there are 10 posts from May 2007

May 31, 2007

super brief review: jpod

It seems like such a good idea on the surface:  a thick new Coupland in paperback (after all, you wouldn’t buy it in hardback, would you?), with the cute lego characters on the cover, and the “it’s almost like Microserfs but set in a game company this time” vibe. 

But about halfway through, when you realize that two of the main characters have parents who grow marijuana for a living and a character named Douglas Coupland is going to play a pivotal role in the plot, you start to lose interest.  But because you’re on vacation, and you can’t stand the thought of driving up the strip to the supersized Barnes & Noble to pick up a new read, you power through.  And then, about three quarters of the way through, when he actually includes the first 100,000 digits of Pi in the text, you start to wonder “just where the hell was his editor?” and give up hope completely.

May 30, 2007

top ten wishes from 35,000 feet

If there’s anything more ill-advised than blog posts from airport terminals, it has to be blog posts from actual airplanes.  Nevertheless, here goes – my top ten wishes from 35,000 feet on a Wednesday afternoon.

1. I wish this plane had wifi.  I’ve heard there’s nothing like pinging friends from 35,000 feet to tell them that you’re pinging them from 35,000 feet.

2. I wish this plane had a screen in the seatback in front of me showing one of those neat real time maps.  But instead of showing progress at the state or nation-state level, it would show progress at street or near-street level, so that instead of having that “Wow, this flight is taking forever” feeling, you could have that “Holy shit we’re going incredibly fast” feeling.  It almost goes without saying that this Holy Shit Map(tm) should be toggle-able between map, satellite and hybrid modes.

3. I wish that my non-existent seatback screen could also be used as a secondary monitor for my laptop, because then I could drag my non-existent IM conversations to that screen and focus my attention on this blog post, leaving my friends wondering if my network connection had gone dead due to excessive cloud cover.

4. I wish that this seat had more legroom.  Actually, that’s a lie.  I wish that this seat had more armroom, so that I could stretch out to type instead of sitting here contributing to my neverending parade of hand, wrist, arm, shoulder and back pains.

5. I wish I had Google right now, because I may have just coined the term “armroom” and I have no way to find out.

6. Speaking of armroom, I wish the guy next to me would realize that that armrest there between us is actually MINE, and that he should get his goddamn arm off of it already because he’s cramping my mad blogging-from-35,000-feet skillz.

7. I wish this plane had an armrest-powered community jukebox.  I mean, Channel 9 is cool…if you’re into pilots and air traffic controllers.  Instead I want to listen in on what that guy with the big headphones is bopping his head to over there in Seat 12D, or what the mother is using to to drown out her tweener kids back in 32F, or what the guy with $800 shoes in 2B is using to passive-aggressively ignore his so obviously botoxed traveling companion.  Frankly, if it were up to me, to even plug your ears into an iPod you’d need to allow others on the plane to jack into what’s shuffling through your 1 or 2 or 30 or 60 gigs. 

8. And then it wouldn’t it be nice if your seatback display would let you know that the person over there in 22C likes your musical selections and wishes to become your friend on Facebook or your professional contact on LinkedIn or your neighbor on Vox?  And wouldn’t it be nice if you could cancel-or-allow directly from said seatback display?

9. I wish this plane had a better inflight movie than the “Diane Keaton at 60” vehicle they’re showing right now on the barely visible string of CRTs hanging above the aisle.  (Not that there’s anything wrong with Diane Keaton at 60, mind you.) Of course, if I had that non-existent seatback display, then maybe I could order up something interesting.  Like that documentary about Arial Helvetica.

10. But if I had one wish, it would be for the woman in front of me to bring her seat to the fully upright and locked position, so as not to crush my laptop display.  After all, it’s the only display I’ve got right now.

May 30, 2007


It’s early morning, and I’m walking through the Southwest Florida International Airport, doing my best to ignore the piped in Muzak.  But the task becomes impossible when a watered down version of Billy Joel’s “Just the Way You Are” comes on.  It’s astonishing, but it is actually possible to water that song down.

I know there are a myriad of complicated licensing and performance rights issues that have brought us to the point where early morning travelers catch themselves singing “Don’t go changing to try to please me” in time with an anonymous female song stylist.  But because I’m generally boring and single-tracked, I’m sitting here wondering what the online equivalent to Muzak is. F8? Widgets? RSS Readers? The mobile web? My Yahoo? The entire AOL experience?  When we add value do we water down? You’ve gotta believe that the people programming the Muzak channels believe they’re doing Good Work, just like you.

Note to self: blog posts from airport terminals always seem like a good idea.

May 24, 2007

i like links

Not everything gets shared on delicious, and while I love reading my friends’ automated daily link posts, when I turn them on here I always feel like they’re a little bit spammy, not quite filtered enough.  Nevertheless, I like links.  And you like links.  So here are some links.

  • You’re reading Tim Goodman, right?  The guy’s on fire.  Two great wrapups this week – of The Sopranos and Lost.  (Oh, and SBJ had a great nugget on Lost as well.)  It seems all I’m talking about over on Vox is television, but here’s something that’s bugging me.  If you’re a fan, and you’re not watching the night of the episode, then don’t bitch about spoilers.  All over the office today “Shut up! Don’t talk about Lost! I haven’t watched it yet!”  Come on, people – if you’re a fan, you watch.
  • Fred Wilson on Wesabe:  it’s about social and tagging.  I used to be a huge Quicken user (I even categorized the cash I spent – to the dollar granularity), but am no longer.  I keep meaning to try Wesabe, but I’m more than a little bit afraid of what I’ll learn.
  • The Hatch Design Blog featured a great pic of the Ring House outside Tokyo.  It took my breath away.
  • ReCAPTCHA looks cool…
  • Kara Swisher on Facebook is worth a read…and she outs the plans for a Facebook TV show.  The Kara v. Arrington spat is also great sport, but not worth the href.
  • And speaking of warring factions I really wanted to watch the Civil War condensed down to four minutes, but the video seems to have been disappeared from YouTube.

If you didn’t catch that, I just compared a silly spat between two journalists covering Web 2.0 to the most tragic war in our nation’s history.  Now that’s blogging.

May 21, 2007

other minds radio

Other Minds, the new music community based in San Francisco and best known for its annual Other Minds festival, has launched, a site that provides streaming audio from their catalog of interviews, lectures and performances.  There’s a 1963 interview with John Cage, a 1983 interview with Philip Glass, a 1965 Trombone piece by Pauline Oliveros and dozens of other great finds. 

Of particular note is guitarist David Tanenbaum performing Lou Harrison’s Scenes from Nek Chand on a National Steel.  I saw Tanenbaum perform that yesterday at a fund raiser for Other Minds, and it’s really something else.

May 18, 2007

the other shoe drops

Microsoft buys aQuantive for $6 billion.  And chiming in with the best instant analysis is Stifel Nicolaus analyst Scott Devitt (via Reuters):

“It lowers the probability that Microsoft is buying Yahoo, at least in the near-term. Microsoft may be more interested in piecemealing together the highest-quality franchises that replicate what Yahoo already has.”

What I love about this is the ANDness of it.  The recognition that growth for MSFT in online advertising will need to come both from their own online properties (MSN, LIve, etc.) and from sites out of their control.  And yes, Google’s recognized this for a while…

May 18, 2007

google as cold war reagan

I like the Cringely analogy.

Universal Search is Google’s attempt to destroy its major competitors who, like Gorbachev in the waning years of the USSR, have to follow suit and start spending money they don’t have if they want to even appear to still be in competition with Google. This means for these companies more software development, more sweeps of the web, as well as the greater likelihood that among their top results will be pages located at Google properties like YouTube.

Oh, and this is spot on as well.

There is nothing Google would like better than for Microsoft to buy Yahoo, simply because the assimilation of an acquisition that big would paralyze both companies for months as they struggled to get to know, then to get along with each other as Google surges forward.

Sort of related, I was clicking through the Google common navigation last night just to see how it behaved and noticed a few things, so I took some screenshots.  Imagine that little bar at the top of your browser, and that you just clicked and clicked and clicked your way through. Here’s what you would see, starting at…

Damn, these images are lost to the sands of time…

Of note:

  • The switch from search mode to productivity mode when you hit Gmail.
  • The inconsistent use of Mail v. Gmail (I’m sure they’ll get this figured out)
  • What ends up under the “more” link is also interesting, but I was too lazy to screenshot that.  Basically, there’s a bunch of context switching going on there between search mode and productivity mode.

It will be interesting to see how this top nav evolves as they roll out more of “Universal Search.”  Carrying on the Cold War metaphor:  Eric Schmidt is to Ronald Reagan as Marissa Mayer is to ____.

May 17, 2007

just a little bit like high school

So WPP buys 24/7 Real Media, and the best quote of the day is in the New York Times

“Martin Sorrell has said that he views Google as a ‘frienemy,’ ” said Dave Morgan, chairman of Tacoda, an online ad network, and former chief executive at a company that became part of 24/7 Real Media. “He wants Google to view him as a frienemy, too. He has now given his response, which is that he’s not going to just sit and wait and see what happens. He’s going to take an aggressive position against a world where Google and Yahoo will dominate.”

Now there’s lots of juicy strategic analysis to be made here about vertical integration, coopetition and all those other fun things that I spent so many hours caring about in grad school.  But instead I’m flashing back to high school, when there was this guy who had this massive crush on this girl and he really wanted him to like her back but she didn’t (she was hot hot hot and could have any guy she wanted, and chose the captain of the soccer team) so to get back at her he asks this other girl to the prom.

May 17, 2007

a dose of ze

I’ve been missing my daily dose of The Show, so tonight I finally made the time to watch all 19 minutes and 58 seconds of Ze Frank’s February 2004 talk at TED.  It’s well worth the extended dance remix attention disco.  (I mean, really, watching nearly 20 minutes of online video…in a row?  That has to be a personal best.)

May 16, 2007

calamity physics

So I’m making my way through Special Topics in Calamity Physics by Marisha Pessl, on the advice of my friend Dick, who never steers me wrong.  I’m loving it so far – Pessl has this “extreme fireworks” method of writing, where even when you think she can’t throw any more at you, the finale hits and it’s even more spectacular than you had imagined it could be.  Case in point, this excerpt on the boy who is clearly from the wrong decade (p. 127).

He was the one with thick brown hair that flying-saucered over one eye, the one who inspired girls to make their own prom dress, the one from the country club.  And maybe he had a secret diamond earring, maybe a sequin glove, maybe he even had a good son at the end with three helpings of keyboard synthesizer, but no one would know, because if you weren’t born in your decade you never made it to the ending, you floated around in your middle, unresolved, in oblivion, confused and unrealized. (Pour some sugar on him and blame it on the rain.)

It’s that last sentence that just kills me.  It’s obviously showoffy as a parenthetical aside, but still.  Wow.