My iPhone bubble abruptly popped this evening when I tried my Shure E3c earphones (the best pair of earphones I've ever owned and far superior to the Apple earbuds) with the iPhone and they didn't work. The ones that came with the iPhone work fine. On their site, Apple says:
iPhone has a standard 3.5-mm headphone jack, so it is compatible with most portable stereo headphones. Some stereo headphones may require an adapter (sold separately) to ensure proper fit.
The earbuds from a v3 iPod didn't work either. The E3c plug is 3.5 mm and the earphones are about 2 years old. Is anyone else having problems with their earphones? I don't understand why this is even an issue. Very irritating.
Update: Others are having similar problems with headphones not fitting. Looks like it's the plastic sheath around the plug that's the problem. (thx, sean)
Update: I cut away a bit of the E3c's sheath with my trusty Exacto knife and it now fits in the jack. I'd love to know the reason for recessing that plug so much...besides pure aethetics of course; it just seems like too much of a trade-off.
Update: That page only updates once a day at 9pm for the next day's stock. So when it says there are iPhones in stock at 3pm, that's not necessarily the case. (thx, jeremy) At around 11:30 am ET today, Jake Dobkin reported "plenty of stock, no wait to purchase".
- I'm kind of amazed that this thing lives up to the expectations I had for it. It's an amazing device.
- To read RSS, just put a feed address into Safari and Apple redirects it through their iPhone feed reader. But it's very much of an a la carte thing, one feed at a time. What's needed is a proper newsreader with its own icon on home screen. Workarounds for now: Google Reader looks nice or you could make a collective feed that combines all the feeds you want to read on your iPhone and use that with the iPhone feed reader (Meg's idea).
- I skipped the index finger and am right into the two thumb typing. With the software correction, it's surprisingly easy. Or maybe I just have small lady thumbs.
- After fiddling with it for an hour, I know how to work the iPhone better than the Nokia I had for the past 2 years, even though the Nokia has far fewer capabilities.
- I could use the Google Maps app forever.
- When I go back to using my Macbook Pro, I want to fling stuff around the screen like on the iPhone. It's an addictive way to interface with information.
- Finding Nemo looked really nice on the widescreen display.
- You can pinch and expand with two thumbs instead of your thumb and index finger.
- The camera is not what you would call great, but it's as good as my old phone's, which is about all I want out of it. The lack of video is a bit of a bummer.
- I Twittered from on line at the AT&T store that the line was moving slowly because they were doing in-store credit checks and contract sign-ups, contrary to what everyone had been told by Apple beforehand. That was not the case. They were just being super careful with everything...each phone and the bag that it went into had a bar code on it and they were scanning everything and running phones from the back of the store one at a time. The staff was helpful and courteous and it was a very smooth transaction, all things considered. I was on line for 2 hours before the store opened and then another 2 hours waiting to get into the store.
- The alert options (ringtones, vibrate options, messaging alerts, etc.) aren't as fine-grained as I would like, but they'll do for now.
- I have not tried the internet stuff on anything but my home WiFi network, so I don't know about the EDGE network speed. Will try it out and about later.
- The Google Maps display shows the subway stops but not the full system map. Workaround: stick a JPG of the subway map in your iPhoto library and sync it up to the iPhone. Voila, zoomable, dragable NYC subway map.
- Wasn't it only a year or two ago that everyone was oohing and aahing over Jeff Han's touchscreen demos? And now there's a mass-produced device that does similar stuff that fits it your pocket. We're living in the future, folks...the iPhone is the hovercar we've all been waiting for.
- The iPhone is the first iPod with a speaker. Which means that in addition to using it as a speakerphone, you can listen to music, podcasts, YouTube videos, and movies without earphones. Which might seem a bit "eh", but won't once you have 15 people gathered around watching and listening to that funny bit from last night's Colbert Report. You know, the Social.
- I'm getting my mail right off my server with IMAP, so when it gets to the phone, it hasn't gone through Mail.app's junk filters...which basically means that mail on the iPhone is useless for me. In the near future, I'm going to set things up to route through GMail prior to the phone to near-eliminate the spam.
- Tried the EDGE network while I was out and about. Seemed pretty speedy to me, not noticeably slower than my WiFi at home...which may say more about Time Warner's cable modem speeds than EDGE.
- BTW, all of these first impressions are just that. You can't judge a device or an interface without using it day to day for awhile. I'm curious to see how I and others are still liking the phone in two weeks.
- Everytime I connect the iPhone to my computer, Aperture launches. Do not want.
A few people picked up on it and speculated what I might have meant by it. In reading those posts and poking around a bit, I found a post that Scott Heiferman made just after Facebook Platform launched in May:
While at Sony in 1994, I was sent to Virginia to learn how to build a Sony "app" on AOL (the #3 online service, behind Compuserve & Prodigy at the time) using AOL's proprietary "rainman" platform.
Fast forward to Facebook 2007 and see similarities: If you want access to their big base of users, develop something in their proprietary language for their people who live in their walled garden.
Scott pretty much nails it here. I've no doubt that Facebook is excited about their new platform (their userbase is big enough that companies feel like they have to develop for it) and it's a savvy move on their part, but I'm not so sure everyone else should be happy about it. What happens when Flickr and LinkedIn and Google and Microsoft and MySpace and YouTube and MetaFilter and Vimeo and Last.fm launch their platforms that you need to develop apps for in some proprietary language that's different for each platform? That gets expensive, time-consuming, and irritating. It's difficult enough to develop for OS X, Windows, and Linux simultaneously...imagine if you had 30 different platforms to develop for.
As it happens, we already have a platform on which anyone can communicate and collaborate with anyone else, individuals and companies can develop applications which can interoperate with one another through open and freely available tools, protocols, and interfaces. It's called the internet and it's more compelling than AOL was in 1994 and Facebook in 2007. Eventually, someone will come along and turn Facebook inside-out, so that instead of custom applications running on a platform in a walled garden, applications run on the internet, out in the open, and people can tie their social network into it if they want, with privacy controls, access levels, and alter-egos galore.
Regarding the food plagiarism business from yesterday, Ed Levine reports that he visited both restaurants yesterday and has some further thoughts on the situation. I think he nails it with this observation: "He was her right-hand man for six years, with complete and unfettered access to her creativity, recipes, craftsmanship, and even the combination to her safe. Charles is a smart, fiercely independent, tough-minded chef and businessperson who misplaced her trust when she gave her chief lieutenant all that access. McFarland, bereft of his own ideas, decided to open what is, for all intents and purposes, a clone of Pearl."
"In September 2006, a group of African American high school students in Jena, Louisiana, asked the school for permission to sit beneath a 'whites only' shade tree. There was an unwritten rule that blacks couldn't sit beneath the tree. The school said they didn't care where students sat. The next day, students arrived at school to see three nooses (in school colors) hanging from the tree." Read more about the Jena 6 at While Seated and BBC News.
Is the search for aliens such a good idea? If/when we find evidence of extraterrestrial intelligent life, will they welcome us as neighbors, treat us as vermin in their universe or something inbetween? "Jared Diamond, professor of evolutionary biology and Pulitzer Prize winner, says: 'Those astronomers now preparing again to beam radio signals out to hoped-for extraterrestrials are naive, even dangerous.'"
Many parallels here to the design/art/film world...what is mere inspiration versus outright theft? The key question in these kinds of cases for me is: does the person exercise creativity in the appropriation? Did they add something to it instead of just copying or superficially changing it? Clam shacks are everywhere in New England, but an upscale seafood establishment with a premium lobster roll is a unique creative twist on that concept brought to NYC by Charles. An upscale clam shack blocks away from a nearly identical restaurant at which the owner used to work for six years...that seems a bit lame to me, not the work of a creative restaurateur. Who knows how this stuff is going to play out legally; it's a complex issue with lots of slippery slope potential.
Congrats to the Vimeo team on the launch of the latest version of the site. Here's the announcement post. The login/signup page is awesome. I also like how Vimeo has found room in the crowded video-on-the-web field, even though YouTube dominates the space. Vimeo is to YouTube as Facebook is to MySpace...not in terms of closed versus open (you do know that Facebook is AOL 2.0, right?) but in terms of being a bit more well thought out and not as, well, ugly (and not just in the aesthetic sense).
On his new blog at the New Yorker, George Packer asks (and answers) a question: Why do the highest government officials always seem to know less about a particular situation than anyone else? "I believe that the President believes so firmly that he is President for just this mission -- and there's something religious about it -- that it will succeed, and that kind of permeates."
So just to explain a little further, yes, it is the actual high voltage sparks that are making the noise. Every cycle of the music is a burst of sparks at 41 KHz, triggered by digital circuitry at the end of a "long" piece of fiber optics. What's not immediately obvious in this video is how loud this is. Many people were covering their ears, dogs were barking. In the sections where the crowd is cheering and the coils is starting and stopping, you can hear the the crowd is drowned out by the coil when it's firing.
In a great illustration of the sometimes odd path that innovation takes, Robert Moog found inspiration in the theremin after it had fallen out of favor in serious musical circles:
After a flurry of interest in America following the end of the Second World War, the theremin soon fell into disuse with serious musicians, mainly because newer electronic instruments were introduced that were easier to play. However, a niche interest in the theremin persisted, mostly among electronics enthusiasts and kit-building hobbyists. One of these electronics enthusiasts, Robert Moog, began building theremins in the 1950s, while he was a high-school student. Moog subsequently published a number of articles about building theremins, and sold theremin kits which were intended to be assembled by the customer. Moog credited what he learned from the experience as leading directly to his groundbreaking synthesizer, the Minimoog.
Early this morning, Paris Hilton was released from jail after serving a 23-day sentence for violating her probation on a prior conviction for reckless driving. Here's a photo taken soon after her release:
We see photos of celebrities smiling in public all the time, at movie openings, at awards shows, on stage, on TV, on red carpets...anywhere there's a camera waiting to capture a public image. Hilton in particular is known for smiling in public, chin down and looking up to the right. But the above photo is the first time she's ever looked genuinely happy, an authentic smile. Never have all those smiling celebrity photos -- and the purposes behind them -- looked so phony.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect: "the phenomenon whereby people who have little knowledge systematically think that they know more than others who have much more knowledge". "Across 4 studies, the authors found that participants scoring in the bottom quartile on tests of humor, grammar, and logic grossly overestimated their test performance and ability. Although test scores put them in the 12th percentile, they estimated themselves to be in the 62nd. Meanwhile, people with true knowledge tended to underestimate their competence." (via cyn-c)
Cartype: "A comprehensive collection of reviews and study of typographical applications of emblems, car company logos and car logos with images, comments, links, car company information and general interest."
I've been keeping up with the latest iPhone news but I haven't been telling you about it...partially because my poor pal Merlin is about to pop an artery due to all the hype. Anyway, it's Friday and he's got all weekend to clean that up, so here we go. The big thing is a 20-minute guided tour of the device, wherein we learn that there's a neat swiping delete gesture, you can view Word docs, it's thumb-typeable, the earbuds wires house the world's smallest remote control, Google Maps have driving directions *and* traffic conditions, and there's an "airplane mode" that turns off all the wifi, cell, and Bluetooth signals for plane trips. It looks like the iPhone will be available online...here's the page at the Apple Store. What else? It plays YouTube videos. iPhone setup will be handled through iTunes: "To set up your iPhone, you'll need an account with Apple's iTunes Store."
Update: New features include new Fun modes (Trickle- 1 creep per second, Random creeps), new Challenge mode (15 towers max). I'm on the scene, more as I have it.
Update: One new tower: ink tower, which has a minimum and maximum range and one new creep, a dark creep which I don't yet know how to kill (it seems to repel a lot of different attacks). My initial impression is that a lot of the changes make the game more complex but not necessarily more fun to play. Much more research is clearly warranted.
Update: It's also got in-game advertising...the little "K"s on some of the creeps refer to kongregate.com, a sponsor of the game. Blech. (Or maybe it's good that you can shoot advertisements?)
According to a recent poll, folksonomy tops the list of annoying words spawned by the internet, followed by blogosphere, blog, netiquette, and blook. Also of note: an mp3 of a religious service is referred to as a godcast.
Update:The Brooklyn Paper is reporting that DJ 10 Fingers subdued the suspected Splasher before he could light his stink bomb. (No, seriously!) The would-be stink bomber is facing a possible 15 years in jail.
Regarding Eve Mosher's project to draw a flood line around Brooklyn and lower Manhattan, here are a couple of related projects. Ledia Carroll's Restore Mission Lake Project outlined the shore of an historical lake which used to sit in the midst of San Francisco's Mission neighborhood. Under The Level explores the possibility and consequences of Katrina-level flooding in NYC. (thx, kayte and dens)
Peter Saville, the British designer closely associated with Factory Records, is offering free downloads of some of the fonts he used in designing record sleeves and other work for New Order, Joy Division, and other Factory Records artists (see update below).
Update: Several Peter Saville fans from around the world have written in to say that the above site is not Peter Saville's official site (this is). It's also unclear whether those fonts were indeed made by Saville (probably not) or ever offered for download free of charge (probably definitely not). But they're still neat fonts, so download at your own risk.
Update:Kai has identified some of the fonts offered as shoddy versions of the following:
Joy Division Closer - Trajan (Adobe)
Blue Monday - Engravers Gothic (Bitstream)
New Order 1981 - Futura (Bauer)
New Order 1993 - Handel Gothic (Linotype)
New Order Ceremony - Albertus (Mecanorma)
New Order 316 - BT Incised 901 (Bitstream) = Antique Olive (Linotype)
New Order Regret - Rotis Serif (Agfa)
On brand indentities that are flexible (vs. those that are static). Examples: Google's logo, Target's bullseye, and Saks' jumbly identity. "As advertising agencies lose their grip on the communications channels, the logos are starting to come out of the corner. Once pushed as far over to the bottom right as possible, they're becoming central to communication, no longer content to just be the the full-stop at the end of a piece of branded communication." (via quipsologies)
Update: EA's fiscal year starts in March, so it's not delayed until 2009...just until after March 2008. (thx, zach)
Update: The unofficial word from someone on the development team is that Spore the system is almost ready but Spore the game isn't all that much fun yet. A recent round of user testing didn't go so well. Hence, the delay.
For the past few years, the workforce at Best Buy has been transitioning from a "how much you work" model to a "how much work you get done" model, with promising initial results. "Hence workers pulling into the company's amenity-packed headquarters at 2 p.m. aren't considered late. Nor are those pulling out at 2 p.m. seen as leaving early. There are no schedules. No mandatory meetings. No impression-management hustles. Work is no longer a place where you go, but something you do. It's O.K. to take conference calls while you hunt, collaborate from your lakeside cabin, or log on after dinner so you can spend the afternoon with your kid."
NY Times on the rise of OpenTable, which wasn't exactly an overnight success. To me, the thing that pushed OT over the edge toward acceptance wasn't so much the public-facing business (let your customers make reservations online) but the software that the restaurants were provided to keep better track of their customers and their habits. It used to be a big deal that Four Seasons Hotels tracked the preferences of all their customers but now any restaurant with the OT system can easily do the same. "Doug Washington, a co-owner of Town Hall, said the notes were not just helpful, they are occasionally indispensable. Next to the name of one regular, who has a habit of bringing in women he is not married to, is an instruction to make sure the man's wife has not booked a separate table for the same day."
Patton Oswalt, who does of the voice of the main character in Ratatouille, shares some details to look for in the film. "Everything that Ian Holm, as the evil Skinner, does -- especially his teetering-on-the-edge-of-insanity rant to his lawyer about that 'rat' that no one else sees but him. The animators I talked to had so much fun rendering his lines -- 'An animator's dream', according to one of the character design staff. Also, the animators used his toque like the shark's fin in JAWS -- you always see it moving closer among the stoves in the kitchen. Hilarious." (thx, martin)
Short review of Taxi! A Social History of the New York City Cabdriver from the NY Times Sunday Book Review. "When I was young, most of them had adopted a common strategy against loneliness: a fleeting intimacy with their passengers. This was the era of the cabby as philosopher or comedian, quick to make observations about life itself, or its subdivisions in politics and sports, or to crack wise about women and other mysteries. This form of performance art had two goals: human contact and better tips."
Long profile of Steve Jobs on the eve of his fourth act written by John Heilemann, who is one of my favorite technology/culture writers. I'm dying to find out what past Jobs-championed Apple product the iPhone will most resemble: the Lisa or the iPod?
With its latest film, Pixar manages to achieve something that few other big Hollywood films do these days: a convincing reality. The body language & emotions of the characters, the machinations of the kitchen, the sights and sounds of Paris, and the dice of the celery, Ratatouille gets it all right, down to the seemingly insignificant details. As we walked out of the movie, my wife, who has spent time cooking in restaurants (with Daniel Boulud, even), couldn't stop talking about how well the movie captured the workings of the kitchen. To be sure, a G-rated kitchen but a true kitchen nonetheless.
I'm not quite sure how this is possible, but the people in Ratatouille acted more like real people than the actors in many recent live action movies (especially the rats), like they had realistic histories and motivations that governed their actions instead of feeling scripted and fake. The world of the movie felt as though it had existed before the opening credits and would continue after the curtain fell. Systems that have arisen through years, decades, centuries, millennia of careful evolution and interplay with one another were represented accurately and with care. In The Timeless Way of Building, Christopher Alexander writes of the quality without a name:
There is a central quality which is the root criterion of life and spirit in a man, a town, a building, or a wilderness. This quality is objective and precise, but it cannot be named. The search which we make for this quality, in our own lives, is the central search of a person, and the crux of any individual person's story. It is the search for those moments and situations when we are most alive.
Pixar's search for this quality in the making of Ratatouille is impressive. And in a way, necessary. In order to draw the audience into the film and make them forget that they're watching animated characters in an animated world, the filmmakers need to get everything right. Motions too exaggerated, motivations glossed over, plot too uncoordinated, and the whole thing loses its sense of authenticity. People need to act like people, omelettes need to sag off of spatulas like omelettes, and the only woman chef in a haute cuisine French kitchen needs to behave accordingly.
This is an interesting state of affairs. In comparison, the live action movies have become the cartoons. Not all of them, but certainly many Hollywood movies have. Spidey 3, Transformers (I'm guessing), Die Hard 4 (guessing again), anything Eddie Murphy has made since the mid-80s, Wild Hogs, Blades of Glory, RV, etc. etc. I could go on and on. So what are we to make of a cartoon that seems more real than most live action movies? How about we stop thinking of them as cartoons or kids movies or animated films and start considering them as just plain movies? I'd put Pixar's five best films -- Toy Story 2, The Incredibles, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille, and let's throw Brad Bird's The Iron Giant in for good measure -- among the best big budget films made in the last 10 years, no caveats required.
Oh, and I don't want to give away the ending, but I will say that Ratatouille also has something to say about critics and criticism, a topic that's currently under debate in foodie circles and has been discussed many times in different areas of the blogosphere. It almost seems as though the film's message is aimed partially at bloggers, and for those that care to listen, that message is both encouraging and enlightening.
Bruce Schneier on the Portrait of the Modern Terrorist as an Idiot. "Terrorism is a real threat, and one that needs to be addressed by appropriate means. But allowing ourselves to be terrorized by wannabe terrorists and unrealistic plots -- and worse, allowing our essential freedoms to be lost by using them as an excuse -- is wrong."
If you're unfamiliar with the alternate side parking shuffle that happens once or twice a week in most areas of NYC, Jen Bekman has a good description of it. I'm convinced the New Yorker would go out of business if it weren't for the shuffle...a lot of 6,000 word articles get read waiting for the meter maid to come around.
A Brief History of Economic Time. "No 18th-century politician would have asked 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' because it never would have occurred to anyone that they ought to be better off than they were four years ago." (via migurski)
The social life of plants: plants can tell their relatives from strangers. "Plants grown alongside unrelated neighbours are more competitive than those growing with their siblings -- ploughing more energy into growing roots when their neighbours don't share their genetic stock."
I just stumbled upon the work of Tim Knowles, whose art explores the mostly hidden, obscured, or otherwise unnoticed motion of objects. One of his projects is Tree Drawings:
Drawings produced by pens attached to the tips of tree branches, as the branches move in the wind the tree draws on to a panel or drawing board on an easel. Like signatures the trees drawings tell of the tree's character; a Hawthorn producing a stiff, scratchy & spikey drawing an Oak a more elegant flowing line.
Here's the oak at its easel and the resulting art:
Opening Friday, June 22 at jen bekman gallery in NYC: A New American Portrait, "a group exhibition of photographs featuring artists at the vanguard of contemporary portraiture in America". Curated by Jen Bekman and Joerg Colberg, one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of photography.
Crime in the three biggest American cities (NY, Chicago, LA) is down...and up almost everywhere else. In part, this is due to the aging of the population in those cities. "Together they lost more than 200,000 15-to 24-year-olds between 2000 and 2005. That bodes ill for their creativity and future competitiveness, but it is good news for the police. Young people are not just more likely to commit crimes. Thanks to their habit of walking around at night and their taste for portable electronic gizmos, they are also more likely to become its targets." Young people, your gizmos are hurting America!
Digg policies from Lifehacker and Gizmodo, which state that the only Digg-worthy posts of theirs are those with "original content, new reporting, treatment, or photos" because "it's not fair when we get the Digg for someone else's work." This seems inconsistent on the part of Gawker Media. One of their main innovations (if you'd like to call it that) regarding the blog format was the idea of linking to things in such a way that readers don't need to actually leave the site to get the full (or nearly full) story. Why let all those readers (and the associated ad revenue) go to some other site to read the story...they might never return. Due in part to Gawker's influence as first mover in the pro blog space, this practice is unfortunately standard procedure for most similar blogs.
As you may know, it's been tough going for many independent publishers, McSweeney's included, since our distributor filed for bankruptcy last December 29. We lost about $130,000 -- actual earnings that were simply erased. Due to the intricacies of the settlement, the real hurt didn't hit right away, but it's hitting now. Like most small publishers, our business is basically a break-even proposition in the best of times, so there's really no way to absorb a loss that big.
To try and make up the gap, they're having a big sale and are also auctioning off some "rare items" like original art from Chris Ware, proofs from issues, signed copies of things, a painting by Dave Eggers of George W. Bush as a double amputee, and so on. In addition to Ware and Eggers, there's stuff from David Byrne, Nick Hornsby, and Spike Jonze. I've long admired McSweeney's for their editorial and business approach...it would be a shame to see them go out of business because of another company's financial difficulties. So give them a hand by purchasing something, if you'd like.
Michael Bierut on design lessons learned from The Sopranos. "On The Sopranos, interest in certain things, including but not limited to event planning, fashion design, literature, and certain psychological theories, are considered indications of effeminacy. A not unsimilar macho attitude often obtains in corporate boardrooms when it comes to design."
Update: From the reaction I'm hearing so far, it's difficult to tell what was more disappointing to people: Jobs' keynote or The Sopronos finale. Also, a Keynote bingo was possible (diagonally, bottom left to top right)...no report yet as to whether anyone yelled out during the show.
Update:TUAW is reporting that someone in the crowd yelled "bingo" 35 minutes into the keynote, but if you look at the card, a bingo was only possible when the iPhone widgets were announced towards the end. Disqualified for early non-bingo! (thx, alex)
Today we once again get to hear the gospel straight from the source; Steve Jobs will be keynoting Apple's WWDC at 1pm ET. MacRumors, Mac Observer, and Engadget will have live coverage. My predictions: better .Mac, iPhone something, and Jobs will announce that Paulie's gonna whack Tony Soprano but not before Tony squeals to the Feds. Oh, and a pony.
The Life Project is a series of photographs that, from photographer's Frans Lanting's perspective, that are a journey through time, from the formation of the universe to the present time. Also available in book form.
Marc Andreessen on how to hire good people. Don't just hire smart people or people with degrees...look for drive, curiosity, and ethics. "Pick a topic you know intimately and ask the candidate increasingly esoteric questions until they don't know the answer. They'll either say they don't know, or they'll try to bullshit you. Guess what. If they bullshit you during the hiring process, they'll bullshit you once they're onboard."
After working on this -- on again and off again, mostly off -- for much too long, I'm pleased to say that a significant chunk of kottke.org now has tags (around 5,100 entries are tagged, out of ~13,000). Right now, the only way to access them is through individual tag pages, but after all the bugs are ironed out, I'll be putting them in different places around the site (front page, main archive page, etc.).
Each tag page lists all the entries1 on the site that are tagged with that particular word...some good examples to start you off are: photography, economics, lists, infoviz, food, nyc, cities, restaurants, video, timelapse, interviews, language, maps, and fashion. Each page also has a list of tags related to that particular tag and further down in the sidebar, you'll find lists of recently popular tags, all-time popular tags, a few favorite tags of mine, and some random tags...lots of stuff to explore.
I've tweaked the design as well: the main column is a little wider, the post metadata look/feel is consistent among short posts and long posts, faint dotted lines now separate all entries, and per-entry tags were added to the post metadata. I'm testing all that out for eventual site-wide use. Questions, comments, bug reports, etc. are welcome...send them on in.
 Not all the entries exactly. Until I figure out how to do some pagination, I've limited the number of entries to 100 for each tag page. The movies page was more than 1 Mb when all the entries were listed. ↩
As people exchange their land lines for mobile phones, phone books are getting smaller. "Americans have not been eager to list their cell numbers in phone books. Consumers and privacy advocates balked at the idea in 2004, when most of the big wireless carriers said they wanted to compile a nationwide directory. Cellphones may make it easier for people to reach each other, yet Americans are very guarded about whom they want calling them."
A rerun, because it came up at dinner the other night: EPIC 2014, the recent history of technology and the media as told from the vantage point of 7 years in the future. "2008 sees the alliance that will challenge Microsoft's ambitions. Google and Amazon join forces to form Googlezon. Google supplies the Google Grid and unparalled search technology. Amazon supplies the social recommendation engine and its huge commercial infrastructure."
Wikigroaning: comparing sparse Wikipedia entries about high culture topics with the more fleshed-out entries about low culture topics. For instance, compare the entries for Hammurabi, who wrote some of the world's first legal codes, and Emperor Palpatine, who ruled the Empire in the Star Wars movies.
David Plotz has finished his Blogging the Bible series at Slate...he wrote about each book of the Old Testament. "While I've been blogging the Bible, I have tried not to take myself too seriously and not to pretend more insight than I actually have. I just wanted to read the book and write about what it's like to read it. No essays, no philosophy, no experts."
Photos of the absurdly polluted Citarum River in Indonesia. "Their occupants no longer try to fish. It is more profitable to forage for rubbish they can salvage and trade -- plastic bottles, broken chair legs, rubber gloves -- risking disease for one or two pounds a week if they are lucky."
Pirate myths uncovered: they never said "arrr", there was no plank walking, and no treasure maps. The "arrr" and the pirate accent "originated with Robert Newton, the actor who played Long John Silver in the movies and on TV through much of the 1950s".
Reconsidering Rachel Carson's Silent Spring: it was an influential book...too bad the science was all wrong. "She cited scary figures showing a recent rise in deaths from cancer, but she didn't consider one of the chief causes: fewer people were dying at young ages from other diseases (including the malaria that persisted in the American South until DDT). When that longevity factor as well as the impact of smoking are removed, the cancer death rate was falling in the decade before 'Silent Spring,' and it kept falling in the rest of the century."
A rare positive review from Speak Up of the new London 2012 that everyone else in the world seems to hate. "I believe, despite any ensuing boo's, that this is some of the most innovative and daring identity work we have seen in this new millennium, and the lack of cheesy and imagination-impairing gradients gives me hope that identity work can still be resurrected on a larger scale."
The Caribbean world of Verbinski's trilogy is, after the first film, one of constant shuffling, of tangential narrative ruptures: the world of the film, like the world we audience members live in, is chaotic. Of course, this Caribbean world is not the world we live in. In our world, there are no giant mythological squids or sea goddesses, but there are, however, pirates - and daily acts of piracy. And there are social dictums, social pacts, that we appropriate and reconstitute on an individual basis, to live with ourselves, to live with the world. The main thrust of this trilogy is that reckoning: How will we live in the world when our autonomous freedom is continually challenged?
It's certainly not a stretch to make the connection between the autonomous freedom theme and the US government's recent actions to limit freedoms in the name of fighting the "global war on terror". The Onion AV Club's Noel Murray didn't read that much into it, but he did think it was more than just swashbuckling and gunnery:
No, I'd rather argue that Pirates is not junk. It may be a lousy movie -- I'll accept that argument, even if I more or less disagree -- but it's not just, as Nathan Lee writes in his Village Voice review, "a delivery system for two kinds of special effect: those created by computers, and those generated by Johnny Depp." I believe that a genuine effort to delight -- and not just subdue -- has been made here. The movie contains the same kind of preoccupation with clockwork gags and bad guys accidentally doing good that's been part of The Verbinski Method since Mouse Hunt. Like it or not, Pirates does have a brain, and a soul.
I almost want to go see it again, to watch it not as a blockbuster but as a film that might have a little something to say.
An interesting somewhat-inside look at Google's search technology. I found this interesting: "When there is a blackout in New York, the first articles appear in 15 minutes; we get queries in two seconds." No matter how hard CNN or Digg or Twitter works to harness their audience to break news, hooking up Google search queries to Google News in a useful manner would likely scoop them all every time.
Another one of those lists you love to hate: the 25 best movies you've never seen. Putting the horrible Boondock Saints on the list is a major boner, especially just ahead of Peter Jackson's pre-Rings gem Heavenly Creatures.
I'm sure this functionality is coming, but when using the new Street View feature in combination with driving directions on Google Maps, I want a play button that drives me from the starting point to my destination, showing me the street-level view along the way.
The scale of the IceCube neutrino detector is amazing...a cubic kilometer telescope 1.5 miles deep into the ice caps of Antarctica. (via pruned, which has more thoughts on the architecture of particle physics)
Back in August 2005, I gave Google a good shot at developing a WebOS of sorts, a browser-based platform on which would run a suite of apps to replace a bunch of the most commonly used desktop applications. Google Gears is a another small piece of the bigger puzzle, a browser extension that allows web apps to provide offline functionality. I don't think the offline thing is as important as it was two years ago; people have gotten very comfortable using web apps and web access, especially among heavy users, is almost continuous and ubiquitous. That and if the hype about Facebook's new platform is accurate, working online together is more compelling than working offline apart.