday a weird smell descended on New York City, a miasma of natural gas odor. Today you might sense a low hum emanating from all over the Earth, localized in households whose inhabitants spend unhealthy portions of their paychecks on consumer electronics. Geeks the world over are vibrating in anticipation of Steve Jobs' keynote at MacWorld starting in, oh, 5 minutes. Since I too am slightly vibrating and won't be able to get anything done for the two-hour duration of his talk, I'll be following along here, sipping from MacRumors' live coverage. (Gizmodo, Engadget, and Twitter have coverage too.)

As an appetizer, here's a few of the less hysterical predictions for what Our Fearless Leader is going to provide us with today:

- MacWorld Expo 2007 Predictions from John Gruber at Daring Fireball.
- Jason Fried's Apple phone predicitons (I especially liked this one).
- Macalope's predicitons.
- Some thoughts from Steven Frank.
- Regarding MacWorld 2007 by Dan Benjamin.

Ok, here we go....

- BREAKING NEWS: Attendees still taking their seats!
- Started. Gizmodo is stumbling badly. Zero updates.
- Sales updates. Apple now sells more music than Amazon.
- The Zune has 2% market share, the iPod has 62%. What brown can do for you, apparently.
- Apple TV in September. Not an actual TV, but a device that hooks to a TV. Here's some specs: 802.11b/g/n, 40GB HD, 720p HD, component rca, usb2, ethernet, HDMI. Retails for $299. Shipping in Feb.

- New product: internet communicator, mobile phone, and widescreen ipod all in one. Steve is very excited about this one. Called the iPhone. No buttons. Multi-touch screen. (WHOA!) Runs OS X. Jobs: "Software on mobile phones is like baby-software." It does all the stuff that OS X does. Calendar, mail, movies, music, podcasts, etc. Turns off the display and sound when you bring it to your ear to talk. It's got an accelerometer (motion sensor) and a proximity sensor. 2 megapixel camera. Screen resolution is 160 ppi. Here's what it looks like (photos from Engadget):

iPhone

iPhone

- Free IMAP email from Yahoo for iPhone customers. (Shot over Google's bow.) And it's "push-IMAP"...works just like a Crackberry.

- The iPhone has a full copy of Safari. Just browse away.

- Apple's stock is up $2.68.

- Jobs just prank-called a Starbucks, attempted to order "4000 lattes to go".

- Google and Apple pushing hard to partner. "Merging without merging."

- Apple doing stuff with Yahoo too.

- Apple's stock now at +$4.51.

- iPhone ships in June in the US. $499 for 4 gig, $599 for 8 gig. Available only with Cingular as the carrier. (Can you unlock?) Can purchase either at Cingular or Apple stores. Have to sign up for a 2-year contract.

- RIM stock is down more than 8 points. RIM makes the Blackberry. Palm, Motorola, and Nokia are all down as well. (thx, eli)

- Apple is changing their name from "Apple Computer, Inc." to "Apple, Inc."

How to save a snowflake for decadesJAN 09

How to save a snowflake for decades using a bit of superglue.

Smashing Telly is aggregating good televsion showsJAN 09

Smashing Telly is aggregating good televsion shows that are available on the web. Bottom line: you can watch television at work!

Amazon Recommendations Understand Area Woman Better Than Husband.JAN 09

Amazon Recommendations Understand Area Woman Better Than Husband.

True Hoop's Henry Abbott does a bitJAN 08

True Hoop's Henry Abbott does a bit of research into baby names inspired by NBA players. "[Kobe] was drafted in 1996, and in 1997 the name debuted at #553. 2001 was its best year ever, when it was the 223rd most common name in America. Donald, Keith, Troy, Lance, Simon, Chad, Dante, Douglas, Tony, Joe all ranked lower."

How the New Yorker picks its cartoons. "JAN 08

How the New Yorker picks its cartoons. "The funniest cartoon is not necessarily the best cartoon. Funnier means that you laugh harder, and everybody's gonna laugh harder at more aggressive cartoons, more obscene cartoons. It's a Freudian thing. It gives more relief. But is it a better joke? To me, better means having more truth in it, having both the humor and the pain and therefore having more meaning and more poetry."

A list of the Midichlorian counts forJAN 08

A list of the Midichlorian counts for major Star Wars characters.

Update: Given the subject mattter, I'm not sure a disclaimer is needed, but in case you're really worried about veracity of the above list, here's some useful information. (thx, oh no)

Geriatric and other distant sequelsJAN 08

Some upcoming and recently released sequels which are released a long time after the previous movie in the series, some real and some imagined:

Sylvester Stallone returns as the 50-something year-old title character in Rocky Balboa to fight the heavyweight champion of the world.

Police Academy 8: To the Moon. Steve Gutenberg leads a merry band of recruits and Bubba Smith to the moon to form the first extraterrestrial police force. Hijinks ensue. Special appearance by Henry Winkler, who jumps a shark on waterskis in the Sea of Tranquility.

ET 2. Henry Thomas needs the work.

Star Trek 12. William Shatner, Ricardo Montalban, and a wormhole. Enough said.

Sir Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger 2. Turns out Oddjob wasn't really dead. He and Bond battle it out after tempers flare and hats are thrown at a Florida condo board meeting. Pussy makes crabcakes for dinner.

Jaws 5. I think the shark talks this time.

Rambo IV: Pearl of the Cobra. Stallone has run out of material.

Marty travels forward in time to bring embryonic stem cells back to the present in Back to the Future Part IV.

Harrison Ford is set to star in Indiana Jones 4, slated to be released almost 20 years after the last installment of the film. Ford will be 65 years old at the time of the filming. Not sure how many swashes he'll be buckling in the this one.

Star Wars: Episode 7. Han, Leia, and their high school-aged kids are ensconced in a Tatooine suburb (Chewy lives in the garage, R2 & 3PO in a little love-nest down the street) while Luke scours the galaxy for little kids with high midichlorian counts. Seventy-year-old Billy Dee Williams will appear as Lando Calrissian.

Clerks 2. Randal and Dante work through a midlife crisis for minimum wage while Jay and Silent Bob kick their habit.

Sharon Stone is still sexy and irritating at 47 in Basic Instinct 2.

Beverly Hills Cop IV. Axel does paperwork at his desk all day. Eddie Murphy does double duty by playing a elderly, sassy, obese black woman.

Karate Kid IV. Sadly, Pat Morita is unable to reprise his role as Mr. Miyagi and a 45-yo Ralph Macchio unconvincingly plays college sophomore Daniel LaRusso. Academy Award nominee William Zabka directs.

Bill & Ted's Straightforward Trip to Home Depot. Station!

Breakin' 3: Electric Boogaloo 2.

Disco is Dead. John Travolta runs a wrecking company that is contracted to tear down the very Brooklyn discotheque he danced in as a youth. Intense self-examination of his current path in life follows.

Ei8ht. Gwyneth's character having been dispatched in the first film, Pitt is free to bring Angelina into this one as wife #2. This time, murders are committed where the first names of the victims match those of the children on the Eight Is Enough television program. I don't want to ruin it for you, but Dick Van Patten's head might end up in a box.

A California game company purchased the rightsJAN 08

A California game company purchased the rights to Line Rider and plans to release versions of the game for the Nintendo Wii and DS. (thx, selena)

In case you were wondering, here's aJAN 08

In case you were wondering, here's a list of the almost 1000 books that Art Garfunkel has read since 1968. (thx, dave)

The folks at Photojojo sent me aJAN 08

The folks at Photojojo sent me a Monsterpod late last month and while I haven't used it a lot yet, it certainly does work as advertised: it's a little tripod that sticks to pretty much everything. Chris Spurgeon has a short review.

Naked parties are all the rage atJAN 08

Naked parties are all the rage at US upper-crust colleges. "The dynamic is completely different from a clothed party. People are so conscious of how they're coming across that conversations end up being more sophisticated. You can't talk about how hot that chick was the other night." (via mr)

The story of Harold Hayes and EsquireJAN 08

The story of Harold Hayes and Esquire during the 1960s, one of the best decades a magazine ever had.

Metacritic's aggregated view of the film critics'JAN 08

Metacritic's aggregated view of the film critics' top 10 lists is always worth a look, both for the information and the information design. United 93 appeared on the most lists and tied with Army of Shadows for most #1 rankings.

Dear Mr. Old Man Winter,JAN 06

Please consider this letter notice of your termination, effective immediately. Despite clear expectations and requirements -- January temperatures not to exceed 40° F, consistent snow and blustery conditions, minimum of one blizzard with white-out per annum, &c. &c. -- you have failed to date to meet expectations and deliver even rudimentary winter weather. A forecast high of 72° today in New York City is clear proof of your failure to do your job.

A replacement will be appointed immediately. Perhaps we will try a young go-getter for this role, someone who is willing to take on the many weather challenges of this magnificent season rather than rest on his "Great Winter of '02-'03" laurels.

Yours truly,
Mother Nature

[Guest post by Meg Hourihan.]

Peter Merholz has some interesting thoughts onJAN 05

Peter Merholz has some interesting thoughts on why Google Calendar is about to overtake Yahoo Calendar as the top web calendar app. "Here's a product whose very definition was predicated on empathy for true customer needs. And it's succeeding brilliantly."

Does free will exist? "The conscious brainJAN 05

Does free will exist? "The conscious brain was only playing catch-up to what the unconscious brain was already doing. The decision to act was an illusion, the monkey making up a story about what the tiger had already done."

Nice interview (particularly the last half) withJAN 05

Nice interview (particularly the last half) with Steven Johnson about his books and "interdisciplinary zeal". His next book will be about "creativity that will involve the long zoom idea: thinking about creativity that's not necessarily something that happens between you and your notepad, but everything from the neurons in your brain all the way up to the city you're thinking in the middle of"...which sounds great.

Caught the first episode of Wired ScienceJAN 05

Caught the first episode of Wired Science on PBS last night and it wasn't so bad. It's like Wired magazine, but on TV. If you missed it, the entire show is available online.

Interview with Ben Schott, author of theJAN 05

Interview with Ben Schott, author of the Schott's Miscellany books. It sounds like we have a lot in common, job-wise. "One of the metaphors of what I do that I like is a sort of curator. Often it's a question of finding information that might've otherwise been undiscovered or neglected or not focused upon. What's fun -- and I think this is one of the great joys of curating -- is making juxtapositions." I liked this bit too: "I think it's easier to be snarky than it is to be decent. Anything to get a smile. It doesn't last. And actually, it does date."

Hillel Cooperman purchased a small autograph bookJAN 05

Hillel Cooperman purchased a small autograph book dating from the 1940s in a Hong Kong shop and has posted scans of the book online in hopes that people will help translate it. A commenter says: "This book is used to leave comments -- quite popular at graduation time when your classmates left you good wishes of your future. The owner of the book is named 'Xi Rao', and the college he graduated from in Spring 1942 is 'Jiao Tong' university."

Food manufacturers are greenwashing their packaging, usingJAN 05

Food manufacturers are greenwashing their packaging, using homey organic colors and themes to sell food that isn't even necessarily organic or healthy. "Start with a gentle image of a field or a farm to suggest an ample harvest gathered by an honest, hard-working family. To that end, strangely oversize vegetables or fruits are good. If they are dew-kissed and nestled in a basket, all the better. A little red tractor is O.K. Pesticide tanks and rows of immigrant farm laborers bent over in the hot sun are not."

Power Washing 188 Suffolk St., a photo depictingJAN 05

Power Washing 188 Suffolk St., a photo depicting how dirty NYC is. (via eliot)

Holy crap, Gina got her own hedcutJAN 05

Holy crap, Gina got her own hedcut portrait in the Wall Street Journal this morning! She'll be under her desk for days over this.

Malcolm Gladwell on the difference between secretsJAN 04

Malcolm Gladwell on the difference between secrets and puzzles, particularly as it relates to something like the Enron scandal. I think this is one of the more interesting pieces from Gladwell in recent years. Having lived in California during the blackouts and the absurdly high electricity bills, I want Skilling's head as much as anyone, but Gladwell has a good point here. There's more on his blog, including a question: "According to the way the accounting rules were written at the time, what specific transgressions were Skilling guilty of that merited twenty-four years in prison?" Also note the similar themes to one of my favorite articles from last year, The Press' New Paradigm.

Strange Maps post about the Vinland Map,JAN 04

Strange Maps post about the Vinland Map, a document proported to have been drawn in the 15th century from a 13th century map. The Vinland Map depicts an unknown land across the Atlantic Ocean called Vinland which some think is the part of North America visited by the Vikings in the 11th century.

1994 best/worst-of the internet lists with predicitonsJAN 04

1994 best/worst-of the internet lists with predicitons for 1995. "Pick any tragic event and you can probably recall seeing a newsgroup that taunted its seriousness. There was alt.tonya-harding.whack.whack.whack. Then we had alt.lorena.bobitt.chop.chop.chop. And no, I haven't forgotten alt.oj-simpson.drive.faster."

Proposal from Language Log: scientific and technicalJAN 04

Proposal from Language Log: scientific and technical papers should come with an executable "recipe" for generating numbers, graphs, and tables from published data.

Great aerial photography of Africa by MichaelJAN 04

Great aerial photography of Africa by Michael Poliza. One of my favorites. Poliza's work reminds me of Yann Arthus Bertrand. (via nickbaum)

Music video for the Softlightes song HeartJAN 04

Music video for the Softlightes song Heart Made of Sound features handmade typography, Post-It Notes, and stop-motion animation. See also: the opening credits for Napoleon Dynamite, Stefan Sagmeister, and Michel Gondry. (via buzzfeed)

Time-lapse video of Picasso making a painting,JAN 04

Time-lapse video of Picasso making a painting, from start to finish. Tinselman has more info on the video.

Wesley Autrey jumped in front of anJAN 04

Wesley Autrey jumped in front of an oncoming subway train to save the life of a man who had fallen on the tracks. I read this before I left for work yesterday and imagined the scenario when my train pulled into the station. I'd hope I would do the same thing as Mr. Autrey did, but that train moves awfully fast...

The Best Links 2006JAN 03

Compiling a list of the best things I've linked to from kottke.org seems to get harder each year. I estimate posting about 2400 links to kottke.org in 2006, which is roughly one link every 2.5 hours on weekdays. Which is insane...I don't know how you guys read all of that. Last year I managed to whittle down the best-of list to ~65 links (2004's list had ~40 links), but I couldn't manage less than 100 this year. (Hell, the overflow list contains another 100 links that didn't quite make the cut...hopefully I'll be posting those in a few days.)

But enough with the statistics. Besides containing some really entertaining, informative, and provoking reading/viewing material, this list also functions as kottke.org's year in ideas for 2006, akin to the annual list in the NY Times Magazine. Climate change, the industrialization of childbirth, race & class in college & professional sports, the inherent messiness of science, adults who don't want to grow up, the role of journalism in the age of information abundance, and how creative work gets done are all ideas represented in the links below. Even the funny YouTube videos signal the arrival in 2006 of online video, especially if you throw Ze Frank in the mix. Enjoy.

Pruned found art in petri dishes. More.

The M.C. Escher-inspired art of Rob Gonsalves.

David Remnick's review of An Inconvenient Truth (and short biography of post-2000 Al Gore).

A collection of color photographs of WWII-era America from the Library of Congress. (I color-corrected some of the photos.)

New Yorker piece about the possible solving of the Poincare conjecture by Grigory Perelman.

NY Times Magazine piece by Michael Lewis on Michael Oher, excerpted from his book, The Blind Side.

The Smoking Gun's takedown of James Frey was fair, accurate, and devastating.

Line Rider. Not quite a game, not quite a toy, but hours of fun.

Tetris documentary, From Russia With Love.

Stabilized version of the Zapruder film of John F. Kennedy's assassination.

Matthew Barney and Bjork on the phone with Ikea.

The Omarosa Experiment reveals the inner workings of reality TV.

Dorodango: shiny balls of mud.

Olivo Barbieri's aerial photographs taken with a tilt-shift lens spawned some amazing Photoshopped fakes on Flickr.

Details on how to speak to a live customer support person for hundreds of companies. Indispensable.

The story of how Pixar came to be.

Wasp creates zombie cockroaches.

Falling sand, another not-a-game game.

Tap out a rhythm and Song Tapper will tell you what song it's from.

London Tube map where all the stations are sponsored by companies.

The Simpsons intro done with live actors.

Interview with Jonathan Rauch about his popular piece about introverts for The Atlantic Monthly.

Rotation Of Earth Plunges Entire North American Continent Into Darkness.

Pregnancy is a tug of war between mother and fetus over nutrients.

Extensive primers for more than three dozen film genres.

A story about 40-year-old men and women who look, talk, act, and dress like people who are 22 years old.

It's a bad time to start a company.

Horrible Segues, With Local Anchorman Clive Rutledge.

American Express commercial directed by Wes Anderson.

Photo essay of female Israeli soldiers.

The four different types of explanations.

The language of The Simpsons.

Pictures I Like For a Variety of Reasons.

David Copperfield thwarts would-be robbers with slight of hand. Hands down, the link of the year.

Magnum photographer Paul Fusco's photo essay of Chernobyl survivors.

In Praise of Loopholes.

Dozens of old Sesame Street clips on YouTube.

How to cure your asthma or hayfever using hookworm.

How one man fell for a Nigerian email scam.

Is serendipity dead?

Steven Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner tell us that expert performers -- in math, football, ballet, chess -- are made, not born.

Michael Wolf's 100x100, 100 photos of Hong Kong apartments each 100 square feet in size.

1989 New Yorker profile of Errol Morris.

A history of the lowrider.

Dozens of historical sounds in mp3 format.

10,000 sheep created by people hired online through Amazon's Mechanical Turk program.

Web 2.OH, YEAAHH!! t-shirts. Pun of the year.

Extensive gallery of Russian/Soviet propaganda and advertising posters.

Implanting magnets in your fingertips gives you a sixth magnetic sense.

The Press' New Paradigm.

A history of Manhattan's diamond district and its informal historian, Stephen Kilnisan.

Photographs of a flock of more than a million European starlings.

Photographs of burn victims by John Brownlow.

What if great photographers posted their work on the web?

Why play "what if"? Here's an Henri Cartier-Bresson being rubbished on Flickr.

An image of human eyes placed above an honesty pay box results in more people paying for their food/drinks. More.

Russian movie illustrations.

A blue-skinned family in the hills of Kentucky. More.

Daniel Raeburn writes about his stillborn daughter Irene. About two years later, her sister Willa is born.

Easily mispronounced domain names.

The Oil We Eat.

Turning innocuous video clips into naughty scenes with selective bleeping. Hilarious.

Kristoffer Garin follows a group of American men on a bride-hunting trip to the Ukraine.

MotherLoad, an extremely addictive online game.

Watch as Lake Peigner drains entirely into a hole created by an errant oil drill. More info.

The Art of the Shiv, a photo essay of prison weapons.

The Show with Ze Frank. The most consistently entertaining and informative online media in 2006.

Journalist Claire Hoffman was physically assaulted by Joe Francis while doing a piece on him and his Girls Gone Wild empire.

The physical impossibility of gigantic and microscopic movie creatures.

Argentina on Two Steaks a Day.

Bijou's Bag of Tricks. This photo makes me laugh until I cry.

Geoffrey Chaucer gets an Xbox 360.

Six years of daily photographs compiled into a movie.

The Voyager spacecraft escapes from the solar system.

David Foster Wallace writes about Roger Federer as Religious Experience.

The vast majority of the decisions in the Senate are made for economic reasons, not social ones.

1964 New Yorker profile of Bob Dylan.

How to Write a Fugue, featuring a fugue of Britney Spears' "Oops, I Did It Again".

State of Emergency, a surprisingly political fashion shoot from Vogue Italia.

What if the inflight announcement you heard while traveling was honest?

The photography of Corey Arnold, particularly of the Bering Sea crabbers.

Billionaire Steve Wynn pokes a hole in one of his Picassos with an errant elbow.

Malcolm Gladwell talks about the myth of prodigy.

Atul Gawande tells us how childbirth became industrialized.

Great list of insults.

2003 New Yorker profile of the late R.W. Apple by Calvin Trillin.

Time lapse video of a man putting on 155 t-shirts, one over the other.

Diary of a Sex Slave.

The world's best worst movie pitches.

Why There Almost Certainly Is No God by Richard Dawkins.

Scott Adams cures himself of losing his voice.

Phil Gyford's beginner's guide to freelancing.

Amateur cyclist Stuart Stevens takes performance-enhancing drugs and writes about it for Outside magazine.

New Yorker profile of Will Wright.

Maureen Gibson finds a picture of her rapist on the Engagements page of her hometown newspaper.

Comedian Aries Spears does great impressions of rappers Snoop Dogg, DMX, and Jay-Z.

A cognitive neuroscience grad student games Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.

How to talk to a climate skeptic.

NPR piece with Jason Simmons, professional rock, paper, scissors player.

Lasse Gjertsen's Amateur music video.

What NFL games are going to be on in your part of the country?

Photo of young homeless man Beavis shooting up in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco.

NPR interview with Ed Burns, creator of The Wire.

Hans van der Meer's photos of European soccer fields.

Giant magazine's list of the 50 greatest commercials of the 80s (with accompanying videos).

Slate interview with Ed Burns, creator of The Wire.

Writers Dreamtools History by Decades...facts, figures, styles, language, and goings-on for fiction writers.

Seminal experimental film La Jetée online in its entirety.

Thirteen photographs that changed the world, featuringJAN 03

Thirteen photographs that changed the world, featuring Robert Capa, Man Ray, Matthew Brady, and Ansel Adams.

Shopsin's, who closed their beloved eatery inJAN 03

Shopsin's, who closed their beloved eatery in the West Village last month, has updated their web site with plans to open in a stall at the Essex Street Market on the Lower East Side. (thx, janelle)

America the Overfull, Paul Theroux's New Year'sJAN 03

America the Overfull, Paul Theroux's New Year's musing on an America with twice as many people as when he grew up. "We are passing through a confused period of aggression and fear, characterized by our confrontational government, the decline of diplomacy, a pugnacious foreign policy and a settled belief that the surest way to get people to tell the truth is to torture them. It is no wonder we have begun to squint at strangers. This is a corrosive situation in a country where more and more people, most of them strangers, are a feature of daily life. Americans as a people I believe to be easygoing, compassionate, not looking for a fight. But surely I am not the only one who has noticed that we are ruder, more offhand, readier to take offense, a nation of shouters and blamers." (thx, youngna)

Perched on top of Time magazine's listJAN 03

Perched on top of Time magazine's list of best video games for 2006? Wii Sports.

The Long Tale of 2006. "What makes theJAN 02

The Long Tale of 2006. "What makes the long tail so disingenuous is that what happens in the long tail has almost no ramifications on what happens in the head." With the internet, some of the most popular sites are "places like YouTube and MySpace where large amounts of user generated content drives traffic and then deposits money in hands not of the creators, but instead in the coffers of the large corporate landlords".

rating: 5.0 stars

The QueenJAN 02

Talking about it afterwards, a friend remarked, "I bet way more people in the US would go see this if they knew it was about Princess Diana". It is and it isn't, but I agree: the movie concerns Princess Diana and it's great, so go see it. Trailer here.

All Thoroughbred horses born in the NorthernJAN 02

All Thoroughbred horses born in the Northern Hemisphere technically share the same birthday: January 1. Happy birthday, horsies!

What are you optimistic about?JAN 02

Each year John Brockman asks his nebulous band of futurists and pundits a question. The Edge Annual Question for 2007 is:

What are you optimistic about? Why?

I wasn't asked to participate, but if I had been, my answer would have been something like the following.

I'm not an optimist by nature, so a question like this is a bit difficult to answer. But as I look around at friends, family, coworkers, and acquaintances, what gives me hope is while these people might sometimes be pessimistic in what they say, they are optimistic in what they do. The cost of saying something, publishing something even, is cheap these days, but actually doing something still costs emotionally, physically, economically, socially. As a barometer of how we're all doing, this is a good sign...in spite of what we hear in the media and from each other.

What are you optimistic about? Why?

10 kick ass opening credit sequences from movies (+JAN 02

10 kick ass opening credit sequences from movies (+ accompanying YouTube videos). The credits for Se7en will forever be my favorite, if only because they inspired me (in part) to become a designer.

The sex of my brain is neitherJAN 02

The sex of my brain is neither male nor female...I'm right in the middle.

Ian Frazier on operating the shower curtain.JAN 02

Ian Frazier on operating the shower curtain. As a showering enthusiast, I appreciated the description of the convection effect that causes the shower curtain to inexplicably fly inward.

Faces of New York. Photographer Simon HoegsbergJAN 02

Faces of New York. Photographer Simon Hoegsberg asks people about their faces and then photographs them. "Essentially I would say I have made a drastic change the last three years. Age caught up with me. Good times caught up with me. Wild parties caught up with me. And what I see now is a truly aging woman. I no longer see the spontaneous, witty, charming...I see an elderly woman. And I find that difficult, but in a way very freeing."

2007 trend mapsJAN 02

A pair of trend maps for 2007, both based on subway maps. The top one depicts the top online companies/brands & how they're connected while the bottom one deals with ideas (with the River of Consciousness standing in for the Thames).

2007 trend map, companies

2007 trend map, ideas

Both maps were found in this article about internet predictions in 2007. I don't know about you, but I find these types of maps fun to look at, but completely inscrutable informationally speaking. Surely there's a more enlightening way to present this information than in Tube map form.

A couple worth $2 billion did their ownJAN 02

A couple worth $2 billion did their own divorce in an afternoon over a bottle of wine. "Life's too short, they figured. And why give the lawyers all the money if you can work it out yourselves?"

Classic Slate piece: how to buy aJAN 02

Classic Slate piece: how to buy a mattress. "The mattress biz is 99-percent marketing. So just buy the cheapest thing you can stand and be done with it, because they're pretty much all the same." (via torrez)

Aha! So that *was* Richard Branson gettingJAN 02

Aha! So that *was* Richard Branson getting wanded by security in Casino Royale.

Update: Branson also appeared in Superman Returns. (thx, charles)

Slate's Year in Culture, the most amazingJAN 02

Slate's Year in Culture, the most amazing and disappointing cultural events for 2006.

Archives    December 2006 »    November 2006 »    October 2006 »

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