Trying (and failing) to rent a car from budget.com:


Trekking Stok Kangri

A Flickr user emailed me asking for details about climbing Stok Kangri (~20,000 ft) in Ladakh, which I did back in 9/2004. Rather than email him directly, I figured I'd post about it here in case the info is useful to anybody else on the web.


How difficult was the trek? Altitude was the worst part for me, but our climb was entirely non-technical (just lots of scree). We packed crampons/ropes/iceaxes just in case, but didn't end up needing them. We'd already spent 6 days trekking in the Nubra Valley and then 6 days doing Stok Kangri, so we were well-acclimated when we summited.


What was the weather like? We had spectacular weather the whole time we trekked, but we were lucky. This'll be different for everybody though. Be sure to read Into Thin Air (article -> book), or better yet listen to it, before you go. ;)


What were the costs involved? My friend Zach led our small group (4 including him) on the trek, and organized all our transport inside India, as well as porters/food/etc. All the details are on his site (which is fortunately still available via the awesome Wayback Machine).


Can you do it without a trekking company? Probably, but I'd only recommend this if you're a super-experienced climber/trekker.


A miscellaneous tidbit: Blow the water out of your camelbak/platypus tube each night before bed! Otherwise it'll likely be frozen when you start trekking in the morning. ;)

Nubra Valley photos:
Stok Kangri photos



Don't miss this LA Times series about the changes Earth's oceans are undergoing...


eMusic Pricing

These days I'm buying the majority of my tunes from eMusic (mp3 format, no DRM!), but I'm not a huge fan of their pricing model - my main problem with it is that unused downloads don't carry over to the next month.

My solution is to use their least expensive subscription - $9.99 per month - then buy Booster Packs as needed, which do carry over month-to-month.

For more about why eMusic rocks, check out this Wired article.


What to do when your Treo 650's speaker stops working...

...but the handsfree still works fine? Get this app: VolumeCare Pro + ByPass

This one might work too, but didn't work for me: HeadCold

The frightening thing is how many people are also experiencing this problem... the VCP forum currently has 136(!) pages of people dealing with similar issues. This thread is the one that finally lead me to VCP.

Learning to Code

Two perspectives on learning to code these days:
  • Salon.com, Why Johnny Can't Code - argues that machines should still ship with an interactive BASIC environment
  • Rafe Colburn, The Golden Age for Wannabe Programmers - argues that Web Browsers + View Source (for learning HTML/CSS/JS) + a Text Editor are all you need, and that interactive Python and Ruby environments are there if you wanna go deeper
I agree with both, as I used to hack around on a TI hooked up to the television in our living room when I was little, and it was loads of fun! For hacking around with Python today, this book is the place to start.


Sri Lanka

From my friend Shisir:
"On the October 2, 2006 birthday of Mahatma Gandhi, the ancient city of Anuradhapura is expected to host a 1 million people - the largest gathering in Sri Lanka’s history - in a meditation for peace called together by the Sarvodaya Movement. People throughout the world are invited to participate. The event will be broadcast live..."

"$10 covers travel, food, and lodging expenses of a Sri Lankan villager to participate in the meditation program. You can sponsor a busload, a village, a youth or elders’ group - and donate online."


I Already Miss Ya

Me and Goldman

(see Blogger Buzz, and be sure to click each letter in the word entertainment; more photos here, here, here, here, and of course here)






MacBook Pro

Along with my new gig came a new Mac. Here's all the stuff I've installed since starting to use it last week:

Excite's Old HQ?

Anybody know what's happening at the old Excite buildings by the 101 in Redwood City? I feel like more and more cars are appearing in the parking lot each day as we drive by.

This article from 3/2004 talks about some healthcare-related stuff, but that was a while ago...



Just an FYI, a few weeks ago I switched teams at work, joining Chris & Greg's Open Source crew to do Developer Relations. It was pretty much an organizational thing, formalizing some of the work I'd already been doing with Steve and Pete for a while now.

Hip Hot

Last night The Roots put on one of the best Hip Hop shows I've ever seen. My personal highlight, was Talib Kweli:
"Talib Kweli (born Talib Kweli Greene, 1975) is an American rapper from Brooklyn, New York. He is one of the most prominent rappers in underground hip-hop, and is frequently critically acclaimed, despite not having significant commercial success. His name is Arabic, meaning "the seeker" or "student of truth and knowledge". His parents were both college professors: his mother an English professor, his father a sociology professor."
Here's Dan's account of the show.


An Inconvenient Truth

You've seen it by now, yes? If not, do check it out.


Civil Vanity

Saw this on the 101 this evening:


Stadium Arcadium

I'm not the only one digging the new Chili Peppers album.


When on the Road...

Alex Garland, The Beach:
"Assimilating myself was the most natural thing in the world. I'd been doing it ever since I became a traveller. Another saying: when in Rome, do as the Romans. In the traveller's ten commandments, that's commandment number one. You don't march into Hindu temples and start saying, 'Why are you worshipping a cow?' You look around, take on board, adjust, accept."

Good point

Julien Couvreur:
"...you should understand that the AJAX trend is not simply about rich UI and eye candy, but more generally about providing a more responsive experience by optimizing the bottleneck resource (the network): you cache the data that doesn't change (some HTML, Javascript or CSS), and transfer only the information that is dynamic."


Happy Vesak Day!

May's full moon (Saturday the 13th) is the anniversary of Buddha's enlightenment. Some reading:
...and a quote from The Way to Ultimate Calm by Webu Sayadaw (photos):
"Only when your practice of morality (sila) is perfect can you fulfill your aspirations for awakening."



Just saw my first MacBook Pro (on Goldman's desk)... it's dead sexy.



When opening coconuts in the Thai jungle, I highly recommend doing it as _softly_ as possible. It turns out that noise (such as that of an ill-aimed machete slamming into the deck of a wooden bungalow) can awaken swarms of big black wasps which, it turns out, sting *hard.*

Here's Joey, just before they attacked us:



This Wired article made me think of Señor Benson. I think he should go to Malaysia and set some records (and sit a Vipassana course ;).


iPods for Senators

"...we're taking matters into our own hands and buying a video iPod for the campaigns of Senators who work on legislation affecting technology. Plus, we're going to pre-load each one with examples of the cultural richness made possible by sharing and collaboration - public domain content, Creative Commons content, and audio messages about the importance of balanced copyright policy. It will be engraved with the words "listen to the people." And it will arrive at each Senator's campaign office with a letter of explanation and a list of all the people who helped pay for it."


Cryptonomicon Spam

Is anybody else getting bombarded with spam that's channeling Cryptonomicon?


Whooping Cough

According to Dr. Razavi (our on-site doc here at work), the danger posed by the rapid, worldwide spread of Whooping Cough is way higher than bird flu. She posted about it on her blog:
"In its heyday it was responsible for at least 200,000 cases a year just in the United States. These cases were reduced significantly with the development of the vaccine in the 1940's. However, since the 1980's there has been a steady increase again with 9000 cases in 2002, and 25,000 cases in 2004..."

"All adults 19 - 64 years old and especially those with infants should receive the new pertussis vaccine which is given as one shot in combination with the diphtheria/tetanus vaccine. It is not a live vaccine so there is no risk of getting the disease from the vaccine. It is considered safe and effective, however its safety in pregnant women and in those over 65 has not yet been established. Teens 11 - 18 are also recommended to get the vaccine. The immunity from this vaccine is expected to last 6-10 years."


I *heart* texting

I think SMS was made for flirting.


Awesome Hammer Interview

Yes, you're all aware by now that I've fully drunk the MC Hammer kool-aid. To get a glimpse of why, listen to this BreakdownFM interview with Hammer from ~1 month ago, on Odeo. Seriously, Hammer's dialed.
"This is one of the deepest and realest interviews you will ever hear as we sat down with MC Hammer for a candid no holds barred interview about all things Hip Hop. What he had to say was both eye opening and incredibly insightful."
Part 1:

Part 2:

Part 3:

[via El Suttero]


The Web Service?

Wikipedia, on The Postal Service:
"The Postal Service is an indietronic band featuring singer Ben Gibbard of Death Cab for Cutie and producer Jimmy Tamborello of Dntel, Headset and Figurine..."

"Their name comes from the manner in which their songs were written, due to the fact that the two of them lived too far away to be able to work together in person. Tamborello would create beats and mail them to singer and lyricist Gibbard, who would then edit them and put his melodies over the tracks and mail them back. Gibbard didn't write any of the lyrics until the tracks were completely finished."
Ottmar Liebert, on a collaboration he's working on:
"Last night Stephen Duros sent me the stereo mix file of a beautiful song for his new album via YouSendIt. I will play a solo in my studio this week and send it back. Musical collaborations in the 21st century. His new album will be very very nice."


Shuffle Mode should be Easier

I've noticed lately that I toggle my iPod's shuffle mode on and off rather often. It's basically a mood thing — sometimes I want to hear an entire album start to finish, and other times I want to shuffle through an artist/genre/playlist's tracks randomly.

Unfortunately, toggling shuffle mode on and off involves a number of steps:
  1. "Menu" back to the UI's top level
  2. select "Settings"
  3. set Shuffle to "Songs"
  4. "Menu" back to the top level
  5. select "Now Playing"
  6. proceed with listening or shuffling to next tracks
I noticed a little while ago that the middle "Select" button doesn't do much. Sure, when held down it functions as an "on the go playlist maker," but I think I've used it like once. Wouldn't it make more sense if holding down Select toggled shuffle mode? Are any of you mood-based shufflers like me?



"For dinner tonight, it's the old favorite, the legendary, delicious, veggie May Kaidee's. I want to marry Thai food but I have a delightful girlfriend and it's probably illegal to marry food anyways, though a girl in Israel recently married a dolphin so I suppose anything is possible."
May's is my absolute favorite food on the planet, and I even got to do a day-long Thai cooking course with her back while I was still on the road. (and make a green papaya salad for Mike). I'm meeting Mike/Alison/Michelle in BKK in late April, can't wait...


BarCamp Austin
(originally uploaded by Laughing Squid)

Scott's fantastic photo from the BarCamp Austin afterparty, of Tantek demoing me his Hypercard(!)-based blogging system. It even has its own markup language.


Just finished Dan Millman's Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior, and I especially enjoyed this little tidbit from the end:
"If a tiny sprout could reveal this to me, would the sky someday reveal its own secrets? And what could the stones tell me, or the trees whisper? Would I learn the way of the flowing stream, the ancient widsom of the mountains? That was still to be disccovered."

"What did it all add up to? I remembered a story about Aldous Huxley. In his later years, a friend once asked him, 'Professor Huxley, after all your spiritual studies and practice, what have you learned?'"

"With a twinkle in his eye, Aldous answered, 'Perhaps... to be a little kinder.'"


On MySpace


"Even when there's no prescribed activity, people are doing things on these sites. They're hanging out. They're dancing in front of digital mirrors. They're patting their friends on their digital backs. They're increasing the strength of their relationships through sharing. They're consuming and producing cultural artifacts that position them within society. They're laughing, exploring and being entertained."

Simply Delightful

Those are the only words I can think of to adequately describe Belle and Sebastian live.

It turns out that Pete was inspired as well — I just heard him declare, "During Electronic Renaissance, I decided I need to redesign my blog."

More from BlogSearch: Rhymes with Maria, brassratgirl, internebbish, egw



Spoon seriously rocks. Thanks to Mr. GOB for the recommendation. So far I've snagged Gimme Fiction, Girls Can Tell and Kill the Moonlight from eMusic.


Straight Up

While you're listening to Hammer's latest audio post (mp3), be sure to glance through these photo/posts:



Globe and Mail:
"The traditional idea that we are the passive carriers of our genes is being challenged by the notion that we are their custodians. Our lifestyles — what we eat, how much we exercise, whether we smoke — may play a role in a chemical switching system that activates or deactivates our genes."



I'm at SxSW until the morning of the 15th. Get in touch if you're here too.


Music, TV, iTunes and DRM

Kevin Marks: "Live TV is dead."

Indeed. I cancelled my TiVo subscription a while ago, and attempted to cancel TV service too. However, the Comcast lady convinced me to keep the basic channels for something like $16/month. The reason? My Comcast broadband would drop from 6 meg to 4 meg, and apparently there's no way to only pay for 6 meg. Ridiculous.

Netflix has more than enough TV for me:
The only flaw so far has been the delay waiting for new seasons to show up on DVD. Fortunately Apple's solved it for us though - $2 downloads for new episodes the day after they air on TV, and soon a subscription service. Now if they'd just expose my iTMS purchases somewhere on the web for re-download, so I don't have to keep these big honking files around...

Regarding DRM: I don't mind DRM on downloadable TV shows, because I only watch them once and have no need to share them. Music (and movies someday most likely) is completely different - I listen to music over and over (on various devices), and also share it on our work network via Rendezvous. DRM'd music won't share, and can hit foolish authorization walls.

I'd still rather buy mp3s online than buy cds though. Therefore I've stopped buying music from the iTMS until the jhymn folks crack v6's DRM (though there are hacky workarounds). Alternatives download stores:


A while back I posted about a fantastic book on the history of Xerox PARC, kindly recommended by Sir Jenson. In one of the chapters is an exciting retelling of the tale of The Mother of All Demos, where the outside world first got to see the mouse, hypertext, a/v conferencing, email, a gui, word processing, etc.

In 1968.

Reading the book, you essentially have to imagine what the demo must have been like. But now you can watch a video of the demo online.

More amazingly, there's even a project to re-create most of the demo's document editing/collaboration functionality on the web.

[via BrandonD]

Fat Cats

This reminded me of this and this.


Be Responsive

Michael Hyatt:
"I'm not sure I could boil it down to one thing. Life isn’t usually that simple. But if I really, really had to boil it down to one thing, I would say this: responsiveness."

"So many people I meet are unresponsive. They don’t return their phone calls promptly. They don’t answer their emails quickly. They don’t complete their assignments on time. They promise to do something and never follow through. They have to be reminded, prodded, and nagged. This behavior creates work for everyone else and eats into their own productivity. Sadly, they seem oblivious to it."

So. True.

(and I definitely have room for improvement here...)

[via Hivelogic]


The Importance of Post-College Travel

New York Times, A Year Abroad (or 3) as a Career Move:
Me = pack mule
"It was a few months before she was to graduate from Colgate University in 2002, but Lauren DiCioccio was not ready for the briefcase or the Brooks Brothers look. Armed with a bachelor's degree in art and art history, she did what an increasing number of college graduates are doing: she bought a plane ticket to a country she had never visited, backpacked around the region, got a job in that country and then traveled some more."

"'When I went, I was hesitant because people looked at me and were surprised that I would graduate with a degree from Colgate and take time off to work and backpack around Australia,' said Ms. DiCioccio, who picked grapes and was a short-order cook at a roadhouse in the outback. 'So when I came back and had it on my résumé, I couldn't believe all of the interviews were about my time in Australia.'"
My story is remarkably similar to hers, though my 14-month round-the-world journey wasn't nearly as... intentional.
Taking a Break
I lived with my parents after graduating and worked for ~6 months to save up cash. I spent the majority of the trip (9 months) Down Unda (though in New Zealand not Ozzie), and did some grape-planting (not picking). I also spent a few months doing Vipassana courses in NZ, Australia, Burma and Thailand.

[via Sieburg, who's currently in Indonesia]

It's all about User Experience

Andreas Pfeiffer in ACM:
"As the iPod abundantly shows, user experience (along with a strong brand, and clever marketing) is much more important for the success of a device than technical specifications."
Agreed. I stopped paying attention to these specs about 4 years ago, when I realized that any future computer/camera/iPod/etc. I buy would have more than enough cpu/memory/storage/etc. for my uses. And because I'm an Apple/Canon/Palm loyalist, I already know the User Experience will be fantastic.

[via PhotoMatt]



A Whole Lotta Nothing:
"Apple has made the iPod the most popular music player on earth, but it's clean as a whistle. How could the same people love their super sleek music player and also love the gaudy oversaturated flashing/pulsating monstrosity of their Myspace profile?"

(Crap, just noticed after posting this that Ev linked and quoted the same snippet as me. Great minds think alike?)



This design's been feeling a tad restrictive lately, so like Mr. Sutter I'm starting with the basics and iterating live on the site. The other day at lunch he told me it took ~9 months before it felt right, so don't hold your breath.

Thus far, the top of the CSS file reads:

With inspiration and assistance from:
* Jason Sutter - jason.similarselection.org
* Chris Wetherell - massless.org
* Biz Stone - bizstone.com
* Erik Benson - erikbenson.com
* Doug Bowman - stopdesign.com
* Dominic Sagolla - dom.net
* Pete Hopkins - blog.grogmaster.com
* Textmate - macromates.com
* Camino - caminobrowser.org
* xScope - iconfactory.com/xs_home.asp
* iTunes - apple.com/itunes/
* The Postal Service - subpop.com/bands/postalservice/
* Death Cab for Cutie - deathcabforcutie.com
* Bluetech - bluetechonline.com
* The Gorillaz - gorillaz.com
* DJ Cappel & Smitty - sandboxautomatic.com/abstract/blueeyesbedstuy.html
* Over the Rhine - overtherhine.com
* Saint Etienne - saintetienne.com
* Belle and Sebastian - belleandsebastian.com


Claim Your Deductions!

(this arrived in my email yesterday)

Network for Good emails you around Tax Time to make sure you're claiming your deductions. Very nice of them. I try and keep track of them in Backpack, though.


Hit Me

Send Me A Message


Feliz Cumpleaños

Happy Birthday, Ottmar!


Good Advice

Greenspun: "don't read the newspaper or email in the morning because it will scramble your brain with lots of disconnected ideas and you won't be able to accomplish any serious work for the rest of the day"


Always Produce

Paul Graham: How to Do What You Love
"Much as everyone thinks they want financial security, the happiest people are not those who have it, but those who like what they do."
[via ErikB]



I dunno who's been posting to massless lately, but whoever it is, they've been very entertaining. I hope they keep it up.

Give Up

You know you're in a great coffee shop when you take your headphones off and hear the same album you were just listening to, playing on the stereo.

This place is fantastic!


I wrecked my left ankle in an epic wipeout yesterday at Kirkwood, so I'm parked at Alpen Sierra Coffee Company today while Dom 'boards at Sierra. I'm hoping to make some headway on the ~180 messages in my inbox.



"I hated the bubble. I hated it when Vanity Fair or New York Magazine treated web agency founders like celebrities."
I agree wholeheartedly, and the current bubble is no different.



Was just trying to buy Saint Etienne's new album when I came across this:

I kept one copy of iTunes 5 around for buying music, so I could strip its DRM with jhymn (which doesn't yet support iTunes 6). Sigh.


You Did *What* for 10 Days?

Upon returning to the 'real' world after a 10-day Vipassana course, folks inevitably ask me for details: how it went, how I fared, etc. I thought I'd post a few links here in case you'd like to know more about it: