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Oh awful, after Jeff posted about the FizzBuzz problem people actually started posting their own versions in some sort of sad compulsion to prove they were capable to write five lines of code. It's like someone said, "Everyone should know how to tie their shoe laces!" and a hundred people untied and tied their shoelaces to prove they could do it.

Link: Coding Horror: FizzBuzz: the Programmer's Stairway to Heaven.

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Continuing my comic frenzy, I woke up this morning at 8am and finished "Blankets" by Craig Thompson. Mat recommended it the other day and I really had no idea what I was getting in to. It's won a shit-tonne of awards, so there's no use in me going on about how great it is but I feel so satisfied and peaceful after putting it down.

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A lot of great stuff being written about what's wrong with conferences today. I have wanted to say something about them and I wrote this after initially just del.icio.us-ing what Anil said.

Every year I get asked which web conferences I'm going to. I always say "none."

I like meeting new people and talking about projects. I like hearing what people think are best practices and how they are solving their problems. I love hearing what they're working on and seeing it demonstrated.

But web conferences are so BORING. So expected. So...done before.

To me it's not that everyone is white or male, it's that a conference is so typically boring and safe. Did you get your badge yet? Did you check-in? Let's all stand around and drink. I am looking at people's badges as they walk by. I think that was Zeldman. Whoah Kottke is taller than I thought he'd be. Let's go sit in a room with our laptops. Hey these guys are disagreeing! Did he just say that?! Now everyone agrees!  Look he just took this photo of the crowd and posted it to Flickr! What day are you leaving? Let's totally make a site together when we get back home!!!

It amazed me back in the first days of the web (when the money arrived) that all these great web writers were suddenly psyched about their book deals. It seemed like every person I liked to read was talking about how they just got a book deal and they couldn't say anything about it and how awesome is it that they were going to get to put all their stories in a paper book.

Oh sure, they had like 10,000 daily readers and they were updating like madmen with funny, interesting, wild, completely new ways of  presenting ideas. They invented perma-links and discovered syndication. They moderated the conversations happening beneath their own stories (think about that for a second, that's cool). And suddenly they've got a boner because they were offered 3 inches of copy in Entertainment Weekly?

This is how I feel about people and their conferences. It's like all these people went to conferences back when they were run by Oracle's High Volume Transactional Database Whiz Bang Ops and thought, "Oh shit, this is how we're supposed to do it! Keynotes! Schwag bags! Closing party!" Have you ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross? Remember those salesmen sitting in that boiler room grasping at paper leads and hoping to win a set of steak-knives? That's what conferences are to me. A bunch of people doing things in some sad routine because that's how it's always been done. These are the people you invite to speak, these are the things you need to say, have an odd number of people on a panel, get some corporate sponsors, and have a breakfast or something to kick it all off.

My friend Merlin often tells me this joke about people. This one guy is looking around for his keys but can't seem to find them. Another guy walks up and asks, "Where did you last have them at?" And the first guy says, "Over there somewhere." So the second guy says, "Why aren't you looking over there?" And the first guy says, "Because the light's better over here."

I do not want to go to your conference because I've already been to your conference. Give me something different. The web is this wonderful place where we get to make our own rules about how things get done, why do we persist on doing it how they did it?

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Lookingleft I never thought it would happen to me: I am comic book crazy. I can't stop thinking about my next trip to the comic book store to pick up some more Kevin Huizenga or Jordan Crane.

And who is to blame? The Fart Party. Here I was, happily laughing about poo and cheese and cheese poo, and then she goes and mentions Jeffrey Brown. So the next time I'm in Giant Robot there's a Jeffrey Brown book. And then the next time I'm in Needles + Pens there is a different Jeffrey Brown book. I buy them all.

I remember liking Derek Kirk Kim's online comic a few years back (Same Difference the links seem to be broken though), and I find his book at Super 7 so I buy it too, then wow Kevin Huizenga and Jordan Crane. And crap, I can't find any Jason Shiga anywhere.

Then while talking to my friend Chris he mentions Pyongyang which I just ordered, sight unseen.

I think my favorite part about all of this is that I'm coming from a nearly complete state of ignorance of comic books. Other than the Jeffrey Brown Julia recommended I've mostly selected them by randomly (or is it?) buying books based on covers or quickly flipping through to see if I like anything inside. Which, as we know for novels is a crapshoot, but for comic books is much more representative of the whole product. The fact that I'm finding incredibly touching and entertaining bits of art all by myself feels much more satisfying than having someone point me in the direction*.

I think the reason buying comic books is interesting to me is that they can require less commitment than a novel and cost less than a video game, so I have the freedom to sample and try things I might not like. In fact I've purchased a couple so far that I hated. With video games I pore over review sites, double check with MetaCritic, and finally take the "plunge" by renting it from GameFly. If it passes all those tests I'll probably buy it. Even then I get stuck with an Oblivion Elder Scrolls for $50 that fails to keep me entertained.

* I realize any book that's managed to make it onto Giant Robot's or Super 7's shelves or for that matter printed by a small publishing house means quite a few people think its worth reading. Unlike the gatekeepers of video games or indie music or anything else that shows up in the pages of Entertainment Weekly, the small independent comic book still feels like a large gamble to me.

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When I was 9 I went to the carnival with my parents. All my other friends had gone, but they went without their parents so I wanted to be like them and separate from my Mom and Dad. After much pleading I talked my Mom into letting me go off and play some of the games. She gave me a handful of tickets and told me to meet her back at the refreshment stand after I was done.

The first place I went was the game where you fire the water-gun into the mouths of the clowns, causing the balloon on their head to expand and explode. The first one that is destroyed wins a prize. Well, I had never seen the game in action, I had only noticed that you got to shoot a water gun and that was enough for a 9 year old hooked on GI-Joe.

So I gave the operator my ticket and sat alongside 8 other players. The guy in the clown suit gave some explanation about how the game worked, but all I heard was "shoot the clown in the face" and all of a sudden the bell had rung and water was being sprayed over the counter.

That's when I noticed that all the prizes were clown related; Ceramic clowns, rag-doll clowns, posters of clowns, clown bed lamps, clown towels, clown pens, and clown dart boards.

In the confusion I took aim, only I wasn't sure which clown I was supposed to be shooting so I just started spraying indiscriminantly. I sprayed every clown I could fix my sights on. I sprayed the dolls, the posters, the lamps, the towels...everything.

It was only a matter of seconds before the guy in the clown suit ran over (through several streams of water) to take the gun out of my hands. He yelled at me and told me not to come back.

I felt so bad that I threw away the remaining tickets and just walked around for a bit until it was time to meet my parents.

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  Sanchez St. 
  Originally uploaded by torrez.

After reading that Jason Shiga might possibly have some of his books at the Super 7 store in San Francisco I decided I wanted to try and get one.

Turns out his very cool and rare books aren't just laying about at any old store. I did get to see more of the city so the walk was worth it, plus I did pick up some good comics.

Check out the whole set here:
http://flickr.com/photos/torrez/sets/72157594544767172/

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190574512_a245c11184_t We take giant steps. When you are in love with someone, and trust them, it is amazing how easy the giant steps can be. Let's quit our jobs! We'll sell our cars! Move to San Francisco! Get engaged! Get a giant tattoo on your left arm as your FIRST TATTOO!

Giant! Steps!

This is my best friend I'm going to marry. She's this shining, happy, clever, incredibly talented woman who inspires me to be a better friend. She inspires me to take giant steps. Sometimes just to keep up with her, sometimes because she just believes I can take them.

And the best part is we always take them together.

Happy Valentine's Day, Amber.

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  • This literally blew my mind. This is kind of the holy grail of consuming XML that nobody, NOBODY has been able to do right for the masses. No orange XML buttons! No acronyms like RDF! Also, thanks for not calling them tubes.
    (tags: yahoo xml pipes)

(Update: wow, unbridled enthusiasm much? In my defense, it was late.)

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Picture_3_2 Yahoo has apparently done something nobody seemed to be able to do right. They've managed to create a metaphor for consuming and processing XML that people can actually understand and use and build things with.

Did I say things? I meant applications. This is what Ning should have been or what Plagger does but does without all the baggage of the little orange XML icon.

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</param></param></embed>

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I'm still keeping my new year's resolution of learning Spanish. Every week I download my podcast and listen to it several times on the train or walking to the office. I find that repeating them throughout the week helps set the info in my head so when the next podcast arrives the past lesson is still fresh.

As I walk I also read numbers and think about questions I could ask about the city if I was a tourist.

I am the most boring person I know!

Anyway, the podcast is no longer sufficient and I've subscribed to the premium podcast. Sure, it costs a bit more, but

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My first Arduino project is pretty simple.

Here's the video:

</embed>

Here's the source:

int ledPin1 = 13;
int ledPin2 = 12;

void setup()
{
  pinMode(ledPin1, OUTPUT);
  pinMode(ledPin2, OUTPUT);
}

void loop()
{
  digitalWrite(ledPin1, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(ledPin2, LOW);
  delay(500);
  digitalWrite(ledPin2, HIGH);
  digitalWrite(ledPin1, LOW);
  delay(500);
}

Ain't open source grand?

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