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January 2006 Archives

January 1, 2006

Corteo

corteoI always wondered what the large blue and yellow tent was near SBC/Pac Bell Park, and now I know. We spent our New Year's Eve inside that tent watching Cirque du Soleil's Corteo, which is a "a festive parade imagined by a clown." Unlike everyone else I went with, I don't have prior Cirque shows to compare against. I did go to Teatro Zinzanni this month for a company holiday party, which was a fun acrobatic dinner theater experience, but the scale and type of entertainment was entirely different. Zinzanni is a fun way to watch some impressive individual juggling and acrobatics up close, while also seeing your bosses used as embarrassing props. Corteo is a barrage of acrobatic performance, with people spinning up into the air on chandeliers, combined trapeze and trampoline, and humans turned into spinning discs inside of cyr rings.

It was impressive and had thumbs up from everyone I went with. It didn't get a #1 Cirque show rating -- d preferred La Nouba at Disney World and Jed preferred Varekai. The common complaint was that the acts each started with a bang but ended comparatively weakly -- they didn't save the best for last.

The remaining San Francisco shows are probably sold out, but you should be able to see it in San Jose if you're interested (Corteo tickets).

Rocketboom on TiVo

rocketboomWhen I first found out about Rocketboom (their Firefox or Internet Explorer video), I had the hardest time trying to figure out how to automatically download their video content and get it onto my PSP. The two videolog programs I tried, FireAnt and Videora, both crapped out when I tried to get them to convert the video into PSP format. They both also had many other small, annoying errors that made the effort exceed the value of the content -- I'm not going to spend 10 minutes downloading 4 minute videos. So I gave up.

Now that Rocketboom is on TiVo, I'm back on the wagon. It appears on my Now Playing list, no stupid error messages, no maintenance time required. I initially subscribed to support the general idea of being able to download video off the Internet, but Rocketboom itself has some gems. Granted, I think it's still hit or miss. Monday through Thursday is generally done in a mock news format that I can best describe as four minutes worth of Moment of Zen clips from the Internet. "Casual Friday" rounds out the week and is my favorite. No news, usually their own cheap music video.

I'm still going through the archives online, but the favorites I've marked so far are:

All of the videos come with links to the source footage if you want to know what you just saw.

Review: Qoop Printing for Flickr

qoopI previously reviewed Qoop's printing service for Flickr then took down the review because a Qoop representative offered to let us reprint the books for free to see if their newer printers would solve the issues I cited in the review. My main complaint then was that the print quality looked more like something printed off on an office printer than what I had seen with Apple's iPhoto books. The inks didn't have the right reflectivity (the blacks stood out) and the paper wasn't thick enough.

The verdict on the new books: We both felt that they were much improved, both in the inks that were used as well as the paper. With the new books I felt that I was holding a book, not something I printed off at work and stapled together. The printing quality does fall short of providing you with vivid, accurate color reproduction of your photos -- the color dynamics are a bit dull and the levels don't match what you see on the screen. There was also one other problem: two of the books had bent corners that was fixable with a bit of massaging. I would suggest to QOOP that they upgrading their packaging.

d and I don't quite agree on the overall assessment. I was expecting something more akin to a catalog of photos, d was expecting something more to vivid, photo-paper quality. Based on my expectations, I give the Qoop books a passing grade. It's not a book of photos you might buy in the store, but it's an easy way to get your photos into book format and save time in the process. d has a more mixed review, feeling that they aren't up to the printing quality of what you would get with the iPhoto books from Apple. We both agree that you get what you pay for and what you pay is cheap.

  • Do use if for: a hardcopy of your photos that you can carry around with you and scribble on
  • Don't use if for: giving as a gift to your friend (e.g. a book of wedding photos)

I've updated parts of my previous review. Read on for a full review.

Continue reading "Review: Qoop Printing for Flickr" »

January 2, 2006

My new baby

plasma tv

42" diagonal, a healthy 76 lbs. Due home on Tuesday.

Continue reading "My new baby" »

Review: Picasa - good stuff

picasaI installed Picasa on my dad's computer to help him manage all the digital photos that he's been taking and I am impressed. I'm not impressed because Picasa has better features that Adobe Photoshop Elements, Aperture, or any other photo management software out there. In fact, the features of Picasa are fairly streamlined to include only the most basic photo retouching capabilities.

The reason I am impressed is that it's one of the few pieces of software that my dad was comfortable and competent with almost immediately. My dad is a complete computer novice who doesn't use his computer for much more than writing letters, surfing the Internet, and balancing his checkbook. To see him immediately latch onto the red eye tool, retouch several photos, and then print them with only minimal assistance is a great accomplishment in user interface design. Importing photos from the camera was also a snap because Picasa doesn't really care how you import the photos -- it finds them automatically -- so it doesn't really matter which of the numerous import options Windows pops up he chooses, it will probably work, i.e. Picasa gets around Windows' lack of usability.

There are still some features that my dad had trouble with. The selection tools for cropping and red-eye correction gave him some fuss, it's hard to tell which options you have selected on some menus (the highlight around a selected button is too faint), and the button layout is a bit inconsistent, including the placement of the OK/Cancel options. However, Picasa doesn't edit the photos directly, so it's hard to do permanent damage.

Picasa most directly compares to iPhoto. Photoshop Elements 4.0 and Aperture have more features but require more computer-savvy users. Picasa is much faster than iPhoto and I believe it's UI is a better design for photo-editing and browsing, but you'd never really have to choose because Picasa is only for PCs. So, if your parents have a PC and you want to get them good, free, photo-management software, or you love iPhoto and are stuck on a PC, you may want to give it a shot. It will be better than the crap that comes with your digital camera.

Book: Mind Wide Open

Mind Wide Open is a fun, light read by Steven Johnson. It's a pop-sci examination of the brain, with a focus on translating/rejecting Freudian ideas into a modern scientific framework. This Freud ambition limits the scope of the book: it is tourist equivalent of a quick day tour of New York by bus, a few stops, all brief.

The focus on Freud seems to come from a pop-sci similarity: Freud is one of the few psychologists whose ideas have entered into the popular lexicon and, by reinterpreting Freud's work, Johnson hopes to fulfill his goal of entering neuroscience concepts into the popular lexicon as well. Ambitious, especially in the book's final chapter which reads less like a conclusion and more like a Freud/Neuroscience manifesto (it is one Johnson's favorite chapters that he has written). If you hate Freud, don't distress. I hate Freud as well, but the most of the effort in connecting neuroscience to Freud is spent in the final chapter and only occasionally crops up elsewhere. Perhaps this is why the final chapter felt so out of place to me within the context of the book.

I prefer Emergence, Johnson's book on emergent behavior, to Mind Wide Open. Emergence was more the type of book where you want to grab a friend after reading a chapter and go, "did you know that __?" Perhaps this was an artifact of Johnson using himself as the subject of many of the experiments. Instead of focusing on the extraordinary cases of neuroscience like Oliver Sacks, we instead are confronted with the banal. We learn what Johnson learned about himself, but without being able to subject our self to the same tests the learning feels thirdhand. Much of the experiments have been better suited to a Discovery Channel special than a book, because video at least would better allow us to imagine ourselves in the experiment.

I have some limited notes in the extended. Due to the type of narrative, I found it difficult to take notes: much of the relevant details are scattered across many pages, so I eventually decided it was taking too much time.

Continue reading "Book: Mind Wide Open" »

Book: Design of Everyday Things

meta warned me that when I read The Design of Everyday Things, I would learn very little. This is a compliment to the book, rather than a criticism. We both worked at PARC at the time and much of what is in the book is ingrained within the PARC culture. Thus, to say that I would learn very little is to say how influential the ideas of this book are. According to the Director of User Experience at TiVo, the book is somewhat of a bible. You'll find my own attempt at being Norman in "Affordances of a Seven-Foot Egg."

Another compliment I will pay this book is, in retrospect, the ideas presented seem like commonsense. As Norman dissects bad doors and light switch arrangements, the criticisms are intuitive, yet we must wonder, if this truly was commonsense, why is it so easy to find examples of bad design in everyday things? It's not hard to find a doors with "push" or "pull" signs taped on because the wrong type of handle was used. It's not hard to remember being confronted with an array of light switches and not knowing which light went with which. Sometimes the explanation is that someone was being cheap. Or lazy. But we also see simple principles violated in expensive, intensively designed products like airplanes and cars. Bad design comes with any price tag.

The most valuable aspect of the book for me is that it provides a vocabulary for being more specific about evaluating design. Norman once said something akin to, if it has poor usability, it probably got a design award. We don't do a good job separating out aesthetics and usability when we use the term design. The iPod is cited again and again as an example of "good design," but there are many usability problems. It's mappings are poor: press the center button and the next menu scrolls in from the right; press up and the previous menu scrolls in from the left; pressing left or right changes the track that's playing; rotating the scrollwheel wheel moves a linear menu up and down. The visibility is also poor: two weeks ago I taught two long-time iPod users that you can fast-forward/rewind, rate songs, and view album art if you press the center button while a song is playing.

I look forward to reading Norman's Emotional Design. I'm sure it will provide a vocabulary for discussing the good aspects of the iPod design, and then at last I can make my $billions.

Partial/ongoing notes in the extended.

Continue reading "Book: Design of Everyday Things" »

January 3, 2006

Happy New Year, a little late

I meant to wish everyone a Happy New Year and apologize for the flood of entries as soon as I finished writing that flood of entries, but it turns out there were quite a bit more than I thought. I sometimes get asked how I manage to get any work done and blog so much. My answer in the past is that blogging doesn't take that much time. You see a site, save it in a Firefox tab, hit copy and paste a couple of times, and add a snarky line or two. Or you type what you're watching on TV, hit post, and you've got yourself an episode summary. Or you write an entry about writing entries, if you're feeling self-referential.

Having recently succumbed to deadlines at work, though, my new answer is, "When I work eight hours a day, there is plenty of time to blog. When I work more than eight hours a day, there is not." Thank goodness for this Monday holiday. Here's to 2006.

This is post #1902. I will be doing another free dinner for guessing the post date of entry #2000 like I did with entry #1000, but I'll wait until things get a little bit closer before accepting guesses. I don't regularly make New Year's resolutions, but I notice that on entry 1000 I said that I would probably:

  • work more on the 1010 aggregator aka movabletypo (true, though bp did most of the work)
  • blog less (true)
  • write an MTInNOut plugin (0% progress on this one)

These aren't resolutions as much as predictions, which is perhaps more fitting with my pragmatist approach. I guess I have until entry #2000 to write that MTInNOut plugin and write up some new predictions.

Retrievr is awesome

(and not just because one of my photos shows up as the default 'nothing' search)

Retrievr lets you search for photos by drawing a sketch. I've seen photo similarity searchs before, but this one's fast and it's tied to Flickr, which means that you might actually be able to use it as more than a toy. I've been debating whether or not to do another 100 photos collage this year. I skipped last year I skipped due to lack of photos. This year I perhaps have too many photos, unless I could have cool search technology like Retrievr built in to my photo management software.

Farewell Mr. Sony

photo

comparison pic 2

Three years ago, all of the remotes on my coffee table were Sony: TV, TiVo, PlayStation 2 and VCR. Now all that remains is that ancient device, the VCR. The PS2 remote has been surplanted by a Panasonic DVD remote, the Sony TiVo is out on loan, and now the TV will end up on Craigslist.

By the way, a lesson to all of you trying to get HDTV from Comcast, you don't need to pay the $5 for the set-top box or get a CableCARD or switch to digital cable or do any other nonsense. If your HDTV has a builtin tuner, then you should be able to get any broadcast HD channel by plugging in the cable to the back of the TV. You'll get HD ABC, Fox, etc... You won't get ESPN HD, Discovery HD, or any of the other pay channels, but you won't pay extra either.

January 4, 2006

Great Mountain View Blackout of 2006

IMG_1796_edited-1

Power went out on the north half of Castro Street in Mountain View last night. After taking an initial trip around the block to search for techies rioting and throwing chairs through windows -- all we found were people BookBuyers attempting to browse using flashlights -- parakkum and I returned back to Hope to retrieve my camera and warmer clothes. Witness the horror, the devastation, of absolutely nothing happening... in my flickr photoset:

Blackout Pouring light on the Blackout Blackout

Full photoset

January 5, 2006

Young 41, USC 38

Man, it sucked to break in my new TV watching USC lose to Texas, but that was a great national championship game. As much I as I enjoyed watching USC beat Oklahoma before the first quarter was even over, having a game come down the wire makes for better viewing. I was plenty familiar with USC having seen most of their televised game for the past three years, but I hadn't seen Young before -- crap he was amazing.

As for arguments about officiating, USC had many chances to put away the game for good: 4th and 2, facemask penalty, etc... If USC was better, they would have put it away. Instead the teams were evenly matched and it came down to the final minute.

Yes! HD TiVo!

HD TiVo

I bet the farm on this one, just about. I got my TiVo credit card so that I would have enough TiVo reward points. I bought a new HD TV and put it on my TiVo card. All because a couple years back TiVo said they would deliver a CableCARD-based HD TiVo in early 2006.

I've been glued to this year's CES coverage just waiting for a TiVo logo to appear. If they were going to keep their early 2006 promise it had to be announced by CES. My mood was getting down when there was no news throughout the first day of the expo. Finally, the news is rolling in on the new TiVo:

There's also some hot screenshots from the TiVo Desktop 2.3 client. The one I like the most is this one showing PSP and iPod video export. There's also this one showing a more TiVo-ish TiVoToGo.

All photos courtesy of www.megazone.org.

January 6, 2006

Photos: Sasebo City Center

IMG_1367_edited-1 IMG_1387_edited-1 Toy store in Sasebo

I've already posted some photos from the area around Sasebo, Japan, including spiders (kumo), 99 islands, and Braille-encoded city, but it's taken me quite awhile to start putting up photos of the city itself. I took hundreds of photos and I just want to post all of them with detailed explanations so that I could try to convey all the interesting aspects that I strangely find fascinating, like a shopping mall that could be Anywhere, US, a train tunnel through a shopping mall, four-way overpasses, and more. Neither you nor I really have time for that.

Full photoset

Photos: Sasebo Favorites

1 2 3

4 5 6 7 IMG_1600_edited-1 IMG_1389_edited-1

I couldn't post all the photos I wanted to from Sasebo, so I'm limiting myself to two sets: one with my favorites and one from around the city center. I would have omitted the latter, but it wouldn't have been fair to the city to do so. When I first showed my mom the photos I was taking, she complained that I was taking "ugly photos." She wondered why I wasn't taking photos of the more beautiful areas of Sasebo, whereas my photos seemed to all contain rust stains and grime. This is a frequent interaction with my mom. Several years ago I was taking her around MIT, she made hardly a comment. Later in the day we visited Harvard and she immediately burst out with a, "This is so much prettier! Why didn't you go to school here!?!?"

It isn't that I find rust attractive. Sasebo is filled with so many textures and has such an overwhelming density of architecture. I can't help taking photos of parking lots on top of homes, rooftops that meet in anything but right angles, buildings that similarly lack right angles, a narrow sidestreet adjacent to bright shopping plaza, homes that rise up and up into the hillside, and stairways, stairways, stairways. Zen photos are fun, but it's just as fun to take a stroll around town.

Full photoset

January 8, 2006

First race

vpI entered my first bike race today, the Early Bird Criterium sponsored by Velopromo. It wasn't a glorious effort, but it was a fun effort. I was busy gulping down free sports drink and sports bar samples when Al asked me to come ride in the 35-year-old+ race with him. The sickeningly sweet sports drink ended up on the side of the road three laps later and symbolically ended my first race. My poor showing was more due to the fact that I haven't ridden a bike in three weeks than corn syrup, and I got what I wanted out of the event. There are four more coming up and I have a better clue as to what I am getting myself into now. I already have some important little lessons learned, like warmup before you race and don't accept free drinks from strangers.

Riding in the middle of a pack zooming down the road at 26 mph is a lot of fun, but also really, really hard. Al and I usually ride the hilly terrain of Los Altos, so we were both unaccustomed to the notion of going round and round a flat 1.5 mile circuit at full speed until your legs burn off. The race starts off really fast and you'll find yourself red-lining almost immediately if you haven't warmed up beforehand. Riders are constantly flowing around and you have to quickly react to find a wheel to latch onto. On the straightaways you get a little bit of breather -- the slipstreams nearly tow you along. It all changes when the pack goes through a turn. You're trying to make sure that you go through the turn without veering into another bike's line and crashing, next thing you notice is that you're 5 ft, 10ft, 20ft behind the rider in front of you and there's a big headwind pushing you even further back. You pedal desperately to get back into that safe little slipstream, but your computer informs you that you're at your top speed and your stomach says, "Yes those sports drink samples were free, but didn't you bring two bottles of your own to the race?" The rider in front of you is probably coasting, having gotten back into the draft, and if he had a rearview mirror he would probably smirk that he's a cut above.

My goal by the end of these race sessions is to finish in the peloton. Also, to not crash.

This was a mentored race: prior to the race they had a tutorial (first in a five-part series) and they also rode along during the race to provide assistance. I've put some notes on the lessons taught so far in the extended.

Continue reading "First race" »

Neat Gmail feature, never noticed it

Turns out that there is a 'Map This' link that appears in the right-column of Gmail if you're reading an e-mail with an address in it. There's also similar links like "Track USPS package." I found out about it here, but according to their help documentation this feature may have been there since last August. Nice feature, but the ad column isn't the best place to get me to notice it.

January 9, 2006

kwc.org back online

BitTorrent has a habit of knocking out my DSL, which knocks out kwc.org as well. 'tis a small price to pay for the new Battlestar Galatica episode.

January 10, 2006

Adobe Lightroom

It's exciting to see Adobe announced their Aperture competitor, Lightroom, though it might be awhile before I can evaluate it seeing as the Windows version is lagging. But with those tasty Intel Macs coming out, who knows?

Glancing at the first looks, my hunch is that Lightroom has the advantage. Although it's clear that both products have had a long germination, Lightroom will be able to learn from the lessons of Aperture before a final product is released. Even with the beta release it's clear that Lightroom will be less of a resource hog than Aperture, allowing it to run on laptops (ln m says it even runs on his old TiBook). Adobe also has far more experience with image processing, especially with RAW conversion. The poor RAW conversion was one of the biggest complaints about Aperture, and certainly an Achilles' Heel for a professional product.

According to postings on their discussion board, it sounds like the Mac version came out first because they were able to leverage some OS X capabilities that won't exist in Windows until Vista, but who knows. Releasing a free Adobe Lightroom beta to compete against a $499 Aperture, which has enough bugs to be a beta product, and it sounds like a great strategy to me. I hope that the final pricing for Lightroom ends up being low. There's really not that much difference in overall functionality from a product like Photoshop Elements or Bridge. A lot of the difference is which audience the UI is being targetted at. UI is worth paying for, but I'd rather buy a new lens for my camera.

New Apple laptops

Intel dual-core Apple laptops, $1999+, and Intel dual-core iMacs. Maybe one of these days I'll finally pickup a Mac... or maybe after I recover from the purchase of my TV. Also cool to see Apple embracing video blogging and podcasting with iLife '06. An interesting tidbit from the announcement was that Apple sold 14 million iPods last quarter. That's a whole lotta white earbuds.

Note that at this time, the Apple.com homepage is still advertising the "new iMac G5" and "new Powerbooks." Hope they didn't produce too many of those.

update: apple.com has finally updated with the new products

January 11, 2006

Ninja is hereditary

My 11-month-old nephew, can't even really speak yet, but he's already practicing his ninja stance :

dg

(click for movie - 1.6MB)

Ninjas learn silence at a later age.

January 13, 2006

Windows Vista/OS X mashup

Crooked Timber has a funny mashup of the audio from Bill Gates' CES speech with OS X video. To be fair, you could have just as easily substituted in screenshots of Google Desktop, Konfabulator for Windows, etc... and it would still be kinda funny, but you would miss all the stock Apple/Microsoft vitriol in the comments.

(via metamerist)

January 15, 2006

Second race

vpLesson learned this week: don't forget your bike shoes. We did some basic cornering practice, but this lesson about footwear was much more important. Without bike shoes I couldn't lock into my pedals and get power on my upstroke. Al convinced me to race anyway. Surprisingly enough, I finished.

I survived six laps in the peloton before falling back and doing the last four in a paceline of stragglers. I had double-vision and my brain had gone offline, but this was much better than only surviving one lap in the peloton, not finishing, and emptying my stomach on the side of the road like last week. The final stats from my computer read: ~39:50 / 22.8mph / 15.1 miles.

A husband/wife mentor team were largely responsible for my finish. They formed the bookends of the paceline that I finished with. I nearly lost it when the rider in front of me gave up and left a huge gap between me and the next rider. If it weren't for the mentor behind me screaming for me to catch back up I probably would have watched as my draft rode away. Then I would have to come up with some lame excuse to explain my failure, like drinking bad sports drink samples, or forgetting my shoes.

Some additional notes on lessons learned in the extended.

Previously: First race

Continue reading "Second race" »

January 17, 2006

'Lost' MythBusters Experiments

Discovery has posted some videos of 'lost' experiments: MythBusters: Lost Experiments

These aren't really 'lost' because, as far as I can tell, they've all been shown on the show before. They're more like MythBusters shorts.

Latest software updates

With three separate computers, it takes a lot for a piece of software to make it onto all three. Software that makes it easier to install on all three or keep all three in sync definitely get bonus points. Here are the ones that have recently passed the grade:

  • Google Pack: I burned a DVD every year to install a bunch of software on my dad's computer while I'm there for Christmas. It turns out that nearly everything I usually include is on the Google Pack: Google Earth, Picasa, Google Desktop, Acrobat Reader, Ad-Aware, and Firefox. It can even install Trillian. Best feature: one program to install them all, one program to find them, one program to bring them all and in oldness to update them. Worst feature: Norton Antivirus only comes with a six-month subscription.
  • Folder Size: Adds a column to show you how large a folder is in Windows Explorer. It's a simple program to win that game of, "Why Am I Out of Diskspace?"
  • Foxmarks: it's a buggy beta, but it's something I need. del.icio.us holds on to most of my bookmarks, but I still have quite a few bookmarks I need to keep inside my browser. The 'synchronization' feature ends up putting a lot of empty separators in my bookmark folders, but these can easily be deleted.
  • Foldershare: It lets me keep a folders synchronized between multiple computers. I find placing files in a folder the simplest metaphor for sharing between two computers and it requires the least effort to maintain.

January 20, 2006

Case-ari iPod nano case review

case-ari caseI just received my Case-ari iPod nano case, which will replacing my homemade Altoids case. The Case-ari case is similar to the premium Vaja leather cases, but about half the price as they ship from Georgia instead of Argentina and they don't offer any customization.

I approve of the Case-ari case so far. It comes with a detachable belt clip and plastic screen protectors that you stick right on the screen and scrollwheel. Strangely there is no protector for the center button. The inside of the case is plush and there is a separate cleaning cloth. The customer service, from what I have seen, is good. Within a couple hours of my order they called to let me know that my chosen color was out of stock and gave me the choice of choosing a different color, cancelling, or waiting. The case also arrived with a free Case-ari keychain and signed personalized letter. All little things, but quite a lot for a $24.95 product when compared to the crap you might find for the same price in the Apple Store.

I liked the Altoids case, but I never quite finished it and it felt silly carrying around something as large as a regular iPod to transport a nano. I may revive the Altoids case for snowboarding or the like, but otherwise the Case-ari case will be absorbing most of the blows.

January 22, 2006

Third race? No

The cycling season has been postponed for me on the account of injury to a teammate. Cycling is a lot like drinking: best done with others. You can get wasted by yourself, but who will hold your helmet while you puke?

January 23, 2006

Convergence!

canonflagship.jpg

Canon's newest camera will have it all: from bp's/meta's pizza button to the latest in AI sensing/reminder technology for the "Pee Break Now" indicator. But which button calls my mom to tell her to come and pick me up?

I'm waiting for the model with GPS.

credit: bigconig's posting on dpreview

January 30, 2006

Upcoming

With the exception of Wondercon, I'm pretty sure I'll be going to all of these events. Wondercon is relatively close to Valentine's Day, which the organizers don't seem to consider a scheduling conflict.

Friday, Feburary 3 from 7-9pm: San Francisco in Jello at the Exploratorium (one night only as part of the Reconsidered Materials exhibit)

Monday, February 6 at 7:00 p.m.: Douglas Hofstadter at Stanford

Friday, Feburary 10 to Sunday, February 12: Wondercon at the Moscone Center

Sunday, February 19 at 10:00AM: Tour of California Prologue, San Franscico Individual Time Trial

Tuesday, February 21 at ~noon-3PM: Tour of California Stage 2, Martinez to San Jose

Wednesday, February 22 from 11:00AM-2PM: Tour of California Stage 3, San Jose Individual TIme Trial

January 31, 2006

Link roundup

My dorky quote for the day

I had two teachers for algorithms class. One spoke as if conversation were a non-returning recursive function

I'm clearing out the Firefox tabs. BoingBoing appears to have beaten me to posting some of these, oh well

Book: McSweeney's 17

McSweeney's 17 comes disguised as junk mail. I'm pretty sure this takes the crown for most ridiculous media packaging that I have ever purchased. Screw the comb that came in my McSweeney's 16, the material in this issue is packed inside of envelopes and even comes with a rubberband!

The ridiculous packaging is an odd, yet appropriate, choice for the mixed assortment within. There's Envelope, which is a big brown envelope containing reproductions of various contemporary art, mostly paintings. There's humorous inserts, my favorite being the plural clothing brochure. There's Yeti Researcher, a parody of a scientific research journal filled, too filled, with yeti research articles. I was more frightened than entertained by the amount of effort that went into reproducing that much straight-faced yeti research articles. And, of course, there are a couple short stories, though most shorter than the usual McSweeney's fare.

There's a lot of variety in McSweeney's 17, but not enough for the hefty price tag. It's a lot of variety, little depth, with the exception of a frightening number of yeti articles. Issue 17 was supposed to come with the Wolphin dvd, which instead arrived with McSweeney's 18. If it had, this little mixed media packaging experiment might have been worth the price of admission.

Then again, I haven't watched my copy of Wolphin yet, so who's to say?