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August 2005 Archives

August 1, 2005

Gender swapping, easily

Here's a fun little tool to occupy your bored time: regender. It swaps male and female terms in a Web page. Sometimes the effect is barely noticeable, but in the case of Wikipedia's Masculinism and Feminism entries it's A Whole New World. Other pages I found interesting: * horizonline's review/quotes from Baudolino * honeyfield's entry on womens' rights to abortion * meta's entry on Kids, Girls, and Communication tech * Bush's speech announcing John Roberts, or Bush addressing the National Boy Scout Jamboree (via danah boyd)

August 2, 2005

'interesting' photos

It's even better than what they promised: Flickr: Explore interesting photos from the last 24 hours

You can even go back in time and view 'interesting' photos of the past: December 25, 2004

August 4, 2005

Mighty Mouse, dissected

dissectedI'm not a fan of the new Apple Mighty Mouse, so I shed no tears when I saw that the folks at ArsTechnica had dissected one into little pieces. I don't understand why Apple feels the need to design devices with no physical clues as to how they are used (affordances), shape them to make my RSI cringe, and require you to learn rules like "you must lift your left finger in order to right click."

Actually, according to the Ars dissection, it's not actually a "right click" as much as it is a "click with no left finger present," which almost sounds like a Mac koan. Apple apparently did include a right touch sensor in the mouse, so perhaps they'll modify this behavior in the future.

renmouse-1.jpgCritiquing the Might Mouse is a bit pointless for me because there's probably little if no features that could convince me to part with my ugly but wonderfully comfortable 3M Renaissance Mouse. If any mouse deserves buzz, I think it's this scrollwhell-less mouse which even my RSI-wridden wrists can command around with authority. Coat one of these with shiny white plastic and I think Apple would have a killer product.

Within sight

I just finished Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars, which almost goes well with this fun NASA commercial

August 5, 2005

Caltrain vis take 1

I believe a fair assessment of the new Caltrain schedule is that there are a lot more opportunities for shorter commutes, but those opportunities come at the cost of increased complexity. In addition to all the problems of what train stops where and which train is which, there's one more bit of complexity in my commute: the gaps between trains during rush hour have been increased to 50 minutes at my closest station.

The larger time gap presents a new choice: do I walk five minutes to my closest station, Menlo Park, or do I walk 15 minutes to the next closest station, Palo Alto.1 It takes a bit of calculation to answer this question with the variety of schedules. I could slice and dice and annotate my paper schedule to answer all these questions, but that's no fun.

I decided instead to write a little Python program to visualize my options, borrowing extensively from my understanding of Visual Display of Quantitative Information. The end result reads chronologically from left to right with each red line representing a commute option:


I have grander visions for this little program, but for now I have a something that I can glance over at the end of my workday. Some potential next directions: * nicer fonts, higher resolution for printing on paper * hooking this up to a Web server so others can get schedules * go one step further and try to do a combined Caltrain, BART, N Judah visualization (Caltrain -> BART Millbrae -> Embarcadero vs. Caltrain -> 4th and King Muni -> Embarcadero)

1I could bike to Palo Alto, but the Baby Bullet that stop there has less room for bikes, which means I might to be able to board there. More complexity that I haven't modeled here..

August 6, 2005

Book: The Fall

I had a combined edition of Camus' The Stranger and The Fall that I just finished reading. I found the amorality of Meursault in The Stranger a bit too frustrating to warrant a second read, but the histrionic tale of immorality that Clamence weaves in The Fall was engrossing and tightly woven enough for me that I will have to read it again when I find the time. Clamence reminds me a bit of ginfiend for some reason. Perhaps it's because he proclaims, "Fortunately there is gin, the sole glimmer of light in the this darkness." (p. 12)

Continue reading "Book: The Fall" »

August 8, 2005

Tour de Peninsula

On Sunday, d, offtopicartisan, and I rode in the 2005 Tour de Peninsula along with hundreds, if not thousands of other riders. It was a 33 mile ride from Redwood City all the over to the Sawyer Camp Trail, up to Millbrae, and then back down along Skyline and Canada. There was a steep climb or two, but for the most part it was a nice easy pace, all under the official slogan of no pain, no pain. The only person on our team intent on breaking this slogan was o.t.a, aka "Ullrich," who managed to chug my old 30+ pound mountain bike uphill in the biggest monster gear as I ticked along in my granny gear. I believe I even heard him complain about wanting an even bigger gear.

There were five rest stops with food and water to keep you nourished and there were plenty of police and race volunteers to keep you safe. Our blistering pace of 11mph brought us in at just under three hours.

The Sawyer Camp leg was one of the best parts: the winding, shaded trail takes you past one of the reservoirs along 280. The Canada leg was also fun as they put a rest stop at the Pulgas Water Temple, which is just a strange, wacky site. d noted that it would fit well in a Wes Anderson movie.

One fun fact I learned during the ride is that Canada Road is closed to car traffic every Sunday, except in the winter for "Bike Sundays." It's a great road to spin around on and it takes you past the wacky Pulgas Water Temple as well as Filoli.

San Jose civic center opening


(photo via

d and I were snarking on the new San Jose City Hall yesterday, with neither of much of a fan. I believe my quote was, "It looks like a bad Richard Meier knockoff." Well, it turns out that, um, it was designed by Richard Meier.

Book: Wicked

I read this in preparation for seeing Wicked: The Musical in a couple of weeks. As someone thought well enough of the book to make a musical of it, I had high expecations for the story. In concept and themes, the story does well enough. The inversions of the moral relationships (from the movie, having never read Frank Baum's Oz series) were the most enjoyable part of the book, much in the way that playing Dark Side of the Moon as the soundtrack adds additional depth to a viewing. But the Dark Side soundtrack only lasts fifty minutes and as it repeats you shut it off and return back to the movie. Wicked is 400+ pages long, so you expect more.

In these 400 pages, Wicked reads more like a biography than a story: although the reader is aware of the book's climax -- the first chapter leaves no doubt -- the path to that point is not plot so much as the passage of time. Characters come and go, things happen, the main character develops, but the story never builds.

There are those who will find biographies of fictional characters entertaining, and apparently there are many of these readers on Amazon because I see tons of five stars reviews for this book. But I found this a slow, tedious concept that is much too large for what it contains.

Still behind

July always exerts an huge blogging burden and unlike last year I wasn't able to keep up with it all. Depending on my free time I may be flooding my blog again with even more posts that make it look like I'm amazingly productive, but really this is all just backlog and backwash.

Still to come (mostly a checklist for myself): Baudolino notes, Red Mars notes, Design of Everday Things notes, Post Tour de France wrapup, GPS mapping experiment, some more Caltrain infovis, some BlogHer thoughts, some Bruce Campbell quotes, and some Tour de Comic-Con photos (though m beat me to the punch and I won't have much to add).

August 9, 2005

MythBusters DVDs

Discovery re-released the MythBusters Season One DVDs. Instead of costing $150+ for the thirteen episodes, it's now a much more reasonable $50. They also repackaged the DVDs so that they no longer have the generic Discovery Channel packaging. The only downside is that they still didn't include the pre-season-specials like the Jet Assisted Chevy, but that wasn't enough to stop me from picking up a set and clearing some room off the TiVo.

E-mail mountain vis

I thought this was a rather interesting e-mail visualization:

email mountain

Each of the individual color stripes represents a single contact, much like the Baby Name Wizard, and the overall shape gives an idea of e-mail volume.

(via infosthestics)

August 10, 2005

Custom decals

I'm singing the praises of inkjet decal paper now. I picked up some sheets over at San Antonio Hobby Shop after I saw some in their display window and I'm now salivating with the possibilities. The combination of decals and inkjet satisfies that instant gratification need: see, print, attach. I feel much like I did when I first got my photo printer and gleefully went through stacks of photo paper, or when I was a little kid and I got one of those old dymo label makers.

For those who are interested, for less than $15 you can get:

  • inkjet decal paper (3 sheets)
  • decal bonding spray
  • clear coat

Those of you who built models as a kid should be familiar with the process. For those of you who aren't, you print the image out on the decal paper and give it a good coating of bonding spray. The bonding spray will make sure that the ink doesn't run. When it's dry you cut out the decal, soak it in water so that it comes loose from the backing. Lightly wet the surface that you're transferring to and slide the decal into position. Blot the loose water from decal and let it dry. Later on, give it two or three coats of clear coat to make it permanent.

Scott Morse paintings

Update 2: cyclist sketch from Comic-Con 2006
Update: got another painting (Kambei from Seven Samurai) at APE 2005

The two items I'm happiest to have received at Comic-Con are both paintings by Scott Morse. After I got an awesome sketch from him in 2003 I picked a bunch of his stuff and became a fan of his illustration style. I tried to get another sketch in 2004, only to find out that he had stopped doing sketches and was only taking commissions for paintings. I nearly commissioned a sketch, but chickened out at my lack of funds.

This year I was determined to get a painting, no matter what the cost, and luckily, due to the generosity of Team Uni (especially honeyfields) I ended up with two paintings. Morse had some limited edition Little Book of Horror: Frankenstein books that he had done paintings on the inside cover for. After watching me covetously eye the limited edition, honeyfields picked one up for me as a very, very, very early birthday present.

The second painting is goes along with my sketch from 2003. In 2003 I asked for a Kikuchiyo (Toshiro Mifune) sketch from Seven Samurai. I debated getting paintings for all seven samurai, but I decided this was a daunting and prohibitively expensive goal. Instead I went for a Toshiro Mifune Sanjuro painting: gruff, base, improper-yet-honorable samurai. Next year I'll probably go for a Kambei painting (Seven Samurai) and perhaps one of these days a Ran painting so that Morse can spray bloody red all over the canvas.

Morse Frankenstein Morse Yojimbo

August 11, 2005

Comic-Con 2005: The Full Sketchbook

Mostly for my own indexing, I've gathered all my 2005 sketchbook entries into one large entry. A full 2003-2005 entry will follow if I ever do some rescanning. The sketches from Rodolphe Guenoden, Kazu, and Adrian Tomine are no longer part of my sketchbook, as they have been pulled out and framed.

Continue reading "Comic-Con 2005: The Full Sketchbook" »

August 12, 2005

Art and Architecture link roundup

Weirder links

August 13, 2005

More Comic-Con Photos

I've uploaded more of my photos from Comic-Con 2005 to my Flickr account. These are probably the last of the photos I'm going to upload from CC2005 unless you want to see some bad shots of Natalie Portman with a bald head.

Battlestar Galatica Cast Panel

Grace Park

Stargate Cast Panel


Bruce Campbell

Bruce Campbell-2

More Comic-Con Costumes


Photos: 3 Takes on a Fountain

Couldn't figure out which of these color-corrections I liked the best (though the first could use a bit more gloom), so here are all three:

Sticks-3 Sticks-2 Sticks-1

August 14, 2005

Comic-Con: Bruce Campbell

The Bruce Campbell panel at Comic-Con was hilarious. I transcribed some quotes that I've included here, but rather than make some coherent sense out of them I'll point you too the full mp3 audio of the panel as well as multiple summaries on IGN and a summary from Sign on San Diego.

I highly recommend the audio, if you can stand the recording quality. Campbell's panel is the only one in three years I've seen that had the audience laughing from start to finish, a feat he accomplished while tempting the worst possible fate: the Q&A session. Usually, the Q&A session signals the end of all quality commentary in a panel. A single bad question (i.e. the first) begins the exodus from the auditorium as people seek out their next session. A novice panelist (e.g. Natalie Portman) will usually try to answer the dumb question and will take far too much time giving a politically correct non-answer to the question.

Campbell, with the confidence he demonstrated throughout the panel, began his Q&A session almost immediately, briefly taking the time to do some short demo clips. With all of Campbell's career to draw from, I would have expected the idiotic questions to overwhelm even a skilled speaker, but Campbell showed that a well-timed and tersely delivered insult makes even the worst -- especially the worst -- questions entertaining and keeps the flow of the Q&A moving.

Here are some samples of answering dumb questions the Bruce Campbell way:

"Is *Alien Apocalypse coming out on DVD? Why, because it was that good? Are you just being a smartass?"

Will you do another TV show?
BC: "Why? Because my first two TV shows went so well?"

Q: Brisco County Junior DVD set
A: Counting to 10 on his fingers "I am an actor they don't tell me shit"
later on
Q: Jack of All Trades DVD set
A: "Why, because it was so successful?" mutters, "I am an actor they don't tell me shit"

Q: When is How to Make Love the Bruce Campbell Way coming out in paperback
A: "Buy the hardcover. Don't be a cheap bastard. How much did you pay to get in here? You bought all seven versions of Army of Darkness didn't ya?"

There are some quotations Bruce Campbell's insulting and non-insulting comments in the extended, though bravado and timing cannot be conveyed in a transcription, so I recommend listening to the mp3 if you have the time.

Bruce Campbell-3-2

Bruce Campbell-2-2

Bruce Campbell-1-2

Bruce Campbell-3-1

Bruce Campbell-2

Bruce Campbell-1

Continue reading "Comic-Con: Bruce Campbell" »

Book: Red Mars

marscrater.jpgRed Mars is a book about Mars colonization, which means the story breaks down into two basic elements: Mars and the people that colonize it. Of the two, I cared more about Mars, which Robinson does a more than adequate job with.

I've been fascinated with Mars, as you can see from all the Mars-related links I have in this entry, and I enjoyed reading a book that tries to put Mars into humanscale and explores the science and culture of change that could befall it with colonization. Robinson puts a lot of science into the book, good enough that I don't have to lose my suspension of disbelief over it. In my one area of understanding, AI, I can state that the treatment of robots in the book went very well with some NASA AI talks (Mars Exploration Rover (MER) planning and AI and the New Exploration Vision) that I've been to recently.

There are characters to go along with the Martian terrain, but I did not find myself caring much about them as much as I did about what they were doing to Mars. Robinson does a good job in making them unheroically realistic; in this aspect they fit in with the scientific realism in this book. However, the 'driven scientist' archetype that he uses as a template for his characters rings false to me and in some ways the characters end up becoming more outlandish than Mars.

I haven't made up my mind as to whether I'll read Blue Mars and Green Mars as it's hard to imagine the same sense of exploration and pioneering that made the first book so compelling, but if any of you out there have recommendations let me know.

Some other Mars entries on this blog: * LiveJournals for the NASA Mars rovers * Cool Mars Animation Video * Moons of Mars * Marvin the Martian Going to Mars

Red Mars is also a great complement to the Google Earth Plus Mars Database -- the Google Earth visualization provides a low resolution skeleton and Robinson's text gives you enough to let your imagination fill in the rest. I am considering re-reading Red Mars, but next time with a greater focus on locating the geographical points on Mars maps to get a better sense of scale and environment.

Several quotes in the extended.

Continue reading "Book: Red Mars" »

August 15, 2005

Giving in

A kinda sorta, but not really, broke my Sony boycott by getting a Sony PSP. But I don't think I actually technically broke the boycott as I got it at a charity auction, which means none of my dollars ended up in Sony's pocket. However, as I am now obligated to buy things for the PSP, like more memory with which to store episodes of the Daily Show and Battlestar Galactica, it all goes to show that I really have no backbone when it comes to gadget issues.

Steve Jobs can diss handheld video all he wants -- I watched Spiderman 2 on Sunday and I found it liberating to be able to walk around the house and do my chores (cooking, typing, photo retouching) while being entertained by a movie I love. The video quality is as good as a TV and is beautiful any which way you look at it. The true test, though, will be how easy I find it to load new videos onto it, which I will test out as soon as my larger memory card arrives.

Kite camera acquired?

In my previous post I neglected to mention that I also got an Olympus 3020 digital camera for very cheap. It's 3MP, which is all I need from it as I will either use it for:

It's rather big and heavy, but given that others have managed to rig up SLRs to kites I think I should be able to pull off kite photography if I work up the nerve.

August 16, 2005

Things getting good with video

It looks like the latest TiVo beta will allow you to transfer video from your PC to your TiVo. This feature was glaringly lacking from the first releases of TiVoToGo and it will be exciting to finally have it. It should mean that: 1. You can use your PC as extra storage for your TiVo 2. You can download video over the Internet and transfer it to your TiVo.

At least I hope it means these things. It's already been revealed that TiVo will be doing some video-on-demand in the near future (direct downloading of shows onto your TiVo over the Internet), but the ability to transfer any digital video would be a great plus. Just this past week I discovered that my recordings of the first four episodes of the new Battlestar Galactica channel were junk because of a misconfiguration, so I downloaded those episodes off of the Internet. I'll be watching those on my laptop and (hopefully) my PSP, but I look forward to the day where I can sit back on the couch and watch it on TV instead.

Time to get back to figuring out if PSP Video 9 and my TiVo will play nice...

TiVo 7.2 allows PC to TiVo transfer | PVRblog

August 19, 2005

Battle of the Stars

I posted a bunch of photos from Comic-Con last Saturday and the resulting Flickr data looks like a popularity contest. The Stargate cast was a bit disadvantaged in that I didn't bring my zoom lens to their panel, so the photos aren't as good, but I'm willing to overlook this lack of fairness and state that Battlestar Galactica easily beats Stargate SG-1 and that, for reasons still unclear, photos of women get more views then photos of men.

Battlestar Galactica-14 Battlestar Galactica-09 Battlestar Galactica-05 Battlestar Galactica-02 Bruce Campbell-2 Stargate-11
Katee Sackhoff/BSG cast
Grace Park (BSG)
Jamie Bamber (BSG)
James Callis (BSG)
Bruce Campbell
Stargate SG-1 Cast

August 22, 2005

Busy weekend

On Saturday I went on my third Shangri-La hike, an annual hike that Jed organizes that starts at the Squaw Valley parking lot and up the mountain to High Camp. There are many hikes that you can take that give you scenic views of mountains, trees, rocks, and lakes; this is the only hike that I've taken that combines those elements with a hot tub and bar at the top, as well as a cable car back down to your car.

On Sunday I drove back to the Bay Area to go to a wedding (congrats Steve and Heidi!). Weddings can tend to blur, but this one will always stand out for the musical roast the father of the bride delivered during dinner. Sadly I don't have the lyrics.

sidenote: it only took two and half hours to get from North Lake Tahoe (King's Beach) to Berkeley. I'm used to Tahoe trips taking 4-5 hours as I usually leave from the Peninsula. I think future trips to Tahoe (leaving from Berkeley) are in order.

As always, many pictures were taken, and as always, it will take me awhile to go through and select ones that I like. With the Shangri-La photos I can even compare the photos of trees and rocks to previous years' photos to see if the rocks and trees have weathered any. Maybe there is a geologist out there, somewhere, that might be thrilled. Or not.

Anybody out there following Canon?

Update: From susanne I found out that IXUS is the product name for ELPH in Europe. The product shots from the press release use the European models, but it appears ELPH as a digital brand is still around in the US. What confused me is that if you go to the Canon camera listing page and click on the big 'ELPH' logo, you only get their non-digital ELPHs.

I noticed all the hot new cameras that Canon released today from the low to high end. There are a ton of new PowerShot cameras and there is this hot, full-frame 12.8 megapixel SLR.

One thing I noticed about the new offerings is that I no longer understand the low end of Canon's offerings. I used to have a Canon Digital ELPH (before I broke it under constant use) and the ELPH brand used to be a good, understandable way of saying "rugged but portable." Now as I look through the new Canon offerings, what I knew as an ELPH appears to be called an "IXUS 55" and the only cameras on Canon's Web site called 'ELPH' are these ugly film-only beasts.

I will be in the market soon for a successor to my old ELPH (S400): anybody out there savvy enough to which 'IXUS' camera might be a good replacement? I care more about "rugged but portable" than photo quality.

New Google Desktop

Even though every tech site on the Internet has already dissected this, I would be remiss in not mentioning the new Google Desktop 2.0 Beta. I was underimpressed with the first Google Desktop as it was lacking in Google's core strength: it did not return good search results. I hope the new version does, but if it doesn't there are a lot more competitors in this space now that I can try out.

The feature I'm most pleased to see is Quick Find, which appears to be a direct copy of Quicksilver. I've long wished for a descent PC equivalent of this Mac-only tool and perhaps this will be it.

The most noticeable new feature is the 'sidebar', which appears to be a copy of the sidebar that has appeared from time-to-time in betas of the next version of Windows (Longhorn). I have previously discussed how many of Google's current moves (Desktop search, GMail) are better understood in the context of Longhorn. All Microsoft has to do is put up search boxes that use their own search technologies and the average user will be too laxy to go to

Google has two strategies that it can use to counter this threat: * make sure their own search box is there (the Google Desktop strategy) * own the data that the user is trying to search (the GMail strategy)

These two strategies make sense and, with the frequently announced delays to Longhorn, Google has plenty of time to stake their territory.

I just didn't realize that there was a third strategy: copy Microsoft's ugly, space-hogging sidebars.

August 23, 2005

PSP: Partial Results

I've had more time to play with the PSP now that I got a 1GB memory stick for it. I succesfully downloaded some episodes of Battlestar Galactica that I had missed and re-encoded them for my PSP. Most of the setup was painless, but there is a lot of waiting between steps. At least I have several episodes now so that should hold me for awhile.

I had a much worse time trying to get TiVo programs onto my PSP. It appears that either you're lucky and it works or you're unlucky and you have to add some extra time-consuming steps and software. I'm an unlucky one so I'll have to re-experiment with my other options to see how they work out. I'd rather it not take 10 minutes for me to load 45 minutes worth of programming to watch on the train; at that point I'll just go back to reading books.

I dream of the process as simple as iPod + iTunes, though we as consumers have much less control over our video as we do our music. If Sony were consumer-friendly, they would have released a program for the PSP that would let me transfer my DVDs onto it painlessly. Instead, they want me to pay $21 for a UMD version of Kill Bill even though the DVD version is only $15. Go figure. The only comparison that comes to mind would be if Apple had released the iPod and told it's customers that it would only play $20 albums from the iTunes Music Store.

August 24, 2005

A whole load of ketchup

google talkOf course I am trying out Google Talk, at least long enough to figure out how to make most of it work inside of Trillian. Feel free to find me online if you want to play with it, but I'll tell you upfront that it's rather bland and feature-sparse as IM goes. At least it's very 'clean' and 'simple.'

If you're going to dominate the world, at least the world of software, then an IM client is pretty much obligatory. They're also really, really easy to implement -- it seems that whenever I have to come up with a software design/prototype for something, IM ends up listed as an ancillary feature. In Google's case, they didn't have to implement as much as they based theirs on pre-existing Jabber software. They did add voice chat to the mix, which is nice, but also not groundbreaking.

In order for it to be groundbreaking, I would have expected something more... Googley... i.e. I would have expected them to allow you to save your IM conversations on their servers and search them later on, or to be able to lookup terms/acronyms/names that other people use (Trillian does auto-Wikipedia transclusions), or I would have expected some sort of interesting 'conversation' integration with GMail given that the Talk client is already leveraging your GMail contacts. One of the things I've noticed about GMail is that the conversation UI means that when you are e-mailing with other GMailers, it can frequently start to approach the brevity and speed of IM -- a seemless transition between the two environments would be a difficult but useful innovation.

Squaw Hike photos

Photos from the Squaw/Tahoe hike. Photoset with more photos available for Flickr friends and family.

Squaw 2005-7 Squaw 2005-4 Squaw 2005-6 Squaw 2005-8 Squaw 2005-3 Squaw 2005-5 Squaw 2005-9 Squaw-18 Squaw-42 Squaw-40

August 25, 2005

Play: Wicked

wickedWe saw Wicked last night at the Orpheum in SF last night. As pqbon noted, it shares very little in common with Wicked, the Gregory Maguire book. This is a good thing, as I didn't like the book very much. The characters are similar, but the stories are different in that the play has a story and the book does not. Instead of just biographically following Elphaba, Wicked Witch of the West, the play elevates the character of Glinda, Good Witch of the North. Elphaba and Glinda play against each other throughout -- green vs. blonde, talent vs. hack, 'good' vs. 'wicked' -- creating plenty of opportunities for dueling musical numbers throughout.

I am biased: I own the movie and haven't read the original books, so I imagine Oz to be a technicolor world where it's normal to break out into song and dance in perfect synchrony with random strangers. Like the movie, the play is a rich extravaganza full of music, special effects, and expensive set pieces. A large mechanical dragon clock hovers over the stage, monkeys with wings climb up the back of the stage, and rigs drop in from above the stage.

The music is pop and some is perhaps too cheesy, but it's all done in a spirit of fun and humor. The conclusion to the first act of the play is the bombastic high point of the play; with my limited experience attending plays I can easily state that I have not seen nearly as elaborate in a play before. The second act wasn't as impressive to me, but I enjoyed watching the improved story through to the end to see what final twists and inversions it spun on the Oz universe.

At long last, 3.2

MovableType 3.2 has been released. I've been following their series of 32 favorite features for 3.2 and it sounds like SixApart has been listening to our gripes -- 3.2 should be better and easier to use.

I'll be testing it out here on first and if it lives up to expectations you should be seeing it on movabletypo soon enough.

Movable Type - News - Announcing Movable Type 3.2

August 26, 2005

Upcoming Keplers speakers

update: Keplers has closed.

The next month or so of Authors Showcase at Keplers is looking pretty interesting. I'll probably be heading to these three for anyone that wants to come with:

Tuesday, September 20, 2005 7:30 PM Terry Pratchett, Thud!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005 7:30 PM Neil Gaiman, Anansi Boys

Monday, October 3, 2005 7:30 PM Salman Rushdie, Shalimar the Clown

Book lite: Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture, travel edition

The biggest book I own is the Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture, which weighs in somewhere between 17 and 18 pounds. It sits in a slot in my nightstand next to my bed, which has become it's permanent home by virtue of the fact that it's immensely unportable, even with it's large plastic carrying case. I read through it from time to time trying to pick which city I'd most like to visit on account of its recent architectural additions, but the book and I have not made any actual trips together for obvious reasons.

Perhaps the editors at Phaidon have been using their book to dream up travel itineraries as well because you can now buy a 'travel' edition of the book, which weighs in at 0.7 pounds and is about a third of the dimensions. With a list price of $20, versus the $160 of the original, they'll probably end up selling a lot of copies to people who already own the larger edition and who need a version to make up for the dimensionally challenged big brother.

August 27, 2005

Testing new MovableType 3.2

Please leave a comment if you can, need to know if this works properly

August 28, 2005

Big Sur + GPS: Phase 1

It's taken me almost a year to complete my project with my GPS Christmas present, but at long last I'm starting to put together the pieces:

If you have Google Earth you can load this directly into it: Big Sur/Sykes.kml

Hike route (starting at Pfeiffer Big Sur parking log):


More hike route in the extended

Continue reading "Big Sur + GPS: Phase 1" »

August 29, 2005

Big Sur + GPS: Phase 2

Quickly on the heels of Phase 1, Phase 2 is now complete. I have merged the photos from the hike with the GPS data and loaded it into Google Earth (Google Earth file).. The end result is fun to play with: the photos transition from scenic vistas along the higher route into photos of streams and forest in the lower terrain.

GPS data by itself isn't ideal as there is a bit of "Guess which direction I was looking" game. With the Google Earth 3D terrain you can spin around and usually figure out which direction a single photo was taken, but after awhlie this does get a bit tiring. Perhaps next time I should bring a compass and further annoy my hiking companions.

Phase 3 will probably involve a Google Maps hack of some kind. Google Earth is fun, but it's not very Web-friendly. It would take at least a dozen screenshots to convey the route and photos together, and the end result would be flat and non-interactive. With Google Maps I would lose the 3D aspect, but I think it will allow people to actually interact with the route and photos.

Google Earth-loadable map, route, and photos (KML)



More maps in the extended

Continue reading "Big Sur + GPS: Phase 2" »

Yes, it's broken

movabletypo is down. There's little we can do right now but wait. Many apologies. We are exploring alternatives for the future as the new host has some stability issues.

Big Sur + GPS: Phase 3


Phase 3: Big Sur Photos + GPS + Google Maps -- COMPLETE

muhahahaha -- phase 3 was really, really easy. I have to hand it to Google. Their Google Maps API documentation is well-written enough that I had my photo map up and running in a matter of minutes. You can pretty much copy and paste the Javascript code you need. They even have AJAX code so that you can read in all the data from a custom XML file. The only hard part was figuring out the right image sizes and whatnot so that the point and click was easy and didn't bring my browser to a crawl.

So, if you care: Big Sur Hike Photos and Map (Google Maps)

I'm going to take a break now from the hacking, but I'm sure I'll move onto Phase 4 and Phase 5 soon enough. Phase 4 will probably just involve modifying the photomap page to have better photo browsing controls, i.e. have thumbnails of the photos to the right or bottom that you can scroll through and click to see on the map. Phase 5 will probably involve reading in images from a Flickr photoset and automatically adding the geocode tags. Also, one of the annoying bits about all these hacks is you need about 4 different sizes for the photos -- something that Flickr handles automatically.

August 30, 2005

Tuk Tuk

I love the new Tuk Tuk Thai/Asian grocery store on University Ave in Berkeley. I walk past it during one of my commutes and it always tempts me with Pocky and $4.25 heaping plates of takeout Thai food. I have not yet attempted to make a Thai recipe using ingredients purchased there, but they do have a tuk tuk sitting inside the store, which must be relevant somehow.

I had already been there five or so times, but it wasn't until my latest trip that I became convinced of the quality and authenticity of their goods. Read the extended entry if you care to find out...

Continue reading "Tuk Tuk" »

August 31, 2005

Book shopping sadness

Keplers has closed.

Updated Keplers and Gaiman info, plus Chabon

I stopped by Kepler's today to visually confirm that the doors are shut, with a note of closing and 'Declaration of Independents.' The store is not emptied out, just closed, but unless this is some clever negotiation tactic it appears that Dealers of Lightning and Phaidon's Louis Kahn book will have been my last purchases there. Having Keplers next to Cafe Borrone was a big incentive for taking the leisurely route home, stopping to read a book over dinner. After finishing my first David Sedaris book while eating dinner at Cafe Borrone, I went over to Keplers, picked up another Sedaris book, and finished the same night while eating even more Borrone food. Good cafe/bookstore pairings are hard to replace: one feeds the other.

Neil Gaiman's journal confirms that his Keplers talk is cancelled, as I imagine all others are as well, but he mentions two other places in the Bay Area he will be speaking (one with Michael Chabon):

Thursday, September 29 7:00 PM PDT
Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman in Conversation
Book Passage
51 Tamal Vista Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA

Friday, September 30 7:00 PM PDT
September 30, 7 PM PDT
at the First Congregational Church of Berkeley
2345 Channing Way at Dana
Berkeley, CA
(See for details of the event)