Every once in a while, iTunes seems to start playing two tracks from the same album in a row, even though I've got it on a global shuffle, going through 1600 tracks. It seems to happen periodically, and I wonder if somewhere in the darkest reaches of the iTunes codebase they've written a "Twofer Tuesday" routine to give me this kind of non-randomness once a week.
The South by Southwest Interactive conference runs from March 11-15, in Austin, Texas. I'm giving a talk on community stuff one of those days. Etech runs from March 14-17, 2005 in San Diego, CA, though I'm guessing the first two days are just tutorials no one goes to. I'm giving a talk with Mike there as well.
So that's basically Saturday through Friday of constant conference stimulation, with lots of drinking, in two different laid back cities. It's going to be a long week.
I love documentaries and one of my favorite shows on TV is the quasi-documentary/news show Frontline on PBS. It's always been pretty good, with 2 or 3 standout shows every season, but a lot of fluff and repeats in between.
This year however, they have been absolutely on fire with great broadcasts week after week. They started with the Bush and Kerry history show, then Rumsfield's War, then The Persuaders. I have this week's special on Wal-Mart on TiVo but haven't watched and next week they're looking at the Secret History of the Credit Card.
They're hitting the airwaves with one great investigative piece after another this season and I'm really amazed they're keeping it up. They're even offering streaming versions of most of their new programs right on their website. This is public television at its best: serving the public interest and even offering the public an easy way to watch the programs they missed, online.
I'm going to make my first PBS pledge in several years for this work.
I tried to login tonight and forgot that PayPal closes every Thursday night/Friday morn from midnight to about 2am, and I was reminded of how quaint that is.
I used to work in a computer group that took all servers offline one saturday a month to update, patch, and upgrade, back in 1997-2000. There were many late Sunday nights and weekends without email and pissed off employees.
I'm kind of surprised PayPal would continue this practice even today in 2004, with so many web services built with them as the backend.
(, originally uploaded by heather)
Heather's shots from the bookstore that rearranged their shelves by color.
I was thinking that it'd be cool if someone had a service where you could call a 1-800 number, patch in another caller, talk for a few minutes, then have the service email you a MP3 of the call after you are done. I don't have any microphones or wacky phone attachments at home, but I knew it'd be possible with existing technology. I mentioned this to friends, asking if they'd ever heard of such a thing and no one could recall anything. Everyone seemed to think it should be a business and one of us should start it.
It's on the expensive side, they charge a $10 setup fee to do the recording part, and the normal conference runs 10 cents a minute, per person. So probably not something you'd want to use everyday for work, but if you wanted to grab a quick interview with someone and get it online within minutes, it seems like dropping twenty bucks and doing an interview this way would work out great. I'd love to see this used in the field, whether that's an interview with someone on a roadtrip, notes from someone over in the iraq war, or someone out and about that runs into something truly newsworthy.
Here's me on NPR earlier today.
I've always wanted a sleek, modern home and will someday build one like this (which was built for only $200k). When I told a friend recently, he kind of recoiled at the thought of a cold boxy object, and I shared a quote I heard recently that went something like this:
We live in the 21st century in America, but people still build and choose to live in homes that look like they are 150 years old. Why is that? Why shouldn't new homes look new?
I bought and listened to Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas (it's just a 45min monologue at the iTMS). Frank uncovers how the GOP became the voice of the everyman while pushing law and policy that generally benefit the upper class most of all. It's a vexing problem but I've always attributed it to language and the GOP controlling the debate. Frank goes a bit deeper and reveals a 30 year plan of campaigns that stress values, but that deliver economic law instead. So the game is to get people riled up over issues, but the GOP never actually does anything about the issues, instead concentrating on pushing laws that deregulate industries. He also goes into how the GOP exploits victimhood, since they never "win the culture war" and come off as the underdog, even though they control all three houses of the government.
The only downside to all this is that while Frank points out the root of the problem, he doesn't offer any solutions (at least not in the audiobook version).
If you caught the final episode of IFC's show Film School, they mention that Vincenzo gets a Volvo commerical. It looks like they awarded three filmmakers from the NYU program. The films are on the new Volvo site, here's Vincenzo's film. It looks a lot like the cafe film he did on the show, but overall the short piece is really boring (probably due to the script, which Volvo probably wrote).
I finally got to see The Incredibles last night and it was absolutely fantastic. If you've seen it, click through for more, if not, I'd say stop reading at this point and go see it.
The movie was just about perfect in all aspects. The story was great, the visuals were amazing, the action was good, and the family stuff was touching. There didn't seem to be any scenes tacked on just to show off the advances in CG work (well, maybe the dialogue between the mom and kids in the water was just there to say "look at us! we can program wet hair now! w00t!").
If I had to point out things that kept it from being a 100 out of 100 film, and keep in mind I'm really reaching here, it'd be this one thing:
The final robot fight scene felt too short to me. The first Robot vs. Bob scene was good and the Family vs. The Guards fight scene was longer and much more exciting. It felt like when the family finally got to the city to destroy the robot that it would be the longest and most dramatic fight scene, since it meant the climax of the film, but it was over with fairly soon. When they showed the long shot of the hole through the robot, I was almost 100% sure that it would patch itself, ala Terminator 2, and there would be another minute or two of tense fighting before the final defeat. I expected it since this was supposed to be a new revised robot, sharper than the last one we saw get in a fight, but no go on self-healing armor. So the fight was just over as quickly as it started.
Maybe prolonging the scene introduced the unfortunate knowledge that the robot was hurting actual people in the city. All the cars thrown and buildings smashed meant dead folks, so maybe the director felt the actual carnage had to be kept low, so the robot fight was shortened.
Also on the city fight scene, I felt it was a little weird that the camera followed a mysterious black plane heading towards what looked like NYC, when the bad guy launches the robot attack. It was a little too sept 11th to me and felt kind of unsettling. That the Family took a second plane directly towards the city was also weird, but I'm probably reading too much into it and am still too 9/11 sensitive about that kind of imagery.
As for the things I loved about the film, they are numerous, but here are some personal highlights:
- I loved all the mid-century modern buildings and furnishings throughout, especially at their home. The Family lived in what appeared to be an Eichler Home, the furniture looked like it was designed by Ray and Charles Eames. The rug prints and kitchen decor were all period perfect. Even his new car looked like a mix between beautiful old jaguars and volvos.
- I loved all the little bits that served as an homage to Star Wars. The Guards vs. Family chases scenes in the forest were right out of Return of the Jedi. The change over to a desert area turned into a episode 1 Pod Race homage. The Guards all looked like stormtroopers, and all the garage/bay areas and hallways were similar to stuff in Star Wars. I also loved the little transports on the island, being similar to Disneyland's Monorail/PeopleMover/Doom Buggies.
- The film was equally touching and funny. There was plenty to laugh at, and it was well timed so that there was always some point of relief after a long spat of worry. Whenever the Family characters worked together, and got to be superheros I almost had to fight back tears of joy before I realized a silly superhero film done a computer shouldn't make me feel so much. The voice acting was fantastic, and the rendered actors fit the delivery. I often wonder if you can get better performances out of actors doing voice-only work, since they can let go of any nagging feelings of how they might look on stage/screen. I'm not an actor and haven't worked with many, so I don't know if it's true, but it seems like I would personally have an eaiser time delivering a scene if I was confined to the recording booth, vs. having to do it on set with 50 crewmembers staring at me.
Overall, a fantastic film, better than any Pixar has done. I'll definitely see it again, and probably own it on DVD. I'm not sure if it's as kid friendly as their past films, it was definitely more of an action film, without much carnage, so maybe it'll still be a hit with the kids.
I'd also recommend this great interview with Brad Bird (the director) about how studios are going ga-ga over CG now that Pixar has proved you can make a killing doing it, but he stresses that storytelling and acting are what make Pixar films great, not just how big their rendering farm is. I hear story development at Pixar takes at least five years and that they refine each and every scene, something other studios rarely do.
Save The Carlsbad Raceway! is a site aimed at saving what was one of the first skateparks (I'd rather have saved Del Mar or Upland, but whatever).
The lint in Tony Hawk's pocket could probably buy the land, hopefully he comes forward and takes it over. You could probably make it all back running it as a skatepark/museum.
I was testing out the new MSN search engine tonight and found an old interview I did last summer that I completely forgot about. It was recorded in July of 2003 and after I spent 10 minutes or so rambling (and from the sound of it, drowsy on several hits of Nyquil) about MetaFilter and online communities, Greg (the host) asks me what I'm excited about online in the coming future.
I talk optimistically about the internet's impact on the election that is over a year away. How the internet will be a place where you can truly engage constituents, where it "won't just be people streaming commercials," and that the net will "make it feel like a democracy again."
In other words, I expected something great and basically was wrong on all counts, as my memories of this year's election were mostly people yelling past each other and streaming commericals towards each other. I really wish we could use the tools properly and get away from all the Terry McAuliffe/Karl Rove bullshit we seem to end up with.
Listen for yourself, my optimism is worth a laugh: election.mp3 (1Mb 65 seconds total)
From a bottle cap on my favorite beverage:
Vision without action is a daydream; action without vision is a nightmare
-- Japanese proverb
Like Douglas Rushkoff's last piece, Merchants of Cool, The Persuaders scared the living bejesus out of me. After the fog of advertising consumed our lives, they went emotional on us, and then they ingrained advertising into everything we watch, read, and consume. Now they're focus grouping us to the point where their messages reach our subconscious.
The political stuff at the end was especially disheartening, on both sides of the fence. It was like George Lakoff's language research combined with psychology that approaches hypnotism, all used to push people to support political positions that ran counter to common sense.
My first thought after viewing it was to remember an old Bill Hicks (RIP) bit about advertising:
"By the way, if anyone here is in advertising or marketing, kill yourself. No, this is not a joke: kill yourself . . . I know what the marketing people are thinking now too: 'Oh. He's going for that anti-marketing dollar. That's a good market.' Oh man, I am not doing that, you fucking evil scumbags."
As they say, Lord, help us. These demographers and ad folks are out to kill us all from the inside.
You might also want to entrust in Paul's take on it. Scary stuff.
When I first read about the new wysiwyg interface to Typepad, I didn't think it was such a big deal. I've seen dozens of wysiwyg forms before and few were anything but annoying.
The Typepad UI is amazing though. It goes way beyond making text bold, italics, or 64 different colors. Today I created a post where I uploaded a graphic, aligned it to the right, and filled in text around it. I didn't think the UI would handle it, but here's how it looked on the admin end of things (post area highlighted):
It's as close as you can get to actually writing posts in their final format. I can't wait until this kind of featureset comes to MT.
You know, with all the DIY/reality programming out there, I'm surprised that I can't find anyone that was ever on MTV's Pimp My Ride that has a blog. Or anyone that was on Overhaulin'. Or anyone ever on Divine Design. Or anyone from HGTV's trifecta Landscaper's Challenge/Designer's Challenge/Weekend Warriors.
I've always wondered what people think of their new spaces/cars/lives six months or a year later. I remember when Trading Spaces first hit a couple tell-all essays from participants showed up in newspapers, but given that millions are blogging, I'm surprised I can't easily find a reality/DIY show alum with a blog somewhere.
Honestly, I just want to hear that having seven monitors or $5k wheels on your car sucks after the camera leaves.
Am I the only one that hears U2's new song, where Bono starts it off chanting "uno dos tres catorce!!!" and instantly thinks he sounds like an idiot?
Maybe to an irishman that doesn't speak spanish the way the words kind of rhyme sounds good, but when I hear it, I translate it, and any song that starts "One... Two... Three... Fourteen!!!" sounds really dumb.
Firefox is finally hitting 1.0 on Tuesday morning. I remember going to the Mozilla 1.0 launch party in San Francisco a couple years ago, but Firefox 1.0 feels like something much more meaningful. You've got a ready-for-primetime browser that is better than anything else out there in all aspects. I volunteer to install it for everyone I know and everyone (especially those trapped in IE on Windows) comes away happy.
This is the culmination of all the work jwz started back in 1998, to make the then-dying browser Netscape open source. Now that Firefox has the virtual lead in features and quality of experience, hopefully they'll continue to build from here and grow their lead over competitors.
Ever since I got a pro account at Flickr, my storage and upload limits are essentially gone, and it'd be nice to have every photo I post to my Ten Years site also post to Flickr with the same data (I even use my keywords field to do the same thing as tags). If I ever lose my server's hard drive, I could always publish from Flickr in a pinch.
And if they someday support photo printing, it'd be an automated way of using Flickr as a virtual storefront for images. So you view my daily photo on my site, and if you want to buy one, a Flickr print-n-pay site would be one click away.
Kottke collected hundreds of reports from folks on how their voting went. But what I want to point out is this: Go to this comment and do an in-page search for the word "Oregon" and find all the rest. Half a dozen pleasant voter experiences from Oregon, all saying pretty much what I said a couple weeks back.
Voting by mail rocks, and I'd love to see it move beyond just Oregon.
Given that Traditional Non-Traditional Weddings are no longer legal in 11 states, I'm wondering why enterprising lawyers in every state aren't clamoring to produce what basically amounts to "near-marriage in a box." I know there are over a thousand rights you can't have as a committed couple that isn't legally married, but you can certainly turn over the power of attorney to someone special and hopefully get at most of those 1,049 rights with a series of contracts.
So that's what I'm wondering. Why isn't there a lawyer out there compiling all the necessary contracts together to make this as simple as possible for a committed couple? I'm sure there are thousands of couples that would gladly pay $500-1,000 for some package that would ensure their partner can make emergency room decisions, visit them in the ICU, and other less traumatic things.
It can't be an impossible thing to do, it doesn't require "activist judges" and would hopefully weather any legal challenge even if a constitutional ammendment bans the act. Seems like lawyers are missing out on millions of dollars by not streamlining this kind of service.
As Dick Cheney said, "People ought to be free to choose any arrangement they want."
I'm testing out TiVo's new "permalink a show" feature. Here's a link to next week's new Douglas Rushkoff Frontline show. Hopefully it'll find it on your local PBS instead of Boston's WGBH, where I found it in TiVo Central.
If you're in Seattle, Portland, or the Bay Area, do yourself a favor and catch Scott Andrew's mini West Coast Tour that starts tonight and runs through the middle of next week.
Dean Allen is looking for donations for a new camera and I thought I'd help out.
You ever accidentally choose a different language at an ATM and go through with it anyway? You stumble through the menus based on where you remember the buttons being and you eventually get 40 bucks out but you're lost the entire way.
Using paypal in french is just like that.
And me being a big dumb american, I forgot there are no decimals in EU money, only commas.