June 11, 2008

I can’t bring myself to abandon plain text — there’s something noble about it, something efficient, something respectful of the recipient’s settings for displaying text; it’s the way our forefathers did email.

Keyboard Shortcut to add hyperlinks in | Hawk Wings +1

March 12, 2008

the tyranny of the mice

People should think of a computer interface less as a tool and more as a extension of themselves or as extension of their mind.

Coming Soon: Nothing Between You and Your Machine - New York Times. I’m delighted by this suggestion that the Wii and the iPhone represent a coming shift in human-computer interface design; apparently the generation driving design demands new paradigms. A welcome development — my patience wears thin!

March 4, 2008

After only a few electrical jolts, the artificial neural circuit began to act just like a real neural circuit. Clusters of connected neurons began to fire in close synchrony: the cells were wiring themselves together. Different cell types obeyed their genetic instructions. The scientists could see the cellular looms flash and then fade as the cells wove themselves into meaningful patterns. After years of hard work, they were finally able to watch their make-believe brain develop, synapse by synapse. The microchips were turning themselves into a mind.

Seed: Out of the Blue

January 18, 2008

dry goods in China or a comedy of translation errors

Language Log: The Etiology and Elaboration of a Flagrant Mistranslation

People who see signs employing the f-word all over China, even in large stores and fancy restaurants, are not only aghast, they wonder how the dickens such a gross mistranslation could have originated and proliferated. Theories abound, to say the least.

Amazing, fascinating, hilarious, and educational — I cannot recommend this link highly enough.

January 13, 2008

steal this bit

The RIAA has conducted about 26,000 lawsuits, and there are more than 15 million music downloaders. Mark Mulligan of Jupiter Research said it best: “If you’re a file sharer, you know that the likelihood of you being caught is very similar to that of being hit by an asteroid.”

Bruce Schneier: Steal This Wi-Fi

January 3, 2008

the case for object-centered sociality

The social networking services that really work are the ones that are built around objects. Flickr, for example, has turned photos into objects of sociality. On the objects are the URLs. EVDB,, and evnt focus on events as objects. Why some social network services work and others don’t Or: the case for object-centered sociality. I hadn’t thought about it this way before, but in my experience it’s certainly true.

September 21, 2007

sudama on MarkovFilter

White privilege plays no small role in a laptop that kept shutting itself down, as though he didn’t get it.

Obviously a great post and any kind of useless.

The family won’t tell great-grandma that we’re married with a graffiti “problem”. We only get wordy from here) what I said in my previous post.

A random yet readable recombinatory sample of my comment history on MetaFilter, via MarkovFilter. Awesome.

September 19, 2007

New York Times discovers the Internet

“I have negotiated several business deals recently without even using a telephone.”

The Executive Computer; A Web of Networks, an Abundance of Services - New York Times, February 1993 (via kottke)

August 10, 2007

Mr. Hoogestraat, virtual adulterer

For a while, Mr. Hoogestraat, sitting at his computer, stares at an image of his avatar sitting at his computer.

Is This Man Cheating on His Wife? -

August 1, 2007

accomodating wretched UIs

The visual voicemail is something that made me realize just how bad voicemail was until now, and just how accommodating we’ve become of truly wretched UIs.

Information Week: Review: Two Weeks With An iPhone

February 26, 2007


There are times when I think we’re out of our depth here. There are things that you don’t want people to know about you and things you don’t want to know about yourself.

My friends and I used to suppose that, when we die, we find ourselves in a private theater, watching the entirety of our life projected onto the screen. In some versions, that’s all the afterlife was, and the film was repeated eternally. I guess the point of that meditation was to encourage one to carpe diem. The researchers in this article on lifelogging are discovering the value and risks of becoming your own TiVo.

July 21, 2006


I’m a big fan of Marc Hurst’s work with Good Experience—he writes an insightful newsletter and does important work promoting a focus on user experience. I was excited to check out his new GooToDo tool, but site asks for my unencrypted credit card details before I can try it out. This isn’t a good experience!

March 28, 2006

music's defeat?

Sitting at home with the window open, listening to the tree branches brush against each other outside and the occasional horn-honks of Flatbush Ave, bark of dog and squeal of child... this uncomposed ambience is my creativity engine lately.

From a comment on Click opera - Ubiquity is the abyss.

March 25, 2006

Do we need TV in public spaces?

At some point, having TV in public spaces becomes more of an annoyance than a helpful service. And my guess is that if CNN and its airport partners don’t tone it down in some way, the brand they’re selling will lose its luster.

Mark Glaser and his readers criticize the proliferation of TVs all around us. Time for TV-B-Gone?

February 4, 2005

perfect podcasting

Tod Maffin shares "the perfect iPod setup for listening to podcasts." I plan to implement it post haste.

January 6, 2005

my birthday is soon

My kids and I have a new mission in life. We have a ready response to companies and institutions that try to stun the unwashed public into submission by drugging us with video Valium. In airport waiting areas, where all people want is a chance to read or sleep, there is finally a way to silence CNN. In queues at the dry cleaner or in the jurors' waiting room, you can finally stop the blaring video messages. TV-B-Gone fits neatly on a key chain. Tuck it in your palm, aim, press and you're back in control of your life.

Marc Fisher is enjoying his TV-B-Gone.

December 9, 2004

gushing title referencing TiVo, TiVo UI, and Matt's interview

The PVRBlog Interview: Ten Questions with TiVo's Director of User Experience, Margret Schmidt | PVRblog

August 26, 2004

intelligence iPods on intelligence

The iPod "knows somehow when I am reaching the end of my reserves, when my motivation is flagging," Mr. Greist insisted. "It hits me up with 'In Da Club,' and then all of a sudden I am in da club."

You're not alone if you believe your iPod has its own musical taste and inflicts it upon you, as if by an occult hand, through the Shuffle function. I'm convinced mine is fond of Modest Mouse, the Magnetic Fields, the Rolling Stones and Prefuse 73.

UPDATE: I just noticed this quote:

This logical explanation doesn't always jibe with users' experiences. Dan Cedarholm, a Web designer in Salem, Mass., insists that his iPod has a predilection for the indie punk band Fugazi. Even though he only has two of the band's albums stored on his "vintage" 5-gigabyte device, the band seems to dominate his iPod to a degree wildly disproportionate to the amount of space it occupies on his player's memory, he said.

Compare with this.

June 22, 2004

Silicon Valley is back?

Silicon Valley (Version 2.0) Has Hopes Up says the New York Times.

Among the optimists is a member of a startup company producing products for the "Web log" market:

"It feels like we're 12 months, 18 months away from the equivalent of the Netscape I.P.O.," said Andrew Anker, a former venture capitalist who this month became executive vice president at Six Apart, a start-up based in Silicon Valley that aims to help businesses publish Web logs, or blogs.

The article is curiously focused on secondary indicators such as traffic:

In 2000, according to the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, 55 percent of the region's major freeway miles were snarled in traffic during commuting hours, compared to less than 40 percent in 2002, the latest year with data available.

and fancy restaurants:

"The bleeding has stopped," said Alex Resnik, a part-owner of Spago Palo Alto. No longer do "three youngsters in their late 20's spend $3,000 on dinner," he said with a frown, but the restaurant is starting to do a brisk business again in wines that sell for $60 a bottle.

The press would like nothing better than another chance to churn out 1998 style fluff pieces on the wild and crazy spending of the young geniuses of the New Economy. After all, the end of the millenium wasn't just a boom for the tech industry. The media had a pretty good ride as well.

April 29, 2004

google, google? google!

Google Search: google

April 7, 2004

weaponizing the ipod

Leif's friend, Alex Payne, said the mugger was lucky Leif wasn't armed with the 40-Gbyte iPod, which is a lot bulkier than the mini.

"Phil's the last guy in the world I'd imagine getting into a fight, but it figures that it would involve a slickly-designed gadget in some way," said Payne.

Weapon of Choice: iPod Mini. This wasn't posted April 1.

March 31, 2004

google mail

Welcome to Gmail.

March 12, 2004

Everything you ever wanted to know about offshoring

originally posted by zagg

January 28, 2004


My enjoyment of movies like the Terminator and Matrix trilogies has always been crippled by their ridiculous premise: people build machines, lose control of them, and finally become slaves to their own creations. The premise, though, seems more and more plausible to me as I watch the MyDoom computer virus whip around the world.
Patchen Barss blames user gullibility for MyDoom's recent rampage. He makes a convincing point but falters when he wonders why anyone would open an unsolicited attachment. Sending friends a picture or a document that they haven't requested is a common internet practice. It usually doesn't spawn a virus! I started keeping track of the spam that MyDoom was sending my way, but my counter crashed somewhere in the thousands.

January 23, 2004

One Man, 1.045 Votes

Krugman on the biggest and most immediate threat to the Republic.

[E]ven a cursory look at the behavior of the major voting machine companies reveals systematic flouting of the rules intended to ensure voting security. Software was modified without government oversight; machine components were replaced without being rechecked. And here's the crucial point: even if there are strong reasons to suspect that electronic machines miscounted votes, nothing can be done about it. There is no paper trail; there is nothing to recount.

Electronic voting is not worth the risk, now or for the forseeable future. The stakes are too high.

originally posted by daveadams

January 22, 2004

I call them 'hotlinks'

When the researchers looked at how people returned to sites they had visited before, they discovered that context made all the difference. When subjects in their study had the chance to describe a site in their own words and were given the description six months later, they had little trouble finding the site again. Yet in today's typical bookmark applications, users cannot annotate sites they save.

The New York Times: What's Next: Now Where Was I? New Ways to Revisit Web Sites in which we learn of a three-year $378,000 grant from the National Science Foundation which, if wildly successful, can simply rediscover the efficacy of weblog as bookmark replacement.

January 21, 2004

open source

WorldChanging: Another World Is Here: Top Activist Open-Source Tools. If these are truly the top tools, this is a sad state of affairs - phpBB? More interesting to me is the universe of low cost tools (like Movable Type) in concert with all of the free Perl modules and plugins available.

December 22, 2003


"XFN (XHTML Friends Network) is a simple way to represent human relationships using hyperlinks."

December 19, 2003

court rejects music industry subpoenas

From the Washington Post: "A federal appeals court on Friday rejected efforts by the recording industry to compel the nation's Internet providers to turn over names of subscribers suspected of illegally swapping music online."

December 14, 2003


Via Textism: "I always knew Windows was homely, in a worn-down industrial carpeting kind of way, but had no clue just how fucking ugly XP is. It’s like living inside a perpetual Powerpoint presentation, with sham friendliness pelting down everywhere. Someone really ought to repeatedly sky-write the word RESTRAINT over Redmond."

September 30, 2003

steal this CSS

Will Listamatic and Layout-o-matic bring clean standards-based design to the masses? Stay tuned!

September 29, 2003

could SPAM be next?

"The nation's largest telemarketing association yesterday said its members would comply with the government's do-not-call list on Wednesday, even though a federal judge has ruled that the registry is unconstitutional." Group Vows To Abide by No-Calls List (

September 25, 2003

you know you want to improve your feed

Full Posts + Comments RSS Template for Movable Type: everybody's doing it.

September 15, 2003

rooting for Microsoft?

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: IE, Flash, and patents: here comes trouble
Besides paying over half a billion dollars to the patent holder, Microsoft is supposed to cripple its market-leading browser so that IE/Windows will no longer seamlessly play Flash, Quicktime, RealVideo, or Adobe Acrobat files, Java applets, and other rich media formats. Once the company does this, any site that uses these technologies will no longer work in the browser most people use.
Zeldman explains why this is a nightmare for usability and interface design -- imagine having to read a web page as though it were a scientific manuscript with related figures labeled and referenced and attached, rather than allowing your browser to present it laid out like a magazine. This patent seems to lay claim to the very concept of multimedia — is this something that can be 0wnd?

September 14, 2003

simple networking how-to

Macintosh: How to Create a Small Ethernet Network - "This document explains three simple types of Ethernet network that you can create in your home or office."

September 2, 2003


This month Anonymizer began providing Iranians with free access to a Web proxy service designed to circumvent their government's online censorship efforts. In May, government ministers issued a blacklist of 15,000 forbidden "immoral" websites that ISPs in the country must block. [...]

The U.S. responded to the filtering this month by paying Anonymizer (neither the IBB nor Anonymizer will disclose how much) to create and maintain a special version of the Anonymizer proxy which only accepts connections from Iran's IP address space, and features instructions in Farsi.

The deliberately generic-sounding URLs for the service are publicized over Radio Farda broadcasts and through bulk e-mails that Anonymizer sends to addresses in the country. The addresses are provided by human rights groups and other sources, says Anonymizer president Lance Cottrell.
An article on the "Iranonymizer" at The Register. Spamming email addresses gained from human rights groups?!

June 11, 2003

newly digital

G (bell)
Prefab bytes assembled for Adam Kalsey's Newly Digital project:

Continue reading "newly digital" »

May 25, 2003


On a totally trivial subject in which I'm extremely interested: "I had a dream of setting up a little projector to display the visuals on a wall or ceiling whenever iTunes was playing." Beyond that, I hope to rent a projector to screen movies at the mad backyard parties I hope to throw once we move into an actual house with an actual yard this summer. (Print out this post for discounted admission! ;)

May 24, 2003

digital video

At there is a good discussion of Digital Video cameras. We recently bought the Canon ZR60, and (I don't know from videography so I won't say anything by way of review about it yet except that) it's a lot of fun. I will say that my requisites matched Mena's, and I've been thoroughly satisfied. I've been a little disappointed by the lack of web resources for amateur, no-budget, dogme documentarians, though -- I've been looking for sites with reviews of DV media, iMovie 3 tutorials, and tips/techniques for shooting, and found nothing worth mentioning. What am I missing?

May 21, 2003

strange banana random css generator

StrangeBanana is a website design generator which creates a new mostly-random set of CSS rules every time you reload the page. The designs are frequently horrendous, but it's a nice surprise that at least one in ten are pretty effective.

May 7, 2003


Ladies and Gentlemen, we are proud to announce the latest development in the international trade in dodgy chemical weapons: the Trabant is to be re-packaged, nay, re-invented, as the Afri-Car, the People's Car for the Third World. Made out of fibre glass, this two-stroke beauty, now a cult object of nostalgia in Eastern Europe (check out those ties!), comes in those pastel colours you never see in the West. In Budapest in the mid-1990s, the city transport company gave one-year travel passes to anyone who handed their Trabant in.

April 27, 2003

p2p art

The top result of a google image search on 'p2p art':

p2p art image search

April 24, 2003

the Enkoder Form will protect your email address from spam robots

"The Enkoder Form will encrypt your Email address and convert the result to a self evaluating JavaScript, hiding it from Email-harvesting robots which crawl the web looking for exposed addresses. Your address will be displayed correctly by web-browsers, but will be virtually indecipherable to Email harvesting robots." [dive into mark]

March 30, 2003 slideshow

I've got an old pair of red/blue 3D glasses near my desk, "just in case" -- Boy Scouts motto, you know, 'be prepared' -- so I was searching for some 3D pictures. There doesn't seem to be any way to view the results as a slideshow, which seems not only fairly obvious but probably trivial with the Google API. In fact, the halfbakery has already considered the idea but I'm not sure the lazyweb has. What do you think?

Continue reading " slideshow" »

March 14, 2003

mozilla 1.3

Mozilla 1.3 is here.

March 9, 2003

the network is the war machine

They are counting on the combination of battlefield omniscience, smart bombs and new weapons like microwave pulses and nausea gases to drive Baghdadis out of their homes and bunkers. The use of "nonlethal" (sic) weapons against civilian populations, especially in light of the horror of what happened during the Moscow hostage crisis last October, is a war crime waiting to happen.
War-Mart by Mike Davis.

originally posted by xowie

February 2, 2003

someone set us up the bomb

After the shock of losing wears off and an unmitigated free-for-all ensues, the Triads go back to talking their usual shit. There's an explosion and a Triad shouts, "Suck it!" Another player laments his own death: "Damn, dude! Fuck, I had, like, no life left! How'd you not die?" His opponent curses back. "Fuck you! Owned!"
Baang! You're Dead.

originally posted by daiichi

January 23, 2003

stephen johnson on game demos

Stephen Johnson on game demos

on systems

Thou shalt not distort, delay, or sequester information.
You can drive a system crazy by muddying its information streams. You can make a system work better with surprising ease if you can give it more timely, accurate, and complete information.
Whole Earth: Dancing with Systems: what to do when systems resist change.

January 3, 2003

on shopping for a cell phone

It's really hard to pick a cell phone and a service, as I don't have to tell you. All I have to offer on the topic are these couple of sites, the most helpful that I've found: the forums and CNET's Editors' Wireless Top 5s. I hear Verizon is the only provider who has service on the DC Metro -- that's as good a reason as any, I think.

December 29, 2002

in the Sunday New York Times

A Lost Eloquence
When I ask students early in the semester if they know a poem by heart, I usually hear the names Shel Silverstein and Dr. Seuss and occasionally Robert Frost. They often say that they can't memorize long poems, but then I ask them if they know the lyrics of "Gilligan's Island" or "The Brady Bunch," and my point is made.
McDonald's Tarnished Arches
Fast-food joints are losing market share to a growing niche of more expensive, and possibly healthier, "fast casual" eateries, like Panera Bread and Cosí, that offer more customized selections. McDonald's itself is expanding its successful Chipotle chain of Mexican-themed restaurants.
Spiritual Connection on the Internet
"Is it much different than kneeling next to your bed at night? The idea is to connect with God anywhere. In the moment you are typing, it's another form of devotion"
Who Owns the Internet? You and i Do
Joseph Turow, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, studies how people use online technology and how that affects their lives. He has begun a small crusade to de-capitalize Internet — and, by extension, to acknowledge a deep shift in the way that we think about the online world.

December 23, 2002


In a 1950's horror movie the Thing was a creature that killed before it was killed. Now in a real-life drama playing on a computer screen near you, the Thing is an Internet service provider that is having trouble staying alive. Some might find this tale equally terrifying.

The Thing provides Internet connections for dozens of New York artists and arts organizations, and its liberal attitude allows its clients to exhibit online works that other providers might immediately unplug. As a result the Thing is struggling to survive online. Its own Internet-connection provider is planning to disconnect the Thing over problems created by the Thing's clients. While it may live on, its crisis illustrates how difficult it can be for Internet artists to find a platform from which they can push the medium's boundaries.
Cyberspace artists paint themselves into a corner, NYTimes.

December 20, 2002


I.M. Me, the song by teen songstress Brittney Cleary (who recently changed her name to Nikki) is rife with the evolving lexicon of wired teens. E.G., "Send your jpeg / I wanna see your face / Girlfriend, send an I.M. /TTYL /No time to spell /Oops, there goes that little bell Bye, bye for now / BBFN . . . Hey, LOL, G2G / I gotta go, but baby / Watch for me 'cause / I'll be right back, BRB /So sign on, and I.M. me"
Feeling aurally masochistic? Scroll down to find link for dl.

originally posted by Jane Die

December 19, 2002

animated gifs rule!

I'd like to invite you to explore the randomWalks wiki. [Thanks to riley dog for that poor fucker with the scissors.]

December 11, 2002

see his eye as he stops one of three

We are just temporary conglomerations of ideas, moulded together for their own protection. The analogy with our bodies is close. Bodies are the creations of temporary gene-complexes: although each of us is unique, the genes themselves have all come from previous creatures and will, if we reproduce, go on into future creatures. Our minds are the creations of temporary meme-complexes: although each of us is unique, the memes themselves have come from previous creatures and will, if we speak and write and communicate, go on into future creatures. That’s all.
Waking from the Meme Dream

November 27, 2002

setting tivo straight

Mr. Iwanyk, 32 years old, first suspected that his TiVo thought he was gay, since it inexplicably kept recording programs with gay themes. A film studio executive in Los Angeles and the self-described "straightest guy on earth," he tried to tame TiVo's gay fixation by recording war movies and other "guy stuff."

"The problem was, I overcompensated," he says. "It started giving me documentaries on Joseph Goebbels and Adolf Eichmann. It stopped thinking I was gay and decided I was a crazy guy reminiscing about the Third Reich."

Techno-profiling gone haywire, in The Wall Street Journal.

November 25, 2002

technology vs. environment

Where Computers Go To Die (via slashdot).

OK, but what you should really read is Silicon Hell, the classic environmental expose from the SFBG.

originally posted by jdavis

November 19, 2002


Mark diagnosed himself with a minor case of "objectum-sexuality," a fetishistic attraction to inanimate objects, in this case, his Mac. "You may find the line between your attraction to your lover's face and your computer monitor starting to blur," he wrote.

Does hardware turn you on, baby?
I don't have a Mac. But I do have a wicked fetish for _______.

< mmm, "one fat and happy backbone" - oh yes! >

originally posted by Jane Die

November 12, 2002

get content size

Adrian Holovaty has created a nifty tool called GetContentSize, which calculates the ratio of a Web page's text content to its total page size. The Washington Post, for example, scores a bloated 9.7 percent. randomWalks, on the other hand, pulls a 26.93 percent -- not bad, but low among the other blogs Holovaty sampled.

November 11, 2002

note to self

Figure out what's going on here (CSS Styling of Namespaces in HTML?).

November 8, 2002

Rez + Vibrator = Oh, God!

"It was a bit odd," said Justin, "my fingers were working the controls, but they were also kind of working you."
Whoa, and I was all set to get the GameCube.

November 2, 2002

a post to a post of a letter to the NY Times

As a longtime researcher of the computer gaming interests of teenage girls, I know that these are the very game characteristics that they have always yearned for. If the industry hadn't virtually ignored girls for the last 20 years, it wouldn't be playing catch-up now. Hiring a lot of women in creative management roles at these companies might just solve their design problems.
via game girl advance

July 20, 2000

I'm surprised we haven't heard

I'm surprised we haven't heard about the cube from Sudama or DJ.

April 7, 2000

Big news for computer people.

Big news for computer people.