Patrick Smith writes an excellent piece in the NY Times about the state of airport security. You might remember Patrick has a column in Salon called "Ask The Pilot" and a book by the same name.

If you're a nervous flier I can't recommend his book enough. Ever since I read it flights have been much more enjoyable and easy to get through.

Security not so much.

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A Flickr photo-set of Wright's Hollyhock House. found on H+H.

The town I grew up in has a mortuary designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. It's very beautiful inside and inconspicuous from the outside. I have to remember to take photos of it someday—though every time I'm there it's not a very good time for snapping photos.

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Google Reader's new friendz feature is the worst thing that has ever happened to me in my life! I think it's worth pointing out that when we don't like software, people can turn around a fix quickly. I think Paul's take was best: had Google made it work correctly from the start or soon after launch, people wouldn't have adapted to the broken-ness of the software.

I just like noting things like this to file away in my own development experience. Of course I'm joking about it ruining my life, but I did hide all my friendz; if I want to know what they're sharing I'll read their weblog.

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I'm signing up for Catalog Choice, I'll let you know how it goes. The site helps you opt-out of receiving paper catalogs by mailing the companies requests to remove you from their rolls. found on the unstoppable links.

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Here's John and Robert Scoble talking about John's predictions, Federated Media, the biz, and our crappy mobile reception here in Sausalito.

There is not usually four bottles of wine on John's desk.

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I'm back from my wedding and honeymoon. Everything went perfect. PERFECT. It was the best time of my entire life and I got to spend it with some of our best friends and closest family members. Having them in one room was the most exhilarating and moving experience I've ever had.

I can't yet put Fiji into words. Every day was an adventure, and I still have the bruises, scars, and tan to prove it. You really should go. (For the curious we were at Trip Advisor's #1 Best Luxury Hotel in the South Pacific. Maravu Plantation and Beach Resort deserves every good thing said there.)

I tried catching up with my weblogs today but I was just too busy at work. I can inbox zero in my sleep, but news reader zero? I need help.

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It's only Thursday and I already have my weekend project laid out for me. I've been toying with Erlang for a while, dropping it for a month or so only to pick it up again. I haven't written anything of any size, but now that the wedding is over I'm going to dive back and and build a little test app, possibly deployed on EC2.

Here's an interesting post about Amazon's SimpleDB internals. Yep: it's Erlang.

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This is likely old news to you, but Gordon showed me this today and I cannot stop watching it. It's Colin's Bear Animation and it kills me every time.

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I'm just hanging out in the hotel room listening to my parents:

Mom: Oh, I just realized the reindeer is named Blitzen.
Dad: Wait, then what is his name?
Mom: Blitzer.
Dad: Huh.

I talked to Amber a bit, just lots of happy words and excitement. I realize now I should have practiced combing my hair a little nicer than normal. I have been cursed with awful hair all my life: first cowlicks, then going gray, and finally just falling out like some troubled teens fleeing a busted up house party.

While my dad cut my hair we calculated he's cut it 300 times. That's 75 hair cuts for every joke he knows.

I'm going to get dressed now. Still not nervous, just excited and very happy.

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I'm kind of beat tonight. We did a lot of running around today ending up in Pasadena for the wedding tomorrow. Our rehearsal was pretty simple and the dinner was very good. I've been really tired from sleeping on a futon the past couple of nights so I'm looking forward to getting a good night's sleep.

Amber has been a force this past week. She's been in complete command of the schedule, completely together, always on time, and operating at a frequency I had not seen before. I get the feeling all this wedding stuff is really just a trial by fire invented to expose all the nerves to see what we're both really made of.

I have never admired Amber more than this moment right now.

Everyone keeps asking me if I'm nervous. I'm not. My only anxiety comes from hoping our guests enjoy themselves and people don't leave too early. Everyone tells me the night will go by so fast and I hope it doesn't.

My parents are in the other room of their suite. I'm staying with them since they rented such a big place and my dad is going to cut my hair in the morning. We're separated by a very thin door so I can hear my dad getting his nightly dose of The O'Reilly Factor and I can feel my mom silently cheering for Obama every time his name is mentioned.

Completely true: Earlier tonight I had pointed out to them my wedding ring doesn't fit, my fingers have gotten too fat since I was sized. My mom just whispered to my dad, "I could tell he (me) gained weight." I yelled out, "I can hear you!" and she snapped back, "I thought you said you were wearing earplugs!" and I said, "Only when I sleep!" and then I swear she whispered softer to him, "I could tell."

I'm editing this thing too much. I should just go to sleep. I don't think I'm going to be able to write again soon, so I saved the details of our wedding to post after the wedding. I'm a very happy guy right now.

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While Amber is out getting her hair cut, nails done, things waxed, exercising, and eating right, I've got my own regimen this week: not shaving. You see, I'm a shavetimer (word credit to Matthew Baldwin) and it's been something I've had to deal with all my adult life. Well, age 22 on, before that the hair grew so slowly and weakly that if I didn't shave I think the hair would get tired of hanging around and just fall out.

You see, it's so thin and spotty if there were a council on beards I would fail in the coverage test. Sent home before the sponginess and food adherence tests. I can see those jerky beard judges now, laughing underneath those curly Grecian beards.

Because of this, if I have an important meeting or just want to look normal on Monday mornings, I have to time my shaves so the hair is long enough to actually shave on the morning of my important thing. When it's still too short I'm just scrapping at my face with a really sharp blade. Only when it's of some length can I get a good, close shave.

The problem with this is I'm usually walking around with a weird pre-beard. If I come to meet you for something and my face has more than a little stubble on it, be assured I have something much more important than you coming up. I don't waste a shave for just anybody.

To have a good shave on our wedding day (Saturday) I went for broke and shaved this past Monday. This is a very lengthy amount of time but I wanted to have a really good shave. Three days is usually enough, so as you can probably guess my face is starting to look like I actually want a beard. Which is precisely what's so depressing about this stupid thing: I can't have a beard. I'll never be able to have a beard, yet everyone I come in contact with probably thinks I'm starting one up.

Other than the beard thing, I kind of fattened myself up this winter. I was 155 before Thanksgiving, and now I am...not 155. I've been trying this diet out called eat-all-you-want-to-deal-with-the-stress-of-paying-someone-a-thousand-dollars-to-make-a-music-playlist-and-then-hit-play. Don't even get me started on the paradox of eating to deal with the stress of paying someone to cook 50 meals. Yeah, I'm fat.

I just weighed myself on a digital scale. I say "digital" because before when it was all springs and counter-weights you could laugh it off with, "Oh things weigh more near the equator at sea level when it's cold!" or "it says 'not for legal trade', it's just an approximation!" or "they could have put the decal on crooked!" But being an engineer, when digital tells you your fat ass weighs 164, you know there's some memory chip charged to hold exactly "10100100".

Now I'm wondering how much this beard weighs.

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I decided to turn this weblog into journal-mode because I don't have enough time to keep up to date in my newsreader, and someday I'll want to look back on this week and see what I was thinking.

For the first time ever Team Costley/Torrez were ready to head off to the airport at the exact time they had previously agreed on. This was an auspicious way to start the wedding week. There were smiles all around until...

The TSA agents notified us we had been pre-selected to be rigorously searched. We decided this was because we arrived too damn early and they realized they could do their song-and-dance because we weren't boarding for over an hour. It seemed like it would be simple and quick, until we saw the folks ahead of us with scowls on their faces. Soon enough I would have such a scowl.

They were thorough. The most thorough and meticulous searching I've ever seen (and I traveled a couple weeks after 9/11). It turns out my iPhone is apparently made of bomb-like material because it made the bomb alarm machine go "blee-bloo" when everything else made it go "ding-dong". So I was pulled aside for super-rigorous-searching which involves the TSA agent filling out a form that had: "Bomb Detection Alert Event" written at the top of it. My favorite part of the interview was that she asked me if the address on my license was indeed my current address THREE TIMES in a row. By the third time I decided this was their super-secret terrorist discovery method akin to Blade Runner's turtle on its back question. Only a terrorist would say, "You know what? You got me, that's not my current address. My current address is 123 FALLUJAH STREET!"

When she was done she called over her supervisor who looked over the form and then pointed at the top and asked, "Is this your current address?"

If this was a summer movie the TSA agents are now hanging out in our apartment inviting their other TSA friends over with the knowledge we won't be back to that address for a week or so. (Did you know they made FOUR "House Party" films?)

The only thing that was of interest on the flight is that I watched a lot of drift racing and I convinced myself I could probably do it. I think I'd be pretty good, not too cocky, just really focused yet friendly. I really hope there's a good drift video game for the XBox.

Now I'm sitting in the guest room in my old house in Long Beach. Amber is on her way back from an appointment and we're going to hit the Crab Pot, a restaurant where they dump a huge bowl of seafood (crab, shrimp, clams, mussles, corn on the cob and sausages) on your table and let you pick through it. Whenever I eat there I like to pretend I'm a giant and the townspeople have brought me a pile of animals to eat.

The cats who live here are pretty spooked as there usually isn't someone walking around the house in the afternoon. Two of them are on a ledge above the kitchen cupboards and they stare at me like I've completely ruined their day of sleeping and eating and sleeping. Each time I walk by them stare back and shout, "Is this your current address?!"

They don't like that very much.

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Untraceable might be the worst tech movie ever made, but the trailer is fucking hilarious. Not as good as Blow'd Up, but damn close. found on plastic bag.

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Can I just say the second most exciting thing happening a week from now is me wearing my fancy new suit? If I could wear it every day to work I would. The list looks like this:

  1. Marrying Amber Costley.
  2. Wearing mah suit.
  3. Fiji.
  4. Packing for a trip and not taking a coat. None!

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The last post reminded me: Did I mention Amber and I are getting married in a few weeks? People have been asking about our registry and I'm happy to say "we ain't got one." We already have too much crap, and asking for more crap when you already have crap is a bit selfish. So we decided to just ask people donate to City of Hope.

If you've ever felt like there weren't any trustworthy charities (are you really buying a cow, a future cow, or the idea of a cow?), you can trust City of Hope. Here's more on what they have done. There's even more on Wikipedia outlining their contributions to the medical community and the different ways in which they provide medical care and support.

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You will likely want to subscribe to Dark Roasted Blend. Updates are curated with such care, and contain a number of parts that add to a single theme. I keep it in my "lotstosee" folder that I read while drinking my morning coffee.

That's where I found this excellent bit of video. A guy tearing the shit out of the buildings of people he had beef with with a tank-like conversion he built.

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All this consumerism got you down? People are pledging online to buy handmade items, and requesting others do for them as well.

If that's your thing go for it. Hand-written checks is about as far as I will go down that road.

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I took this photo the other day while shopping on 24th St. in Noe. When I was younger I'd be too shy to ask for photos or approach people like that, but I gave him some money and asked him if it was cool and he said "sure!" and I snapped it.

A Blogger logo in the wild is notable to me because something like 8 years ago I saw someone wearing a Blogger shirt in Marina del Rey and didn't approach them. I always regretted that because anyone in '99 or '00 who had heard of Blogger back then was probably a pretty cool person to know. I was far too shy and simply went back to my office and IM'd Matt Haughey who was still working at Blogger to let him know I saw someone wearing a Blogger shirt. (Well it was a big deal to me, I dunno if Matt remembers, maybe he was at KnowNow?)

The Blogger shirt is a little symbolic of that part of me that doesn't want to bother people, doesn't want to introduce himself, or bug anyone. So when I saw that guy I immediately walked over and introduced myself.

And Blogger the application is symbolic of the "oversharing Andre" it let me be that was in such contrast to the "undersharing Andre" that I was in real life.

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A wedding invitation sent out on DVDs. thanks justin.

We actually did pretty good on the RSVPs, only three actual declines, and we ended up on the exact number we had originally estimated. It's a weird thing, watching the responses come back and getting excited when you see people accepting. For a few days there it seemed like nobody was going to respond and you get that little panic like, "OMG maybe we can just charge some people off Craigs List for a nice dinner, dancing, and cake!"

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So bummed "Walk Hard" was brought to us by "the guy who brought you Talladega Nights". I just bought the first season of "Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job" on iTunes and was reminded of how good John C. Reilly is.

Note: if you listen to The Sound of Young America you'll notice a correlation between stuff I watch/buy/talk about and stuff on that show. I just thought I'd point that out before you realized it.

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Needs For Sale is an idea that came out of a project called Wants For Sale. The "needs" idea is that they paint a picture of an item and set the price as the actual price of the item painted. When you buy it, they use the money to buy the actual object and donate it to someone. found on coolhunting.

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I just got home from a nice Thanksgiving with my parents and a really boring drive from Central California to San Francisco. Being in a car that long reminds me why I don't drive anymore. Plus I got my first speeding ticket ever in California, so that added to the disappointment.

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Notcot's 2007 Gift Guide is already off to a good start. Keep checking back as she reveals new products each day. (I want that Mozart ball thing for no reason other than it's made of wood and has a wind-up)

It's been fun following Carrie Brownstein's weblog over on NPR. I keep meaning to link to it but forget. She did a gift guide so now I get to. I love when people write on their site like they're writing me a letter. I can't think of any better advice to new weblog authors. (I forget who gave that to me)

PopMatters' Consuming Consumables will also be updated right up until the Holidays.

Finally, Kotaku's 2007 Gift Guide of Obscene Nicety and Sublime Naughtyness.

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I keep collecting ideas for newsreader features in my head, I thought I should write them down before I do something stupid like try and make my own. I find that if I hold on to ideas too long they take root and start growing like weeds that need to be picked.

  • I'd like a switch called "window mode" that would allow me to mark as read anything 30 days or older. In case I get behind or take a vacation I don't really care what blog drama happened weeks ago, it's of no use to me.
  • Get rid of "star" and "share" as they are used on Google Newsreader. I just need "bookmark". I bookmark stuff for me, for others, for no reason other than it might be useful later. I don't specifically think I'm sharing something or that I'm promoting something. I just need to know I can get back to it again.
  • WHEN I RUN OUT OF THINGS TO READ DON'T TELL ME TO GO AWAY. It's rude! Look, I am at my newsreader because I don't want to be anywhere else. If I want stuff to read, give me stuff to read. What are the power readers subscribed to? What are the power posters posting? Who is today's biggest "via" link? What are people clicking? Can you sort them by longer vs. shorter pieces? Sometimes I'm about to go out of mobile range and want a long blog post to read.
  • I would like rules I can apply to folders. When this group of people talk about this word, highlight them.

I think this is pretty obvious stuff, but I just need to get it out of my head...to make room for another idea that's been taking root. Whoo!

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I keep wanting to post about Kindle but everyone else has done it better (ob. link to Mark Pilgrim's post).

Instead I will just comment that ebook readers: awesome. Wireless EVDO enabled ebook readers that can download a specially formatted version of the NY Times or other newspaper: awesome. An actual selection of books to buy: way awesome.

I own a Sony eBook Reader. It sits in a drawer underneath my Sony PSP. The reason it's in the drawer is I read every book I wanted to read on manybooks.net and Sony's online book store selection was terrible (I think there were four tech books). After some noodling I was able to set up a workflow for converting pirated found txt formatted books or free books like Cory's library.

The ebook itself, the e-ink never loses its cool. If you have been wanting an ebook I say buy it. I think this has more to do with Amazon's lack of experience with developing and shipping electronic products than people will admit. But I'm biased: I like gadgets and things that are awesome.

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A Beautiful Crowded House Story. I don't care what anyone thinks, I'm requesting our DJ play "Something So Strong" at the wedding.

Incidentally, when I saw that video I told my dad (who is a barber) to cut my hair EXACTLY like Neil Finn. My father, being a complete professional who takes hair cutting very seriously, wouldn't do it. "It looks like they cut each other's hair!" He'd refuse.

They probably did.

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Amber and I picked up our marriage license today. As we waited for the guy to print up the final document we were joking and laughing like newlyweds should. We've gotten pretty silly these days. Afterwards we grabbed a cup of coffee and talked about our future.

I just wanted to write that down somewhere. It was a nice morning.

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A Randall Munroe interview. My favorite type of comedy is the kind that manages to make a joke about something you thought only existed in your own head. It's so rare when someone can consistently do that.

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I think I'm going to be linking to online stores and buying guides as we get closer to that day in December. The one near the end of the month. Ho ho ho.

Might Goods has been pointing to excellent "stocking stuffers for grownups" and budget gift guides.

Did you know XKCD has a store as well? The Internet posters are pretty cool, but the shirts...like most shirts I see on the web I can't imagine actually wearing one. Funny though.

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Sometime in the spring I saw a demo of OmniFocus and got really excited about it. I've been doing a modified GTD with text files and folders for a couple years now and was interested in stepping up to a system with a little more smarts.

While waiting for the release I discovered something that has proven to work very well for task tracking. It's called TaskPaper and when mixed with .Mac's iDisk it's just the right amount of functionality on top of my current system to do what I had hoped to do with OmniFocus.

The core of TaskPaper is text files. If you were to open up a .taskpaper file you'd find it completely readable and not-unlike what you'd type if you were just managing the text files by hand. The app is a very light-weight text editor that has a couple features that help you sort, search, and mark items as complete in your todo lists.

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Ben Brown and Katie Spence have a new site up called I Want To See That! The purpose of the site is to get you and your friends to get out and actually see movies. There's a podcast for the site where Ben and Katie talk about the upcoming movies even though they haven't seen them. It turns out to be really compelling to watch and I'm already looking forward to each episode.

Note: I accidentally posted a rambling piece late last night that was supposed to be a draft. Whoops!

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Remarkable. The XBox 360 managed to outsell (by about 200 units) Sony's PlayStation 3 in Japan last week. That's huge.

The XBox 360 is an excellent console. Knock Microsoft all you want but the Xbox team really hit it out of the park on their second try. The PS3 might dominate next year, and the Wii might inhabit a dusty spot in everyone's TV stand, but the 360 owned 2007. found on Wonderland, will not see on Sony Defense Force.

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Geez, Maaaa!!. McCain's 95-year-old mother points out how the Mormons were the reason behind the Salt Lake City Olympic Scandal.

I haven't cared much for the race we're about to be bothered to hell over, but I figured it was time I add a "politics" category on my site so I can start tracking all the fun.

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My friend Mat took a trip home to Alabama and while there snapped a photo of this letter Jimmy Carter sent to his sister-in-law. Jimmy seems to have shot and killed her cat while trying to shoo it away from his bird feeders.

It made the rounds amongst the right-wing blogs with the expected responses, but I just saw it on Kottke so I figured I'd point some things out about it that were interesting to me.

Some facts you might not be aware: this is one way bird shot is used, in .22LR shells. It's not the most effective way to kill anything at a medium or long range. I've seen birds and squirrels hit by it and simply run to higher parts of the tree or fly off to another tree. The shot inside is extremely small and not having much mass it would likely bounce off your skin at a long range if it even managed to get that far.

When my dad and I hunted he'd keep the first cylinder in his .22 pistol loaded with birdshot for snakes. As you climb around hills with low brush you sometimes end up a little closer to rattlesnakes than you wish. Keeping something like that handy means you can stun or kill a snake that feels threatened.

But really, I don't want to defend what he did, it was stupid. The first rule of guns is never point it at something you don't intend on killing. Every 8 year-old kid getting his hunting license knows that.

What I wanted to say about this was Jimmy Carter, when confronted with his own stupid mistake wrote a letter(!) admitting such: "It may ease your grief somewhat to know that the cat was buried properly with a prayer & that I’ll be glad to get you another of your choice." and "I called & came by your house several times."

I think what he actually wrote says a lot more about him than one dumb mistake. He could have done any number of things to shirk responsibility but he admitted it and even allowed it to be displayed in a museum of his letters. I hope when I'm facing a situation like that I have even half that amount of decency as he did.

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I'll be too busy to post links tomorrow, so I'll clean out the delicious queue today.

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Why it's hard to get ready for work. I have this same problem. Unless you know me in person you probably don't know I own nearly 30 plain, black t-shirts.

During the tough building phase of FM I was so pre-occupied with work that I honestly could not dress myself in the morning. It became one more thing I had to think about so I decided to fix it by buying a hell of a lot of plain t-shirts I could just throw on every day and get to work.

Plus I have this whole brand-aversion/addiction issue that just gets worse the older I get.

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A funny Youtube video recorded on the picket lines. Writers and actors (and writer/actors) of "The Office" talk about what this is really about. And it's funny.

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Okay, I had no intention of buying Kane & Lynch, but after seeing Michael's post about working on it, and the accompanying video I think I'm going to pick it up.

Some day, when I have the time, I would like to work on a game with a large group of people. I wouldn't mind just being a cog. I think the experience would be very satisfying. It's just on my list of things I'd love to do some time in my life.

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Sometimes I think I want my own store just so I can have a shopcat. Here's a whole site dedicated to shopcats. Included is Fup, a 19 year-old shopcat at Powell's Technical Books that passed away recently.

Probably for health code reasons, it's rare to see shopcats in restaurants here in the US, but we both noticed they were common in restaurants in Amsterdam and Brussels. The plausible reason for this (we invented) was that it dates back to rats and the plague. Keeping a cat around meant keeping rats away.

Probably very wrong, but it sounded good.

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I'll post my delicious links later today, but I have a meeting in a few minutes so I thought I'd link two things that I read this morning that I think are worth reading.

The first is Ev's first post answering reader submitted questions. Great stuff. Especially the bit about the companies he admires, they're mine too. (Add Coudal's Northmay to that list for me).

The second is Dave Winer poking at Google with an observation of Apple in the late 80s. It was sent to me by a co-worker who did work at Apple in the late 80s.

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If you use Twitter and a Macintosh computer you should check out Twitterrific. The new version is nice and the ad revenue / registration model is well done. You can buy the application or allow it to drop an advertisement into the stream once an hour.

I happily paid for my copy. Not because I minded the ads (they're no big deal), but because I think it's easily worth $15 to me. I do wish Twitter got a bit of that, but maybe I'll just get Alex a drink someday.

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If you haven't read this post by Chris Anderson it's worth reading as well as the comments. It's sending little ripples around the web as it calls out certain PR people out for what they are: spammers.

Joshua agrees with Chris.

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Near the bottom of this interview Trent Reznor admits to having been a member of OiNK.

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Ben Brown reveals a bit on how their point system worked (and didn't) on Consumating.

Points as currency always seemed too challenging to implement without a the checks and balances it'd require so I never did it on FP. Now I think it's too late. To focus on the points would change the way people interact with each other and the site.

I can't wait to see what else Ben writes in subsequent I Love My Chicken Wire Mommy Posts. It's a pretty interesting subject to me.

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Also from Neatorama: an excerpt from the book My Last Supper on Time's site where 50 chefs were asked about their last supper.

Mine would be a recipe my mom concocted for chicken. It's an adobo-like marinade that is a celebration of vinegar and spices. Filipinos love their vinegar. Yum.

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I was offered the chance to buy a Chumby in what they're calling the insider release phase of Chumby sales. I can't decide if I really want to get one. At just under $200 it seems like a very large expense for what would potentially be a second monitor on my desk.

If I'm not sitting at my desk at work I'm sitting on my couch with my laptop. And if I'm not at either of those places I surely will have my iTelephone on me. While I'd love to write something for it, I'd much rather take the new Leopard dev tools for a spin or work on some super-sekrit project of my own that I will own.

Plus there seems to be some kooky licensing issues with Chumby that seems to boil down to "I can only GPL my work or they own it". A Chumby right now seems like an extravagant attention sink with little reward.

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I'm not much of a conference goer. I find web conferences terribly frustrating as I sit in my seat and think "I should be programming" or "In the time we all talked about this we could have pair programmed something interesting." Conferences in general just make me anxious.

But this conference titled The Traveling Box: Containers as a Global Icon of our Era fascinates me to no end. I would so go to that conference. It even includes a tour of San Pedro!

found on delicious/straup

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This is terrible. TERRIBLE. Stop it. This is what hell is to me. A "punk rock choir" performing a Pixies song. I'm told they also mutilate Fugazi's "Waiting Room" as well.

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While packing for our trip I found my Lomo squashed between two books. I do carry an iPhone and can take thousands of 2MP photos, but I want another film camera simply because I still like using film. I enjoy taking a camera out specifically to go take photos, though, I'd happily switch to digital if I could find one as utilitarian and durable (mostly) as the Lomo. It just felt nice to use.

I would never drop $5k on this Leica, but I'd definitely go digital for something similar to that.

Related: Justin pointed me to the White Stripes branded Diana+ and Holga cameras. Eh?

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Here are two articles I read today. You might like them.

Technology Review: What Is He Doing? An article about Ev, Twitter, Blogger, and petting his cat.

A Paler Shade of White. I enjoyed reading this. Slightly related I still think that people who think music has gotten boring have gotten boring.

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These two posts (1 2) are just how I'm feeling these days. There are just too many good games to play. I can't deal.

I canceled my subscription to Gamefly simply because I have too many games at home already that I want to finish. Just look at MetaCritic's top XBox360 games by score. Jerks!

A couple of years ago everyone was hot about virtual worlds like Second Life or There.com, but it's games that you should be playing! Games both online and offline. It's probably great to walk around a virtual world and wear no clothes (tee hee) or have penises for eyes (seriously?), but give me a world with something to do and some achievements and I'll happily go right to work.

And when I say "something to do" I don't mean have sex with a unicorn you crazy perverts.

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Michael reviews some gel pens. I was a G2 user for a long time, but recently bought a big box of Zebra Sarasas and have been pretty happy with them, though they do tend to randomly give a little too much ink sometimes.

Add me to the list of people who gets happy when they go to an office supply store. I have more paper, pens, tape, and office doo-hickeys than food in my fridge. I may not survive the weeks following an earthquake but I could supply a small government agency for a year on my supplies.

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CLEANING OUT THE LINKS.

Wow, these are kinda stale. I blame our vacation. Thank god you don't pay for this crap. The W+K London one is cute.

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I was on vacation when Portal (and the rest of The Orange Box) was released, so I barely picked it up on Sunday. Adam says it best when he writes:

And the caring about quality - that's what I yearn for. I want to experience things that were designed well. That you pick up or experience and feel that the creators cared and were brilliant.

Portal the idea was pretty good, but Portal's execution was what made it one of my favorite games ever. Not too long, not too short, with enough surprises, humor, and balance to make it a truly perfect game.

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You know when you like this band and nobody else knows about the band and you're all hot about this band and OMG this band is the best you have to hear this band and then suddenly that band is ALL OVER the television and MTV and Billy Joel does a duet with the lead singer on his ranch in Utah and you're like WTF SELLOUTS I HATE THAT BAND...except for their old shit, that was when they were good.

Well this is nothing like that. The exact opposite. Julia Wertz' comics are and have been awesome for some time, and finally she has an actual book bound by machines that you can buy and have shipped to you by someone who is not Julia Wertz.

I'm really pleased to see book reviews and people talking about this book because BACK IN APRIL 2006 I WAS ALL INTO THAT COMIC. Oh yeah...this weblog-thing finally pays off!

(Sorry Julia for calling it a web comic. I didn't know any better.)

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This post sums up why I love LA so much and why I miss it. It also reminded me of who I was when I lived there, versus who I am as a San Franciscan. (thanks Omar).

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We're back in San Francisco after visiting Amsterdam and Brussels for two weeks. I have 500+ photos to sift through and upload, hundreds of sites to catch up on, and I haven't checked but I'm assuming several thousand work-related pieces of email. Federated Media loves its email.

But aside from all that data to digest I'm happy to be home and happy to be in San Francisco. It only took one 12 hour flight + a full night's rest to reset my clock.

I don't know where to begin on how supremely satisfying the last two weeks have been. Instead I'll mention the four books I had with me on my trip. I think they more than adequately describe where my head is right now: the very excellent A Brief History of the Crimean War, the very good (but not as good as Pattern Recognition) Spook Country by William Gibson, and perhaps the best travel map-books I've ever used (Amsterdam, Brussels).

I included the Knopf map-books because they were not just incredibly useful, but their graphic and information design was consistently good; so good I'd almost classify them as inspiring examples of how to translate a staggering amount of information into simple tools you can carry with you. That kind of attention to detail should always be noted and praised.

This is all a round-about way of saying the books I read inspired me to try writing again. Which, to me, is pretty wondrous news. More later.

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Taking a little weblog holiday. When I return I'll have wondrous news.

It's so wondrous I don't even know what it is yet, but it's always worthwhile to expect something outstanding. Otherwise, why bother?

Please leave links and bacon recipes for me in the comments.

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Jason linked to two parts of a three part series by Errol Morris about an iconic photograph taken during the Crimean War. (Part 1, Part 2). I read both posts on my ride to work and by the time I got into the office all I could think about was The Crimean war. Ooh, gotta get a book on the Crimean War! Reading all about the Crimean on Wikipedia. I'm crazy for the Crimean!

After visiting both Borders Books in Downtown SF I bought the last book between them on the subject. The last book between them turns out to be a condensed version which seems to be a good introduction based on the reader review. I'm hoping everyone read the Errol Morris posts and bought up all but one of the books on the subject—but I doubt it.

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Joel posts about that little sentence on every iPod. Poor little Microsoft can't catch a break.

This reminds me of something that bugs me to no end. The use of "Hollywood" to describe the movie industry. Everyone from Albuquerque to Albania thinks "Hollywood" is where they make movies. Where the ideas come from. Where the porn and violence are manufactured. The truth is "Hollywood" is so spread out and difficult to define that you'd be more accurate bitching about Culver City or The San Fernando Valley (porn).

The truth is, you'd be more likely to see some yahoo tourist from Albuquerque or Albania than an actual movie star on Hollywood Boulevard.

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I hesitate to post this simply because Hitler: bleh. But it got such a good reception when I posted it to FP I figure what the hey.

Hitler Banned From iSketch.

(iSketch is a crazy fun game loosely based on Win, Lose, or Draw)

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Oh jeez, this is so obvious and brilliant. Put all your credit card, phone, bank, airline, and other customer service numbers in your address book which ultimately end up on your phone if you're syncing.

Here's a bonus tip I do at home with my fire-proof lock box: I leave the key in the lock. If anyone came to steal it they'd just open it, see all I have is a passport and social security card and leave it. Nothing worth stealing in there.

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I totally missed this, but it looks like there was a contest to produce a free and open sourced version of the wildly under-featured for its price .Mac. For now both the server and client have to be running OS X, but people are already working on making the server Linux/Windows compatible.

Dude won $8,622!

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Don't get me wrong, I love my iPhone. I take it everywhere. I use the alarm to wake up in the morning and while the shower warms up I scan my work email. I hit the news reader on the bus and devour podcasts like nobody's business. I cannot imagine using another phone/mobile computer any time soon.

That said, my god look at this beautiful, simple phone. It's the Motorola F3 (MOTOFONE) and it's not your typical mobile phone. Check out the Wikipedia entry to find out about the "electronic paper" display, the fact that its original target is developing markets, and that it runs a Linux variant.

The limitations are plentiful, but I can think of tons of people who would absolutely love this phone. If this was Apple's first entry into the phone market I wouldn't have been surprised.

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I love these two sketchbook scans: one + two.

Can you tell I am addicted to Monoscope by now?

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Great piece on version control and branches: "Without some sort of version control system in place, you can't reasonably call yourself a software engineer."

I don't know how Jeff does it, but he consistently puts out great articles every week. A must read for tech minded people.

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This book just made my heart flutter. Called "Everyday Engineering" it examines the engineering and planning that goes into the world around us. As a self-taught engineer this is exactly the sort of subject I spend hours thinking about.

A memory that always sticks out in my head about discovery is being a kid and sitting in the front seat with my dad as we drove along a paved mountain road. I had noticed the reflectors were buried beneath the surface of the road, with a slope cut in the direction the oncoming traffic so the reflector would be visible.

For miles I stared at these things until it finally dawned on me what they were for. Since I grew up in the middle of California's Central Valley, snow is not a typical occurrence. The reason the reflectors were buried beneath the ground is so that snow-plows can scrape the surface of the road without ripping up the reflectors.

It was incredibly pleasing to have come up with the solution, and I still spend a lot of time staring at structures to determine why and how they work.

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About a month ago I posted some theories on getting more traffic to your weblog. I give out this advice so much to people that I figured I should prove it by moving my (totally unverifiable, and random) Alexa ranking below 800,000. I didn't have any traffic goals, as I assumed they would increase by some percentage I couldn't predict.

First, I started opening my stats every day. Before this month I rarely looked at my stats. I write my weblog for myself first, and for friends second. My audience is intentionally small (plus I can look foolish in front of friends, I don't care). So the idea of watching stats was completely foreign, it's for the big blogs that have ads and depend on the traffic to live.

I attempted to exploit the positive feedback loop of staring at stats to make the stats go up and I think it worked. I would notice traffic falling off on the weekend and make a point to bookmark some items I might like to link to throughout the week.

Second, I had to set aside time in my day to really hit my feed reader. A quote from Google Reader's trends: "From your 193 subscriptions, over the last 30 days you read 10,432 items, starred 3 items, shared 0 items, and emailed 0 items." It's a lot of work staying on top of your feeds, and I had to force myself some afternoons to quickly flip through the big sites to see what people were talking about. It's hard work to stay ahead of the curve.

My new Alexa stat ranking: 619,546. Looking at the 1 week averages (since the 3 mo. averages include the months I was not driving the rating down) my Alexa ranking is 464,345. If I kept up my pace over the next year I think I could easily land somewhere in the 400's for good, high 300's would be swell.

The missing element here is quality. Quality is pretty much the only thing that will keep you in the big leagues once you get there. I can't speak to having a good voice or consistent delivery of quality content so I left it off my original list of things to do.

As some people have a face for radio, I tend to think I have a writing voice that makes a case to start a site with user generated content.

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Everything you've ever wanted to know about the Gadsden flag. Excellent marketing, United States.

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A good observation by Alex on the multitude of processes and systems that seem to bubble up every couple of months, and how one should approach them. I love to keep track of processes and distill the common sense out of them, but never follow them to the letter simply because I know myself better than someone inventing a scheme for me.

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Today is such a dreary day in Sausalito, the clouds have rolled in and there are intermittent showers—I love it. It's perfect weather for being indoors today.

Here's some links:

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Kevin Everett, is a Buffalo Bills player who was injured the first week of this football season. Doctors thought he was going to be paralyzed for life but miraculously he's been able to move his arms and legs. They've even optimistically put him on injured reserve.

That's all back-story to introduce a particularly funny mixup in the newsroom.

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Weird. An toolbar app I wrote (at the suggestion of Jason) just showed up on Web Worker Daily. I haven't owned a Windows computer almost as long as that's been out, which was 2002.

I probably could have milked that app a bit, but I've always shied away from charging for stuff which should just be free. When Firefox debuted with built-in search, I switched to it and forgot about Nutshell.

I have the problem where if something seems obvious and simple, I think it should just be free for the taking. Add to that the fact I refer to it as "a problem" and I'm sure there's a whole mess of missed opportunities in my past projects.

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Tomorrow is my birthday. I will be 35. Good bye 18-34, hello 35-I don't even know what—something old.

In my final act as a member of the coveted 18-34 year old demographic I have a small confession to make: I stayed up an extra 30 minutes last night so I could find a pair of shoes my skater wears in a video game I'm playing.

(By the way, I found them, but they're sold out. I'm going to be so proud the day my kids find this post.)

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I think this theory is true. If it's not true, it seems to be true for a lot of artists.

Here's hoping I didn't blow my wad on that infamous story that's no longer on this site.

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I saw this story about a photo used in a Virgin Mobile ad that acquired a photo from a Flickr user. The photo in question has now been switched to a strict copyright, but it previously existed with a Creative Commons license that permitted commercial use.

Outside of a model release, I think it's interesting to see a mostly clueful company "linking back" to the Flickr source in their ad per the CC license, and lawyers and Flickr license grantors mostly clueless about what that license means.

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I spent about an hour last night trying to perform a combo in skate. called "Manny Madness". A whole hour! I'd only put up with a skateboarding game for an hour like that, just as I did back when I used to actually skate. I'd spend hours trying one trick and sometimes days until I was able to do it, once I figured it out then I'd spend another couple of days trying to tweak it out in some way.

Amber was cheering me on when I finally did it: ollie from an odd angled ramp onto a box, manual across the narrow box, ollie a gap, and then manual across a second box to the end.

In case anyone else is searching how to do it here are three tips:

  1. Practice ollie-to-manuals to ollie-to-manuals on flat land until they're so dialed it's second nature.
  2. Don't accept the default start location, reposition yourself a bit to the left and further back to get speed and an angle. Drop a session marker so you can restart there over and over.
  3. Try to land as straight as possible to maintain speed. The hardest part about doing this trick is doing the second ollie to manual. It helps to be going fast and straight when you land.

You should also practice the trick a few times without the manuals just to get the right angle.

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I think Chris sums it up nicely. Email applications need to be more open and configurable. I don't believe email is broken, as some people like to say, I think it's just how we interact with it that needs fixing.

At work I've taken up portions of Merlin's Inbox Zero and it's changed my work day entirely. I reply to anything that needs replying and I am on top of many conversations. On Friday I left the office with a completely empty inbox. Heck, my Mom even noticed I reply to her promptly.

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It's Friday, I should get in the habit of cleaning out the backlog of links every week.

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Nelson with a review of skate.

The best part about skate. is the controls. I had heard a few skaters featured in the game praise it for being "more like actual skating" which I thought was just a way of saying "they paid me to say that", but it's true. I skated for most of my teens and I'm impressed with how innovative the controls are. I can't believe nobody had thought of that before.

People had been saying for years that Tony Hawk was getting long in the tooth and I kept expecting them to innovate the brand and refresh it, but it just kept missing. The last version I bought was THUG, and they just seemed to be looking at the video game landscape at the time and integrating whatever was happening—in THUG's case that was Grand Theft Auto.

Tony Hawk's Project 8 (a fancy way of saying they'd made eight of them) had a pretty cool Matrix-inspired slow-motion trick feature, but I rarely used it when I was really playing. In the end all you really want to do is skate and find good lines, all the extra hoop jumping is just noise.

It's worth giving skate. a chance if you gave up on skate games and Tony Hawk.

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I would like an RSS reader with a button that says "Gimme 5" and it loads only five posts people with similar subscriptions are reading within the last 24 hours. Then as I read each one, they disappear so that I once again have a blank inbox which I can click "Gimme 5" or just go on to do something else.

Yes, I'm inventing a little treat dispenser, but dammit I need portions.

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Radio Shack to begin selling video games and hardware. I have to agree with the experts, there's nothing sadder than going to Virgin's store in SF and only seeing the newest games on the shelves.

At my local EB Games I usually hit the used shelf first. It's great when you can find a perfectly good, old game on the bargain shelf for $10.

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I took my Apple Rebate in to get an iPod shuffle so Amber and I could, uh, shuffle songs back and forth between us on our commutes. Kind of like a mix-tape that keeps on giving. Now we'll be able to sort out wedding music by making each other playlists on an entirely dispensable device. Plus I get to make Amber mix tapes, and that's always fun.

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AT&T is (still) Broken. I have no idea why Apple agreed to this. SMS and no AIM I understand ($), SMS with no MMS is stupid.

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Because of FM's CMSummit (woo!) I wasn't on my computer much and consequently fired up Google reader to 1000+ unread items.

I just read them all. Here's some good links I found that I figured people might like:

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Don't Vote for Chicken John.

And not just that, don't give the guy any money, taxpayers were already forced to.

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Probably due to the success of "Guitar Hero" UBISoft has licensed the Japan game "Hiite Utaeru DS Guitar M-06" and renamed it "Jam Sessions". I've had the Japanese version for almost half a year now, and it was always a challenge to play because the menus are in Japanese and it was tough to play along to popular Japanese songs I had never heard before.

But it sounds like they did a good job, licensed some interesting songs (Nirvana, Death Cab for Cutie, Blind Melon, Coldplay, and Bob Marley) and added a few new features (though it's possible I just never found those features due to the language barrier).

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I want a river of news items generated by all the people in my company and what they're doing. Something like the Torrez Notes/Sippey/Facebook design where I can see that Frank just closed the build, Justin fixed a bug, and James sold a huge campaign.

Thankfully we have a platform where we can direct that flow to an XML feed if we wanted to, but does this sound like something anyone else would like at their job? I think so.

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The Internet just gives and gives. It starts slow but really gets going about forty seconds into the song.

According to the comments this was just on The Ellen DeGeneres Show which puts me behind the curve of daytime TV but well ahead of Paul Harvey. Whaddya know? (found on fa)

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Skate video of skaters bailing, the twist is it's from the upcoming video game by EA called skate. There are lots of real videos you can buy full of this sort of thing, and most skate videos have some section devoted to it now, so why shouldn't a video game?

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Taking laptops to meetings. I rarely take my laptop to meetings. If I do it's because of the possibility of following along with something online, or being the presenter. I used to take it when there was a crisis and I was waiting on an email from someone, but now I have an iPhone for that so people can call if it's that important.

During some meetings I'm the least needed person there, but I like to sit and listen to people because most of the time I'm learning a lot about worlds outside of my own. Things I've never dealt with but know are pretty important and worth hearing. If I had a laptop I wouldn't get all that free insight from some smart people.

I like how Michael ends this piece, it's really good advice for any standing meeting.

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Apple offers apology, rebate. Totally unnecessary for me, but really smart of them. This is how customer service is done.

When people asked me after the price-drop if I was pissed about buying one, I said "no way". I love my little iPhone and think it was totally worth the $599 when I bought it. I'm an adult and make decisions about what to buy based on what I can afford. I think a lot of people who felt burned got caught up in it and really couldn't afford the price tag in the first place.

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The Apple/Starbucks feature felt like a "meh" during the announcements yesterday, but this morning I found myself in a Starbucks and "I Melt With You" started playing, but slower and sung by a woman.

Even though I don't buy sappy remakes of songs from my teen years, my curiosity was getting the best of me. Before I was just a dope standing in line tapping away on my iPhone, now I can be a dope buying things! Getting people to buy music when they're not in a music store has always been the plan, whether you're sitting at your desk or grabbing coffee and the newspaper on a Sunday afternoon.

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This video is going to be the number one thing on the Internet for the next three days at least. I love how the last thing on the list is something I JUST saw yesterday. Thanks to Andy I am now up to date on every one of the people featured.

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Dooce took a trip back to L.A. recently and has been posting photos from her trip. As much as I enjoy living in San Francisco, walking to the train in the mornings as the sun comes up, or walking back to our apartment after a few glasses of beer without guilt, I will always like L.A. more.

I can't explain it to people who don't love Los Angeles, it's like trying to explain why Macs are superior or Jesus totally kicks ass. As irrational as it seems, it's just better.

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My favorite line ever uttered on Monk (a TV show about a detective with OCD) comes at this moment where he stops in front of a very modern, splotchy painting, where dark figures seem to blend into each other in gloomy colors. He stares at it a bit, turns to the owner, and in an almost frightened voice says: "This is me...isn't it?"

With that, I point you to the very funny Regrets: Hobbies, part of a series by Steve Delahoyde. Here is boxes, spoons, kid, and racism.

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Cory Doctorow gives some advice on how to write a weblog. I think the underlying message is be mindful of your reader when you write anything. Which is solid advice.

Since the titles of my posts are hidden in my new design, I decided to get really clever with them. Cory reminded me why this is a bad idea and I've decided to go back to more friendly ones that get to the point. I forgot about RSS readers and the titles are only really funny if you've already read the post.

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Nelson reminded me of a thought I had a few weeks ago: the adoption of ad blocking plugins and software is like the adoption of the Firefox browser. It was partly due to popups and a general lack of control over the content from a browser that wasn't progressing.

On a discussion board I'm on I watched someone help another user install ad blocking software and explain how to keep it updated. A few years ago the early tech adopters were doing this for IE users moving to Firefox. It's why I am so wary of behavioral and context sensitive advertising. You won't be able to match much if someone has k-lined your ad server, and if you force someone to that extreme, then you've lost them from ever coming back.

I personally find self-selected advertising pretty interesting. The sort of advertising where people can define filters for what they'll accept in exchange for the content. No personal information beyond preference needs to be recorded and opting out of the program is as simple as clearing your cookie. Ideally you'll end up creating fertile advertising spheres that will be attractive to advertisers because they can be assured of a receptive audience. The fire and forget Ad Sense model will be less attractive to people who want to know where their ad is going and why.

I've thought about this problem a lot. I've built prototypes and have spent a fair amount of time every weekend working on the problem simply for my own satisfaction. I like good ads. I like when advertising does what it's supposed to do, and I hate when it needs a dancing lady with the words "YO, UPGRADE YOUR MORTGAGE, YO" to do it.

I will never install an ad blocker because I know it directly harms these small and medium publishers who are trying to make a living. I won't give up on advertising simply because it offends me—just the opposite: because it offends me I want to fix it.

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Haven't culled my links in a while, here are some good ones:

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Someone recently asked me for advice on publishing a weblog. The same old question everyone wants to know the answer to: how can I get the stellar $100k a month, smoke a cigar made of cash people have stuck in their sweaty trousers, traffic?

Considering I just consulted Alexa and my site ranks 831,629 (note: that's not two numbers, 831 and 629, that's one WHOLE number! I know...I was surprised too) I am probably not an authority.

My guess as to why they asked me has more to do with where I work and who I know.

So my advice was based purely on my observations of people who know what the hell they're doing:

  1. Publish often.
  2. Write about stuff you like but have some focus. Be yourself. Find your voice. Yadda.
  3. Link like a motherfucker.
  4. Open comments when appropriate. Or, never open comments forcing people to publish responses on their own site.

I've never paid attention to my stats. Just this past weekend I spent some time refreshing after DaringFireball linked me. So I decided I should test out my theory about traffic starting today.

In one month if I'm not ranked better than 800,000...well...I'm gonna buy a text ad.

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Red Sweater Software just released a 2.0 of MarsEdit. It's easily one of my favorite apps on the Mac. If you contribute to a blog or several blogs and want a unified, client-side editor you need to get MarsEdit.

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This might be the first time I've actually had a beer in honor of someone's life, but tonight I'll drink that La Chouffe I bought last week in memory of Michael Jackson, who died yesterday.

I recently got back into brewing, and while reading forums and catching up on styles and methods, I was reminded that Michael's influence is profound. I'd wager every micro-brew in America was started by someone who was inspired by his work.

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Can we get over the teeth gnashing when a song we like from an artist we love shows up in a commercial? MSNBC's Adblog flips its wig (go me!) over the inclusion of "See A Little Light" in a tiaa-cref.org commercial.

Bob Mould himself is second to comment on the weblog that he made a "leap of faith that they are least likely to be quietly investing in unseemly causes". If it's good enough for Bob Mould it's good enough for me.

It seems like the mp3 free music revolution is being a little hypocritical in forcing artists to rethink how they go about making money from their music but then requiring them to live by the old standards where you can't get your art dirty by allowing a company to license it.

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If you are a media buyer for the SF area, you probably know you shouldn't place your ad where it will taunt some overly caffeinated vandal until they decide to walk over and improve it.

If I ever end up back in the Muni Portola Station I'll be sure to get a picture of the fuzzy romance author holding her book with the words "I had a facelift" written just below her chin.

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I am so completely proud that FM had a hand in the relaunch of BoingBoing and the launch of BoingBoing gadgets. I'll also be the first to admit I had nothing to do with it at all, which makes it even cooler to see the final product.

This is something I think people miss about FM, and I find myself explaining a bit, we're not just an ad network—we troubleshoot page loads, offer advice, do late night fixes, help with templates, can share our experiences with MT, Wordpress, and Blogger, and of course do bigger stuff like help the Boingers get their new sites up.

Every once in a while I get a chance to demo the platform to someone not familiar with what we're doing. And it ends up being like a shot in the arm to me when I see how excited they get as I take them to interfaces that connect advertisers to sales to publishers and to author services.

Sound like fun? We're hiring.

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Dumb moment of the day: when I asked the radiologist if I needed to remove my wallet before I received an X-ray. Thankfully she just smiled and said it wouldn't be necessary.

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IFC is showing the documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge called "The Bridge". While I knew it was going to be depressing and tough to get through, the fact that I commute over the bridge every day made it so much worse.

Downloading Family Guy unicorn chasers now.

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Fred Wilson responds to Mark Cuban's assertion that the Internet is "dead and boring". I love how Fred responds almost exactly how I did when Adaptive Path said something similar.

I love music. Music is always awesome. Anyone whoever says music has gotten boring has gotten boring. I feel that way about most things people get bored with.

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I have to admit I am jealous my friends Mat and Harper got to watch this live.

"I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so because some people out there in our nation don't have maps and uh, I believe that our education like such as South Africa and the Iraq everywhere like such as and I believe that they should our education over here in the US should help the US er uh should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries so we will be able to build up our future for us."

--Ms. Teen South Carolina

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I did not know there was a book about The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Los Angeles. Though, if you really want to experience the museum as intended, I think you should visit first, skipping the Wikipedia page I linked to.

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I've updated the about page. One of Typepad's useful features is the ability to publish pages. I know lots of blogging tools have had it for a while, I just never used it. I think I'm going to try and do more larger articles on them. I have an Erlang starter page I've been wanting to do.

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This turned into an unexpected late night. Shift refresh, you should see a new site (or an old site if you read (un)filtered).

I'm not a designer, but I know what I like. When I saw Michael's new site I knew it was what I wanted for myself. I got the "okay" from him and redid his site by hand with CSS and only one table (shakes fist at HTML forms). I couldn't bring myself to copy and paste it, plus I have been wanting to learn how to do my own custom template through TypePad so it became a project.

It's late, I haven't had a chance to debug, and I have almost 1,000 entries to re-classify after realizing I really didn't need most of them (genitals?).

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notes a weblog by andre torrez. the archives are available by category and month if you're looking for something in particular.

this design is based on michael sippey's (un)filtered weblog which he has allowed me to duplicate. it uses the silk icon set from famfamfam.com. i donated £10. totally worth it.

to publish notes i use two applications:

  • mars edit is a solid piece of software for updating your weblog. i cannot recommend it enough.
  • typepad is perfect for people who want the power of movabletype without the headache of system administration (cough)Perl(cough).

i can also be found on flickr, linkedin, twitter, last.fm, del.icio.us.

i can be contacted two ways, i usually reply pretty quickly to 

or on aim i am andretorrez.

i am the co-founder of simpleform and have been working as a web developer for over fifteen years. you can read more on torrez.org

i live in san francisco with my awesome wife and our awesome son. i use apple computers. i work in san francisco. i love music. i love software.

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Got my copy of Bioshock today. It's staring at me from across my desk. "Take me home! Take me hoooooome!"

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I'm not one for dream analyzation and whatnot, but two nights in a row Jesse Thorn has visited me in my dream and told me creatively I was a failure. I am not sure what that means, or why he has done that, but it actually affected me today on my ride to work.

It's possibly related to anxiety over playing live this weekend, plus being almost thirty-five, plus watching all the projects I used to work on slowly die off. I actually had a serious offer from someone to to buy one of them, but have been too busy to clean it up and deliver it.

I'm also catching up on TSOYA podcasts of old, so maybe there's something in there. Either way, Jesse Thorn must be stopped. I'm cre8ive, dammit.

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I played the BioShock demo this morning. I absolutely loved it. Set in an art-deco-styled, underwater world, the game manages to add interesting twists on top of a pretty solid FPS game. The scripted moments where you have to escape danger (or dive right into it) are perfectly done. Nothing feels faked or set up.

The Metacritic reviews are outstanding.

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Kinda late, I know. You've probably seen all these, but particularly interesting to me is the Erlang link. Since I first linked to that Erlang code I've dived deep into Erlang and wrote my first few apps running inside YAWS, the super-fast Erlang server.

A quote from this performance article: "Apache dies at about 4,000 parallel sessions. Yaws is still functioning at over 80,000 parallel connections." That's Apache with the MPM Worker installed.

Makes sense a language and framework developed for large scale, distributed, lightning-fast telecom systems would find its way to web apps. Erlang, erlang, erlang! It's everywhere!

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Not much going on this weekend. I'm transferring the beer to the second fermenter, in a week or so I should have them in bottles. The smell from the bubbler is awesome. Smells like beer and I'm so tempted to drink a little of it. I might when I measure the gravity later.

Anyway, some links:

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Disaster!
Originally uploaded by torrez

OH this was not cool. Our upstairs neighbor had a water leak and so our bedroom was rained on. The only real damage that came out of this was the wood on our bed blistered up.

When I walked into the room you couldn't see where the water had come from so it was pretty crazy for a minute. I almost thought someone had been in the apartment and...I dunno, sprayed water everywhere. I knew it was water because my first instinct was to smell it. :)

The ceiling had no spots and the water seemed to be in random places. It wasn't until this morning that you could see the water stains and where the water traveled once it seeped through the ceiling. Our neighbors upstairs came down and cleaned the whole thing up, so that was cool of them.

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...And just like that and I have a little brewery in my apartment.

This weekend I rented a car and loaded up on all my supplies. I planned on brewing when I had some time this week, but I have no patience when it comes to new projects and I started only hours after unpacking the car.

The process took about four and a half hours from heating up my water to getting it in the glass carboy. The next morning I woke up to find an eruption of activity that smelled...well, not so great at 7am, but when I come home from work I sit with it for a few minutes with a bottle of store bought beer and watch the little bubbles percolate.

Now that the blow off has subsided (it foams up and over the top) the smell has gone away. I have five more days of it like this, then I transfer to another container to get the beer off the sediment (hops/used yeast) that's collected at the bottom. After several days in the new container I bottle it, and let it age a bit and build up some carbonation.

This was something of a test run. It had been so long since I brewed anything I was more interested in going through the motions and remembering what I needed to do and when. I have no idea if this beer will be any good—I assume it will be drinkable—but once I get a good rythym going I can start focusing on all the things you have to pay attention to to brew excellent beer.

Also, some links:

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Originally uploaded by pusgums
So, my friend Sean reminded me that it's humanly possible to brew your own beer. I used to brew it when I lived in LA but you could only do it in the wintery months, and even then a couple of warm days would screw your batch and you'd end up with banana smelling malt liquor. (back then I was pretty poor, so the trick to disposing of this mistake was pinch your nose closed with one hand while you drank with the other)

But now I live in San Francisco! I drink much more beer! It's always fricken cold! Wish me luck!


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Picture 3.png While trying to register on Translink's site, the iPhone conveniently sensed the field was named with "phone" and replaced my keyboard with a number keypad. A number keypad with no dash. A dash that the Translink required on their end to know it was a "real" number.

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Today it occurred to me that the Spanish word for "and" ("y") is much more symbolic than the plain old english word "and". The "y" describes two lines converging into one line, the joining of two things is the perfect way to say "and".

This is also the day I ate Miracle Fruit. I forgot to find out if there was any sort of hallucinogenic properties associated with it, because that "y" thing I wrote about above is total stoner thinking.

  • Tessa's Braces: When I was ten. - When I was around 10 I decided that if I slept with my left arm across my stomach and my right arm at my side then the Zombies that lived in my closet wouldn't bother me. It worked. I still find myself sleeping like that.
  • THE HELLO EXPERIMENT - This won't make sense unless you've seen the video. link from <a href="http://www.fresharrival.com/">Fresh Arrival</a>.
  • Rands In Repose: Ninety Days - "Your job interview isn’t over until you’ve changed to become part of a new team." via <a href="http://43folders.com/">Merlin</a>. I am in the middle of Michael's book. It's excellent.

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The Results of The Miracle Fruit
Originally uploaded by torrez
Today in Tech we sampled Miracle Fruit. It was very interesting, at times completely weird, but it's not quite a "miracle".

Click the photo to see how Miracle Fruit converted some of these items.

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I spend a very large amount of time catching up with sites on my commute into work. Since I haven't developed a good workflow for del.icio.us bookmarking while on the device, I'm seeing the rate of my bookmark collection fall.

Apple iPhone update is desperately needed! OMG this iPhone is so outdated!

:)

So on with the links:

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You'll notice I have a slight advertising/marketing bent in things I link. I like companies, their brands, and how companies use their brands to interact with their customers or potential customers. I hate advertising without focus. I am not a fan of pretty much any contextual or behavioral schemes I see day-to-day.

There are two advertising campaigns right now that I keep running into on the web. The "Cloverfield" viral marketing campaign, and the fun and far-reaching campaign revolving around the Simpsons' movie. Below I have a link to a story about the Simpsons appearing in Harper's Bazaar, and no doubt you've heard of the Simpons/7-11 Kwik-E-Mart project in which 7-11 stores were converted to Kwik-E-Marts as seen on the Simpsons' TV Show.

I like both of these because they took effort and it shows (though the jury is still out on whether Cloverfield is masterfully architected or entirely botched. Paramount goons are throwing around C+Ds everywhere I look).

Everyone lauds the death of print media, traditional publishing paradigms, the music industry, DRM...but I'm most happy to see the death of rewarding advertisers for shitty, thoughtless campaigns. I think it's something we've all known for a while: treat your customers to something engaging and they'll reward you with an appearance in their link list and possibly a ticket to your movie.

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Wow, lots of links to get through today. Be sure and check out the Youtube video "zZz is playing: Grip" for a pretty cool, uncut video with no special effects. If you're an iPhone fan there's some bugs you can re-create if you like that sort of thing (I like that sort of thing).

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I think all timers—kitchen timers as well as software timers in software—should be able to do math. I find I am routinely going over to the oven to enter the time left on the clothes washer which gives me the time in wash and rinse amounts, so I find myself adding time in my head and then entering into the panel.

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My little experiment in tossing links out of the main blog didn't work out so hot. I like linking things, but I don't like the lazy feeling of stuff just showing up here at some point in the day.

If I could just edit and format my links for the day in a nice way I'd be much happier with them appearing inline.

So that's what I'm going to do. I built myself a little script in JavaScript that uses the JSON feed to generate a page where I can select which links I want to publish and then have them populate a simple unordered list which I can copy and paste into a new post:

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Produces this (which I was able to edit a bit):

You can download the source here. Feel free to mess with it, it's a little messy and I haven't tested it on anything but Firefox. If you want to add to it and do cooler stuff with it, feel free. Public domain and stuff.

Trust me, the last thing you want is a blog all about how they should add calculators to kitchen timers (wtf?).

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This is my dad cutting my hair. He's a barber and a damn good one. I need to find a local barber that is half as good as him. The $20 haircut I keep getting is a disaster compared to what my dad does.

We spent the weekend with my parents. It was 100º. I forgot how draining 100º weather can be.

And that was my weekend.

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Dear Alison from 2007,

You're right. I'm guilty. I will do better. This is the 1,000th post to notes since I moved over to TypePad and I really let this thing lapse into a linkfeed. While I love the ease of del.icio.us popping links I bookmark over there, it's no replacement for the weblog I want this to be, so I'm going to shut that off for a bit and see how it goes.

If anyone is at all interested in subscribing to my del.icio.us links, you can do so here.

Update: I made this Yahoo! pipe of everything.

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While discussing our pending Germany trip:

Amber: Guten abend!
Me: It's not "guten nacht"?
Amber: Close, "nacht" is only for when you're really going to bed. And it's "gute".
Me: Ahh "gute nacht".
Amber: Yup. (Surprised) How did you know the word for "night"? Are you listening to tapes too?
Me: No, uh, "Kristallnacht" was this horrific event in Jewish German history where there was a concerted effort by Goebbels to terrorize and imprison thousands of Jews. It translates to "Crystal Night" in reference to the windows being smashed of shops and the mayhem in general.
Amber: Oh...

Me: Sorry. All the German I know comes from the History Channel and beer labels.

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How is it nobody made this until now? Buy! Buy! Buy!

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Here's a neat trick you can do to type periods and commas and anything else in the alternate keyboard page.

The short of it is: when you want to type something from that alternate keyboard, touch the alternate key but don't lift your finger, instead slide it over to the key you want to insert and then let go.

The alternate key doesn't receive the "key up" message so it flips back to normal key layout, and the key you wanted does receive the "key up" message so it inserts that character.

I'm getting pretty fast with the keyboard. I had a bet with someone who said the iPhone would have a normal keypad in the next iteration and these phones would be sitting on the clearance shelf in six months. I think I'm going to win.

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I got an iPhone. Well...Amber went early this morning and picked up two 8 gig iPhones for us, so technically I don't have it yet. But I pretty much decided I was going to cave eventually, so why not just get it over with?

I hate buying 1st generation Apple products, but after reading reviews, and hearing friends talk highly of it I decided the 1st gen curse might not apply to this one.

My current phone (for the next hour or so) is the k790a. It's the best phone I've ever owned. The 3.2 megapixel camera is reason enough to own it, and Cabel's review is the reason I bought it unlocked for $400.

Oddly enough Cabel referred to the unannounced iPhone in his review way back in November 2006, three months before it was revealed: "And, of course, now that I bought this phone, Apple should be releasing the iPhone any minute now. Thank me later." Thanks, Cabel.

I'm excited to try out two todo lists: dopointoh.com and tadalist.com. Until they open up the platform for development, there's going to be a fun little burst of web apps like what David Cann is doing.

So in conclusion: fun times, fancy phone, and I like to think there's a bathroom or storage closet in Steve's house I've completely paid for (except he draws a salary of $1 so maybe that episode of Ugly Betty I grabbed a couple weeks ago took care of that).

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So...is this kinda creepy or just an odd coincidence?

You may have heard that a pro wrestler Chris Benoit is believed to have (youtube) killed his wife, smothered his baby, and then committed suicide all very horrific and sad stuff.

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Here's the creepy part: police think someone edited Wikipedia announcing the murder before police, family, or anyone knew.

Here's the actual Wikipedia diff. A diff is basically a way to see how someone edited a file by pointing out the changes that were done. Here you can see the red part (", stemming from the death of his wife Nancy.") was added at 4:01am on June 25th—apparently hours before police had found the bodies.

The cool thing about Wikipedia is also the creepy thing: all the details are right there in the history of the article for everyone to see. Anyone can follow an article's history until its very beginning, so you're actually able to see the moment someone went in and altered the page to announce the death.

The other twist in this might be this person was simply a vandal who happened to get something right purely by coincidence. If you look at the IPs other edits, and talk for that IP it's full of references to vandalism (e.g., Replaced page with 'piss').

A few hours before that IP edited the page another vandal was at work adding information like "In 2007 Chris Benoit won the presigious 'Sucking Ass' award for sucking ass in the ring and being the worlds most boring wrestler."

Either way, pretty creepy.

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kabang:~ torrez$ digg www.somedomain.com
-bash: digg: command not found

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Picture 9.png<p> The clever sales people here at FM do some really cool things. I’ll let Adrants explain it: Adrants » Ask, Ask a Ninja Get Together for Algo. </p>

Also, Castfire is pretty cool tech. Of all the video delivery systems we looked at, Castfire was perfect for the job, and Brian went out of his way to make sure the project went smoothly. If you're looking for a full featured video player for your podcast, check out Castfire. (also http://newteevee.com/2007/05/18/ask-a-ninja-now-powered-by-castfire/)

Someone needs to help Ask with their print campaigns, though. Aiyeeee!

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drop-parachute-large.jpgI am afraid Dropload is now out of commission. With no response from Jon, I'm going to assume the servers are dead dead dead. This bums me out, but the cost of running it, plus the time it'd take to re-launch the site, plus all the people who've arrived to get in on some of that file sending CA$H we all enjoy, means it's probably not coming back.

It was a swell idea like five years ago when I made it, now it's just meh. I never took it any further and people came along and did it better.

Here are some of the ones I have noticed and liked:

  1. Dropsend - Executed perfectly. That Carson guy is plenty smart.
  2. YouSendIt - Pretty good.
  3. SendSpace - Snappy dresser.
  4. senduit - Reminds me of that thing you can buy at Lillian Vernon called a "roundtuit". When people ask you what the fuck that thing is on your desk, you can say you finally got a "roundtuit".
  5. box.net - Never used it, but I talked to them on the phone once and they seemed like nice guys.

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I'm Andre! I'm bringing joy to your day! Hallo, Knut!

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If anyone knows what they're saying besides "Hello, Knut, little ice bear." I'd love to know. I cannot wait until they make this into a video game. (thx, Jeffrey McManus)

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I finally got my second monitor at work. It's a small 19" widescreen SyncMaster that does the simple job of providing more space to put windows on. I find it incredible that people think it's a luxury when it's really a necessity.

I can't believe I've gone this long without the second monitor and the only thing that prompted it was being told by someone that nobody needs that much space. If I had more money I'd get a third one the same size flanking my Apple monitor.

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Oh no they didn't.
Originally uploaded by lisamac.
My favorite thing about this design rip-off is the yellow box. If you've ever made a web site for someone, you'll probably know what I'm talking about.

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Well hell. One little .1 update later and now Coda supports pointing to a local web server when you're editing locally. I'm really liking this app the more I use it. If you build sites or just feel like prototyping something, you should check this thing out.

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I agree with this mini-review completely "(TidBITS: Coda Plays Web Developers a New Tune". I've been using Coda for a couple of days now, once to add some feature on FP and once to mock up a site for testing an idea. Both times I felt like it was really cool but lacking a few important features--or just got other things completely wrong actually that's not true, I don't know why I said "completely", I think I just don't work the way Coda wants me to work and it's irritating because it's sooo close to being my favorite app of all time.

sites-paper.jpgThe interface has a few surprises that confused me. The top level "view" buttons seem to be doing double-duty as noted in the TidBITS article, and I found myself lost a few times while flipping through tabs. Why would I ever want to see rendered, plain-text CSS? These things seem just an iteration away, so I think they'll figure it out.

I think it all comes down to the fact that I no longer build sites straight on the production server. Any project, large or small gets an SVN repository and a local Apache server (w/MySQL + a doctored /etc/hosts file to mimic the live server). I think Coda would have been essential seven years ago when I lost the ability to use Homesite on my PC when I switched to OS X, but now it only takes about 10 minutes to set up a complete development environment that mimics my production that I can build everything in my own sandbox, commit changes, then have them available when I get to the office.

So will I buy Coda? I think so. I prefer TextMate to SubEthaEdit and I rarely edit things directly on the server, but there's something about Coda that I know I'll miss once it expires. Weird, huh?

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A long time ago I wrote a short bit about a local Los Angeles Metro TV personality /commercial star named Cal Worthington. Every month or so I get a few visitors (Google, I assume) who read through and add their own LA area memory. Check out the comments, they span almost three years!

The thread itself has gotten quite long, much longer than my little germ of a post, and it makes me happy to see something continue to grow like that as each person adds their own memory. It's like one of those registry books that sit in some bar in a corner of the world.

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