What does “MeFi” mean in the background of Mythbusters?


I figured I should write the answer to this entry in case some fans of the TV show Mythbusters ever wonder what a small easter egg in the background of the show set means. For anyone typing the title of this post into Google, here’s your answer:

Adam Savage, the co-host of the show is obviously a geek and spends some time online each day between shooting scenes for the show. Among many popular blogs, he reads MetaFilter, which goes by the shorthand “MeFi” by its members. Most of his participation takes place on Ask MetaFilter, a question and answers area of the site. This is his profile on the site.

Early this year, he posted a question asking members of the site to suggest some myths they could test from the Old West. The show had already covered a bunch of standards in previous shows and Adam wasn’t too happy with the suggestions for new myths from his producers, so he asked on the site. There were over 200 answers, but these three made it onto the show:

Adam talks about how the myths were chosen and how they were filmed in a podcast interview I did with him a couple months after the original question. In it, he talks about how he wanted to thank the website by having some small “easter egg” mention of MetaFilter, Ask MeFi, or MeFi somewhere in the blueprint and credits at the end of that episode.

Turns out that instead of a temporary small mention on that one specific episode that aired this evening, it was done in masking tape on a door in the set’s background several episodes before and has since stuck around. Time will tell how long it lasts, but now you know what it means and why it’s there and thanks again Adam for the shoutout. Mythbusters continues to be my favorite show on TV due to the great simple science and geekiness displayed each week. Mythbusters is probably doing more to help steer kids into engineering and adults into DIY/hacking projects than anything else on TV today.

Ads good! No ads better!

If you’ve followed this site for a few years, you probably saw my old essays introducing Google’s Adsense to the blogging public and that time I said ads in RSS were a no-no. Today I wrote an extensive update on the same subject over on my new blog: How ads really work (superfans and noobs). I basically lay out everything I’ve learned from hosting ads for the past five years including some data from my own sites and those of several friends.

National Writers Workshop in Wichita

I’m in Kansas for the National Writers Workshop put on by the Poynter people. They asked me last summer if I wanted to come talk about online stuff and I said yes, but to give you an idea of how much of a lightweight I am at this conference, I bumped into another speaker on the hotel shuttle and he modestly said he had to give a talk as well, so I looked it up (a keynote!) and this is him:

As a journalist for the Tri-State Defender in Memphis and the Baltimore Afro-American newspapers, Moses Newson covered almost every major event of the civil rights era. His stories included the 1955 Emmett Till murder trial in Mississippi; school desegregations in Hoxie, Ark. (1955), Clinton, Tenn. (1956) and at Central High School in Little Rock, Ark. (1957); and the desegregation of the University of Mississippi in 1962. Newson was one of only two reporters aboard the CORE Freedom Ride bus that was fire bombed in Anniston, Ala., on Mother’s Day, May 14, 1961.

And I’m a guy with a blog that has comments. Can’t wait for my session!

Patton Oswalt’s Dukes of Hazzard

Patton Oswalt has a new album coming out and I got to listen to the whole thing today and I enjoyed it. I’m going to do something unusual here and post one of the 22 tracks. It’s a two minute riff on the crazy scandals that continue to hit the Bush Administration and it’s the best description I’ve heard for the uncanny talent the White House has for averting one disaster after another.


Digg revolt

Pretty interesting community story taking place on Digg today (as much as I can gather, after Andre showed me):

  • user makes a post on digg linking to the encryption key that is used to crack HD DVD protection
  • story is pulled, user is banned, then story goes up about banning user (people speculate it’s because HD DVD was an advertiser) update: Ed Felten has a good post about general efforts to take all references to the key off the web
  • Two to three thousand people get annoyed/pissed, and start posting and digging all sorts of stories that mention the encryption key in seemingly innocuous ways.
  • This continues for the rest of the day, with the entire front page of the site filled with stories leaking the crack

It’s always fascinating when a community (or a country, or a religion, or a group of any size) decides to spontaneously revolt, and it’s even more interesting when it happens in such a short period of time in a distributed medium like the internet. There are loads of stories like this on other sites and in multiplayer online games but I’ve never seen it happen on digg before. I’m curious how many people it took to come up with a reaction and the idea to post the key in other ways — I can see a general mob voting mentality would be easy to gather steam once the posts were up since many people wanted a way to vent their frustration — but I wonder if it was just a dozen or two users that started creating the posts that quickly got to the front page. And finally, what was their method of communication? In-site messaging? IM?

Anyway, I’m certainly a late comer to this story but I’d love to see a wrap-up of it several days from now, when all the details can be figured out.

My new site: fortuitous

leaf logo When I came back from Austin, I mentioned that I wanted to do a new site focused on business type advice. After a month or so of the idea gelling in my head, I wrote down about 30 ideas for essays I’d like to write, I banged out a mockup, and I looked up a bunch of goofy domains. A couple more weeks passed and thanks to the CSS coding of Ryan Gantz, editing skills of Anil Dash, and the nice fellow that sold me the domain cheap, I give you: fortuitous.

It’s a new essay every Monday about some aspect of business that I’ve learned while running the MetaFilter/PVRblog/etc empire. Nothing too earth shattering, but it’s a fun outlet and I think it’ll help a lot of people in a similar situation out. Subscribe to the feed and follow along.

(btw, the design of the bottom frame CSS hack thing is totally cribbed from NorthTemple and it does display funny if you scroll your mousewheel like mad. It was also the first thing I’ve ever built using Coda as the IDE and it was fantastic, with a little more polish/features it’ll replace Textmate as my editor of choice)