Friday, March 28, 2008

In an ASCII Far, Far Away

Wow! This takes dedication. To make, I mean, but to watch as well. Old school. (C/o GS.)


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The Skype Space

In preparation for a two of the clock (commonly called "o'clock"), I realize that I wish I could stream my computer's sound out into Skype and thus torture the poor colleague on the other end. This feature (not a bug) would definitely be an actionable value-add to the thought space for Skype.

Readers have demanded to know what, what would I play? Currently I would play all video game songs:

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

South Park Free

Wow. Every South Park episode is free. No no, not just bittorrent, but from the rights holders. Amazing. They get it. What a great day. Sure, there are some ads in the episode, but somebody has got to pay for it (apparently not the current revenue streams, though). Granted I am used to turning on the TV and finding all my content in one place (on the TV), and although that model is not the only one anymore, maybe it won't be too hard to find content in a number of locations. (iTunes does make that easy.) I see they are also available on XBox Live (or whatever it is called, everything is "Live" with them, which is odd if you are really live -- only zombies would stress "Live" like Microsoft does, it's creepy), but did not check pricing (which should be zero). Oh I checked XBL pricing, they are not free. I believe the XBL ones are higher resolution, but still, that's not very competitive, although versioning is a traditional market strategy.

Monday, March 24, 2008


Tibet needs to be mentioned, although I'm not going to pretend to have any coverage of it, that what the internets is for (and a lot of places have done a good job). Here, for instance, is the NYT's Week in Review. Besides the loss of life, and of the Tibetan culture, it is rather sad to see how empty the West's stand on democracy, self-rule, and human rights really is. Might is right, that is all there is. The US can invade Iraq because no one will stop Bush (either politically or, in terms of the invasion, militarily). The West can declare Kosovo independent because we have troops on the ground. Tibet is screwed (that is a technical term, widely used in international policy circles) (that was humor) because China invaded in 1950. Kurds, Basques, Native Americans (you could write a paper about how Native Americans have some level of autonomy but I still won't get it, but they do), all have been mentioned as examples of nations without states (or is it states without nations?). Castells covers it all pretty well in his trilogy. So, why Kosovo and not Tibet? Might makes right.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

iPhone SDK!

im in ur iphone
programmin ur registerz

NYT and the Internets

Annoying and amusing, the New York Times still suffers from an inconsistent web presentation with articles that are (most likely) automatically moved from the newspaper's paper channel. Here is an article that has an example, shown in the image below.

The Northwest link is to, but it is so inconsistent to have only one airline with a link (to the airline? to NYT stories about the airline? no). Items in a list should be the same type, and they are here, but they are not treated the same and it is a jarring read and inconsistent use of the power of connectivity. If they can link one, why not the others? (To be fair Continental is linked earlier in the article, but still.) To be more fair, their bloggers do a much better job with links.

Update 4/4/08: Aha! I am not the only one to feel this way. Jack Shafer at Slate does too.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Shirky on Ontology

(A.k.a. labels or tags.) Clay Shirky on ontology, a bit old but an interesting and thoughtful piece.

In particular, I want to convince you that many of the ways we're attempting to apply categorization to the electronic world are actually a bad fit, because we've adopted habits of mind that are left over from earlier strategies.
True of pretty much everything (the iron horse, the horseless carriage, the horse-a-phone... no wait, not that last one) including the legal regimes we apply to new communication tech. It takes time for the paradigm to shift (this is a horseless carriage, it is still a carriage, versus, this is an auto-mobile).

I Wonder... iTunes, DMCA

So, if circumventing copy-protection is illegal most of the time, and if I can buy a song with DRM from the iTunes Music Store and then make an audio CD of it (with iTunes) and then rip it back to my computer with iTunes sans DRM... doesn't that mean that iTunes is infringing software?

Not to say that I've ever done that, or that Apple doesn't know about it (burning playlists, number of copies, etc., I know), but still. Of course it's unlikely that Apple would sue itself, but still.

Thursday, March 13, 2008


I was watching UEFA League yesterday, and the irony of the Fox Soccer Network was too much. Soccer, the beautiful game, the international event, loved by many including the French. And Fox has a station devoted to it here in the US? Fox, the republican feaux-newshound, isolationist, French-hating ignorant lying scum? Yes. That is too weird. I guess money is more important to them than principles, but I'm not too surprised by that.

Sunday, March 9, 2008


Yes, it's a few days old now, but today's write-up in the NYT is a good read, and the chart is funny and touching, worth reading around its nooks and crannies (it's also the focus of a post over on boingboing). Tycho has a good write-up about it too, and is so right about the name: GYGAX. Can't beat that. PA's strip is good too, of course: red dragons were always the thing. D&D (ok ok AD&D) taught me a lot of words, far more than reading the horrible SAT vocabulary test prep book in seventh grade in English class (yawn, that is not education, and I say that as an educator), like, mnemonic. And I can even spell it. Ha. Dom at MegaTokyo has a good write-up as well.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Signs as Interfaces

I love this sign, from the NYC subway. It is a sign that tells you to look for another sign. Emergency scavenger hunt.

Friday, March 7, 2008

FL and Voting

Regarding the dust-up over the Florida primary, republican Florida Governor Crist was quoted as saying: "Common sense would dictate that every vote should count."

A Florida republican said that. Amazing.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Option #2: Email

Let's see how this works. 2:18pm. (That is of course an egg cream.)

Options, Options

Huh. My iPhone does not recognize the text-entry field for blogspot, but it does the HTML editing field. Maybe emailing (options!) is easier. I am on my iPhone in a coffeeshop in Park Slope using free wifi. The only way I could be hipper were if I were in Williamsburg or maybe Tibet. Oh and look tags I mean labels. Hmm I'll have to link Willyburg later on my trusty Titanium G4 PB, no way to do it here. Why is the time of the post wrong...

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Smart Elevators

I have now been in the smart elevators in the new NYT building. Like the funny little digital displays, they left me wanting a better implementation. The elevators work like this: There is one pad of buttons for the elevator bank, but it is not up/down like you would normally find, instead, like the buttons on the inside of an elevator, it has all the floors available. Press the floor you want, and it tells you which elevator to use. 

There are a few problems with this approach, although yes it can speed things up overall. If you wait too long to get to your elevator, it times out, and you have to go back and push your floor again (there are no buttons in the elevator). Because the interface is completely different from the norm, visitors have a hard time with it (people tend to get on an open elevator, then, there are no buttons and you are stuck!), and on occasion I have been told people who are used to the system get on a normal elevator and forget to press a button at all. And, if you change your mind or realize you wanted a different floor once you are on the elevator, there is nothing you can do.

Smarter would have the same system with buttons on the inside as well. 

Reminds me of the iDrive. We have a standard interface that works well enough, and someone goes and changes it. If it ain't broke, don't fix it. KISS principle.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

First Post

Like the old days of Slashdot, "first post!" It's time to switch off the trusty UM space. I recall in 1996 using my NeXT cube for Pine at UM. Awesome. I'll have to play with the formatting and template here, and figure out what to do with five years of blog at UM. I'll have to go back and seed blogger with UM posts, so eventually this won't be the first post, even though it is the first post.