Offline for a wee while

Just an fyi, I'll be at a 10-day Vipassana course from Dec26-Jan6.

Best. Christmas present. Ever.

Bag of Bella Viva pistachios, from Uncle Nate.

(I'm all about edible gifts.)



Saw it in the Asian Art Museum's gift shop, couldn't resist. More here, mine's the Tibetan Dragon one.


More Lazyweb: Sci-fi?

Now that I've almost worked my way through Firefly and Battlestar Galactica, what other sci-fi should I check out?

Oh Lazyweb...

Can you find me any Yosa Buson posters or prints? I'm particularly fond of his "lonely traveler" paintings, which are currently on display at the Asian Art Museum here in SF.

Here's an example:

(I also enjoyed Song Yulin's paintings, and am unable to find prints of his either...)


Playlist of the Day

Yesterday in iTunes I selected all my Death Cab (4 albums) and Belle and Sebastian (also 4 albums), clicked Shuffle, and hit Play.

It was delightful.

Google Hiring Mac Engineers

If you're a Mac hacker and might be interested in working on Mac stuff at Google, let me know. These positions were just posted:
And these were posted a little while ago:
[also posted to FA:OSX]


New Gmail Stuff

The Gmail team has released a whole pile of stuff lately (and they should have a blog where they talk about all of it):

Dubai Conference Writeup

Here's Mahmood's fantastic writeup of the Conference we attended in Dubai last week.

And us at lunch:

Mahmood Al-Yousif & Eric Case
(originally uploaded by malyousif)

Four Year Bender

I just saw these guys at The Independent - they were really, really good. Give 'em a listen.



(list at the bottom of this page)


Lots of folks have linked this already, but I wanted to highlight these quotes:
"The study also indicates that regular meditation may slow age-related thinning of the frontal cortex."
"The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated on average 40 minutes each day, you don't have to be a monk."


Ski Dubai

I had a ~6 hour layover in Dubai today, so I decided to go snowboarding with Jehane:

Podcast from Dubai

(posting from Doha, Qatar)

A few days ago I did a quick Odeo demo for John Gage and Geoff Cowan from the conference. Not much there, but it was fun to see how easy it was to a) record an audio snippet from a web browser, b) snap a photo with my Treo and c) associate it with the podcast on Odeo's site. Check it out:




from Dubai

(demo for Geoff Cowan)



Hello from Dubai, the conference is full of interesting people!

(demoing for John Gage)


View from my hotel room

Burj Al Arab, and for me it's invoking similar feelings as Taj Mahal... it's just breathtakingly, heart-stoppingly beautiful.

Update: Alas, the inside was rather disappointing... gaudy, shiny, ick. Oh well.

Coffee and Melatonin

-got in late last night, took ~20 hours to get here (KLM via Amsterdam)

-Goldman was right about Melatonin - it's how to deal with jetlag

-spent a while this morning chatting with Ahmad Al-Rikabi, who started Radio Dijla in Iraq. He's got some fascinating stories (and hopefully he'll be blogging them soon).

-I need to read Salam Pax's book

-chatted with Gordon Robison, proprietor of mideastanalysis.com

-Internet access in the hotel is ridiculously expensive, and they only have wifi in the Business Center. WiFi needs to be everywhere, and free.

-no problems getting to Flickr, but perhaps the filtering doesn't affect the hotel?


Surf Dubai


(I've got one free day after the conference, hopefully there'll be a swell!)


UAE Censorship

This afternoon I'm flying to Dubai for a conference, but apparently I won't be able to use Flickr while I'm there.

Sigh. I hope Blogger works... it's sort of why I'm going and all.

Update: Flickr works fine from the hotel, but perhaps the filtering is different here? Blogger's working fine too.


Orbitz rocks

I bought some plane tickets on Orbitz recently, and this appeared during the purchasing process:

How cool is that? They'd emailed me the discount notification a few weeks ago, but I just archived it and forgot about it (I didn't have any travel plans when they first emailed me).

Amazon should do this too.



Today Pete, Goldman, Evan, CDub and I had lunch with Andy Hertzfeld.

He's rad.



Posting from the 2400 year-old Teatro Greco at Taormina, on Sicily's east coast - it's simply stunning! The theatre is situated on a mountaintop looking out over the town (pop. 11,000), the Ionean Sea, and the various towns scattered down the coast - similar to Cinque Terre south of the Italian Rivierra. If the weather were clear we could see Etna (which we climbed yesterday), though alas it's pretty cloudy today.

Apparently there's a yearly film festival here, which would be fun to see someday.

My cousin has turned me into a coffee fan - we're having cappucinos at breakfast every morning and lattes or macchiatos in the afternoons. Next I suppose I should learn how the fancy coffee/foam machines at the office work.

The car's been fantastic - we've driven over 1000km so far (Sicily's big, and there's lots to see) and only had to fill up the tank once - no biodiesel, though. We've got ~250km left to get back to Palermo, and are part-way through the Harry Potter IV audiobook (gotta be up to speed - the movie comes out Nov18).

Ciao for now,


Remind me sometime...

..to tell the story of "The Accidental 15-Course Meal and the Best Cannoli in Sicily."


So far

We (my cousin Mary Ellen and I) got out of Palermo as soon as we could - were hoping to rent a Smart, but sadly Avis' were rented already. So we're cruising around in a 2005 VW Golf TDI instead. (I definitely prefer the <2005 design, but the new one is growing on me).

Segesta was impressive and Erice was just delightfully charming! The neatest spot so far was Cave de Cusa, a stone quarry with several *massive* in-progress columns still embedded in the rock. The columns were destined for Selinunte, whose temples were insanely large.

Corleone was a tad disappointing, given that I was hoping for the old Godfather village clinging to the Sicilian hilltop - today it's a small, standard city.

Today we're stopping by the Valle dei Templi in Agrigento, and the Villa Imperiale de Casale on the way to Siracusa - we're making good time.


Cannoli of the day


(a photo of a photo)

Buono sera da Agrigento, Sicilia!

Posting via sms because the Treo's i18n GPRS roaming doesn't want to work.

Testing... Can you hear me, Major Tom?


November 8th

I went to danah's the other night and learned lots — getting folks together before an election to chat about stuff is a fantastic idea.


Don't Believe the Hype

Who else thinks Kevin Burton is building a stealth HotOrNot competitor?



It's posts like this that really have me digging Reader's podcast/mp3 support. Not sure why the image isn't loading though...


Monks (Bagan, Burma)

Bagan, Burma

I'm in the process of uploading all my old photos to Flickr - this is one of my favorites, from January, 2003


I love posts like this and this, where intelligent folks honestly ask for advice about something on their blogs and get great comments in return. A while back I ditched Bank of America and joined Patelco, thanks to a comment on Meg's post.

Vipassana Misconceptions

MTV.com posted an article about Weezer and Vipassana, and while way better than the Rolling Stone one, I just wanted to address/clarify a few inaccuracies I encountered:
"And in the interest of staying true to the tenents of Vipassana, he has abstained from sex for more than two years — a fact trumpeted on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine in its May 5 issue."
The Code of Discipline for 10-day meditation courses merely asks that, as a precept, students abstain from sexual activity for the duration of a course. Beyond courses, it's up to the individual to choose which precepts (and level of strictness) to employ in one's life. Nowhere does it say no to relationships or sexual activity in day-to-day, non-meditation-course life.
"But the road to happiness wasn't exactly an easy one. Vipassana is one of the strictest forms of meditation, requiring all participants to adhere to a list of precepts that includes abstaining from all sexual activity and all physical contact."
Again, this is only during 10-day courses. Abstaining from these things simply helps keep one's mind clear and internally-focused — this is incredibly helpful during Vipassana courses, which are, um, kinda challening.
"Sleeping in beds is also forbidden"
I have no idea where this comes from — I've never not slept in a bed at the 9-10 courses I've done.
"...all who undergo a 10-day Vipassana retreat are also required to fast after midday, taking only tea or fruit juice for nourishment."
Not all - just students who've already done their first course; new students get to snack on fruit in the afternoon. This precept is there because it's easier to meditate when your stomach isn't busy churning through food...
"A vow of silence is observed, as one of Vipassana's main goals is a deep understanding of one's soul through close observation of one's own breathing patterns."
Yes on the vow of silence, but again, it's only during courses. No on the soul bit, however — I would rephrase it as, "deep understanding of one's self through close observation of one's breathing patterns and bodily sensations."

Update: See Rivers' myspace blog post about Vipassana (among other things).


Lasik: check!

My appointment yesterday was definitely Clockwork Orange-esque, but (OMFG!) as of this morning I'm seeing 20/20.

Here's where I went, and here's all the reading I did before my initial consultation.

Lemme know if you have any questions about how it works.


Cool Hunting: Spicy Thai flavor Kettle Chips

These are awesome. Chad had some on the bus the other day, so apparently they're stocked somewhere at the office. I haven't been able to find them yet though...

The EnderAudioVerse

Audio Renaissance: Orson Scott Card's Enderverse

If you're into Sci-Fi, I can't recommend this series highly enough. In 2002 I read Ender's Game in one sitting while I was traveling in New Zealand, and found it to be, well, stunning. Recently I heard danah mention that its audiobook was incredibly well produced and worth checking out, so I gave it a listen. (She was right.)

A Wikipedia search revealed eight (!) more books, and fortunately Audible has them all. The iTMS probably does too, but they'd cost a fortune there. (Audible has $20/month, 2 books/month subscriptions, except you're stuck with their stupid DRM — at least Apple's is breakable).

When I asked danah what to listen to after Ender's Game, she pointed out that for her, the Bean quartet was more satisfying — it takes place during and immediately after Ender's Game, while the rest of the Ender quartet takes place 3000 years after the first book ends. Though I haven't gotten to the rest of the Ender series yet, I've definitely enjoyed the Bean books.

There are also some Card interviews at the end of some of the books; turns out he's a huge fan of audiobooks (vs. print and movies) because the listener's mind is entirely free to create the author's world in one's imagination — there's no focusing the eyes on words and paragraphs (or on sensory-overloaded film).



Dealers of Lightning: Xerox PARC

Just finished reading this book.


If you're at all interested in the history of computing, do check it out.


I Gotta Say...

... it was a Good Day.

For some reason yesterday was a really good day. I got to have lunch with Neil Gaiman, chat with John Battelle after his talk, and meet Dr. Schmidt and AmitP.

Traffic kinda sucked on the way home, but I'm in the middle of a fantastic audiobook so it was bearable. Had dinner with Natalie, and spent the evening chatting with Dom 'n Mer while Jerry and Macky had fun.


No News is Good News

This is why the only TV news I watch is The Daily Show:

bad news

(from here, via here)



A challenge, and a retort!

But sadly, Goldman didn't know to seek the Banana where Natalie and Ali so kindly help fashion-blind dudes like him...


Lasik or Intacs?

I've been wanting to get Lasik for a while, and am having a consultation about it Wednesday morning. However, I noticed a comment on the 43things goal about Intacs and it sounds way more pleasant:

-no lasers
-no corneal destruction
-inserts can be removed later on, and/or replaced with different sizes if vision has changed

Has anybody out there gotten Intacs, or heard anything good/bad about it?


Can You Hear Me, Major Tom?

Do you ever get songs stuck in your head? Right now Space Oddity's playing in mine, and it won't stop.

What song's playing nonstop in your head?


Gas prices

Gas prices, originally uploaded by jkottke

Hehe, I remember when biodiesel used to cost this much. It's going *down* in price, however.

(I'm currently paying $3/gallon in Pacifica)


A Thought

For some reason I've recently begun noticing how people (myself included) tend to react strongly to things, especially external things outside our direct control.

The thing to remember is, life is simply a series of impermanent events.

Some are pleasant, some are unpleasant.

That's all.



Originally uploaded by elcaseo.

Seattle, from atop the Needle

Seattle, from atop the Needle
Originally uploaded by elcaseo.

Grizzly Man

Grizzly Man
Originally uploaded by elcaseo.

Salt & Pepper shaker chess

Salt & Pepper shaker chess
Originally uploaded by elcaseo.


Reading about Computers

Buzz points to an excellent list of CS-related books, articles and web sites. I've been reading lots of this lately and been thoroughly enjoying myself. Just started Code a few nights ago.

To the list I would add Joel Spolsky's Book Reviews page, as well as Turing, a Novel about Computation, which I borrowed from SteveJ and read a few weeks ago in NH. And Joel's two books, and Paul's.


Fresh Gmail

My favorite new Gmail feature went live today — custom From: field!

This means that folks with their own domains can finally use them directly from Gmail. Some folks will be stoked:
"About the only downsides I can see have to do with my From: address always being my gmail address. If Gmail let you customize that, you could basically use Gmail as a mail server while still maintaining your domain identity."

— Matt Haughey, 4/2005
Nice work, Gmail team!


Digital Muzak

Om Malik:
"iTunes & iPod are an island of serenity amidst this UI madness. They are also the safe middle ground. Download, burn, or play on your iPod, all within seconds."


Why Wikipedia Rocks

What is Left:
"Without hesitation, I knew my charge. So, this morning, for the first time ever, I edited the Wikipedia. I just ran the changes by the Secretary herself and she approves. Phew."
(Sacca rocks too)


Goin' Dot Com

"Goin' Dot Com" at the Eureka

San Franciscans, you've still got a few days to see Goin' Dot Com! - The Musical — it's playing until August 6th at the Eureka. If you're at all involved with high tech, you'll laugh hysterically and utterly enjoy it.



Much Ado about a Birthday

Presenting the Cake
(originally uploaded by landersen)
Last weekend I turned 26, and my roomie organized a surprise-thing for it. Funnier though, than the fact that I (stubbornly) wouldn't leave the house Saturday afternoon, were the various writeups and photos posted those involved:
Dom even dialed in from LebowskiFest, deep in the Santa Cruz Mountains (1, 2) — thanks all!

The best shot is clearly this one - note how much air Jerry's catching in the background:



Wil Shipley Knows What's Up

In this case, anicca:
"If there's one thing I've discovered, it's that there is no stable state in life. There is no getting somewhere and going, "Ah, *NOW* I'm going to park myself down and just rake in the fat loot." Change is scary, but it's also the foundation of life and happiness. We need it. We get bored and lazy without it."
There's more at DrunkenBlog.



Want the lowdown on RoveGate? See defective yeti.


Best. Vanity Plate. Ever.

Spotted on 280s this morning:
Update: it showed up on the Blogger Photo Scroller!

DOOD WTF on the Blogger Photo Scroller


Anarchy in Palo Alto

Snarfed, Anarchists just ain't what they used to be:
"My favorite part of the night came when a portly, bearded hippie in tie-dyed clothes walked into the middle of the street. He raised a hand-lettered PEACE sign and slowly, without a word, turned in full a circle. A few steps away, a girl in designer jeans and high heels stopped to snap his picture with her cell phone camera. The scene was quintessentially Palo Alto. It was also really, really funny."


Ludwig van

You've been listening to (and downloading) Beethoven's 9 Symphonies from the BBC, haven't you?


An Update from the Wilderness

Betsey, from the PCT:
"My heels have been completely annihilated - I've tried everything - tape, bandaids, compeds, duct tape, superglue, new skin, and still the blisters come. When my dogs are really barking I take up to 12 ibuprofen/tylenol a day."


Holy Hotness!

Google Maps API.

Let the (sanctioned) mashing-up commence!


Google Earth / Mac

Update: Get Google Earth Mac here.

Google Earth.

From the download page:
"Apple Macintosh computers are not supported at this time (but we are working on it)."


More from Wil

The man simply has a way with words:
"There's another fact you should know at this point, which is that nerds are not, inherently, asexual. We don't have much success with women, but that doesn't mean we are immune to their charms. Quite the opposite. We fall under such a spell that we are unable to function, and this renders us so unattractive that it creates a self-perpetuating cycle of desperate singlehood."
So. True.

On Software Piracy

Wil Shipley:
"Nowadays, I won't steal software even if someone offers it to me and I am just about to buy it. I'd rather (a) have the manual, (b) reward the author, (c) spread the love, (d) get the karma, (e) get a discount on the next upgrade, (f) know I have the latest version, (g) get tech support, (h) not wonder if it has viruses, (i) be able to re-install from the CD (or net) if needed, (j) not get fined $50,000 per piece of software on my laptop if a disgruntled ex-employee tells the BSA on me."
Me too.

[via Michael Tsai]


Steve Jobs Inspiration Roundup

Your choice: read, listen or watch.


Pet Photos

The Bruce.

This was *so* going to be Jerry, but we decided (for the launch) to go with Bruce because of the whole cat/blog thing. Sigh.

Goodbye Jot, Hello Backpack

I've been using a JotSpot wiki for a while now, to keep track of various projects, to-dos, articles to read, etc., but recently moved everything to Backpack to give it a go. Though I adore wikis, for me Backpack's speedy ajax (read: inline editing) won over JotSpot's feature-richness. Editing a page in JotSpot just took way too long, because you've gotta load the whole javascript wysiwyg thing just to do simple editing.

Then today, I broke down and upgraded to Backpack Plus — I simply needed more pages. I'd been cramming stuff into the free account's 5 pages but this morning it just got ridiculous. Congrats 37Signals — you found the freebie -> premium feature sweetspot!

(I would have opted for the Basic plan, but wanted SSL)

Don't get me wrong though, Jot definitely rocks, but it's just overkill for the way I was using it. It's an entire application platform, not a to-do tracker.

Update: Hehe. (1, 2)





(Derek Powazek has a great writeup)


Whole Foods

Fantastic writeup on Whole Foods from Fast Company: The Anarchist's Cookbook


"Giving Up On Books"

Steve Leveen:
When I interview people about their reading and ask, “Do you give up on a book you don’t like?” people usually get a pained expression and say something like, “Well I’d like to be able to give up. I should give up. But I find it hard to.”

Ring a bell? It’s the reading equivalent of the clean-your-plate syndrome...

The wisdom of giving up on books is compelling. New York University professor Atwood H. Townsend wrote in his Good Reading: A Helpful Guide for Serious Readers, “Never force yourself to read a book that you do not enjoy. There are so many good books in the world that it is foolish to waste time on one that does not give you pleasure and profit.”
I've been getting better at this — recently I passed on Earthwalk, Wilber's The Marriage of Sense and Soul, and Fabric of the Cosmos. Sadly though, two of these were audiobooks I actually purchased yet couldn't bring myself to finish. Oh well.

Several years ago, when I was traveling and doing lots of meditating, these would have been more appealing. No longer, however. These days I either want to be entertained while I'm commuting, or be learning about things relevant to my life. (though this could change at any time!)

Hotel Rwanda

My God.

Watch this film. Netflix. Trailer.


A Pleasant Chat

Yesterday afternoon my work phone started ringing. The CallerID showed a tremendously long number starting with a +44, ending with INTL.

"Why on earth would somebody be calling me internationally?" I wondered.

Usually I just ignore calls when I don't recognize the number, figuring if it's important enough to warrant a phone call (over email), they'll leave a voicemail. I answered though, because it was cool that it was international.

It turned out to be Sir Orchard, calling from this tent in the English countryside, and it was midnight there:

My new HubbaHubba
(originally uploaded by dunstanorchard)

Turns out he he was giving his new tent its inaugural use, but couldn't fall asleep and decided to ring a random entry in his addressbook. What a pleasant surprise!


Cloud plume

Cloud plume
Originally uploaded by elcaseo.


Free WiFi is so frickin' cool, especially when I don't expect to find it — my Powerbook automatically connected to FlyPittsburgh when I flipped it open here at Gate B28 in PIT. Why aren't there electrical outlets anywhere though yo? This battery's certainly not gonna last through the layover *and* flight...

Listening to the new Gorillaz, which I snagged from the iTMS last night — sooo dope.

These rumors about Apple/Intel are nutty, but Markoff's usually spot-on with his stuff. Regardless of what gets announced, I'm looking forward to geeking out with the WWDC bloggers tonight.

Oh, and congrats to Ryan and Rachell! The backstory is that back in February, MacCarthy was inspired by my antics and decided to let Rachell know how he felt... apparently she was game. ;)



These had me cracking up:

"l'll never hire someone with an AOL.com address. It screams that you're at a very basic stage."

-- Peter Shankman, founder of New York City marketing firm Geek Factory, confesses to e-mail profiling [via GMSV]

"So our children are stealing music today, but very soon they’ll be stealing full-length feature films, and it’s our job to give them the infrastructure to do that..."

-- Bob Metcalfe [via HTP]

Stem Cells

"When we are healthy we have ten thousand wishes and desires, but when we are sick we only have one single wish... think about that. Nothing is going to stop stem-cell research, not the politicians, and not the religious leaders... because when people suffer and there is a potential cure it is impossible to stop the wheel from turning. When the first news arrives of being able to cure one of the diseases everyone fears, there will be a stampede towards Seoul."
He's right...


More Friedman

A bit more Friedman-teasing, this time from Mike in Saigon:
"I personally don't remember Alden Pyle boring Thomas Fowler with endless metaphors and nonsensical analogies. I just can't imagine Alden Pyle ever saying, 'I was sitting there at the Hotel Continental when the waitress asked me if I wanted another Pepsi or perhaps some green tea. And then it hit me, Pepsi and green tea together on the same menu! Yes, here was a young Vietnamese woman asking me, a Westerner, if I wanted Pepsi OR a green tea. East could meet West. Green tea meet Pepsi. And that's when it hit me. America could win in Vietnam if we just understood that.'"


I See That Your Schwartz Is As Big As Mine

Star Wars III was great — loved it! Went with Biz, Livia, Steve and Natalie, courtesy of El Goog.


Apple and the Web

Om writes:
"I mean by now Apple should have integrated all the music recommendation services into iTunes and enhanced the value of the software, instead of pushing its lame matching service in the iTunes store. Apple in that sense doesn’t really get the whole social networking/open media thing, despite being a preferred platform of choice of “open media” practitioners."
Agreed. I wrote about this back in February.


Mike from Saigon

No Star Where: "All of my housemates blog except the Australian couple but apparently the dingo ate their computer so they can't. You can read my housemates blogs over their on yer left. Linda, UpsideGone, and Alison."

Also see: Mike's latest photos on Flickr.


Why Jerry?

Sacked out

Scene: a bbq with some friends

Nick: Great dog! What's his name?
Me: Jerry, after Jerry Garcia (knowing Nick would appreciate)
Nick: That's perfect! He's totally a Jerry. How'd you pick it?
Me: When I first got him from WonderDog, "Petey" was his name. On the way home, I was trying to think of a better name for him, which still sounded close to Petey. A Dead song came on the iPod and that settled it — "Jerry"
Nick: Nice! Which song was it?
Me: Um, damn. Can't remember.

A few days later when I had the iPod plugged in, I saw a "Last Played" column in iTunes. Bingo!

Grateful Dead -> Reckoning -> Rosa Lee McFall

Have a listen.


del.icio.us blog:
Koty"In the interest of increasing communication with our users, i've decided launch ourselves into the blogosphere and begin a corporate blog. We'll talk about del.icio.us, upcoming features, site status and cat pictures. We also will be using it as a showcase for our coming blog integration tools and to highlight some of the great stuff people have done with the API."
(emphasis mine)

Excellent! The more pet pictures on the web, the better the world becomes.



Paul Graham: "On the Internet, anything genuinely good will spread by word of mouth."

AJAX, a conversation

SteveJ: "Hey Eric, can you Admin me on ______ blog?"

Me: Sure. <pulls up blog, admins SteveJ>

Me: Woah, blog-members.g didn't refresh when I clicked that checkbox. It's totally AJAX!

SteveJ: Yep, and it has been for 5 years. Back then they called it DHTML.



"Web 1.0 Summit: Merlin's Garage, San Francisco"

Originally uploaded by hotdogsladies.




Originally uploaded by Sutta.


After buying and returning like 5 different wifi adapters over the past few months, I finally scored the right one for my TiVo from TheNerds.net, via Froogle. In an unfortunate accident of bad timing, these all transpired to thwart my efforts:
  • Cancelled my landline for Vonage; TiVos don't work over VoIP
  • 802.11b USB adapters disappeared from store shelves, in favor of faster 802.11g models
  • TiVo rolled out its 7.1 upgrade, which is required for 802.11g adapters
Having no landline meant either lugging the thing to the nearest phone line to upgrade, or holding out for a USB/802.11b adapter. This proved more difficult than one would think, because none are apparently available in retail — Fry's of all places was out of stock, as was Amazon.

Buzz had similar problems.

TiVo — you seriously need to just build wifi into your deals...


Good Morning Silicon Valley

I'm glad to see that GMSV has finally moved into blogdom, complete with real permalinks and comments. Now you can actually link to posts!

Audible Feeds

Audible.com now has RSS feeds, which is cool, and they're powered by FeedBurner. I'm an Unabridged purist however, so I'd love to see unabridged-only feeds.

The descriptions are also too short — they should include full descriptions and ratings, which are the things I look at before deciding to buy one.

Flight Tracking

Status of my sister's ORD-SFO flight, courtesy of Dashboard:



Om on Blogs

Om Malik:
"One of the main reasons people started turning away from network/broadcast television to niche cable networks is because of the homogenous, brain dead presentation and uniformity of content. I see exactly the same thing happen today. Look at Yahoo News site today - it has gone gold after being in beta for two weeks. It resembles like any other online news site, the content is generic news wire copy, though there are includes from other news sources like Forbes and Marketwatch..."

"Back out News.com’s columnists, and you have a pretty similar content - much of it from online news sites relying on Reuters, AP and other generic information sources. I think this is perhaps one of the reasons why blogs are taking off - more focused and colorful content."


LaunchBar & 10.3.9

I just posted this over at FA:OSX:

After upgrading to 10.3.9 over the weekend, my LaunchBar installation stopped working. Specifically, it couldn't complete the "Indexing Applications" step of its startup process. I emailed Objective Development and got this in response:
Mac OS X 10.3.9 seems to introduce a new problem affecting LaunchBar's ability to scan for all installed applications. In most cases it seems to help to rebuild the LaunchServices database of Mac OS X. Delete this file:


and restart your computer. Please let me know if this helps to resolve the problem.
Worked perfectly.


Wired 0.0

Did you know that the first-ever, prototype issue of Wired was a mashup?
"The issue opened with three double spreads, from Apple, Sony and Infiniti. Then there were eight uninterrupted pages of digital collage, including images of a young man and his father in front of a wall-sized television screen; a robot family, and a computer model of the earth. Next came a series of well-written stories that showed the proposed magazine's range, including a profile of the Chairman of the FCC, a report from one of Silicon Valley's most famous research labs, and a call by former Attorney General Eliot Richardson for an investigation of the suspicious death of an American computer journalist. Shorter articles mixed technology previews with travel tips and book reviews. The cover was a black-and-white collage of a man plummeting from an immense height, the city streets beneath him surreal in their networked clarity. At the top, in red capitals, it said WIRED."

"None of the articles or photographs were original, and none of the advertisements were real. They were cribbed from every type of publication that touched on parts of the story Louis and Jane were trying to tell: The Wall Street Journal, SF Weekly, Scientific American, Outside, MacWEEK, Microtimes, Bay Area Computer Currents, The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, Nature, Business Week, Details. But the borrowed stories seemed bolder here than they had in their original publications. Bound together, they radiated a sense of fanatical self-assurance, as if united in expectation of technological wonders and tremendous social changes. The fact that the stories were taken from mainstream sources strengthened rather than softened the effect, for the credits page offered evidence that the revolution Louis believed he was chronicling had already been widely noted; only the context was new."
Gary Wolf, Wired - A Romance




Sippey's feedburner feed

Re: Friedman

Rafe Colburn:
"Check out this post at Making Light for an explanation of why Thomas Friedman annoys the hell out of me."
Me too.

Also see: CoverLG.jpg



Apple's got a page up listing 200 new Tiger features. These have me stoked:
  • Dashboard: Access mini-applications called Widgets with just the touch of a key — everything from a calculator and stock tracker to weather report and address book.
  • Dashboard Widget: Enjoy instant access to any contact in your Address Book directly from Dashboard.
  • Calculator Widget: Perform basic calculations right from the Dashboard with the Calculator Widget.
  • Enhanced Dock Menu: Quickly set an application or document to open automatically when you login to your Mac — straight from the Dock.
  • Stock Widget: Track your favorite international and domestic stocks and mutual funds, featuring current prices, charts and more.
  • Translation Widget: Translate words and phrases instantly between 11 different languages right from your Dashboard.
  • World Clock Widget: Check local time anywhere in the world or open multiple World Clock widgets for different time zones.
  • DVD Player Bookmarks: Bookmark favorite moments of a DVD for quick access later on.
  • Finder Slideshow: Quickly create full-screen slideshow of any selected images directly from the Finder.
  • iCal Events and System Menu Clock: View upcoming appointments directly from the date and time system menu.
  • Birthday Calendar: Always know the birthdays of everyone in your Address Book with this automatic calendar in iCal.
  • iChat / Jabber Support: Access friends and colleagues in the Jabber IM network from iChat AV.
  • iChat / Switch to: Quickly switch to different iChat accounts (AIM or Jabber) with just a few clicks.
  • Wireless Image Capture: Wirelessly import images from camera-equipped cellphones via Bluetooth or next-generation digital cameras via WiFi.
  • Mobile Home Directories: Centrally manage the home directories of your portable Mac clients and yet allow each user online and offline access from the office and the road.
  • Secure WebDAV: Get support for the Kerberos and https protocol when accessing WebDAV volumes.
  • VPN On Demand: Automatically establish a VPN connection when a firewall protected service is used for specific domains.
  • Image Keywords: Add, remove and modify keywords for images in Preview.
  • Archive a Web Page: Save the HTML and images for the current web page on your hard drive with just a few clicks. (a few weeks ago, Tantek and I were chatting about IE5/Mac's 5-year anniversary, and how this feature was still missing from modern browsers...)
  • Inline PDF Viewing: View PDF documents directly in a Safari browser window — no other application required.
  • .Mac Keychain Sync: Keep your keychain fully in sync across your different Macs using your .Mac account.
  • Integrated Sync Services: Get more from the improved Sync: faster performance, a simpler interface, and an extensible architecture that lets other developers tap into the Sync engine.
  • iTunes Album Art Screen Saver: Display album art from your iTunes music collection as a fun, ever-changing mosaic screen saver.
Stuff for which I'm not so stoked:
  • Spotlight Find: Search all of your documents, images, emails and applications and view the results literally as fast as you can type in search words. (pretty much everything I do is server/web-based...)
  • Buy Printing Supplies: Easily purchase supplies for your printer right from Mac OS X Tiger. (Printing? What's that?)
  • Safari RSS View: View RSS news feeds for your favorite websites directly in Safari — no external news reader required. (IMHO, client-side aggregators need web-based counterparts, or at the very least sync)
  • Mail (I stopped using this a year ago...)
Stuff I still want to see:
  • Tabs in iChat, like Adium


A Break from IM

Having spent ~5 days offline last week, I've got a heaping pile of stuff to do, both for work and otherwise. In order to Get Stuff Done, I'm gonna take a break from IM. If you need me for anything, email's the way...



Back in a few

I'm heading to CVC today, and will be offline until Sunday; my sister is sitting her first 10-day course and I'll be serving the first half of it. I'm really looking forward to doing some full-on Vipassana again — it's been a while...


Passing It On

Apparently everything is casting.




Thursday Geekery
"Since we moved to our new offices in Soma, Odeo has managed to attract non-employees who come over to hang out. Thursdays seem to be the big day. The office fills up with geeks squatting our couches. They're escaping from the commute down to silicon valley to various large unnamed companies."
Heh, Biz and I are actually commuting up.


Sorry, couldn't resist!

And, of course, Matt's response.


Kevin Fox:
"The game is a long one, my friends. In the end of course the users win either way. Like two farmhands vying for the love of a girl, no matter which one emerges victorious, the lady's got a lot of flowers."
(Regarding this)



Matt Haughey:
"In this year's money-ified etech, Joshua from delicious seemed like the last unfunded, unincorporated guy with a great idea and he was the belle of the ball. I saw him get mobbed after every talk, surrounded by what appeared to be VC types."



Wes Felter: "I wonder if Greasemonkey could be used to replace the new Yahoo Groups UI with the old one?"

(GM and its blog are written by our very own Señor Boodman)

Hackers & Macs

Paul Graham, Return of the Mac:
"When it comes to computers, what hackers are doing now, everyone will be doing in ten years. Almost all technology, from Unix to bitmapped displays to the Web, became popular first within CS departments and research labs, and gradually spread to the rest of the world."



BlingBling: A Directory of Wonderful Ads
"Boing Boing is obviously doing well. They’ve got — depending on how you count — between nine and nineteen ad slots, all of them filled. They’re the NASCAR of the weblogging world. And, hey, great. Good for them."
Biz totally saw this coming...


Cycling to San Diego

"30-odd miles later, I'd arrived at the almost-quality Hampton Inn on Ocean Street. My first day was done. I was craving Thai food. I walked to the Thai House, an old haunt, and was amused by the curious and sympathetic looks I got from fellow diners who noticed me: girl, eating alone, Saturday night. Odd, to be sure. But the pad thai was stellar."


Dub Conspiracy

Dub Conspiracy
If I was gonna be in Australia, April 22-24, I'd definitely be going to one of these shows. Salmonella Dub is one of my favorite bands, but sadly they've never toured in North America. Just NZ and Ozzie, with the occasional European jaunt.


Odeo @ Etech

If you'd like to hear what Odeo's all about, check out Matt's ogg of Ev's talk. Shellen posted an mp3 of it here.

Driving Ms. Natalie

My sister's driving across the country right now, moving from Ohio to California (much like I did back in 12/2002). She posted from Albuquerque about a few things she's seen along the way:
  • The World's Most Awesome Flea Market
  • The Pig Out Palace
  • Billboards of Note:
    Jesus Saves. Isn't it time for Jesus?
    Jesus Saves. Thrifty Jesus.


Ben Brown: "We live in the future."

Google Code

Gosh, it must be Code Week or something at Google. My & Steve's project launched Monday on the Google Blog:
"We just pushed an updated version of Blogger's Atom API live, and wanted to post about it here to spread the word... In addition, we've re-launched the Blogger Developers Network (feed), as well as the moderated, companion BloggerDev discussion list."
Then today, DiBona's project launched:
"We're very happy to be launching code.google.com today. To begin, we're releasing some developer-oriented libraries and tools... We're also featuring links to all current Google APIs. Come check them out and if you'd like more information, please join our group, subscribe to our feeds, or if you're shy, email us directly. And happy coding!"
[also posted to Blogger Buzz]


Goldman: "SXSW is Spring Break for dorks."

Bruce Sterling: "According to my design students, who itch to go there, SXSW Interactive is a distant, impossibly hip imbroglio where the pixelized crème de la crème is pushing the avant-garde hard enough to dent it. I never knew that before; when I lived in Austin, I naturally assumed that SXSW Interactive was some kind of overgrown geek accident."

Me: "SXSW is TED for the proles."

Hacking the Planet

Wes Felter (whom I had the pleasure to meet at SXSW):
"I have to sort of admire the way Bram Cohen's fame just keeps increasing despite the fact that he totally dodges about half the questions in interviews. This morning he informed us that the media distribution business is just going to go away, then the telcos are going away right after that. Bram is sure that new business models for media will emerge, but he doesn't know or care what they are, since he doesn't watch TV."


Google X!

This is so, so cool: http://labs.google.com/googlex/

Here's the GoogleBlog post about it.

Update: Ack! It appears to have been taken down, but fortunately somebody's running a mirror.


South by Southwest

I'm in Austin until Tuesday with a few other Blogger folk — we're here for SXSW 2005. Biz posted to the still-fresh Blogger Buzz about it:
"Jason Goldman is on a panel called Blogging Showdown, danah boyd will be talking about How to Leverage Decentralized Social Networks, and Chris Wetherell will be starring in The Flash vs. HTML Game Show—sure to be an instant hit. Be sure to check those out if you're headed to the geek portion of SXSW this year."
If you're in town too, drop by Club DeVille Monday night for Blogger's party, 6:30-8:30pm.

Why the Web Rocks

Wired on the Wikipedia:
"When the Indian Ocean tsunami erupted late last year, Wikipedians produced several entries on the topic within hours. By contrast, World Book, whose CD-ROM allows owners to download regular updates, hadn't updated its tsunami or Indian Ocean entries a full month after the devastation occurred. That's the likely fate of Wikipedia's proposed stable, or snapshot, version. Fixing its contents in a book or on a CD or DVD is tantamount to embalming a living thing. The body may look great, but it's no longer breathing."
Harsh, but true.



Whether or not it's true, this is brilliant:
"I parked myself in Murky VA, my lackluster de facto “third place,” and opened up iTunes. Before I hopped on Bassdrive or another streaming station I had a look at the sole shared iTunes music library in a sea of PowerBooks: maria’s music. I browsed. What a f***ing music collection. Not in size, not that many albums really. But content-wise, things I’ve not seen outside of, well, my collection..."

"It had to belong to the girl with dark hair by the counter. I saw her when I got my coffee. Took note, lovely. Her. Her?"

"Nonetheless, I shared my empty library out under the name maria i sweat your music collection <3..."

"A conversation began, conducted solely by library title, and it continued for the next couple of hours..."
Biz just commented that Apple needs to build rendezvous chatting directly into iTunes...

[via iPodLounge]



"At this point, I find myself just visiting the Apple store out of habit, and throwing things like the iSight in my cart because it seems like I need a complete set. (And because its got that cool magnet that lets you stick it to the top of your cinema display.) But what will that lead to? Who knows? I'm not even sure what the iSight is for!"
Hah! All I did was lend him my old iBook...


Mavericks is on!

For locals:
"The Mavericks Surf Contest begins Wednesday. According to the company press release, twenty-four of the world's best big wave surfers will compete, including three-time contest winner Darryl "Flea" Virostko, Tow-In Surfing World Champion Garrett McNamara, and Peter Mel, long-time Mavericks legend. There is an article about the event in today's Santa Cruz Sentinel, which was written before it was certain it would take place."

[via Coastsider]


Starbucks needs a blog

Nathan's doing some great blogging from SES; here's a good bit:
"Gary posed to the panel the problem of natural Google Bombs, where a negative site (IHateStarbucks.com) turns up as number 2 in a search for a brand (Starbucks). Steve noted that Starbucks' mistake is not having a blog, and not bringing this guy on to talk to him. Either he'll come off as a kook and lose his credibility, or the company will look better by showing their interest in what consumers have to say."


A TED moment

(scene: checking in to the Monterey Marriott last Wednesday, for TED)
Me: Hi! I'm here to check in for my room.
Reception: What's your last name, Sir?
Me: Case.
Reception, looking at computer screen: Steve?

The Cosmic Game

Thievery's new album is awesome.

The Cosmic Game



Ev & Noah's new deal: Odeo

It's hot.



A bunch of us are blogging TED:

http://tedblog.blogspot.com/ (feed)

The FeedBurner dudes have also whipped up an über TEDFeed, comprised of the feeds of as many attendees as we can cram in there. Enjoy!




Apparently somebody LiveJournaled me:



Crazy Address Book Services

I keep getting emails from friends who've sold me out and entered my email address into nutty services like these:
(why do all their names have two syllables and end in the letter 'o'?)

I thoughtfully reply each time I receive one, saying something along these lines:
Hi _____,

Unfortunately I don't trust services like this to not send me junk mail and email spam. All my old email addresses still work, so lemme know if you ever need my mailing address / phone #. :)

How are things, otherwise?

Update: Forgot to mention the totally wack sms.ac.

Kottke Goes Solo

Jason's taking kottke.org full-time.


I am a kottke.org micropatron


About six years ago, my mentor (and favorite professor!) in the Miami Classics Department proposed a summer project on which we could collaborate. Our proposal was accepted, and we spent a few months of Summer '99 working on it.

See, ancient sculpture used to be fully painted with vibrant colors. But this paint has worn off all the columns and temples and sculpture you see in ruins these days. Therefore, sculpture has pretty much just appeared white in popular culture — movies, architecture, painting...

We wanted to scan some photos into Photoshop (which we were both learning) and see what they might look like, in full color. The result is the Virtual Sculpture Gallery. (a disclaimer about the site: the design is frightening! Though CSS existed, no browsers supported it. Thus we let GoLive CyberStudio make tables for us... *shudder*)

Unfortunately we haven't updated the site since then. Our goal was to raise awareness, and hopefully inspire other folks to pick up where we left off.

It remains popular and widely-linked though. A few weeks ago I got email from a lady at discovery.com who was rather enthusiastically preparing an article about it. I answered her questions, but she sounded kinda bummed to hear that the site was, frankly, old and out of date. She said she was still planning to try and run the story, given the appearance of painted sculpture in some recent big media.

I hurriedly pasted a stat-tracker into the site's html, in case the story ran.

It did: Discovery Channel News, Color Restored to Ancient Sculptures

(here's a local copy, in case the permalink breaks)

The stats went nuts. It used to average ~500 hits/day, but on the 17th it almost hit 28,000 (!).

VSG stats

A MeFi thread even popped up, and the majority of the comments are (surprisingly) positive!

There's obviously a lot of interest here... I'm thinking about registering an actual domain for the project, and updating the template & sticking a blog in it for updating news. I'll need to draft some other folks to help update it though...




Sunday brunch @ Herbivore, photo courtesy of Mai.

That's Goldman standing behind me. Inevitably, he was teasing Livia about this, since she used to volunteer as a cook there...


Re: Blogger Comments

Marc Brown asks a few questions about Blogger's commenting system; here are some answers.
"Can someone explain why when i post a comment on a Blogspot blog, I need to use my 'blogger profile' rather than just link directly to my blog."
This is up to the blog owner. The Settings | Comments tab lets the user select who can comment; the "Anyone" setting means you get to enter your name and URL.

Blogger comments

"And now that i'm stuck with my Blogger profile, why is that page so wack? Here is my User Profile. First off, you are limited to a 50k jpg image for your profile, and the URL has to be less than 68-characters in length (and they dont' even host it)"
These are both bugs of which we're already aware, and will be fixed soon.
"At least let me put my RSS stream from Buzznet on it."
This is an excellent idea; I'll pass it along to the team.
"How come the only blogs that show up are Blogger driven blogs?"
Because this is your Blogger Profile. And because info about those blogs comes straight from Blogger's database — there's no way Blogger could know those details from another blogging system. There is a field, however, where you can enter your blog's URL:

Blogger profile editor
"Blogger should definately allow a little more customization of this page after all, this is way cooler than my TypeKey profile page (i'm not even sure where that page lives)."
Indeed. It's a tough call though, deciding where to devote engineering resources in cases like this (enhancing functionality that's "good enough" vs. building awesome new stuff — the old commenting system was definitely not good enough).
"Back to my blogger profile, I dunno what the "piles of wood" entries are about, somehow that blog has left the building."
Those posts will go away once we re-enable post stat collection. They're currently disabled for database performance reasons.



Tony Pierce: "two years and two days ago today Blogger got bought."


The Daily Show on bloggers

This clip is hysterical — "Post away, Atrios at blogspot.com!"

New Blogger Comment Hack

Graham just whipped up a fantastic new Blogger Hack: "How can I use Blogger's comments but keep my old comments on my old posts?"

It essentially turns the <BlogItemCommentsEnabled> tag into a post-level conditional tag, and takes advantage of the fact that Blogger Comments on all your old posts are turned off by default.

The hack is explained in Blogger Help, and you can see it in action on this monthly archive page — nice work, Graham!


Next week Biz, Goldman and I are heading down to Monterey for TED, to represent the B. I'm really excited — it'll be my first time attending, and I hear the schwag bag is fully stocked. It's a shame their whole site is in Flash, else I'd link to the awesome Speaker list and schedule.

If you'll be there, look for the big orange B and say Hi.


Transmit 3!

The best Mac ftp client just received a hella-upgrade; I promptly registered my copy, and here are my favorite features:
  • Support for WebDAV, including iDisks
  • Tabbed sessions
  • Column view
  • Finder-like Sidebar for frequently accessed folders, local or remote
Nice work, Panic dudes!


Radio Free Blogosphere

Looks like it's hitting the fan in Nepal.

Fortunately, Radio Free Nepal is blogging...

Update: it got BoingBoing'd, including a link to this interview with its author.



Today we shipped a drastically-improved (and much-needed) overhaul of Blogger's commenting system — props to the whole team for a job well done! Features include:
  • Comments are now listed on the comment posting form (duh!)
  • Profile photos
  • Comments in popup windows (this is a setting)
  • A Blogger account is no longer required to leave comments (this is a setting)
Oh, and Ottmar — you can now date posts back to 1990.



It's Powerbook Day!

Gosh, it's been a while...

Because I'm a geek, here's a list of everything I'm installing:

Google Maps!

Maps is way, way cool: http://maps.google.com/

Keyboard shortcuts:
  • arrow keys pan left, right, up and down
  • pan wider with page up, page down, home and end keys
  • zoom in and out with the (+) and (-) keys.
Posts from other folks: Kevin Fox, Evan Martin, Chris DiBona, Tony Chang, Anil Dash, Matt Haughey, Blake Ross, Google Blog, Rafe Colburn


How Shuffle Works

Steven Levy:
"... when an iPod does a shuffle, it reorders the songs much the way a Vegas dealer shuffles a deck of cards, then plays them back in the new order. So if you keep listening for the week or so it takes to complete the list, you will hear everything, just once. But people generally listen only to the first few dozen songs. In theory, that sample should be evenly distributed among all the artists and albums in their collections."
I'm totally sold on the iPod ShuffleDom brought his on our Squaw road trip yesterday and it was way cool. He wears it snowboarding too, which I wanna try some day.



Dear Apple,

Have you seen AudioScrobbler? It's a webapp that keeps track of all the music I've listened to. Combined with a social network, it purports to recommend music and do lots of other fun stuff. While a wicked cool idea, it seems like they're struggling to scale it, and I've never actually gotten a recommendation out of their system. (though I do drop them a few bucks each month because I dig what they're doing).

You should build this functionality into iTunes, and automatically create users.itunes.com accounts for all of us iTMS purchasers. Though I love what the Scrobbler folks are doing, I think you could do it better.

You could recommend artists based on what I've purchased and been listening to. You could let me keep a friends list and let me know what my friends have been listening to, like AllConsuming does for books.

You could load the whole site up with feeds like the Flickr folks have done, so I could get updates each week in my aggregator. And the URLs could be nicely rewritten:

/artists - artists I've been listening to recently
/albums - albums I've been...
/genres - genres I've been...
/ratings - aggregated ratings data from my iTunes
/playlists - playlists I've created in iTunes
/imixes - iMixes I've created on the iTMS
/wishlist - songs & albums I want to buy
/stats - statistics of my listening habits

Monetizing the site shouldn't be too tough... ;)

Can't wait to see it!

Update: Tags in iTunes are a must-have, and here are two music recommendation sites: MusicMobs & Goombah.