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Apr. 1.2005:Fri


In order to recuperate the $1.00 I spent outsourcing my plagiarism entry, I've decided to join Boring Boring and Gakker in adding banner ads to this site to support my continued plagiarism. Fear not, this is only for the short-term, as I've contacted the makers of Bloggy, the Blogging Robot about building my own kwcBloggy -- well, not really building my own, but rather paying someone else to build one for me.

craigslist cowboy pretty hip tired lessig

[] 02:42 PM | comments(0)

Ode to '97

under construction

I did say that I hoped to never do this again, but as I've previously confessed, I'm a plagiariser -- I never wrote that in the first place. So for today only, I've updated to make homage to the 20th century's greatest contribution to the Web: blinking text.

[] 11:20 AM | comments(3)

I am a plagiarist

With all this talk of accountability, it's time for me to come clean -- this entry is the only entry I've ever penned myself. The rest were outsourced to India, where one can purchase high quality posts for $0.01 per word. I can't afford those rates, but much like hair school haircuts, one can volunteer to have your blog posted to by a blog trainee.

Wait, I must confess some more -- I'm not writing this post either. It's the thought that counts, and a lot of thought went into the $1.00 I paid for this. Pity, a dollar doesn't buy very



Yahoo 360 First Impressions

Is it possible to judge a new uber social-networking service in just one hour? No -- but I'm going to try anyways.

My gut reaction is that this will be hugely popular. I use My Yahoo! on a daily basis as my personal information organizer (calendar, fantasy sports, tv listings), and the overriding impression I get using 360 is that "this is what My Yahoo! should be more like," or rather, "360 is the complement of My Yahoo!"

360 brings together many separate Yahoo! services under one roof, from photos to IM to groups, as well as adding a new blogging service. The experience of logging into 360 is that of sitting in front of a large communication center gazing out onto my social network: on the left are my messages and my instant messenger list; to the right is the latest additions to my friend's 360 pages as well as my Yahoo! Groups. This is in contrast to My!, which mainly focuses on your own personal information and third-party information sources (comics, news, weather).

In constructing this comparison between the two, I wonder why Yahoo! didn't combine them, or at least incorporate more My! features into 360. For example, 360 has a "Mailbox", but it's not your Yahoo! e-mail -- it's actually just a basic inter-360 messaging service. There's also no linkage between my Yahoo Address Book and the 360 service, other than the fact that you can invite people directly from your address book. It's as if there is a glass wall separating you from the rest of Yahoo, and you are given a box of crayons to copy everything down from the other side. It also gives the feeling of missed opportunities -- e.g. my calendar has absolutely no presence on 360. It seems to me, at least, that there could be a lot of potential in adding the ability to organize events (social calendaring) that could be synced with my personal calendar.

This is an early beta, and perhaps Yahoo! will bring more of the My! world into 360 over time. They will, at the very least, be adding in the ability to subscribe to RSS feeds, which will greatly expand the content that is available and give friends with non-Yahoo blogs the ability to participate (at a reduced level). Maybe I just wish for this convergence because it seems silly that I need two Yahoo! pages opened up in my browser to view my Yahoo! world, all because Yahoo! doesn't know how to integrate the two worlds. [note: I'm not suggesting that Yahoo! mash My+360 into one uber page, but I am saying that 360 needs to be more like My! and integrate with Yahoo better]

Wombat notes that Yahoo 360 is a closed service, and that makes the service suck, and he's right, though I believe when users evaluate the balance of the features that 360 provides, they'll decide that it outweighs to problems of a closed service. After all, Friendster, which is completely closed, is still popular, and Xanga, which is most similar to 360 in that outsiders can view content but not leave comments, is also very popular. There is plenty of stupid 360 closed-world-oriented functionality to frustrate -- e.g. if you send a message to someone, it sends them an e-mail to tell them they have a message, but the e-mail doesn't actually way what the message is (you have to logon). It would be nice if it were more like LiveJournal with regards to openness, but in the end I don't think that's going to effect the popularity of 360.


Photo: Kid with metal detector

Not all my photos on the beach were subjected to overexposure -- I get a kick out of these photos of this kid on the beach in Santa Monica trying to wield his metal detector so that he can go treasure hunting with his dad.


note: photo is crooked 'cuz I'm lazy

2005-03-27-001 094

[Photos] 06:19 PM | comments(0)


Obey the Sheep

Originally this was going to be a review of the Workrave software, but I saw an RSI specialist today, and what he told me today goes along well with what I was going to write, so I now present my condensed, summarized report of how you, too, can help prevent RSI (with a little assistance from the Sheep). Workrave is perhaps the single most important piece of software I've installed on my computer in the past three years, as I have now started to develop RSI. To understand how and why it's so useful, let me first try to relate what my specialist told me about RSI (note that this does not apply to carpal-tunnel, which I now little about).

RSI is a bit of a misnomer; it's not a repetitive stress injury as much as it is a static stress injury. While you are typing, your muscles must constrict in order to hold your arms, neck, and head in place. Over time, this causes your muscles to form more fibrous tissue (i.e. tendon-y tissue), which help induce pain. My specialist had me feel my triceps as an example of what good muscle tissue is: it's soft and all of the same consistency. He then had me feel my forearms muscles, which felt like little bands of tendons.

Each day you cause damage to your muscles that your body must heal; if you only heal 99% of that damage each day, then over time you will accumulate more and more damage until you are in pain -- RSI. This view of RSI offers three avenues of treatment: decreasing the amount of daily damage, increasing your repair rate, and repairing the damage manually.

I said this was originally going to be a review of Workrave, so here is where the Sheep comes in (decreasing the daily damage). Workrave is a great piece of software that is a glorified timer, with a sheep that pops up to tell you when to take micro-breaks (every three minutes) as well as when to take rest breaks (every forty-five minutes). It even has suggested exercises and stretches that pop-up during the breaks. These breaks are important, as the amount of time your muscles spend in static contraction is related to the amount of damage you are doing. If you take three seconds every three minutes to put your arms down and shake them a bit, you go a long ways towards decreasing the amount of damage. Every ten to fifteen minutes you should also tilt your head back to break some of the static contraction in your neck and back. Workrave actually has thirty-second micro-breaks, but what my specialist said seems to indicate that you can take much shorter breaks. When I first started using Workrave, the most frustrating thing was learning to listen to the Sheep and actually take a break from typing; knowing that I only need to take three-second instead of thirty-second micro-breaks will really help me obey the sheep better.

To improve your repair rate, there are three basic things: water, minerals, and exercise. Water is important to muscles, and we often don't feel thirsty until we are already dehyrated, so it's important to drink plenty. It's also important to take good vitamin/mineral supplements (my specialist said to stay away from Centrum and other supermarket brands). Aerobic exercise will boost the body's metabolism, which will also help it heal.

As for repairing the damage manually, that involves a lot of stretching (2-4 times per day). The fibrous muscle tissue causes your muscles to shorten; the goal of the stretching is to lengthen the muscles once more. There are just a few basic stretches that my specialist gave me to do, and a lot of these can be easily done during one of the micro-breaks or rest breaks that the Sheep indicates. You need to stretch your wrists as well as your shoulder muscles. My specialist is also having me focus on my pecs, as they can impinge on both the blood and nerves running into the arms.



Photos: Getty Skyline

I took far too many photos at the Getty. To reparaphrase a familar quote: "I have deleted more photos of the Getty than you have ever taken." To deal with this overwhelming glut of photos, I've have winnowed the photos down to two sets: 'skyline' photos and 'sun' photos. The 'skyline' photos are better described as photos taken with the camera pointing upwards, as I focused on the various corners and edges that Richard Meier used in his design. The 'sun' photos take advantage of the fact that I've been to the Getty twice at different times of day, so I have some comparisons of how the building captures and displays light.

The 'sun' photo series is still being put together, but here is a sampling of the 'skylines' series (~70 photos total). I would have whittled my photos down more, but this is also a test of my new Flickr Pro account and how easily Flickr handles large numbers of photos.

getty-08 getty-skylines-38 getty-skylines-42 getty-skylines-35

Getty Skylines Photoset


Gehry's House


Over the weekend we swung by Frank Gehry's house in Santa Monica. The location suprised me, as I expected someone like Gehry to live in an ultra-exclusive, gated community with huge walls and attack dogs keeping people away. Instead, his house is relatively modest on an open public street in Santa Monica.

His house isn't in his blobular, twisted metal style. Rather, it has more in common with his earlier works like Edgemar that emphasize simple rectilinear forms. The materials are also fairly modest, making use of both wood and corrugated steel, as well as copious amounts of plants to provide some sense of privacy. Although you can see a large portion of the house in this photo, the actual front of the house is well-protected by dense foliage. Driving down the street it is a home that you notice, but it does not overwhelm the neighborhood that it is in.

I felt rather bad when I noticed his dogs come out onto the patio, as architectural appreciation shifted into the realization that I was point a camera at someone's private home, and it's understandable that he's building a new house (so I hear). Even with his windows set relatively high, it must be disconcerting to regularly have cameras pointed at your home.

Gehry House Photo Album


F--- Atherton!

... well, their Caltrain stop at least. Caltrain has put up a proposed service schedule that is, IMHO, pretty awesome, though it will require a lot more planning to make sure I catch the right train. The major improvements are:

  • you can now sleep in an hour or two later and still catch a Bullet train
  • for half-peninsula commutes, the Limiteds are now very similar in speed to the Bullets there is a new-style of Limited that is designed to shot you from San Jose to the mid-Peninsula quickly and vice versa
  • They got rid of the Atherton, Broadway, College Park, and Paul stations.

For my particular BART-Millbrae-Caltrain commute, where my Caltrain stop is a second tier stop (Hillsdale, SM, MP, SC) the philosophy appears to be that they stack two Caltrains for your stop within 15 minutes of each other -- i.e. if you miss the first train, then another, similarly fast train will be along in 12-15 minutes -- but if you miss the second train, you will have a long wait (~50 minutes). In my experience, BART will be more than 15 minutes late on a regular basis, so I will have to figure out how to properly buffer my schedule and yet still take advantage of the faster service.

Of course, just as happened last time, there will be long, drawn-out community meetings in which this schedule will get modified; in particular, Atherton and Broadway might be able to get themselves back on the schedule.


Back from SoCal

I had a good weekend with d down in LA, where we toted our twin Canon Digital Rebels around and snapped photos of everything vaguely building-like. From my previous entry, you can tell that I spent some time at the beach. We also spent part of the weekend watching a table 20 LA'ers go ga-ga over the new PSP, eating dinner with my Aunt and Uncle, and discovering that, contrary to common sense, other Yale women have dated MIT men (Friendster collision!).

Most of our weekend, though, had more of an architectural theme as we saw Gehry's home in Santa Monica and the Getty on Saturday. It was my first visit to Gehry's home, d's second; d's first visit to the Getty, my second. On Sunday we went to the Renzo Piano exhibit at LACMA, which should be there awhile considering how much money they raised to build Piano's future extension to the museum.

I just upgraded to a Flickr Pro account, which means I should have plenty of storage space to blog aplenty about Gehry's home and the Getty (no photos of the Piano exhibit allowed), but for now, the beach entry will have to do as I must find a way to sleep off my Red Bull and coffee.


Photos: People on the beach

From my photo captioning entry, you might have inferred (correctly) that my metamanda/sunset/beach/maui photo is one of the more popular photos on this site. I decided to experiment more with the technique (i.e. overexposure) that I used in that photo while I was at the beach in Santa Monica. On a beach, at least, the end result is rather fun as it subtracts out most of the background (water and sand) and leaves just the people and more colorful items to be found on a beach. I also enjoy the technique because it anonymizes your photo subjects, which removes some of the voyeurism when shooting on a public beach -- or at least the feeling of voyeurism, which I find to be an impediment to taking photos.


If you like this photo there's more to be found in my People on the Beach Photoset.

[Photos] 01:47 AM | comments(2)