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December 2004 Archives

December 1, 2004


Congress Trims Money for Science Agency

At least our pop culture will remain intact:

While cutting the budget of the science foundation, Congress found money for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame in Birmingham, the Country Music Hall of Fame in Nashville, bathhouses in Hot Springs, Ark., and hundreds of similar projects.

Sharing the love

Got this one through work, but it seems to be free for the taking (and I was just starting to make a dent in my reading backlog): 20% off at Borders Dec 6-10

Using this coupon requires that you actually physically walk into the bookstore -- that may be too difficult for some, I know.

December 3, 2004

Getting there

The tortoise-style move is progressing well. After three consecutive days of two-three carloads, I've managed to move almost all of my non-large-furniture items. The Incredibles bag I got at Comic-Con has been perfect for transporting everything from DVDs to books between the places. The computer is coming up in the moving queue so will be moving to its temporary home soon.

Thanks to all those who have helped thus far and will be helping on Saturday.

The almighty water filter

honeyfields has this PUR water filter on her sink that lets you switch between unfiltered (dirty) water and filtered "PUR" water. If you leave the switch in the normal position you get the unfiltered water pouring out. If you twist the switch, the water gets redirected into this filter and comes out "PUR" out of another spigot.

I got to thinking that if I ever have kids, I would use the filtered faucet to teach them all about morality. When they were really young, I would explain that there's good water and there's bad water, and it takes more work to make good water, but people like good water more and they live longer drinking it; the bad water might taste more interesting, but then you'll end up sick and dying of weird diseases.

When they get a little older and start reading comic books, I'll then use the faucet to explain different models of morality. There's the Lord of the Rings model, where you either flip the switch one way and have good water or flip the switch the other way and have bad water. Then there's the Spiderman model, where you can mix the good water and the bad water by sliding the switch only partway, but the good and bad water come out of separate spigots and don't mix. And finally there's the Wolverine model, where the good and the bad water mix together and come out of one spigot.

When they're even older and are trying to work on their math homework, I'll use it to teach them the difference between discrete and continuous math...

My hypothetical kids will have issues...


They should give you nose plugs when a doctor uses a hot knife.

December 5, 2004


Not much time to post, but, with the generous help of friends, my stuff has now been moved to Hope. Thanks to all who helped. Apologies to pholist members who were not enlisted for help; it wasn't a slight against your skills -- I figured ten pairs of hands were already a bit much for what there was.

BTW: I continue to recommend Hengehold to anyone renting trucks in the peninsula for moving. They haven't screwed up a reservation yet, and they have good quality trucks.

More to buy

Dana Street Coffee is about to close along with my only Internet connection right now, and I don't want to lose this link: NYTimes: 100 Notable Books of the Year

Update: The Economist's List

Good companion to Eco's Hyperreality

The Apothecary's Drawer Weblog has a great entry about polychrome restorations of ancient Greek/Roman sculpture. For those of you reading Umberto Eco's Travels in Hyperreality, you may want to check out these links while you read the title essay.

Update: danah boyd's entry on Friendster's fictional personas also reminds me of the same essay, though for different reasons. Eco wrote his essay well before the Internet entered into most people's lives, but I think he could write a new essay with observations of how online social networks allow media companies to create fake personas so that people can make fake connections to real celebrities (connections that are indistinguishable from a person's actual social network).

So... much... furniture...

I apologize in advance to those who helped me move. This message may pain you.

I'm on the verge of a massive furniture purge. It turns out that when you move into a smaller place, what you thought wasn't very much furniture turns out to be a lot of furniture. Also, not being able to move particular possessions of mine makes me want to remove my attachment to them.

The definite purges (may already be claimed):
* twin-sized futon barcolounger (there just isn't room for two baroloungers in the living room, or two futons for that matter)
* printer stand

Possible purges:
* two black 3-shelf bookcases (Walmart particle board variety)
* two cherry five-shelf bookcases
* IKEA Poang chair (needs a new pad)
* guitar amp (need one that I can actually carry around)
* radiator-style heater (may already be claimed)
* snowboard for 6'2" sized person

We're trying to replace the bookcases with lighter ones, so a prisoner exchange would also be possible.

Feel free to contact me if you are interested.

December 6, 2004

FRICK!: Help!

My digital camera has died. Unlike my broken iPod/Apple, I can't complain about Canon as much as the Elph's been through a lot -- it was solid as a rock, and I treated it like one.

Now, the important part: I really need to get the camera fixed ASAP, or I need some good recommendations on what to replace it with. My sister's having her kid in a couple weeks, and there's no way I'm heading to West Virginia minus a camera (at the very least it will be a good hand warmer outside in the snow). I have no clue as to where one goes to get a digital camera fixed quickly, or if such an operation is even possible.


December 7, 2004

More police blotter

m's entry on the police blotter reminded me of a gem that Paul found this morning during coffee:

West Dana and Hope streets, 2:03 a.m.: Someone was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest.

That's right near where I live. I'm a little worried about the safety of my new place now with all these sketchy hooligans.

See if for yourself: Palo Alto Daily News Police Blotter 12/7/04

More LA buildings

The NYTimes has an interesting article on Mayne's new Caltrans District 7 HQ in downtown LA. The progress photos from the construction site don't look nearly as interesting as the photos the Times took, but having already seen the Frank Gehry's Disney Concert Hall and Jose Rafael Moneo's Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels, the completist in me wants to make sure that I see all of LA's big new buildings.

December 8, 2004

Camera solution

digital rebelI converted my camera crisis into a monetary crisis. From all of your advice it seemed clear that I could get my elph repaired, but it would take time. Rather than end up with two small digital cameras, I caved into gadget lust and got the Canon EOS Digital Rebel so I can take photos in 6 megapixel SLR glory (~$660 after rebate from buydig). Not to be content with only spending 3 figures, I broke the $1k barrier by also getting a Canon EF 70-200mm f/4.0 L USM Telephoto Zoom lens. My main use of my old Rebel in the past was to take landscape and sports photos, but I was always frustrated by my lack of telephoto capability. Although the lens I got is not ultrafast, it should do well enough for California-weather sports.


Continue reading "Camera solution" »

December 12, 2004

Free beer

I got a drink bought for me, by a woman. It would have been nice if she had bought it to hit on me, instead of buying it as part of a round because she was hitting on a friend, but I'll ignore my pride and drink that beer happily, knowing that I did absolutely nothing to deserve it -- that only makes that nice, cold, free glass of Anchor Steam taste even better.

December 13, 2004

Congrats PARCers

I'm happy to hear that PARC has made a deal with Fujitsu to commercialize their Obje and "Usable Security" technologies. Congrats!
- Fujitsu and Xerox Unit to Develop Next-Generation Data Networks

Boycotting Sony

I've already thought ahead for a New Year's Resolution and have chosen one that will be easy to keep: I'm boycotting Sony (just their devices, not ready to give up Spiderman movies just yet). Just a few years back this would have been unthinkable, as every remote I owned was a Sony remote (TV, VCR, PS2, TiVo), and I even had a Sony VAIO laptop. This comic would have captured me perfectly. Now, however, the TiVo has been replaced with a brandless Series 2, the laptop has permanently died (replaced by a Dell), the Gamecube grabs more of my attention, the VCR is an archaic device, and my TV emits a high-pitched noise that calls for its eventual replacement.

This symbolic exit of Sony devices of yesterday is matched by a general lack of interest in the Sony devices of today and tomorrow. I visited the Sony Style store last night in search of X-mas gifts and tried out both of their hard drive music players, the one with the weird grid buttons, and the one that's as small as a iPod mini. Both were awkward and ungraceful to use -- neither could tempt me away from my broken iPod.

Add on top of all of this poor PSP battery life and load times, stupid legal pressure and belated mp3 support, and my boycott is no longer New Year's resolution but, rather, a smart consumer choice.

Eco quote

This is one of my favorite quotes from Travels in Hyperreality, which I am getting close to completing my notes on (also have to wait for DSL to finally turn on):

I thought then about how much, in the history of civilization, dress
as armor has influenced behavior and, in consequence, exterior
morality. The Victorian bourgeois was stiff and formal because of
stiff collars; the nineteeth-century gentleman was constrained by his
tight redingotes, boots, and top hats that didn't allow brusque
movements of the head. If Vienna had been on the equator and its
bourgeoisie had gone around in Bermuda shorts, would Freud have
described the same neurotic symptoms, the same Oedipal triangles? And
would he have described them the same way if he, the doctor, had been
a Scot, in a kilt (under which, as everyone knows, the rule is to wear

December 14, 2004

It's going to be a good day...

Home DSL on...

New digital camera is over in shipping and receiving...

May go to the TiVo talk tonight...

Talk: Tivo

Revolutionizing Consumer Electronics: Welcome to the TiVolution´┐Ż! Paul Newby, Director of Consumer Design Margret Schmidt, Director of User Experience (UE), TiVo

I went to the TiVo talk at BayCHI/PARC. The best part of the night, perhaps, was that I have a bunch of great TiVo schwag: a TiVo doll and two new TiVo remotes -- one to replace honeyfield's remote, which has been mistaken for bunny food, and one to solve the problem we had last week of, when you lose the TiVo remote, there's no way for you to watch TV. The second best part of the night is that I learned a new TiVo feature that didn't exist on the Series 1 remote: if you press advance (the ->| button) in a list, it will jump to the end (very useful for Home Media Option).

I have detailed notes, but it's hard for me to put the effort into transcribing all of them, mainly because I've heard most of what she's said having worked at PARC for two years (big human-computer interaction focus) and having owned a TiVo for two years. As metamanda put it when I asked her if I should read Don Norman's Design of Everyday Things, she said it was good, but I've already heard everything in it multiple times. Seeing as Norman's book is somewhat of a bible for the TiVo User Experience team, I think the same applies here.

It's also hard for me to transcribe my notes because much of what was said has already been said in this interview Schmidt did for PVRBlog

There was an interesting semi-anecdote on TiVo's "overshoot correction" feature (where it jumps back a little after a fast forward). Many people think that TiVo is actually "learning" this (even across multiple users), i.e. when they fast forward and it doesn't jump to the spot that they wanted, they assume it was because they must have deviated from their normal reaction time (it's actually a hardcoded number based on the fast forward speed, derived from research).

My last thought before this switches into notes is that I wonder if TiVo is going to put an Apple-style clickwheel on the remote to replace the direction pad. The problem with navigating long lists was mentioned multiple times by them, and Margret did even mention a scrollwheel as a possibility, and it seems to me that the newest clickwheel comes the closest to carrying the TiVo direction pad concept forward.

Continue reading "Talk: Tivo" »

December 16, 2004


Because I haven't had enough free TiVo stuff this week: Who feels like going to TiVo HQ with me to collect a free TiVo on Friday? (Comcast customers only)


The new isn't living up to expectations right now. It's hard to tell whether it's the: * new DSL line underperforming * barrage of comment spam attacks across many MovableType servers that are causing high server loads * wireless setup the server is running over (due to the unfortunate location of the phone line)

As I try to diagnose this, I'm turning off comments and will be fiddling with other bits. I may have to give up and move the setup to a web hosting company, something I've been reticent to do in the past.

December 17, 2004



December 18, 2004

Mix tape 1 redux

I've made some modifications to mix tape 1.

  1. Looky Looky Yonder - Leadbelly
  2. Summer Babe (Winter Version) - Pavement
  3. Boogie Chillen - John Lee Hooker Sugar Sweet - Muddy Waters
  4. Heroes - David Bowie
  5. Rusty Cage Heart of Gold - Johnny Cash/Neil Young
  6. We're Going to Be Friends - The White Stripes
  7. Supernova Nashville - Liz Phair
  8. Where Is My Mind? - The Pixies
  9. Let the Good Times Roll - B.B. King
  10. Summertime - Doc & Merle Watson
  11. Malaguena Salerosa - Chingon

December 21, 2004

DC Baseball

It's on. It's off. It's on -- woohoo. It's hard to cheer for a team named after an airport, though. Does this mean that they'll get renamed to the Washington Reagans?

Book: Travels in Hyperreality

book image

I'm close to done transcribing my notes for Travels in Hyperreality, so I'm going to go ahead and post them now. The book is a collection of older essays by Umberto Eco, spanning a huge range of issues from Casablanca to Italian terrorism to (as the title suggests) American obsession with hyper-real recreations of historical works (note: several of the essays are a good preface to Foucault's Pendulum).

Continue reading "Book: Travels in Hyperreality" »

December 22, 2004

Big Bridge

The Millau Viaduct is ginormous -- it's the highest bridge in the world and is due to open soon.

Today's Toys: Something old, something new

Tracking numbers tell me that by the end of the day I should have a Canon ip400r Wireless Photo Printer and a new battery for my iPod. With an 802.11 printer I feel the urge to place it somewhere completely incongruous, like sitting on top of the toilet for just-in-time-bathroom-reading-material printing or one-way messaging into the bathroom (e.g. "Hurry up! I need to pee!"). If toilet paper didn't jam the printer there would be so many more possibilities...

Where does this go?

I put the new battery in the iPod -- rather interesting to see the innards -- but now I have this foam spacer piece left over. I wonder where it goes? (shake shake jiggle jiggle)

December 23, 2004

Rockin' printer

My new ip4000r wireless printer rocks, as in, it's big and heavy like a rock and its print quality is awesome. It's also rock solid, as I managed to tumble it off of my nightstand onto the floor below (the print heads didn't even need realignment). I feel like being an hp commercial and covering the walls of my room with photos, but the economics of such a indulgence allow me to resist.

I must say, though, that I would never recommend this printer to my parents, or anyone else not technically literate. This printer is complicated through-and-through, including both the physical printer (tons of flaps/trays that fold up and down and slide in and out) as well as the lengthy setup software that comes with it. Or maybe these complaints are my excuse for having dropped my expensive toy...

Guts and crumbs

There are many photos of dissected iPods on the Web, but these are the only photos of my dissected iPod. Neil was kind enough to send these along to me as I didn't have a camera at work to document my poor fixit skills. I'm mainly posting these as I want you to notice the subway sandwich in the background, which I was eating as I dissected the iPod in my lap -- and I wonder why my gadgets keep breaking on me.



  • Large blue thing: hard drive sandwich (two pieces of blue rubber with hard drive in the middle)
  • Little blue thing: new battery

December 24, 2004

more toys

12-24-04.etrex.jpgJust received an excellent present from my UP/AJ: An eTrex GPS unit. A GPS unit + digital camera + Keyhole (or possibly USAPhotoMaps) should be the good recipe for some photo map goodness. I'm a complete GPS neophyte, so this should be interesting.

Nintendo-style X-mas music

If you're in the mood for Christmas music and old-school Nintendo games, these mp3s should keep you entertained: 8bits of Christmas.

December 26, 2004

Blurry Xmas Photos

xmas lightsAs tends to be tradition for many, we spent part of our Christmas finding the neighborhood where, through collective group pressure/shaming/egging/bribing, nearly the all of the homes were done up in Christmas lights. I got tired of waiting for the car to stop long enough to take a good crisp photos, so I decided instead to see what sorts of blurry photos I could take with a $700 camera. The technique is rather trite, though I do like my blurry-style Christmas tree and snowman. I also think this photo has a nice xmas ribbons effect. (full album).

It's ginormous

I don't own many architecture books, but with the Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture I don't think I'll need many more. Measuring 12"x18" and weighing in at 18lbs (comes with a clear plastic briefcase-style carrying case), and surveying architecture across the world (1052 buildings completed since 1998), it's absolutely gorgeous. I'm a complete nut when it comes to visiting modern architecture in cities and now I have a gigantic reference with which to plan my future trips.

December 28, 2004

Last Christmas gadget? is a dangerous season for my wallet. My birthday comes two months beforehand, so during the period I have far too many excuses that enable me to upgrade/acquire gadgets. My current tally for the October-December period is (made possible by the generosity of my family): * Digital Rebel and 70-200mm telephoto lens * eTrek GPS receiver * Canon ip4000R wireless photo printer * Replacement battery for iPod * USB 2.0 Flash card reader * Netgear 802.11g wireless hub * 802.11b wireless adapter for TiVo * extra TiVo remote (free) * digital camera for sister

So many rebate slips to fill out...

The latest, and hopefully last of the acquisitions (except perhaps for a TiVo upgrade to a DVD recording model), is the Nokia 6820 that I have been talking about constantly ever since my 6800 [went through the wash][wash]. Since the washing incident, I had managed to put a hole through the plastic cover protecting the screen, which wouldn't be so bad except for it allowed all sorts of dust, dirty, and pennies to collect inside the screen, which meant that I would have to hold my phone at odd angles in order to see what was being displayed. So at long last, I now have a 6820, though perhaps not, as Cingular's systems were down yesterday and they still have not actually activated the new service. Seni seriously tempted me with his Web browsing demo of the 6620, but they wanted an extra $100 for it, and I couldn't justify the extra money (especially as I glanced at the huge hole in the screen of my phone that prompted its replacement).

Get Acrobat 7 Reader

I read asa's acrobat reader 7 recommendation, and I have to agree: download Acrobat 7 (Windows). It's way fast (or rather, its not way slow like Acrobat 6, which horribly froze my browser for up to a minute).

I just tested it out on some paper links and it removes my chief complaint with pdf -- that it breaks the browsing experience by making you consciously aware that a plugin is loading due to its abundant slowness. As an added benefit, there's no stupid slash screen on startup.

Technical difficulties over at movabletypo

Movabletypo is down until tomorrow -- apologies to those who are unable to exercise the blogging itch.

On a separate note, Happy Birthday pqbon!

Meet the Feebles

More fun with the Yahoo! Japan avatar tool as well as some previous avatars to round out the set.

me (forgot this the first time around):


d (who claims this is far too girly):

honeyfields in work mode and winter mode (she is now using the avatar tool to choose future haircuts):
honeyfields honeyfields

parakkum (with the only semi-anglo face available):

metamanda (oldie but goodie):

Kenji and Justin did their own:
kenji justin

December 30, 2004

Generosity for slackers

Amazon One-Click Donation to Red Cross (100% goes to the Red Cross)