Kid Casting. When a movie has a flashback of a character as a child. So good.

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No two snowflakes are alike? Not so fast. Now I can't UNSEE that snowflake, I'm going to see it everywhere. Just like the clouds/bushes in Super Mario Brothers.

Found via Coudal, who by the way, runs such a fantastic link blog I tend to never repost stuff from their feed because I figure everyone reads them. But if you don't, you should start.

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Joshua's post about unbundling the tools for deploying publishing components reminded me of a service I wish someone would make.

I want someone to build a user preferences service that would free up developers from having to re-implement settings and preferences in their applications. Something like Cocoa's NSUserDefaults that provides an interface for retrieving and storing user preferences in a user's local library.

update: Someone pointed out I wasn't completely clear with this. The idea is the service runs in the cloud and provides an interface for any application to query and store key/value pairs per user.

I previously wrote about this idea (five years ago!) and I still want it.

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Every year I make a new year's resolution that sound nearly impossible. I enjoy the challenge of putting a goal in front of me that at the beginning of the year seems entirely ridiculous, but at the end of the year seems completely doable.

The best resolutions I've made are rarely about doing something, they're usually the challenge of restricting or cutting out something in my life—usually involving the act of media consumption. Self-portait-a-day projects sound fun, but I am far too forgetful to remember to take a picture of my dumb face. I see it enough already.

A couple of years ago I decided not to buy a book the entire year. When I started it seemed completely insane. I love books. I was commuting 45 minutes both ways by bus or boat at the time, and books were a favorite diversion. I finally broke down and made a rule that let me buy comic books, but it did create this reason for me to dive back into books I'd already read, and finish some I had given up on.

The following year I tried it with video games. I couldn't buy a new video game until I had played through every unfinished game I had sitting on my shelf. I wasn't able to keep that one. Some of those games were really terrible.

Last year I vowed to finish five projects or let the domains I had purchased for them expire, which was heartbreaking because I had some good domain names. I was unsuccessful launching those projects and the domains expired.

While I was walking to work this morning I came up with my next resolution for 2010. I was listening to Le Tigre's self-titled album (now 10 years old), and flipped to Operation Ivy's (now 20 years old). Then on the walk from the Embarcadero I switched to the xx (1 year old) and it struck me how I've probably missed a lot of good music because I was spending it listening to old Modern Lovers records.

So then it hit me: what if I only listened to music released in 2010? Okay. That's just crazy enough.

The rules are:

  • This includes re-issues/re-masters.
  • For the month of January I am allowed to listen to anything from 2009.
  • I will probably come up with more rules as I think of them because not listening to Bad Brains for a year is starting to make me sad.

And you can play along at home if you'd like: here is my last.fm stream. It has over 50,000 songs I've listened to over the past few years. The top 18 has 11 bands that aren't even bands anymore (counting Weezer).

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Who steals a wreath? If you live in S.F. and happen to know who is in this video someone wants their wreath back.

Who the fuck steals a wreath?

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So there's another Andre Torrez on the web. And not just on the web but in my city. And not just in my city but writing for a local paper called the San Francisco Bay Guardian. AND not just for the local paper, but the local MUSIC section of the paper which is something I was briefly connected to while in Sweetie.

See for yourself.

I sort of want to meet someone who has the same name as me, but then what? Do we just shake hands? I am pretty sure we're not related since my last name was altered by my grandfather.

Once when I was a kid my mom excitedly ran over to me with the newspaper opened to the obituaries column because someone named Andres Torrez had died. I remember she was so excited that it didn't really register in her mind that she was showing her son an obituary of someone who happened to have the same name as me.

When I made a bit of a sour face at this, it suddenly hit her what she was doing and she took it away from me, folded it up, and acted like it didn't happen. Later that day I asked her if I could clip it out she said she had thrown it away and I shouldn't be so morbid.

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Amber has put together 20 prints in a holiday gift guide for 2009. She pored through hundreds of prints (I know, I watched) and agonized (I know, I watched) to whittle that list down to 20.

They are fantastic prints ranging from the very affordable "$50 & Under", "For Kids", and the "Extravagant".

If you can, please share with friends and link her guide or use that StumbleUpon thing that confuses me.

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I hadn't heard about this competition called NYC BigApps. It's a project to get people to create applications using NY specific data. Submissions actually closed yesterday and voting begins in a few days. It looks great and the site where you download data sets is incredibly usable.

I want to play!

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I made a new rule in Mail.app. I'm not a productivity expert, so you can just ignore this and go back to procrastinating at work by reading weblogs, but I think I discovered something that works for me.

The rule I made takes every incoming piece of mail and marks it as read. Now I am not summoned to my inbox by a red alert badge in my Dock, I go there when I need to check in with email.

Anyway, works for me. I like it.

update: my friend Ben points out that I can turn badge notification off, which is half of what I'm trying to do. The other part requires I keep track of when and what email is in my inbox and which has been dealt with. So I check mail in the morning, then again after lunch (as I just did).

Not having bolded messages calling to me to open and deal with them is nice.

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I'm in the middle of a book called Coders at Work. Buzz just quoted something from it that is worth reading. The whole book is great. There is a lot of intensely geeky stuff in it that makes me want to hop on my computer and start programming. Totally the way watching Powell + Peralta videos used to make me want to run out and skate.

Last month there was a post by Henry Blodget on things you need to know to become a media mogul. I can't speak for much of it except item #5 "Treat engineers as kings" which bothered me a lot. That's just the wrong way to think about your relationship with engineers and I don't know (or want to work) with many engineers who would accept that kind of treatment.

HOWEVER, going back to the list just now I noticed that item #6 is "Treat customers like kings." Which I think means the bit about engineers is just a fancy way to say get them everything they need to do their job which I can completely agree with. Dual monitors, fast computers, nice chairs, all that stuff. Great.

But I think the whole "king" moniker is a terrible way to position this sort of thing. They're not gods, they're not rock stars, they're just smart (perhaps introverted) people trying to solve complex technical problems in ways that are unlike sales or marketing or accounting. That doesn't make them special, it just means they have different needs.

In the end though, both "as" and "like" are squishy words that ultimately mean "but not really <wink>".

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One of the things I have enjoyed about living in Northern California is what feels like access to much better, fresher beers than I was used to down south. There were plenty of places to buy beer, even craft beers in Los Angeles, but I think because I walk so much in my neighborhood and frequent liquor stores instead of Super Markets I come across many of the local stuff I would have missed.

This article on CHOW about Sierra Nevada Brewing makes me happy for two reasons. The first is that I also, frequently (like right now) have a six pack of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in my refrigerator.

The second is that after about two years of going a little crazy with super hoppy beers and sour beers and beers that make you want to take a nap afterwards, I think I've started to come around to the idea of subtle beers that are good because they are well balanced, and not trying to differentiate themselves with a bit of a gimmick.

That said, I usually have a fresh Pliny The Elder in my fridge as well. Shoving your nose into a big glass of Pliny is a bit of heaven I think.

via mat

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I'm a little bummed about Favrd shutting down. From the first day to the last day of using it, it never changed for me—so it's surprising to hear it had become such a unwieldy burden.

I don't doubt it had, of course. I trust Dean to know when it's no longer manageable. I just didn't know it had become that bad. I wish I would have known this was coming.

Twitter lacks the ability to discover who has favored your tweets. When Favrd launched it filled that gap, but also made a point of filtering the webcocks* who had just began realizing there was a new way to strut around like they owned the place. Webcocks will always have a few thousand people happily slurping down whatever tripe they (or their team of writers) happen to write that day. The same thing happened to blogs almost a decade ago, but we had referrals and trackbacks and services that helped us discover who else was out there nodding their heads or laughing along with us.

What Twitter does not lack is the function (now standardized) to retweet. I dislike retweets for many reasons, but chief among them is it feels like an imposition on one's followers. That's just me though, others seem pretty happy to do it. All day. A lot. RT. RT. LOL. RT.

It's just not for me. I have retweeted all of 0 tweets. I have favored 3,057 tweets. I was telling a friend a few weeks ago that the new RT functionality seemed to be (in part) doing for the Twitter community what starring a tweet should be doing: "I like what you said, here is me telling you that."

I have started following many people who silently showed their approval of something I said. I could not even begin to count the number of people I have found through Favrd, so I'm grateful for that, but I think that's what's got me down the most: I wasn't done finding people.

  • Not sure if "webcock" was coined by Dean but it's why there was a rooster up in the corner of the site. It's such a great word I love saying it.

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"For every 100 copies of a physical book we sell, where we have the Kindle edition, we will sell 48 copies of the Kindle edition." — NYTimes interview with Jeff Bezos.

I held off buying a Kindle for myself for longer than is normal. The price was the main reason, but I never thought I'd enjoy reading a book on the device.

When my wife finally bought me one for my birthday I started with tech books. The sort of books you burn through and shelve and never read again. Then it was a quick slide into fiction and now I can't imagine lugging a book around that doesn't have a version on the Kindle.

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I mentioned it before, but my wife has resurrected her site We ♥ Prints. It's a great resource for finding affordable art for yourself or someone else.

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When I was a young kid goofing around on an Amiga 500, I distinctly remember wanting to do what this guy does for a living. He makes faux computer interfaces for films. The demos I used to make are long gone, probably sold at a garage sale or thrown away.

via andy

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This synth/controller from Teenage Engineering is awfully, awfully lovely. I don't even have a need for it, but god, I love the design of the thing. Just lovely.

via it's nice that

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I've been kicking around the idea of a site where you could be transported back in time to what was being released a year ago. Of all the products I buy, video games seem to have the greatest run up and fall in prices. So I figured it'd be interesting to see what that would look like if I could automatically roll back the clock when you visited.

The site I made is called Old Bits and it's simply a way to see what was being released last year, two years ago, and three years ago. You can also navigate forwards and backwards week by week.

You can follow the Twitter account @old_bits where I will send a weekly update.

I'd love to hear any and all feedback.

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Mike now has a weblog where his lawyer Gabe attempts to answer questions about Mike's employees and how much he is permitted to torture them. It's called My Lawyer Gabe and it's really funny!

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Some People by Luke Pearson Just fantastic stuff. If you don't read comics you're missing out on some great story telling.

I need to hit the comic book store again. I haven't bought a new one in almost a year!

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On the subject of Net Neutrality: Aiyeeeee.

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Lazyweb: A bot that scours the web looking for "@torrez" and then tweets a mention at me with the URL.

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A year ago today my awesome wife started her contractions early in the morning and by MIDNIGHT we were holding our little boy. Today Mark is one year old.

My Little Boy Is 1 Year Old Today

There really are no words to describe how important my family is to me or how much Mark has completely changed everything in my life. It was surprising (but not unexpected) to see this crazed, instinctual dad show up on day one.

What was not expected was that I discovered this incredible feeling of admiration for my own parents. Somewhere after college (when loans were paid off) I think I took for granted all the hard work they put into raising us. I'm tearing up just writing this now. What a wonderful thing.

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Yo, Young Adults, do you SEE WHY those of us who lived in the 80's laugh when we see you guys in your 80's garb?

It was a very confusing time.

Damn good music though.

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Grapathy Shirt. Very tempted to buy this one—of course the only person who will see me wearing it is my wife when I sleep in it.

Speaking of which, my Fuck Yoga shirt keeps accidentally being worn out and about. The nice thing about that one is if I'm wearing a jacket, you can only see the letters "-UCK YO-".

Happy accidents, I say.

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For the past week I've been using this hidden "feature" of OS X called "Single Application Mode" originally linked to by Daring Fireball.

It is very nearly just an action where clicking an app in your dock causes that app to open or gain focus, and all other apps are minimized and hidden. The other apps are still open, they simply act as if you've hit Option-Command and clicked an application's window, causing all other apps to hide.

At first I turned it on thinking it'd be fun to play around with. I kept the Terminal window open with the command ready to reset the feature, but as I spent the day using it I realized I kind of like it. In fact, I'm still using it.

You can still open a number of windows at once using the Command-Tab key combination to select other apps. But clicking a single app in the dock will hide them all and return you to single application mode.

The mode was put in for novice users who would get lost among the many windows that can litter your screen, but it was soon abandoned as people got used to OS X. I'm no novice, but I am someone who clicks Option-Command very often because I find the chaotic splattering of windows sometimes overwhelming. If you do as well you should check out Single Application Mode.

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Did I ever tell you when I was a kid I'd make pinball machines out of plywood, rubber bands, and nails? I did. They were awful.

Here's some photos of Chris restoring a real one: part one and part two.

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This folding bike would probably be incredibly impractical and hard to fix and find parts. But it is soooooo prettttttty.

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My wife used to run a fairly popular weblog called We ♥ Prints. In between getting married, having a baby, and not sleeping, she didn't have enough time to update the site.

I'm happy to tell you she's back, on a new host (TypePad like me) and with a gorgeous new print by MARS-1.

So head over there, welcome her back, and buy some prints!

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Alex posts his thoughts on SF.

Last Friday I almost linked to the following, but it seemed kinda random and without a point, but now I think since we're discussing the subject, here it is:

And everyone did admit there was a problem, at least with trash. Other problems cited included the bathrooms, hipsters, Mexicans, irrigation, wind, people who don't own property next to the park, Critical Mass, politicians and, despite all these apparent defects, too many people. And that, friends, is the essential irony. For a park that is "dying," it is quite popular!Comedy of the Commons: Dolores Park

Amber and I recently bought a place very nearly in the middle of SF after spending a year in The Sunset in a single family home. We looked at the cost of renting versus owning and of course the "paint my own walls" factor and decided to buy.

So here we are in nearly the middle of the city with the poop of indeterminate origin, the garbage, the terrible city services (our Mayor twittered about how to get rid of the tabloid newspaper that makes up a large part of that garbage flying around the streets), and DON'T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON THE MEXICANS.

Here's another funny quote from something on a real-estate blog: "If ever I miss San Francisco, I will take a dump on my own doorstep and write myself a parking ticket." For a few months after we bought I couldn't go to real-estate blogs for fear of seeing something horrible like prices had fallen even further. I can go now that rates are up (and prices too!).

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I don't even draw comics for fun, but this weblog from an artist about his tools is completely fascinating to me. I can blow a day shopping for art supplies.

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Maggie Mason learns how to roll a kayak. If you haven't been following this Intel has been sponsoring Mightygirl.com to run through her life list (a list of things she's always wanted to do in life).

Anyway, the first few seconds of that video on the kayak are why "rolling a kayak" is going on my "never in my life list".

NOTE: Federated Media (my employer and a company I co-founded 275 years ago) is the company that brokered this campaign. So in fairness, I should point out that I am linking to something that is in some part beneficial to me and my family.

Intel makes you taller.

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Mystery Flavor. That'd get me every time (except I don't drink sodas anymore).

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the witching hour
 he  itching  our
     etching   u r

I just realized I was working out sentences in my head that would still make words if you kept removing the first letters and then I snapped out of it. I don't know what to mark that down as on my timesheet but I'm going to go with "Research".

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At work we (me and Andy Yang) built this Trend Tracker for Mashable.

Mashable's intro: http://mashable.com/2009/09/21/mashable-trends/

The idea is it pulls in a Twitter account's timeline, unpacks short URLs, collects Flickr/TwitPic/Youtube media, matches statuses against Twitter's trending topics, and ranks top re-tweeted URLs that point back to Mashable's site.

In other versions of our app we rank links being shared and other neat bits of data. More on that later.

They always say build the app you want for yourself and this is definitely it. My own tracker runs on my laptop and every day I get a growing list of trends and links of people I'm following.

Last week I was pretty well sick of Kanye, you jerks.

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There are three things I've always wanted to do: Learn Objective-C, make something for my iPhone, and make a game. I decided to do all three after posting about Cocos2d the other day.

So here it is.

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

A card matching game. Boring, I know, but that might have been the most fun I've had with this phone in a while. The game seems to bore the pants off anyone I show it to, but I am so in love with the thing I even played it on the train for a bit.

My first pass yielded a pretty simple demo of drawing on the screen with some game rules applied.

That felt too light and there were so many things I wanted to fix and change that I made a second version. But that version just made me want to really finish the thing off right so I added the spinning and cleaned up the graphics and icons.

And tonight I was thinking, MY GOD, I could really make this thing sing and then I snapped out of it. I'm done. The source code is here if you're into that sort of thing.

I am still new to Objective-C and I have no clue if I'm doing things incorrectly, but this is my first real project so I'd love to get any feedback on it. I think I got "synthesize" happy. I probably didn't need to do that.

And Cocos2d is excellent but again, I need to look at more code as the stacked layer structure with reciprocal pointers between them feels completely wrong to someone like me who makes MVC web apps.

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Leonard writes the sort of update I wanted to write after my time with the Android phone. Unfortunately, I didn't make it that far with the Android G1, but now I'm thinking of giving the Pre a chance.

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Not only did eMusic sell my address to a spammer, but they're using Google Reader accounts to host their spam.

Screen shot 2009-09-02 at 9.31.35 AM.png

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Wishing Stars a location based scavenger hunt on the iPhone you play at the theme parks.

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Well this is pretty fucking fantastic.

Since Mark doesn't speak English, I do alternate readings of books for him. So this little piece that Merlin writes is like coming in from playing touch football to watch a real game on TV. So good.

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Stuff of note while drinking my coffee this morning.

Josh Cagan is a funny guy, you can follow him on Twitter here. He co-wrote a movie called Bandslam that was marketed very poorly, but apparently (80% on Rotten Tomatoes) the reviews are pretty good. More on the lack of marketing can be read about here.

I guess the SXSW panels proposals are up today for voting. I don't go to SXSW anymore, but if I did I'd totally go to this one by Myles Grant. I forgot how much SXSW recharges the batteries. I definitely need a recharge these days.

John Gruber talks more about Android and iPhone. I've talked quite a bit about this subject with many friends over beer and coffee and in between meetings. Everyone seems pretty excited to discuss how Apple created this gigantic, seemingly unscalable mountain, and how even the most well funded attempts have fallen so very, very short. It's kind of amazing. It's even driven me to open up XCode for the first time in four months.

I'm the sort of person who is constantly looking for threads and patterns between seemingly unrelated subjects. I think these are all quite related.

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I cannot turn down a happy song with a fast beat. A few years ago Catbird Records released an album from a band called Hemstad who were from Sweden. It was so good! And then they sold out. The album, that is, I don't know what happened to the band. (What happened to the band?)

Well, the CD is back on sale so get it.

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I had switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I felt like writing about it.

I give up. I thought it'd be fun to see what life was like on a different platform but I think I've seen more than enough on this hardware. The device is definitely too slow to get anything done and I have found myself not going to the phone when in a situation where I used to check my mail and catch up on Twitter. I stood in line at the ATM and just didn't bother.

On Saturday my family was here to visit and I found myself reaching for the iPhone to check on a restaurant, map some directions, and to check on an order. Given a choice between the two I just could not keep flipping that thing open knowing there were other perfectly good computers nearby.

I took the G1 into work today but I came home knowing what I had to do. I switched the SIM back to the iPhone. I'm going to keep installing apps and carrying it with me, but the SIM stays in the iPhone. When I get my hands on a Hero I can really put Android to the test. I think the G1 was just not ready to be the hardware for Android. And I'm not ready to interact with people when presented with opportunities to tune them out.

Some Links And Other Items You Might Be Interested In

  • Alex Payne wrote something that just nails what drives me to want to see what else is out there. In 1999 I switched from Windows to Linux on my desktop for a year while I contracted. The fallout from that was horrendous. Lost files, corrupted Word docs, one dumb weekend where I worked in 640x480 because I hit "Okay" instead of "NO, NO, NO, GOD, NO" on an update and was clueless about how to fix it without wiping and re-installing. I switched to OS X in 2001.
  • Ed Chang wrote in and told me about TouchPal which does some really good stuff as a replacement keyboard. I used it for a bit while i searched for a podcast manager (BeyondPod seemed to be the best but did not actually work when I tried subscribing to feeds).
  • There is a Foursquare App for Android that looks very promising! I will definitely be testing it out.
  • Buzz writes from experience what it takes to ship a well polished app and why he does it. Coincidentally I bought Birdfeed on Sunday.

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

My friend Omar pointed me to an excellent review of the iPhone and Android keyboards side-by-side. It's a great examination of the differences and the conclusion is spot on.

Because I find the Android virtual keyboard pretty useless I find myself switching to the physical keyboard which is almost as bad. On one hand I'm happy to see physical keyboards disappearing with the next HTC phones coming out, on the other hand Android really needs to fix their virtual keyboard to be as useful as the iPhone's. I'd say it's absolutely the most crucial thing for me to keep using this operating system.

Last night I did find some software that I actually liked. It's a todo list application called Astrid [review] and I was surprised to find out this morning that it's an open source project. I could see myself using this on the iPhone if I hadn't paid for Things.

Astrid has a feature that is not even possible on the iPhone. Using a Locale plugin, you can assign tags to task items that trigger alarms when you are in certain situations. For example, you can have a task to "buy batteries" and assign it a tag of "store". Then in Locale you connect the tag "store" with a situation in which you are near your local hardware store. Or simply maintain "home" and "work" task lists with reminders.

Here's a real example I am now using this for: I have a task called "buy muni pass" which is only available a few days before the end of the month and only from certain retailers. I walk by a place that sells them, but I always forget to buy them during the window and I usually remember when I'm nowhere near the store.

Finally, I think I've decided that many of the major problems I have with this phone (aside from the virtual keyboard) is the hardware. It's just too slow, it's too thick, and the need for a dongle to listen to music is ridiculous. There is only one reason why I have hope for Android and it's called the HTC Hero.

Tell me you don't want to just eat this phone. Still a shade too thick, and far too many buttons (both physical and on the display) asking for attention, but it's definitely getting there. Look at the virtual keyboard!

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

One thing I didn't anticipate having with the G1 and Android was the ability to run arbitrary applications in the background. The iPhone runs a few select applications behind the scenes: email silently synchronizes, your calendars and contacts can synchronize with Mobile Me, and of course there's the new feature in 3.0 that allows applications to push data to your phone in the form of alerts. Really good stuff, but it would be nice if some of my most used iPhone applications didn't have to unpack their previous state every time I switched to the app.

Android does away with those work-arounds and simply lets applications hang out while you do other things. I think this contributes to the noticable battery drain, something I have never been concerned with on my iPhone.

But the benefits of this feature is up-to-date Twitter counts, switching to applications and seeing they maintained the state you left them in, and the best thing so far: an application called Locale.

In short, Locale checks what it calls "situations", and then changes settings according to rules you provide. Here are some of the screens to give you an idea about what you can do. I've set up two situations, "Home" and "Work" to adjust ring volume, brightness levels, and vibration. There is also a plug-in architecture so you can write your own settings or conditions to cause changes in your own applications, or even post information to services not on your phone.

I still need to tell Locale which applications I don't need running in the background all the time to help with battery life. But I will say, coming into work today and hearing my phone beep for attention after a full night of being quiet was pretty cool.

How awesome would that be on the iPhone? I KNOW!

Since I'm on the subject of applications, it is really obvious after installing a few apps and replacing my most used iPhone applications (Tweetie, Foursquare, Mail, Safari, iTunes, Things, this is from memory, I am sure I forgot something) that I miss the iPhone equivalents dearly.

The Twitter app to use on Android, I'm told, is Twidroid. It's okay but one of the benefits of using an application versus a browser is the ability to provide functionality you can't do on a web page. Twidroid is a little chunky when scrolling, offers lengthy menus you have to scroll through when the phone is turned sideways, and generally feels rough to me. There is a "delete" option for every tweet, not just my own, but every tweet. When you push that option you are told, "You may not delete another users (sic) status". They shipped that. Later tonight I'm going to file two bugs I found within a day of using the thing. Very obvious, repeatable bugs that I uncovered while riding the train into work.

That's not just a comment on Twidroid, that is nearly[1] every application I've used so far. The Android SDK needs an Apple HIG-style document. And like, uh, a review board. Uh. Yeah. Hmmm.

[1] I am being kind. I actually can't think of one application that works as well as the average iPhone app. I need to keep looking.

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I have switched to a Google G1 "Dream" phone for a month. I feel like writing about it.

Before the iPhone arrived I was a very happy Ericsson k750i user. It was fast, I was pretty good with the number pad, and Google Reader worked really well on it. The coolest thing it did was in-camera photo stitching (example 1, example 2) and the damn thing had a 2MP camera that also shot video. Oh and computer tethering worked right out of the box. This was early 2007.

To say the least, at that point in time I was very much a mobile phone enthusiast. I researched the latest phones. I bought unlocked phones from Amazon for hundreds of dollars just to have the latest and greatest. People laughed when I told them what I paid for my phone, but I didn't care because I was commuting by train and my phone was pretty much my computer for the hour or so it took to get to work.

Of course, we all know what happened in June of 2007. The iPhone arrived and it was wonderful. Sure, I had to lose Internet tethering, in-camera photo stitching, the 2MP camera, the video recording, the removable SD card slot, and the drag/drop mp3 loading, but the iPhone was just so good without any of those features most of all because it promised an experience that I was used to on my desktop: regular updates. And possibly, fingers crossed, an SDK.

The Ericsson software was woefully out of date. There was a patch you could load to get some new features, but it was at least a year old, and I had to jump through many hoops to get it installed (the least of which was get the phone to show up in Parallels as the updater was Windows only). When I finally did install it, I found newsreader software that seemed to be written by people who didn't really know what a newsreader was.

So I think, looking back, the thing that sold me on the iPhone was knowing the software in 2007 would be updated by 2008. That was a very big deal for me back then. More than the features I listed up above—regular updates and the promise of a reasonable syncing workflow (without installing conduits and drivers and god-awful phone PIMs) was so much more attractive than a removable battery and drag-and-drop mp3 playlists.

Now we're in 2009 and despite the CEO of Palm saying[1]: "PC guys are not going to just figure this out. They’re not going to just walk in." The "PC guys" did just that. They walked right in and made some very cool devices you could (pretty much) install your own software on[2] and call your mom.

So it's only been two years but I've gone from absolutely loving Apple as gatekeeper to my device's software to just flat out hating it. The past few months have been a parade of sad stories of developers getting bit by app store policies, or us, the users, losing out on software that would have been great to have[3]. Google Voice, for example, has been something I've been eagerly waiting for every since I was invited to use the service.

Add in the $600 price tag for a new 3GS (I was told to check back in July 2010!) and I started wondering what my next phone would be. Somewhat randomly as this was going on I was given a new, unlocked, G1 developer phone which arrived at my office today. I decided to give it a month and see how it goes.

So far I have to admit to liking it a bit more than I thought I would.

The hardware itself is flexible in all the wrong places and almost nothing lines up like its supposed to. It reminds me of the predecessor to the k750i, the s710a. The Ericsson s710a was a swing-out phone that took massive (at the time) photos and had a large, pretty screen, but was a bit heavy and you could use it like a roll of quarters if you needed to punch someone.

I'll write about the software later. For now I can say I won't have a problem using it for 30 days. I am sure I'll miss a few games, but most of the apps I use are simply front-ends to web services like Twitter or Google Reader. Google Voice is EXCELLENT. The whole Google Account integration "just works". I launched maps for the first time and the system knew who I was and signed me into Google Latitude. Also, my calendar is updated and synced as are my contacts pulled over from Google Voice.

I think tomorrow I will write about my least favorite thing about this phone: the audio player and dongle.

[1] Seriously, I fucking love that quote so much.
[2] I realize Blackberrys existed at this time and many people used them, loved them, and wrote software for them, but they were just so comically huge! I still don't understand that device. I will never understand that device.
[3] I'll never jailbreak my phone. That road just leads to heartache and pain and I can't bring myself to do it.

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Set up a PA system on a street corner where morning commuters are walking by with their mp3 players. Offer to plug their mp3 players into your PA system for a few minutes.

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Mat writes a good list of things you should consider if you have moved to San Francisco or are planning to move here.

San Francisco is the kind of place where nobody will tell you when you have a bad idea. That's just how it is. In an effort to remain tolerant, people go out of their way not to judge. That can be a bad thing. "Hey, dude, I think I'm going to pierce my eyelids with this sliver of depleted uranium for Burning Man this year." "Right on, that's cool." No. No, it's not cool. It's a very bad fucking idea. But nobody will tell you that.

I think the most important thing he points out is if you are going to move to San Francisco, move to The City of San Francisco. Not the East Bay, not Palo Alto, and holy shit not Marin County. It's like all the people who move to the San Fernando Valley and then claim to hate living in LA.

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My appreciation for wine is pretty limited, but I do love a good wine label. Logan Signature Wines are very nice.

(My favorite beer right now has my favorite label: Pliny The Elder)

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Rob Manuel innocently tweeted there could/should/might be be a flash mob celebrating Michael Jackson and people did what they do best.

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A whole lot of Easter Eggs in Pixar's Up. I finally saw the movie so now I'm reading old reviews and opinions. I loved the first 30 minutes but I surprised myself by not loving the rest of it. Maybe I need to see it again?

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This is a clever idea from Andy. Take a popular meme, remove the subject and just leave the background. Meme Scenery I don't know why it's so funny, but it is.

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Amber and I lived a block away from this house for almost three years. You can barely see the space invader embedded on the face of it under the stairs.

Every time we walked past it, I would say: "Damn I love this house. I don't know why but I love it." So now I know why.

After a year of looking we finally bought a place here in the city. We're moving in two weeks and we can't be happier with it. It's in Duboce Triangle which is kind of a dream for us. Not only am I 10 minutes from work, but I get to pick between every MUNI train line in the city. It looks like I'll get to use Paul's MiniMuni now.

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The Story of Beer. Nicely drawn, tons of information about beer. Now I want a beer.

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Anil has launched a new site/idea that I am very much excited about. It's called Last Year's Model and it's all about recognizing you don't need to get on the newest gadget treadmill that some gadget blogs and manufacturers would like you to believe.

Design is by Mule, it's super fancy.

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I think I just found my new favorite cabinet member.

Was anyone in your family impressed when you won the Nobel Prize in Physics? Probably, but who knows? I called my mother up when they announced the Nobel Prize, waiting until 7 in the morning. She said, “That’s nice — and when are you going to see me next?”</p>

Is it true you don’t drive a car? My wife does, but I no longer own a car. Let me just say that in most of my jobs, I mostly rode my bicycle. </em>

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Throw this on the "if I had more time" pile: SF Muni Service Delivery Daily Reports. PDFs of the days events like accidents, number of trains through different lines, people transfered out of the game, how many people didn't show up for work so far this month, or a stop for "OPERATOR PERSONAL NECESSITY".

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Thingiverse is a database of digital designs that can be made into real, physical objects. You'll need some tools.

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Tweenbots are robots that navigate the city by the help of the people they meet. The video is very sweet.

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WikiRank is a fascinating front-end to Wikipedia that loads the freely available traffic stats and then bubbles up and charts the trends for popular pages. It's not just a clever use of the stats, it's beautifully designed. I wish Wikipedia looked more like this.

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Brent Simmons remembers a few conversations with people at conferences and trade shows long ago. Maybe you can help track down who the people were.

I did the same thing with Jeffrey Zeldman at my first SXSW. I was so nervous I couldn't approach anyone. Eventually I tagged along with some folks and ended up at a party where Jeffrey was—and then I gushed like he had invented HTML, browsers, and erasable pens. Ugh. But he was really nice about it.

Anil, thankfully, approached me and began introducing me around as "That File Pile Guy". The rest is history.

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CEO's Guide To Jetting by Jetblue. Funny videos aimed at CEOs only please. Directed by Bob "Freakin'" Odenkirk!

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Mike Monteiro's art just went on sale at 20x200. It's some wickedly unsettling stuff. I don't think it was a mistake the word "therapist" sits square in the middle of the third piece. If I stare at it long enough—well, we all see what we want to see, eh?

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Thru You is something pretty special. A ton of real Youtube videos mixed into a whole album of songs. Found via that special guy Ze Frank.

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Snacks and Shit is a hilarious weblog run by two guys taking rap lyrics out of context because they are RIDICULOUS out of context.

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I can't relate to this post about Mondays that everyone seems excited about. I fricken LOVE Mondays. It's the start of the week. You get to see what ideas that were so important on Friday stayed important until Monday. Sometimes a couple of days brings everyone to their senses and we can leave bad ideas in the past week.

Mondays are a fresh start. They're like a reset button for the doldrums of your Wednesday afternoon meetings where two people are going on about something the other eight people in the room don't even understand.

Sundays, specifically Sunday nights, are the worst. I hate them. The last day to get stuff done and you can't even stay up late working on anything. Anything you didn't have time to do now sits around until the next weekend.

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While I think this animation is good, and it helps illustrate the flow of money and greediness of everyone involved, I think the This American Life episode "Giant Pool of Money" did a better job in pointing out not every risky buyer was trying to get away with something. Here they are drawn as overweight, tattooed, smoking, and having too many kids to suggest them as "risky"… Whereas the TAL episode detailed the predatory nature of the lenders actively searching for people who shouldn't have been looking to buy a house.

Still, I think the video is worth watching.

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The Crisis of Credit Visualized from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

The TAL episode can be purchased here. It's worth it.

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Interested in developing a game for the Mac? Matt Gallagher just kicked off a multi-part tutorial on making your own game using CoreAnimation.

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Not a whole lot of feature changes, but a definite jump in style, I've re-launched Listable with a design provided by Mule Design.

Some lists I like:

  1. Most Commonly Used Passwords — Stick that in a local database and clean against your users logging into your site.
  2. Airport Code Country Airport
  3. HTML Tag List — Nice if you're building some kind of HTML parsing script and need a list.
  4. Chinese Zodiac — Again, what I built this site for. If someone needs a list, here it is in a myriad of formats.
  5. Words Containing The Letter X — So good.
  6. Common XSS Vectors — Eep.

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I'm not sure if this weblog publishes its own visitor graph for the previous day, or if it's publishing the visitor graph for another site, but either way I wish I'd have thought of it. [found on vvork]

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The Fireland Podcast — "This lane is for douchebags."

Internet of Things — I liked this post.

I installed 1Password this week and now have long, hairy passwords that would make your mamma blush. I'm still dealing with how to sign into things from my iPhone and actually use Safari, but otherwise it's great. I love it.

Earlier in the week a ClickJacking hack sprang up and was quickly fixed by Twitter. Here is the explanation about how it happened. Some actual services were relying on this hack, which of course brought up the OAuth debate again. Luckily it looks like OAuth is nearly ready to be ready for everyone on Twitter.

While I like OAuth for web apps, I think the developer of Tweetie says it best when describing the UX problem OAuth has for desktop apps. I've had a chance to use OAuth in conjunction with Yammer for a couple months now. It's completely disorienting, especially since they routinely expire (or lose) my key. First I'm here, then this is closing, then I'm over there, typing a password, now go over here—it's like The freaking Amazing Race on my desktop.

But OAuth for web apps? Hooray!

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I first became aware of Buster Mcleod from his All Consuming project. He has a lot of projects that seem to spiral off from what he was doing with All Consuming. Projects that track a particular time of day on Flickr. Projects that display what is in season for your location. His Morale-O-Meter used to track his mood and other statuses throughout the week. He sums it up in his post "History of my self-tracking":

The reason I am obsessed with self-tracking is because I think there is a way to track yourself in such a way that it leads to epiphanies about yourself, about the cause and effect of things, in such a way that these numbers would eventually be able to tell you things about yourself that you didn’t already know. This is the only reason to self-track, in my opinion.

You can now watch him go in a new weblog called Enjoymentland.

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I made this drum machine with Cocoa. You can edit your loops in a text editor. I made it because I like the idea of using text editors (specifically TextMate) and not point-click interfaces like Garage Band.

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It "works" in that I can demo it, but I need some help from an expert at Core Audio to make it really work. Right now there's a few problems with timing that I can't get past given my nearly complete ignorance of the subject.

If you know anyone that can help me, I'd appreciate it if you sent them my address: andre at torrez.org.

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Looking for a new iPhone game to play? You might like Shaun Inman's new game called "Horror Vacui". It's a card-based game that just does everything right. The 8-bit design is perfect, the music and sounds are fun and never get tiring, the rules are simple and the app is speedy. It's the perfect sort of pick-up-and-play-type game that works so well on the iPhone.

I hope this one wins an award someplace.

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I socked away the Joe Ades, vegetable peeler, story after seeing him discussed on blogs a year or so ago. Jason was the first to tell me about his recent death, and I enjoyed reading David Galbraith's corrections and insight on who Joe really was, but do not miss Dave Pell's very nicely written post about Joe.

I love when a relatively small event like the death of Joe Ades, seems to dislodge a flood of things in a writer's mind.

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Listable.org

I had this idea almost 4 years ago and since my New Year's resolution is build it or let the domain expire, I went ahead and built it on Google App Engine with CherryPy because they both make making things fun.

Basically I wanted a way to have some lists handy that I usually end up converting to some other format, this is that. I'm going to be rich.

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I had forgotten David had posted a wish for a Tetris variation he called Montris. Someone actually produced a proof-of-concept for him.

Here is my wish for a Tetris variation: I call it Slowtris and the only difference between an actual game of Tetris and Slowtris is the pieces don't fall. The fun in the game is just figuring out where to put things.

Well it sounds fun to me.

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I've enjoyed watching my friend at work unravel a cookie recipe mystery over the past couple of weeks. He just posted the full story to his weblog.

He also brought in a batch which are VERY GOOD COOKIES. You should totally make some.

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I love this piece of marketing from Burger King: Whopper Sacrifice. You use the Facebook App to "sacrifice" 10 friends by un-friending them, and you then get a coupon for a free Whopper. Those friends receive messages stating they were unfriended by their former friend and a chance to install the app and get a burger for themselves.

People I know who are using it are dumping friends for the burger but will likely re-friend them later which is just perfect. Good stuff.

Whopper Sacrifice Website

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Work related post ahead.

Nice to see one of my favorite co-workers at FM talking about something our engineering team believes so strongly in.

It is not easy explaining these principles to people who want to see a detailed six month GANTT chart that takes six weeks to create and six days to undo. If you spend six weeks actually doing the work, you'll be six weeks closer to the goal and six weeks wiser.

The dude with a GANTT chart just has a GANTT chart.

One of our investors has a great analogy about choosing between being a bus or a heat-seeking missile. The bus has a route, a destination, and an itinerary that it must stick to. The heat-seeking missile is built to adjust. You fire it in the general direction then iterate and evaluate as you move forward. Hit the thing that's hot, even if it moves (and it will move).

I'll leave you with a Winer-ism I like a lot from 1995 called We Make Shitty Software…With Bugs! It's just the first four paragraphs (pre-permalink era?) so don't worry about seeing the phrase "Indigo Girls" on that page.

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Here's how I'd like to rate things on sites where you rate things.

Pretend these blocks are books, or movies, or video games in a particular genre. Let's say they're movies. Here is how I've arranged (drag and dropped) three of those movies. The better movie is on the right.

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A few other people rate some movies in that genre.

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Because I share a common pattern (3 items) with Ted, and a few with Alice and Bob, the following are recommended:

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What I like about this type of rating is that it forces you to make decisions about what is better than another item. There are no five star movies or percentage ratings that can tie. This is better than that. If you see something new and fit it into the continuum it says something about that movie.

When people ask you if Iron Man is good, you don't say "yes, I gave it four stars" you say, "it's better than Spiderman II but not as good as the Dark Knight." That's meaningful.

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