there are 16 posts from February 2004

February 27, 2004

united rebranding

This just in from the Titanic deck chair arrangement committee: United Airlines is rebranding!

In the next few weeks, we will be unveiling a new look. You’ll start seeing new advertisements, hearing our new tagline and maybe even seeing newly painted planes in the sky.

I realize that for United these incremental marketing expenses are a drop in the bucket compared to things like, say, mechanics labor. And fuel. And aircraft rent. And gate fees. And there’s probably some financial model somewhere within United that proves out the return on these expenses. (At least, I would hope there is.) Nevertheless, this all seems like putting lipstick on a pig…

February 27, 2004

mind wide open

If you haven’t already, be sure to pick up a copy of Steven Johnson’s Mind Wide Open. I finished it a few weeks ago, and the core concepts have been resonating in my head ever since. Also, Johnson did a great interview on Fresh Air which aired yesterday.

February 25, 2004

iCal and Outlook

Lazyweb request: someone should use either Niobe (the “prototype project that allows managed, smart client add-ins to be developed for Microsoft Office Outlook 2003”) or a straight-ahead COM add-in to to build support for iCal file subscription in Outlook. Heck, since I’m asking, how about support for publishing those files to a WebDAV server as well? Outlook 2003 dramatically improved the UI for multi-calendar support (side-by-side viewing) and single-calendar event coloring; from a user experience perspective it should be a no-brainer. Now “all we need” is the subscriber / parser.

Yeah, yeah, yeah – “buy a Mac.” Or, even better, “download Mozilla Calendar.” Despite the best efforts of Apple and Mozilla, iCal usage isn’t going to get anywhere until it’s supported in Outlook. Natively. An active development community that’s pushing the app on their own will make it that much more apparent to Microsoft that it needs to add that functionality in the next rev.

And in case you’re interested in simply exporting iCal files from Outlook, try Outport. It’s ugly, but it works.

February 25, 2004


Remember Spyonit? The folks who brought you one of most useful, effective and usable web apps are back – this time with FeedBurner.

FeedBurner enhances your current RSS or Atom feeds in a variety of ways that YOU control, while simultaneously providing personalized usage and trend statistics that describe how your feed is being used.

A disclaimer – I’m advising the FeedBurner team. That out of the way, here’s a list of the current set of services that are currently offered up in their pre-alpha release: item level stats, link clickthrough stats, feed summary creation, auto Amazon link generation, browser-friendly feed rendering, content-type transformation and feed generation optimized for mobile devices. And they have big features on the horizon: authentication services, feedsplicing capabilities, namespace extension capabilities for richer content and general “future proofing” of feeds.

The upshot? Information publishers get to focus on content production, have their CMS pump out one single feed, and then let FeedBurner transform that feed eight ways from Sunday, extend it with new functionality, version it down for dumber devices, and while they’re at it track feed usage along the way. Looked for newly burned sippey.* feeds coming to an aggregator near you soon…

February 24, 2004

bgcolor tags, unite!

Did you know that today’s Grey Tuesday? We’re all supposed to color our pages #c0c0c0 in order to show solidarity for Danger Mouse, the DJ who mixed the Black Album with the White Album, managing to create something politically interesting but entirely unlistenable. (Now, if he had mixed together the other Black Album with the White Album, then we might have had something…)

Anyway, all of this reminds me of the 24 Hours of Democracy “demonstration” from eight (count ‘em, eight) years ago. I wrote about it here, but dammit if Carl and Joey didn’t nail the thing on the head….

Almost as exciting as signing the petition to get a cig machine installed into the high school cafeteria, we’ve made our page black, to join the Voters Telecomm Watch-sponsored protest of the signing of the Communications and Decency Act into U.S. law. Did we say protest? Well, OK, maybe we don’t need to leave the office, but we promise to play some tracks off of that “Protest Rock” disc we picked up at the local Tower Records outlet. Admittedly, it probably took us about as long to turn our page white on black as it did the EFF to Photoshop the AIDS ribbon blue, but no one ever said raising awareness would be easy. Maybe if John Gilmore says “The net interprets censorship as damage, and routes around it,” once more, it will all go away.

Copyright and protest and stylesheets, oh my!

February 23, 2004

price of loyalty

Picked up Ron Suskind’s The Price of Loyalty over the weekend. Can’t put it down. Best paragraph so far, from O’Neill’s account of his first meeting with Bush in the oval office…

The President seemed to nod in affirmation. O’Neill couldn’t be sure.


February 23, 2004

life imitates art

The New York Times stopped me in my tracks this morning; the front page photo of the skaters in Central Park (cleverly titled “Me and My Human”) bears a remarkable resemblance to a print that Bay Area artist Christopher Brown made at Crown Point Press in the early 90s. An image of the exact print I’m thinking of isn’t available online, but a similar one from the same time period titled Seventy-Nine Men is.

February 18, 2004

demo blogging

Best blogging of Demo comes from Jeffrey Nolan of SAP Ventures, who sums up everything he saw in two posts: Blogging from Demo and Blogging from Demo, Day 2, which included this great nugget…

I’m kinda done with these collaboration companies, they really aren’t raising the bar on online collaboration, just doing better online meetings… which is about as close to a plague I can imagine! Just what we need, more meetings! If you really want to enable innovative online collaboration, where is the integration with email, mobile devices, KM apps, portals, wikis and blogs!

Oh, and this micro-bashing of Groxis:

Groxis is back after launching the concept at Demo last year. I tried to hook up with these guys after meeting them last year, but I got the feeling they didn’t see much value in working with SAP, guess we weren’t kewl back then, but hey I got a blog now so things are looking up. I think that the last year didn’t result in the Google-like success they expected and now they are back with a re-engineered product…. still seem pretty cocky to me. At $49 a copy I just don’t see these things happening in the market.

February 17, 2004

one dozen delicious

One dozen recently delicious links:

  1. Everything TypePad!: Mobile Announcements at DEMO 2004 ( small software weblogs )
  2. trademark search system ( business )
  3. Just Look: The Same-Sex Marriage Marathon ( good-ideas love people photography politics )
  4. Glancing ( social software )
  5. pmachine - expression engine ( software )
  6. 802.11me: An Open Letter to The Lorax ()
  7. The Villa Savoye That Never Was ( architecture )
  8. tour of vw’s transparent factory (via kottke) ()
  9. Basecamp: Web-based Project Management, Client Extranet, Project Site System (simple, elegant, powerful, fast, and usable) ()
  10. 802.11me: I’ll Take (a) Manhattan ()
  11. Om Malik on Broadband: Strangeberry’s Secrets Revealed ( hardware software tivo )
  12. 802.11me: Let’s Play a Game ( weblogs )
February 17, 2004

art v. design

Via one of those mailing lists, this nugget from Rich Gold

And the way I think about it, the difference between the art and the design is that an artist paints a painting, and he goes, “Oh, it’s beautiful. It’s me. It expresses myself. There I am. There’s my vision.” A designer paints a painting and in the end, turns it around and asks: “Do you like it? No? I’ll change it.”

Well, that’s a huge difference.

And you laugh, and of course artists love to laugh at this too, but actually that motion of turning the painting around and asking for input is an extraordinarily difficult and important one. It can be done badly or it can be done well, but if you meet a great designer who can do that turning motion great, it’s wonderful, it’s magic. It’s as important, more maybe, as anything other innovative act.

From Seven Pragmas of Innovation: The Coast Guard and its Borders, a presentation (with accompanying text) from September of 1998.

February 16, 2004

tivo for the web

Doc Searls reports that Oddpost demoed something called “NewsDash,” with the positioning that “Newsdash does for the Web what TiVo does for television.” Why do I get the feeling that a good half dozen companies will be pitching us exactly the same story in the next few months? The Tivo story works for television because the device/service combo transformed the relationship between broadcaster and viewer. I don’t buy “Tivo for the web” positioning because the web doesn’t need that kind of transformation – the viewer/reader/clicker is already in a position of control, with a myriad of tools at their fingertips (bookmarks, Google, email, weblogs, aggregators) to find, sort and manage content.

February 12, 2004

flickr note

Small Flickr note. Went to log in this afternoon and instinctively reached for the Win key (to launch an app), instead of the alt-tab combo (to reach for the nearest browser). Those who have spent any amount of time there will recognize the instinct; Flickr is an application (or insert appropriate terminology here) that feels like a “place” instead of a site that acts like a “service.” A destination instead of a tool; to be experienced instead of being used. (Of couse Flickr has its roots, literally, in Game Neverending, so the place-ness is part of its lineage…)

Question: begs to be run in full-screen mode; if Flickr.tomorrow is more of a companion app (like an IM client), how would the user mode change?

February 11, 2004


Flickr. Flickr? Flickr!

February 09, 2004

notes on basecamp

Been mucking about a bit with 37signals’ Basecamp. A few notes…

  • It’s official, everything’s now a blog. Even project management apps are now blogs. With categories. And to do lists. And calendars. But really, everything’s a blog. And don’t you forget it.

  • They skirted around the security issues of RSS and iCal subscriptions by providing none. At least they make it very clear to the user that they don’t provide any, but Big Clients aren’t going to like that very much.

  • At first I thought the fade effects were an optical illusion (“man, I’ve been staring at this screen too long”), but after a while you wish that you had the time to build a web app and steal their source to do it yourself.

  • Did I mention that everything’s a blog? It’s true, everything’s a blog. While I’m all over the “blog as effective communications tool” thing, I’m not quite sure that project management should be shoehorned into this mode as well… Where are the dependency flags? The identification of the critical path?

  • Relatedly, the milestones functionality lets you shift all milestones out by N days, but not selected milestones. I’m sure this is coming soon, and will get to the dependencies issue.

  • Wait. No file upload? You’re kidding, right? That might work for some agencies, but they expect clients to upload docs to their servers and then provide an URL? I must be missing something.

  • Forget the project management angle; Basecamp could just be useful as a private commun-o-blog-thing.

Of course, all they need now is a Wiki or some “social software” branding and they’d be the buzz of eTech. (Shudder.)

February 09, 2004

lewitt mophots

Took a slew of mophotos of the Lewitt wall drawings last week at SFMOMA; even though they’re not his best, and they’re almost too well integrated into the striped interior architecture of the building, they are still one of my favorite things about the museum. Somewhere I have photos of the lobby when the Sarah Sze piece was installed; the juxtaposition of Sze and Lewitt was fantastic…

February 01, 2004

gallery hopping

Currently recommended:

  • The show of Sandow Birk’s paintings, drawings and bound illustrations of Dante’s Purgatorio, at Katie Clark’s through Feb 14 2004. Every generation has its own recontextualization of Dante; Birk’s is based in San Francisco, with Eden recast as the famous Garden of Eden strip club on Broadway. The books are beautiful; I’d love to purchase one of the $3,000 leather-bound litho editions, but will likely settle for the trade edition.

  • Deborah Oropallo’s new paintings at Wirtz, through Feb 28 2004. They’re warmer and more approachable than her last set of paintings (which were best on display at the San Jose Museum), but very evocative. From Glen Helfand’s essay: “Nothing in these paintings is as simple as it first appears, a concept that goes back to the lessons in the tall tales we read as children. So when Oropallo works with toy tree stump blocks, the image evokes the rather realistic idea that the enchanted forest has been clear cut. A gaggle of green flocked sheep is a Grimm’s-like fairy tale, yet it’s also a verdant reference to genetic tinkering… The artist’s masterful use of scale model ranch homes powerfully express the idea that whitewashed neighborhood refuges can easily give way to firebombed suburban blight.”

  • Pierre Huyghe’s The Third Memory, part of the Reprocessing Information show at SFMOMA, through Feb 8 2004. Through a mix of video, newspaper clippings and rebroadcast television interview footage, Huyghe uses the events surrounding the 1972 bank robbery that eventually became immortalized in Sidney Lumet’s Dog Day Afternoon to explore the mediated relationship between reality and fiction.

A note: I love Diane Arbus, but did not enjoy the exhibition. They stuffed the entire show into half of the fourth floor, when it should have been spread over the over half as well. Toss in a bit of over-curation and a healthy Saturday afternoon crowd, and the whole thing felt too claustrophobic for my tastes. Too many faces, not enough space.