Pink

(I just found this post in my blog’s drafts. I wrote it one night in 2010, just edited it again and decided to post it today. I have no idea why I didn’t post it back then, it was a fun memory of a night I won’t forget from the 1980s.)

GOGlover

I couldn’t sleep last night from about 2am to about 5am, and for some reason I couldn’t get an image out of my head from when I was a kid and totally into motorcycles (I had a dirt bike back then). It was 1984, Supercross was big and every year my family would go see the races at Anaheim stadium and at the LA Coliseum. A bit of googling filled in the blanks of my memory.

I remember it was the final event of the 1984 season and the battles between the top 3-4 guys were tightly fought. There was prize money and sponsor money riding on where they ended up in the final year-end placings and this was the final race to decide the series overall winner in LA, and we were in the stands. David Bailey was my favorite rider (he was on Honda, like my dirt bike) and I was rooting for him to win the series.

As the final race was being staged, Broc Glover emerged from the pits decked out in day-glo pink from head to toe. Pink helmet. Pink leathers. Pink accents on his jersey and boots. It seems inconsequential now, but it was a bold choice back then and I remember an audible gasp in the crowd and a lot of confused fans. Motorcycle racing has always been a sport with hard misogynist undertones, and even today many years later, when you think of women in motocross it’s usually as objects, either “hot girlfriends” in the pits or the ever-present podium girls. These days there are finally events where women race motocross too but for the most part the sport is a neanderthal man’s world.

I remember Broc’s pink outfit causing waves. He didn’t have a big message or say much about it, he just came out wearing it to the shock of the crowd. Everyone seemed to think it was some sort of ridiculous stunt. Broc Glover going all pink on the most important race of the year had to be distraction to himself and others but he not only raced well, he won the race and the entire year’s series that night.

I’ll never forget that after he won (amid people in the stands saying lots of homophobic shit all night) his sponsors ended up selling a line of pink motocross wear and you’d see people wearing it at local riding spots in Southern California for years after. I was 11 years old at the time I watched this race and there was definitely something rad about pulling a stunt like this out of the blue, but then going the extra mile to outdo everyone around you while doing it that totally impressed me.

Dreams of cryptography

I had the weirdest dream last night. Apropos of nothing, I was meeting with Ev Williams, cofounder of both Twitter and Blogger, in his office to talk about something I can’t recall. It’s weird because in real life I haven’t talked to Ev in six months, and I don’t know why he wandered into a dream, but I’m getting off track. Long ago, Ev had some trouble with password cracking, and as I walked into his office, we exchanged hellos and he turned to his computer to show me something, and before he could do anything, he had to login.

After tapping the keyboard to bring the operating system to life, his screen filled with a weird scan of a magazine page, and he tapped with his finger in several key places which lit up in red, in a specific sequence, then we saw his desktop (my quick finger-on-iPad mockups shown below). I stopped him and asked what exactly did I just see?

IMG_0028 IMG_0029

He said to thwart break-ins to his computer and accounts, every week he would grab a random page from a magazine, hold it up to his front-facing camera to take a shot of it, then would select a “password” by choosing a sequence and locations of things to tap on. I then asked if it could work for website logins too and he said yeah, the new WebRTC functionality would allow for such a thing. Then we moved on to talking about something else and I soon woke up.

It was an oddly specific dream, and I don’t normally remember this much detail, but I guess I knew at the time I was experiencing this that it might be a good idea in the real world and solve some problems people have with passwords. I’m no cryptography expert, so I don’t know if picking out features on a page is more random than coming up with strings of digits and letters. It would seem like on the surface, you could try and crack visual login systems like this with simple OCR and photo recognition, and simply make guesses to the bits that stand out the most. Another thing that came to mind in thinking about the security of this idea is how many possible tap points are there on a scanned page? Is it obviously much less than the number of possible keystrokes in a typical password? Finally, this would add an obvious problem to anyone with impaired vision, which current passwords don’t cause.

Anyway, in the spirit of sharing wacky ideas in my head in case someone else finds it useful, I present my goofy dream about image-based password security systems. Let me know if anyone builds such a thing someday.

update: Whoa, looks like Windows 8 has a sort of similar option called Picture Passwords, I imagine it could use a more complex image than a simple photo of a dog or a person and instead you could use something like a scan of a newspaper or magazine.

Downton Abbey promo idea

Now that Downton Abbey will see a third season, before it goes live next year, I'd like to see the studio behind the series record a promotional video for the show, and this is my idea: The full cast on show locations, in full costume, performing a lip dub of George Harrison's 80s song "Got My Mind Set On You". 

Bonus points if it features all the cast members paired up that tend to get paired up on screen, Matthew & Mary, Mr. Bates & Anna, Maggie Smith & Matthew's mom, Thomas & Sarah, Mrs. Patmore & Daisy, etc.

It'd be cheap to make, simple to do (probably a one-day shoot), and would almost certainly go viral, bringing the show to millions of potential viewers.

Thank Bill Cosby for today’s comedy boom

 

I have this crazy idea. Back in 1985, my family got cable TV for the first time and it included HBO. I think at the start they just played stuff from 5-10pm and eventually they played stuff maybe 12hrs a day, but I seem to recall they'd just repeat 2 or 3 movies a few times a day and whatever deadspots they had, they filled it by running Bill Cosby's Himself.

I watched Bill Cosby's Himself probably 2 or 3 times a week for a good several years in my early teens. I know the entire thing by heart and can quote you almost any line if you give me a couple words.

There's this popular held belief about the birth of Skateboarding:

In the mid-Seventies, two events coincided in Southern California that gave rise to skateboarding as we now know it. The invention of the urethane wheel and the drought that emptied the pools across the city allowed the kids to ride their new boards in an entirely new way

It was covered well in the movies Dogtown and Z boys and Lords of Dogtown. I mention it because I've been a fan of stand-up comedy for three decades now and we're in a boom these past few years that feels much like the brick-backdrop comedy TV boom of the late 80s. We have comedy podcasts galore, huge comedy communities like A Special Thing, we have an entire website dedicated to short videos of just comedy, and we have stuff like The Onion going mainstream with video on demand and their popular website. Not to mention popular late night comedy talk shows are joined by The Daily Show and Colbert Report, which meld comedy with news. Fans of comedy are getting their daily fix like never before.

So here's my crazy idea: the boom in comedy these last few years is due to two things that go together well, the internet, for making the dissemination, publication, and promotion of comedy way easier than waiting for a TV network to give you a show 20 years ago, and the fact that a generation of kids got to watch Bill Cosby Himself every day after school for several years before HBO figured out how to gather enough programming to stop repeating themselves.

Caraoke: Let’s fucking do this

(if you want to hear the original song, listen here)

A friend recently confessed he was really into karaoke and before he could ask I had to decline ever doing something as crazy as singing in public. I'm crippled with embarrassment whenever I have to dance or sing (or do anything kooky) in public, so karaoke is out, but I realized I actually like to sing when I'm alone and no one is watching.

Then I thought about American Idol and reality shows and singing alone and then it hit me: people sing in cars all the time! Karaoke in cars = Caraoke! We have the technology: hidden cameras, microphones, bluetooth audio, and OnStar-type microphones in many cars. Loved ones that suspect you're a private car singer can sign you up (without your knowledge 🙂 and record you singing on the way to work. Each week clips of people singing are played, the person singing is contacted and surprised (and sometimes incensed with anger, hey it makes for great TV) and the best singer wins something each week.

Why isn't this an actual show? Hollywood, make this hidden camera singing show happen already.

Thoughts from the bottom of a ditch after veering off the road while reading email on my iPhone while riding my road bike near a farm

Man, there sure are a lot of beer bottles and cans down here.

If my 18 year old self could see me today at 36, I'm sure he'd want to know why I'm still doing stupid shit like getting so engrossed with my phone that I actually did this.

Thank god I didn't break anything on my bike or myself.

I wonder if I could condense this stupid moment to 140 characters?

Perchance to dream


Slug, originally uploaded by visualdensity.

I had a dream last night that we solved the energy crisis by forcing the animal kingdom to create energy for us, but the trick was picking an animal ugly and unlikeable enough that the least number of people opposed the enslavement. So in the end, we had these enormous generators pushed by massive armies of slugs on land and eels in the water that created the entire world's energy needs.

There were of course, slug and eel appreciation societies that picketed the energy companies but most people didn't mind because they hated the selected animals so much.

Matt, what’s your favorite desktop twitter client?

My #1 recommendation on desktop twitter clients is…..NONE.

Seriously, don't use one, ever.

It's the most insanely massive pointless timesuck in the history of procrastination and timewasters. Imagine if you had a permanent desktop application that featured Google Reader scrolling up every new post on every blog you follow combined with every new link on delicious from people you trust and every photo added to flickr by your friends plus tons of instant messages sent to all, constantly streaming with no end in sight.

IT'S A TIMEWASTING FIRE HOSE OF INFORMATION.

Do what I do, which is every few hours if you're at a stopping point or bored or whatever, go to twitter.com in a browser. Scan through the missives from your friends, maybe page back a couple pages to catch up to the last time you checked. If you think of something you need to say, toss it up as a new message.

THEN CLOSE THE BROWSER TAB AND GET ON WITH YOUR LIFE AND WORK.

I speak from experience. I've tried half a dozen twitter clients but if you make a habit of coding, photoshoping, and/or/especially writing for a living it gets in the way much more than it serves as a creative reading or writing outlet.

It's like leaving a TV on in the same room while trying to write a novel. Just don't do it.