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Picture_44 Whoah, I actually listened to a enough music this year that was released in this year that I could pick a favorite. (note: Nelly Furtado is timeless, so she'll always be out of the running) Hemstad's self-titled album put out by Catbird Records wins! Except you can't buy it now. It's sold out. But wow, check out that sample song "Fyllekärring". You should totally go back in time and buy this album.

Here's the top 20 list of 2006 of my most listened to stuff recorded by Last.fm. Number in parenthesis is the number of times played. The problem with this list is I tend to throw one band on and listen continuously, so bands like Hemsted, who got over 100 plays on my computer, don't even show up. I'd say this list is a good representation of what I completely freaked out on for a good week or so this year. Definitely the case with Be Your Own PET.

  1. Be Your Own Pet (1,008) - I really liked this band (obviously). I guess they got a lot of shit for being children of musicians or something, but the lyrics are pretty good and the music is good so I don't know what the big deal is. Good band. I'm a little amazed I listened to them one-thousand times, but the songs are short, fast, and good. Except for that one with the line about Bad Brains. Eeesh.
  2. Sublime (666) - Perennial favorites. If you didn't live in SoCal in the early 90's you won't understand. I mostly listened to obscure studio stuff and random 8-track recordings done around the "Robbin' the Hood" days. Sigh...
  3. The Breeders (573) - "Rediscovered" after discovering how awesome The Amps were (see #11). I love their cover of "Shocker In Gloomtown", though I got a lot of hell for saying I liked it better than the GBV version. Ooh, I just did it again.
  4. Pavement (543) - Will be on my list every year.
  5. The Mountain Goats (461) - Made my favorite album in 2005, I managed to get a hold of a bunch of unlabeled lo-fi stuff and probably spent a couple of days picking through it.
  6. Guided by Voices (437) - Sometimes I spend a week just listening to GBV.
  7. The Vandals (317) - Oh boy. That's shocking. Totally punk rock Republicans, but the good kind. I spent a couple days picking through these old Orange County bands I had forgotten about, I guess the Vandals got more play than anyone else. Also, a lot of that has to do with the jokey song: "I Have A Date".
  8. The Fucking Champs (300) - Mostly listening to IV. This stuff is great for programming. I'm not much of a metal fan but this is just brutal.
  9. The Flaming Lips (275) - This isn't what you think. When that last album came out I had to remind myself how much I loved these guys and to clean my brain out. This is pretty much all "Transmissions from the Satellite Heart" and "The Soft Bulletin". I can still listen to "When Yer Twenty-Two" and have vivid flashbacks of driving around LA in my little truck, delivering shit in the heat, thinking how lucky I was. I was pretty lucky.
  10. Pixies (274) - The book on the Pixies caused this. After I read it I went back and listened to everything again with fresh ears. It's great to see them get the respect they deserved, but kinda sad they are pretty much over the whole thing and just cashing checks.
  11. The Amps (261) - I completely missed The Amps the first time around. Wow, Pacer is my favorite album listened to in 2006 for sure. Fucking Kim Deal is on this list three times.
  12. Weezer (260) - Oh god, what decade are we in again? I think this is pretty much all that "Dusty Gems" collection. Specifically Paperface.
  13. Mad Professor (249) - Though it doesn't show up on this list that much, mainly because dub and reggae songs are so long, I listen to a healthy amount of Reggae/Dub/Dancehall. I think Mad Professor ranks highest because of the dub work on my favorite artists (not shown: I discovered Jacob Miller this year! Whoah.)
  14. Tsutomu Kouno (249) - This is video game music from Loco Roco. The songs are a minute long so they get a higher play count. Also: nerd.
  15. The Jesus and Mary Chain (207) - I finally bought all those post "Automatic" albums I swore I was going to buy. They were okay, I dunno why I listened to them so much, I blame that "Moe Tucker" song.
  16. The Thermals (203) - New album was very good, definitely better than "Fuckin' A". Also, again, short songs chart higher. "Pillar of Salt" getting most of the play. I would love to be in this band.
  17. Ramones (196) - No wait, I meant this band.
  18. Sweetie (196) - Oh right, I'm in this band. Is it okay to listen to your own music? I don't care. Omar writes damn good songs.
  19. Green Day (187) - Living in the Bay Area made me remember the bands of yore. I saw these guys play once at some co-op party when I was at Berkeley and I thought they sucked. Look at me 15 years later listening to the album they had just put out back then. Me + teenage love songs = BFF!
  20. Lady Sovereign (185) - Embarrassing! And that's saying something, considering items 1-19. Make way for the S-O-Veeeee!

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Picture_2I didn't get to into it in my last post, but the other part of Coffee Break Spanish that impresses me is their adoption of good tools.

Their blog is run off of TypePad, an excellent blogging service  for businesses. I use TypePad specifically because I don't have to maintain or troubleshoot an installation, and frankly I don't have time in my life to fret over a bad database index or some dumb PERL requirement. Oh, I could run MT or Wordpress, and I know there are cool little things I'd love to do with my blog, but really, TypePad just works. I think this is why it's been such a hit with businesses who don't want to call up the IT guy every time something goes wrong with the blog.

I'm not familiar with the many podcast services and directories they use except for iTunes, but I can imagine they all increase awareness in their own way. And it looks like they use Feedburner to track it all which is very smart.

They sell course materials through PayPal, and printed shirts and clocks through Cafepress. For community boards they use ReadyBB which is hosted PHPBB.

Finally, they are paying attention to their listeners. Not long after I posted about finding their podcast, Mark,  the teacher, was in the comments so you know he's watching Technorati or at least the iTunes referrer log as I didn't link his site directly.

It's a 3rd party tool success story if there ever was one. As a web developer I'm interested in seeing where they take this, as a student I feel like I'm in good hands.

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Picture_1_1 This year I decided to learn Spanish. One would think the surname, the place I grew up, the sombrero, would all indicate some working knowledge of Spanish–but no, I'm pretty much illiterate when it comes to the language.

"¡Hola, Andres!"
"Plato."
"¿Que? Que es, plato?"
"Yo vivo en una escuela de pescados. Plato."

See? Gibberish. Don't be fooled, I have excellent pronunciation, mainly due to years of practice imitating my dad saying "Chicago", otherwise, I'm a mess.

So, I did some looking around and it turns out there's a podcast being produced by (I'm not joking) a pair of Scottish podcasters in Scotland. The chemistry between them is outstanding, and Mark, the teacher is very good at balancing the lessons so they aren't too advanced but stay interesting. I think the key to the podcast is they try to keep it around 15 minutes and each episode builds on the previous work.

It's called "Coffee Break Spanish" and it's entirely free.  There are study materials that cost a nominal fee (like $1) that are produced along with each podcast, but I haven't needed them.

The only thing that's a little odd is the differences between the Spain Spanish versus the Mexican Spanish  my parents speak. For example, "mujer" in Mexican Spanish means "woman" but in Spain it means "wife".  And of course there is the Spain Spanish lisp that would probably get a few laughs if I tried talking to my relatives with it.

But I can't recommend the podcast enough. Check it out.

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Toot, toot.

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Thanks to Justin for recording this. And thanks to everyone for coming.

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Stikkit finally about two weeks ago put a "keep me signed in" item on their sign-in page, now I can go back to using it as my home page. They also added are taking requests for their new API, so if you had tried it out before and didn't stick with it, go look again.

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Many of us are going home this week to visit parents or see family members. It

  • Copy/Cut/Paste. I remember working in an office with some guys who were doing tech support, and a woman called in asking what information she should put into the settings for her network. The tech told her to "copy and paste" from the email and she had no clue what he was talking about

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Who is buying all these green lasers?

Is there some sort of secret drug manufacturing step that requires green lasers? Ick... is there such a thing as Laser Play? Does it have to do something with DRM/DMCA/BluRay? Are they about to be banned or something?

Everywhere I turn for Christmas I see lasers. Lasers! Buy a Green Laser! It's green! It's brighter! Was my old laser weak? Who is buying these green lasers?

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Long Beach Museum of Art
Originally uploaded by Amber Dawn.

We took a quick trip down to LA this weekend on a VERY strict schedule to see a ton of places. Amber took some photos, these are them.

I took some too.

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Because it's easier to think up ideas than actually do them, today on the bus I thought it'd be a neat hack to take a Wii controller, and this code for detecting a Wii's location, tape a video camera onto it and then either scan in a 3d object by moving the Wiimote around it, or generate panoramas by moving your Wiimote from left to right.

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Cameron's post about Multi-Tap comes with a neat script.

Since moving to San Francisco I'm actually using all those phone features that used to be kind of pointless when you're commuting in a car. My phone has an RSS reader, so I can keep up with the news*, I have a huge number of bookmarks, and appreciate when people add accessibility headers to their sites. Google also provides these helpful "landing pages" which seem to show up at random.

I've grown so used to using operating systems that allow customization (real customization, not themes and colors) that it's frustrating to have to use someone else's idea of a good text entry system. Sony's idea of "predictive word suggestions" is when I'm typing a word like "the" it scans the last time I used the word "the" and offers up the word I had used after it last time. Not very useful... I'd actually pay for a better SMS app on my phone.

*BBC's feeds are better than anyone in the US, which is probably due to the desire to maximize pageviews/adviews, so I have to read the occasional story about Manchester United (?) trading someone for someone. Anyone got a good RSS news feed with a real summary?

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Vintage T-Shirt Book
Originally uploaded by torrez.

Hey, someone sent me this book to review and it’s pretty good. If you were alive and dressed yourself in the 80’s you probably owned one of these shirts and should get this book or buy it for someone as a stocking stuffer provided they have FAT ankles.

As you probably know I skated a bit, so the skate shirts were pretty cool to see, but the best part of the book is the music shirts.

Oh, and there’s some bits to read in this too, they interview t-shirt collectors who specialize in different types of shirts. Yeah, if someone asks you what they should get you or you need a Secret Santa gift under $15 get this book.

Amazon Link To Book – Added bonus, check out the comments. :)

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Sitting home at night, pouring yourself a glass of Hotaling's, and cracking open an old programming project seems like a good idea until you find yourself writing the same method three times in a row, each time worse than the previous. I can't even remember what this method was supposed to do even though it's called, "

Being a light-weight sucks.

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Unlike the Zune I actually shelled out for this one. $350 puts this in the serious GAS (gadget acquirement syndrome) range. Call me crazy but eBooks are one of those technologies that I lust for. Some people get hot for LEDs or overclocking their computers. Me: eBooks. Way hot.

Buying It

Apparently, the only place you can buy a Sony Portable Reader, besides the Sony store, is Borders books. I am not sure I fully understand this reasoning as it's a bit like selling cars at a scooter store. Yes, we like to read, but are avid book buyers actually going plunk down one hundred times the cost of a book for a gadget like this? I don't think so.

I walked into a Borders for only the second time this year and asked to see the device. The clerk said he had been waiting for someone to check it out as he wanted to see what it looked like. When he brought the box out from behind the counter it was small. Really small. From photos of Sony's previous reader, the Libre I had thought it'd be just a bit smaller than my 15" Macbook. Instead this thing is roughly a bit taller than a paperback book, and about 3/4ths as thin. Opening it up I was put off by that awful Sony purple. But that faded as soon as I started it up...

The Display

I think the clerk and I both said "woah" when it first booted. All reviews say it looks like paper and they're right. Though not the sort of paper you're probably thinking. It does not look like book paper, instead imagine if there was a mockup of a video screen printed up on cardboard and taped to the screen of your laptop. It would look too crisp, too clear, almost like you're holding a demo model of a laptop instead of an actual laptop and then you hit a button and BAM! a new page just percolates in...OMG YOU'RE A WITCH STONE HIM!

So basically, the paper thing is true. Totally readable. Totally awesome...unless you are trying to read something with line breaks inserted. Why do people do this? I had to put together a quick and dirty ruby script to fix all the Project Gutenberg pages because some joker thought to add line breaks in the plain-text (example). Cory's books don't do this so I can read them at any resolution. But people who aren't fortunate enough to make a script will be SOL and have to read jagged lines. PDFs are great if they bleed to the outer edges of the page, most of the eBooks I own have big margins which is great for printing, not so much when reading on a small screen.

Another oddity that has to do with the technology of the display's refresh. Let's see if I can explain this in one sentence: The display is made up of millions of tiny balls which are dynamically magnetized to show you their black or white side. This takes a bit of time (about a half second) and it's a little weird to get used to, but once you do it's no more distracting than actually turning a paper page. If you time it right you can hit the "next page" (there are three next page buttons and three previous page buttons, take your pick) button just as you finish a paragraph.

I wasn't able to read my Ruby On Rails PDF book, my Ruby PDF book, or an old Objective-C PDF book I had been wanting to read. I was able to output a .pdf that was readable on the reader, but that took a lot of time, and I realized plain-text was good enough. 

The Controls

Not the best part of this gadget. There are some weird things about it that I am not sure if it's Sony trying to be clever or they had an intern do it. No device needs over 20 buttons on it if it's not a keyboard. This thing has 10 buttons labeled "1" to "10" so you can skip around or select menus (which I suspect is because using the joystick and waiting for the screen to refresh takes a lot of time, hitting a button corresponding to some percentage of the book is easier. It's so sad watching people come up with alternate iPod interfaces when the iPod interface is so elegant.)

The Store

Hah, yeah right, I'm never going to use that store. Total waste of time and money. There are just too many free Gutenberg books to read.

The Verdict

If you are an eBook geek, get this thing. If you take a lot of trips, get this thing. It's easy to read, I carry around about 20 books at all times, and it takes Sony Memory Sticks so you can probably carry a few hundred around without a problem.

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Flickr's 300,000,000th photo was uploaded last week, http://flickr.com/photos/42909211@N00/300000000/. Alan actually let me know, which is funny because we met on Flickr back when it was a Flash chat environment with shoe-boxes. He guided me through the site and got me using it and I remember thinking people from FP were going to flock to it. It was a bit of fun, though I didn't really use it that much as I didn't have time.

Here's the first image I uploaded, file number 3430. Back when it wasn't photo focused. They didn't get so concerned about copyrights until Yahoo bought them, then stories of people's images getting removed started coming out so I hid this image. I just un-hid it as I'm told they don't really make a fuss until there's too much traffic going at it and flags get raised.

Here are the real early ones, though, Caterina's (#88) and Cal's (#74)—appropriately it's a test image.

I love Flickr and use it every day. You can see my own photo stream is a more accurate history of my life than this blog. In fact, I announced our engagement on Flickr before anywhere else. I didn't even think twice about doing this. And when people find out that's how the message was delivered to most of my friends they're a little bit surprised. It seems completely normal to me.

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I've given up completely on the Zune and am giving it away. There are a number of reasons why I decided to stop using it: being a Mac user, not wanting to boot into Bootcamp just to use it, unable to easily get movies onto the device (I never actually did get one on there, it'd fail every time), plus it was pretty damn big.

This isn't to say I don't think people should buy it. I could imagine being a Windows user and wanting that bigger screen, and possibly the ability to share songs with a friend. Plus it's a new device to hack away at. I mean, iPod security seems to be all sewn up, but there are already tales of hacking the Zune to rip files and stuff. If I was a Windows developer I'd be on that device trying to build the next iPodRip or something.

One thing though, I bought an original XBox and was less than thrilled with it. It seemed dated from the day I bought it. The games mostly sucked and the HD was pretty much just a giant memory card. Games don't need giant memory cards.

Fast forward a few years and the XBox 360º is an outstanding product. XBoxLive is nicely integrated. We buy TV shows in an iTunes-like fashion and get to see them in HD. The friend features are light years ahead of anything you can realistically buy (yes, the PS3 has those features, good luck getting your hands on a PS3 any time soon).

You can't count MS out. They fail (spectacularly) and have enough money to come right back. I can't wait to see what they do with the Zune 2...and I'm not even sure if I won't own one when they do get it right.

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Amber and I are sitting on the couch eating dinner. She's got some PC Vampire game running on her Mac with Bootcamp. I've got Gears of War paused and my shoulder is still a little sore from bowling a 214 game on Wii Sports (woo!). We've spent a perfectly beautiful SF day playing games and ordering food. I was just about to get back into this level when I felt compelled to record this moment someplace.

DSC00104.JPG I proposed to her on Thursday and she accepted. Not long after I asked I snapped this photo because I liked the composition of her ring and her Chucks. It's such an accurate of representation of where we are right now--excited about our new Wii, living in San Francisco, hanging out on the couch on a Saturday night, looking forward to spending our lives together.

My future wife just stabbed some vampire in the heart, and I think that's wonderful.

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Link: Daring Fireball Linked List: November 2006.

Jon has been the hub of the discussion surrounding the MacZot styled giveaways. Did everyone lose their mind and forget what shareware was about? I find this infinitely perplexing. Shareware does this job and does it well.

With dropload an ddropcash I've thought,

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Restore Your Library
Originally uploaded by torrez.

Something ITMS needs. Restore your library apparently lets you download everything you’ve ever purchased.

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  • I've been dreaming for an app like this for a while now. Hawk Wings had suggested one a few months ago, but I never got it working right. Hopefully this one will do what I want. It basically let's you sort mail into boxes with a few key strokes.

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296933266_fba22f6444_s_1 A couple of thoughts after three days of commuting with my free Zune and having to install Bootcamp because Parallels wouldn't let me see the Zune even after hours of troubleshooting and killing kernel extensions and watching my Mac crash repeatedly and then being told by MS Windows that my software key was in use (no duh, I used it for Parallels) and I was going to have to call them to clear out the key. (I did find something kind of funny though.)

  1. The little "community" icon looks like a reversed RSS feed icon. Every time I look at my Zune I get annoyed with that icon.
  2. The Zune Marketplace is okay. There's some bells the iTunes store doesn't have, but it's no iTunes store. It looks nicer than ITMS but doesn't work that well. About the only thing it does better than iTunes is casual browsing. I am always annoyed when I'm looking to buy an audiobook on iTunes and end up with a giant list of books sorted by author and/or narrator.
  3. Nobody has a Zune on my commute, or at least nobody is sharing their info. I tried randomly several times on the train and boat and found nothing. It's a little exciting to think I might be able to browse and share music with a friend someday (if not a bit creepy to think strangers might want to share with me*). The geek in me likes cool tech even if it's spawned from the womb of pure evil, so for now it's shiny and new and that's good enough. Gruber joked the other day that the only way to expose yourself was with a camera, but sites like Last.fm prove otherwise. Playlists are pretty powerful for some of us. Zune sharing is the new mix tape.

I Like

  1. I signed up with my XBox Live account. Points on XBox Live are interchangeable with points on Zune, so if someone bought me an XBox Live gift card full of Microsoft Points, I could use them to buy some XBox Live games and then maybe a couple of songs from the Zune Marketplace. That's cool.
  2. Points system. I know a lot of people think it's stupid, but while using it last night I had that same feeling you have when you're in Vegas and you tip the dealer a $10 chip and don't really think OMG THAT WAS TWO TACO BELL MEALS I AM DRUNK. It's just a point, big deal, you can buy more. The 79 points == 99¢ kind of screws with your mind. Things seem cheaper even if they aren't.
  3. I can stream video from my Zune to my XBox 360º. Currently we have a mess of wires and connections to get stuff off my PSP onto my Mac mini when we want to watch a TV show I borrowed from the web. (Do we still have to say "borrowed" when the truth is I take? I feel like I'm spelling words to other adults in front of kids. Yes, I like downloading TV shows and movies from the web, call it stealing, call it piracy, I call it not having to pay attention to the freaks on the train)

    This isn't to say I don't buy a ton of iTunes shows and music, it's just a choice I sometimes make when something is not available yet (yay 2nd season of Weeds) or being given to me for free (meh new Shins). Sorry, sidetracked...
  4. It's $80 cheaper than an iPod. $80 is like uh, 790 MS points? That's a lot of music. I'm an idiot. It's not $80 cheaper, it's the same price. Thanks, Dave. This kind of changes a lot, as I have had it in my head that it was cheaper. The choice between the two is pretty obvious now.

I No Like

  1. Doesn't show up as a mass storage device on my desktop. I take my MacBook to and from work, so it's not a big deal, but sometimes I need to carry around some backup files. I suppose that's what S3 is for. Still, that's a no brainer, I'm plugging in a hard drive to my computer, show me my hard drive.
  2. When I'm on the train, I feel like such a dork with such a blatant MS product. I pulled it out and noticed someone looking at it and I wanted to say, "Oh no! I got this free, I have a MacBook in my bag, see? I heart Steve Jobs! I heart him!!!"
  3. Zune is so closed off, I had a hell of a time trying to get a movie onto it (still failing) so it's a fancy WMV player for now. Am I missing something about video + Zune?

There are so many barriers with the Zune it's just kind of a joke for anyone who exists like myself (download tons of music for free, Macintosh user, likes to move music around), but for people in this world who think "good enough" is enough (and apparently that is several million Windows users) this is probably going to have some moderate success I think. My favorite beer is Boont Amber, more people like Budweiser. I like less mainstream music like Guided By Voices, even Guided By Voices likes Budweiser. You can't win.

* Fuck you, Balmer, for making it sound all grody.

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Amazing what a few press release can do.

I had no idea the site existed. Now it seems it's all anyone is talking about.

Twitter Fever! Catch it!

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I've had this idea for a while. I'm sure someone has already done it:

"I wasn't panicked until I saw the building," said Russell Grant, who showed up to take home his 5-year-old son, Justin, after hearing what had happened.

The damage was so severe some witnesses were in disbelief that everyone inside could have walked out. Two people crawled under the beams and wreckage looking for kids, but everyone already was out.

"She may have saved many of these children's lives," the mayor said.

The manager of the day-care center operating inside the building had made everyone get into the section of the building that survived the high winds.

"What I saw was just utter destruction," Slaughter said. "The children were scared, they were cold and dirty. They were crying and upset, but really they were calmer than I thought they would be."

Jon Slaughter, who owns two nearby businesses, arrived at the skate center with two employees about five minutes after the building was ripped apart.

Authorities were unsure whether it was a tornado that hit the skate center about 10:15 a.m.

Several states were battered by the storms, which unleashed tornadoes and straight-line winds that overturned mobile homes and tractor-trailers, uprooted trees and knocked down power lines. At least one person was killed and several injured. (Watch witnesses describe the storms' fury -- 2:15 Video)

"I'm amazed that anyone got out of there," said Montgomery Mayor Bobby Bright.

One child suffered a broken bone and another a cut to the head. But everyone else emerged unharmed from the crumpled wreck of the Fun Zone Skate Center in Montgomery, Alabama. The facility doubled as a day-care facility.

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP) -- Lines of powerful thunderstorms pelted the South with heavy wind, rain and hail Wednesday, turning a skating rink into a hulk of twisted metal soon after the 31 preschoolers and four adults inside had fled to the only part of the building that turned out to be safe.

  Storm destroys skating rink full of preschoolers

Published without permission, ©CNN.COM

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Picture_3 Due to some luck I happened to get this Zune a day early. Not sure if I'm allowed to thank the person who let me have it early, but it's a review model, so it came fully loaded with music, videos and movies. It also comes with a 3 month membership to the market-place where I get free access (I think) to download whatever I want. I'm not totally sure if normal consumer Zunes will come with so much music and videos, but if it does, that's pretty sweet. They picked some good stuff.

The letter that came with it says, "The setup on this device is exactly what a typical consumer purchasing Zune will experience." That could go either way, I think. They could just be talking about the volume settings.

Packaging

I'll start with packaging because it's something the iPod and Apple excel at, and it was on my mind while opening Zune. There's really nothing going on here, it's just a box you slide open to find a bunch of stuff inside. I couldn't find the earbuds at first. That's about it. There's a lot of brown. The earbud covers were in one of those little ziploc bags you'd expect a couple of crack rocks to come in if you're the sort of person who cares about what his crack rocks come in. I am I guess.

Enough about packaging. It kept the Zune from getting wet while I walked in the rain, I suppose that's all that matters.

How Does It Feel?

I was trying to come up with a suitable example about what a Zune feels like. It's not quite an iPod—that solid, dense metal feeling you get when you first put one in your hands. It's actually a bit like holding a MacBook vs. a MacBook Pro. If you've never held a MacBook, it seems heavier, a bit cheaper, a bit more plastic and empty space lurking just underneath the plastic shell. There's also the sense that not all the seams are tightly held together. So if an iPod is a Macbook Pro, the Zune is a MacBook at best.

The seams are indeed a little off, giving you the feeling that if you dropped it you'd get to see inside the Zune. The buttons are a little squirrely and move around a bit if you rub your finger on them. I hate that.

How Are The Controls?

Weird. I find myself rotating the thing back and forth because the menuing is all portrait, and the videos are landscape. Right now I'm still just playing with the thing, and even though it's not an iPod wheel I am not having problems getting around. The only thing that's already become annoying is seeking forward and backward with the button disc. It just doesn't work and I find myself skipping around too much, finally giving up and just watching the bit over again.

What Does It Feel Like To Push An Acorn In Your Ear?

Not fun. Maybe I have tiny ear holes, but both Apple + MS need to get away from this hard plastic, one size fits all earbud thing and get with what is becoming more common. Soft-rubber earbuds with three sizes for small, medium, or large ears. Maybe nobody really uses these things. Either way, my ear already hurts.

I switched to my daily earbuds and the audio was actually pretty good. I will have to look into what the bit-rate is, but it seemed to sound as good as my work computer through an amplifier. I'm guessing they ripped everything at a pretty high rate for the review models.

I'll see how the thing does on my trip to work tomorrow. I've already tried installing the Zune software on my Parallels install: no dice. It crashes Parallels so this Zune experience will probably get cut short if I can't get anything onto it. I am excited about the radio, it means I'll be able to listen to NPR again.

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Link: Bare Naked App » DropSend Monthly Profit.

A bunch of friends are pointing me to this story because I started Dropload a few years back. Sure we both help people send files, but the two sites couldn't be more different. Other than aping the name, he's done some awesome stuff with the idea, so I think it's cool that he's now selling it as that's what he was really doing. It just happens it's a site the sends files, the real motivation is to be able to—after a year of existence—post those graphs. So when people wonder why he'd be selling a profitable company the answer is right there on the page, it was always his intention.

The truth is, running a file sending site is boring. There is nothing interesting about it. In fact, I think the only thing that might be less interesting would be running a TinyURL clone. Running a profitable file sending site is obviously more interesting, but I can understand why nobody would want to keep doing it just for the money.

There is obviously a need for this sort of service as even Dropload continues to grow (450,000 users as of last night), millions of page views a month, but for how long? I don't know. There's so much competition and free options that it's almost like trying to do a for-profit web-based email business. The only thing it has going for it is that it's so niche, that the GYM monster probably won't come out with a competitor and blow you out of the water, not unless it's part of a larger WebOS type app.

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evhead: The Birth of Obvious Corp.

On the subject of small, I think it's difficult for people to understand why small (really small) and autonomous is best. They are stuck in the the old-view of "We have to do everything or we're going to DIE". (or worse: we're going to have to take a second round of funding.)

Its unfortunate because small, focused groups intent on making a simple, useful product are all I ever want to be a part of. An absolute nightmare to me would be one of those drones working on some save-the-world SAP installation that never gets off the ground--or one of those startups with a million ideas on how to ignore what they originally were building in the first place.

One quote from his post made me pretty sad, because it illustrates of the shortsightedness in humans: "Nearly everyone I know in the Internet business is either at one of the giants, wishing they were at a startup, or at a startup that hopes get bought by a giant."

If we thought in 5 year chunks (rather than 6-month or even month-to-month) I think we'd see a lot more thoughtful, planned companies, and less people freaked out about diluting their stock. Also awesome: 401ks.

A book I recently enjoyed: Small Giants: Companies That Choose to Be Great Instead of Big

 

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Dear Lazyweb, someone make a site called "Sign Up For Launch" or something where all the web2.0 sites that are "coming soon" just link to one site where you can sign up to be notified at any and all of them, browse others, and then ultimately, when one of these web2.0 sites you sign up for actually launches you can get a notification email.

Two wins here,

  1. I get to find out about all the sites people are working on without having to constantly check Chris Messina's Flickr stream
  2. People who are working on sites can spend time working on the sites and not building yet another "coming soon" form that yellow fades into stars which then lightbox and explode into rounded cornered gradient spooge

Or someone just make me some javascript that does item #2 above. Yay.

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I'd attend that conference.

Nothing against the recent conference that happened here, but I don't find the subject very interesting anymore. I think my motto is "run from enthusiasm".

Thinking about what is interesting to me: good customer support, "small + cheap", decentralized processing (ad serving has ruined my brain), my friend Leonard brought up off-web/on-web connectivity and I can't stop thinking about it. Leonard does that a lot. I used to want to do these little PDF booklets that could be printed but someone did it already. No fun now.

I find Netflix's delivery system the most fascinating thing I use on a regular basis that has web connections. I wish Dodgeball were more interesting but it isn't. I like the idea of that RSS service that lets you hear bands coming to your town, but ideas are cooler than the implementation unfortunately.

This is still true.

If I had a weekend to blow, I'd make my wall-mounted MUNI/NextBus parser. Every morning while putting on my shoes I load it on my phone. Sometimes I find out I have 2 minutes to run down the hill, sometimes I end up with 10 and slowly amble down and wait with the other fools. I don't have a weekend to blow, though.

My mom bought me Beautiful Evidence for my birthday. I read on the boat this morning and got inspired to create something—I will most likely create nothing.

Band is good. We have a song recorded over like two months. MySpace alert: sweetie.

I think we miss Los Angeles less these days. Today while walking along the bay to my office in Sausalito I think I may have forgotten LA for a bit.

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I've been tooling with a sentence in my head this morning, but I haven't been able to come up with the right wording.

Right now, it's: Solving a problem never feels as proportionally good as the bad feeling of experiencing it.

I'll take a crack at it later, but it looks like I'm ending this week on a higher note—though other problems still exist and require a lot more work to figure out. There is still next week.

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Hi, I'm a Mac—
(computer turns off).

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  • "Justin wrote that one of the lessons he learned from Kiko was not to get distracted by side projects. It's true they burned up a lot of time working on other ideas. Perhaps if they hadn't, they'd have been so far ahead by the time Google Calendar launche

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On our flight back from Ontario I happened to read an article in the in-flight magazine about indie record shops. At one point they mentioned an LA record store that outlasted all the other hole-in-a-wall indies (No Life, Rhino, Zed's): Aron's on Highland, and how it had finally closed.

For a moment I felt a little sad about the loss of that shop...and then I remembered how much I hated that place and having to go there.

  1. The parking lot sucked. See this photo of it? That shot makes it look like a football field of glorious LA parking. Here's the truth. It sucked pulling up to the driveway and seeing about three other cars bouncing around trying to get their car out because they couldn't easily turn around and there was no parking.
  2. A few minutes in their used section and you could always find CD-R burns of albums. If you didn't make sure it wasn't an CD-R you'd find yourself at home with a cheap, home-made burn that you couldn't sell back to Aron's because they had a sign up that said, "We Don't Buy CD-Rs!"
  3. There's a reason people in movies who play record store clerks snicker at the music you buy.

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Since my post last month I now have Vox invites up the Vox right now, so if you're a friend of mine and you want to check out Vox send me an email.

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  <div class="vox-cross-post">
<a href="http://torrez.vox.com/" style="float:left;"><img src="http://up0.vox.com/6a00bfbe21e0c8e67000bf76c6d819954a-50si" alt="View torrez’s Blog" width="50" height="50" style="margin: 0 10px 10px 0;"/></a>
<p>Wow, nag screens work apparently. I read about Newsfire the other day, downloaded it and have been using it alongside NetNewsWire just because I like the way it works and feels. I didn't really intend on buying it until that damn nag screen finally nagged me into Paypal. The only thing stopping me from full-time use is the lack of syncing. But still, I sure do like how it works, and for $18 I don't have to get nagged every 20 minutes.</p>
<p><a href="http://torrez.vox.com/library/post/nag-nag-nag.html">» Read more on Vox</a></p>

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  <div class="vox-cross-post">
<a href="http://torrez.vox.com/" style="float:left;"><img src="http://up0.vox.com/6a00bfbe21e0c8e67000bf76c6d819954a-50si" alt="View torrez’s Blog" width="50" height="50" style="margin: 0 10px 10px 0;"/></a>
<p>SixApart released some Vox (¢) updates today, and one of them is a big one, cross-posting to TypePad. Just checking out if this works.</p>
<p><a href="http://torrez.vox.com/library/post/testing-vox-to-typepad-posting.html">» Read more on Vox</a></p>

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So, I accidentally landed on a Slashdot/Ubuntu page today, and the anti-Mac user sniping made me think about those little badges people used to put on their sites that said "Made on a Mac". I don't think people realize how many of us developers are actually making things on the Mac. (So many that they mock honored the non-Mac users at a recent Rails Conf).

I thought, "Whatever happened to those badges? Why don't we see them anymore?"

Well, it wasn't hard to find out. You can get them here, though god knows why you'd want to. The placement guidelines are fine, and I understand why they would exist, but the thing looks so bad to start with, and the 7 point trademark license kind of makes you wonder if even thinking about placing their ugly badge violates some rule.

Staring at that little GIF of generic blandness, you can almost imagine the 440 hours of meetings, lunches, and lawyer billing it took to make it.

It might as well say, "Made on a Computer".

Oh, and, since I'm displaying it, I have to also note:
Apple, the Apple logo, and Mac are trademarks of Apple Computer, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. The Made on a Mac Badge is a trademark of Apple Computer, Inc., used with permission.

Joy.

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In SF on June 21?
Originally uploaded by torrez.

Another reminder, tonight we’re playing at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco.

While I’m not as nervous as I was the first time I ever played live, I’m really feeling the butterflies. Anyway, come out if you can, we go on at 10pm and it’s $8.

I know..I know…

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Picture_5 I've somehow managed to get on a blogger mailing list (if you manage one, please remove me) for marketers and have started to accumulate requests to test products (no thanks, just send cash), requests to post about issues I care so much about that they've even prepared a block of text for me to write and link to (so thoughtful), and my favorite: help me raise money just because I can send an email.

Today I received a lengthy, long, (wow) so very long email from someone in the latter group. With the name "Accountability And Reform" (read: "I am important, give me money") as the name of their GMail account, she or he started with:

We love your blog and realize this is not about design but would welcome the opportunity to discuss this very important issue within your community.

With respect.

It will take five minutes to read this and another five minutes to take action, proposed below.  Your action could literally change the world.  This is a non-partisan issue!  Please post this on liberal AND conservative blogs.

[[twenty (!) some odd paragraphs about injustices and the United Nations-bark-bark-bark-bark-bark snipped to save you the embarrassment of shitting yourself with boredom]]

My response, was snarky. If they're going to waste a few minutes of my time I might as well say "thanks!" and point out they got ripped off when he bought that list of emails to spam:

Hi. Brevity.

Also: my blog isn't about design. It makes "With Respect." fall flat.

Their reply was, thankfully, brief:

Have fun as you ignore the world's problems.

Wha? I wasn't ignoring the world's problems, just this stupid email. But really, the world's problems are at stake and I am antogonizing its last hope?!

Yeah. Plus I hate confused and crappy marketing messages. I hate fake sincerity. Or, at least, if it's fake, let's all make fun of it. They could have responded with, "okay, yeah, we're just trying to get the word out...blah blah" and talk to me like a human. I'm pointing out how silly the "With respect" line is when it's obvious they've never seen my site. Design? Hellooooooo white-space.

I responded...

Self-righteousness. What a surprise.

How dare you tell me you "love my blog." You're lying and you're spamming me. I never signed up to be on your mailing list. Why should anyone read your letter if you're being insincere?

You can't even be a good internet citizen and respect people's inboxes...but good luck on finger wagging at organizations you don't agree with.

Their response:

Listen a-hole.  I thought your site was about website design.  I had read something awhile back and either you or someone who posted was talking about design.  We have much bigger problems than your ego to deal with right now.  Don't bother responding.  We won't respond. (emphasis mine)

Is it really being polite when you call someone an a-hole? Call me an asshole for chrissakes if you think I'm being an asshole. A-hole is kind of an insult on some strange level I don't understand. Do you flip your ring finger at people when you're mad at them? I bet you do, you dim-ass.

My response:

Did you just say "la la la I can't hear you la la la"?

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Picture_11 Day four and no word from Ambrosia Software even though they asked me to mail them about the error. I totally understand their silence, I mean, I am not giving them money why should they expend the energy to help me? I'm only uninstalling Snapz Pro X because it nagged me every morning and spontaneously throughout the day even though I wasn't using the product. It also kept track of some imaginary number of times I used it even though I only used it once to actually record something and three other times to see what other features it had.

I found how to uninstall in their online FAQ and since that didn't come up in Google when I searched I will provide it here for those Googling.

Also, I will provide you with a link to an awfully named product that seems to work okay so far. iShowU. Heh.

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Picture_11 Hi, I am annoying software that, when you attempt to uninstall will error out and tell you to mail someone.

Oh, and every day, even when you're not using it, I will bother you with a message saying you've used the app (even though you haven't).

Does anyone know any good software that will record screencasts and is not bothersome?

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Picture_7 For the past week or so I've been playing with Vox, the new platform from SixApart. Here's where I'd mention how long I've been writing online, but it's irrelevant, and also I don't want you tracking down the story about when I accidentally drank my own sperm accidentally I said accidentally, okay? Geez.

But back to the point: a long time ago I used to write online to a ton (like 30) of faceless, nameless people who used to laugh and possibly email me about how funny they thought it was. I was just goofing off, I wasn't too concerned about offending anyone if I could make something funny.

But then some of these people became friends and it was WAY more fun to interact and relate with them in Real Life® and in email, AIM, and working on projects together—plus who wants to shake the hand of a known masturbator? Not I. So I toned it down a bit. Things were good.

Then in a repeat of something like the great AOL influx, a lot more people started discovering weblogs. For a small percentage who didn't understand it, a weblog post was a challenge to say something mean or a veiled request for marital advice. Lots of controls were developed to stifle the negative comments, a lot of people just turned the feedback loop off because so much of it was spam or hurtful. That early feeling of freedom and openness died for almost everyone but the thickest skinned.

A lot of my friends from those days disappeared back into the woodwork.

[Incidentally this reminds me that I even have one comment I wrote once, years ago, that I completely regret. It was totally pointless and stupid and I seriously think about it a lot. There are a few others that make me cringe, but that one really makes me feel bad. Especially when I see the person I annoyed at events, around San Francisco, or for 3 uncomfortable floors in an elevator (gulp). I usually console myself with the fact that he's now a millionaire. Jerk.]

My friends pointed me to LiveJournal's friend/family controls and I tried out, but I must have some sort of LiveJournal blind spot because every time I looked at the interface I thought, "Why do you hate me?" It's a fine service, and obviously tons of (goth/emo) people like to (cut/take photos of themselves) use it. But it wasn't for me and MySpace is just not an option because of all the child molesters and Rupert Murdoch. Flickr has been allowing me to share a bit of my life with friends in a more spontaneous way, and I appreciate the control I have over who can see what, but it's not exactly the same thing as writing.

Vox is a return to that early time I don't think most people had a chance to experience. The commercialization of blogs has, I think, skewed people's perception of what they can be. To many, if you're not doing 50,000 unique visitors a day you should just throw in the towel, you're a failure. If your funny story about shopping at the Apple store can't be Digg'd or Boingboing'd then what good is it?

Someone once gave me some good advice on how to write a blog post, they said, "Write it like you're writing an email to your friend." That became hard to do when it turned out lots of non-friends were intercepting our correspondence. Vox gives me the chance to write to my friends (and family!) again and I can't wait for you all to join me.

Ugh Update: I did get invites, but it turns out they aren't the sort of invites that let you publish. So me inviting you in with one is pretty much like saying, "Look but don't touch." I did get two real ones, and they're gone already.

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Launching a website is perhaps the smallest milestone there is, it's no more momentous to me than starting a new work week. It's a chance to take a breath and open up a new channel to your (hopefully) new users. You're not ending your work load, you're pretty much doubling it.

At least that's how I always thought of it. I love make sites for people to use, and I love to listen to what they have to say and respond as fast as I can to make the site better. It's perhaps my favorite thing to do, and it saddens me when I can't respond fast enough.

Like launching a boat or a rocket, you're not standing by watching the boat sail off into the sunset or watching the rocket climb into outer space--you're on it.

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andre
Originally uploaded by sk8vert.

My old skating friend found me on Flickr and is posting some old skate photos. That’s me, gingerly sliding down a rail it seems.

In the background of this photo is Cecil Park. Where there is now a fully equipped skatepark with cement bowls and rails galore. And not just somewhere in that park, but right there, in the spot you can see.

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Gone

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Mike posted a shot of the Golden Fire Hydrant at 20th and Church. When I first read that story a few months ago (1906 earthquake lore has been plentiful) I remember thinking how cool it was to live in a city with so much visible history. After Amber and I went to Italy and saw, like, really old shit, coming back to Los Angeles was a bit of a let down.

Of course, Los Angeles does have some really cool history you can reach out and touch—er, drive 20 miles, bake in traffic, dodge a homeless person's shopping cart—and touch, but it's nice to be coming up that hill on Muni and just happen to see something that played a huge part in the history of the neighborhood and the city.

You can read more about the The Golden Fire Hydrant here, or check out another shot.

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At my old job when they'd pass the birthday card around I'd hold onto it longer than most--fretting over what I was going to say and reading what other people had written. They always wrote wonderfully personal sentiments that I could never match. My friend Brian would usually write something border-line offensive/incredibly funny. You could tell he just wrote it off the cuff and without thinking, yet it was always so apropos and clever. People would later remark about how funny Brian's comment was.

I'm serious.

Eventually the company got bigger and the birthday card passing was phased out. If you wanted to you could go downstairs and sign the card they'd leave on the table, but I was thankful I didn't have to participate anymore. I always wanted to say just the right thing, and I'd spend so much damn time trying to come up with something, eventually (sometimes after a whole day) I'd wuss out and write "Happy Birthday! Andre".

Even then I'd torture myself over whether I should put the exclamation mark in and whether a comma would sound too insincere. "But is the exclamation point too festive?" I would fret. Then, after I wrote it and handed it to the next person, I'd wonder if everyone was thinking I was mildly retarded since I basically just yelled happy birthday on a card that said "Happy Birthday" on the front.

So at FM everyone is incredibly supportive and friendly. When the sales group lands a big sale there is a nice flurry of CC'd email congratulating them and jokes about the beer being on their tab tonight. I usually find myself panicked that I don't have anything to say. "Hooray!" sounds silly. "Way To Go!" just isn't me. I want to join in but when I realized I have just spent 10 minutes trying to come up with something more than "Woot", I give up and go back to work.

Today I tried to congratulate someone with an "off the cuff sounding but really not that off the cuff because I spent 5 minutes on it": "WTG, _____!" (Way To Go) message of support for their hard work on some data for a presentation. The reply was, basically: "I didn't do that, your boss who you CC'd did."

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