there are 21 posts from December 2008

December 31, 2008

this is the year in this is sippey

I’ve never done one of these posts and I’m not sure why I’m starting now, but here’s a recap of the year on this is

First, these were the top five posts based on traffic.

  1. Project Management Lingo, where I swiped content from a mailing list, put it in list form and got a link from Kottke.
  2. Holy mother of god they’re nuts, where I swiped a video from Vimeo, took five minutes to add a map to it and got links from Waxy and Kottke.
  3. We’re here to compete, where I defended Six Apart against charges of playing dirty in the marketplace, and got a link from Matt.
  4. Restaurants should do the math for you, where I took five minutes to write up a simple idea I’ve had for years, and got a link from Waxy.
  5. Kanye West Album Generator, where I took five minutes to sketch up an idea I stole from Anil (it’s true! I’m a thief!), and I don’t think he even linked to me.

Note to self: if optimizing for traffic, then write more lists and/or link bait. On the flip side, here are five of my favorite posts that weren’t big traffic magnets.

  1. Casual carpool, serendipity and radovan kardzic is a telling of a trip across the Bay Bridge that made my week.
  2. Wanted, friends for the js-909, which still has me thinking about how small a unit of media can be. If Kuler can turn the simple color swatch into the point of reference for a community, why not drum patterns?
  3. Notes on the death of Hal Riney mourned the loss of the golden-throated ad man, and posited that there’s no way in hell those Saturn ads would work today.
  4. Upgrading your television is too hard, in which I posed a simple question — how the hell do I switch to HD? — and had a ton of interesting people with great ideas chimed in. I still need to write the follow up post.
  5. Next up, our own executive chef is just a time lapse video of Mena Trott cutting David Recordon’s hair.

As if the difference between the top five in traffic and my fave five weren’t stark enough, I’ll make it abundantly clear: I blog for me, and I don’t really blog about anything in particular…other than what I think is interesting enough to blog about. If I were optimizing for pageviews, there’d be more lists, more link bait and possibly more posts about the relationship between attention and authority. Or authority and followers. Or the attention span of idiot land. Or something.

OK, then! Here’s a fancy data visualization of my posting activity by month. This’ll drive the page views:

Jan +++++++++++++++++++
Feb +++++++++++++
Mar +++++++++++++++
Apr +++++++
May ++++++++
Jun ++++++++++++
Jul ++++++++++
Aug ++++++++++++
Sep +++++++++++++++++++
Oct +++++++++++++++++++++++++++
Nov +++++++++++++++++
Dec +++++++++++++++++++++ (est.)

And since the world is made up of more than ordered lists, here’s an _un_ordered list for you. (I know, breathe deep.)

  • I probably redesigned the site about eighteen times this year. Not only do I have a short attention span, but I also like mucking with the new design capabilities that we’re bringing to TypePad.
  • For a while I was auto-posting links from Delicious, but I realized that I hate it when other bloggers do that on their site / feed, so I stopped doing that.
  • Blogging is part of a mix of how an individual can participate online. My (Movable Type-powered) action stream at is a view into all the sharing, favoriting, posting, saving and tweeting activity I’m doing. But to play to a recent meme, it’s on my blog where I have home field advantage.
  • I’m more heterogenous in how I’m blogging lately — some posts by email, some posts from the TypePad web UI, some posts via the TextMate blogging bundle, some posts from the TypePad iPhone app. Fred Wilson’s latest post about how his Blackberry is his own personal fountain pen has me inspired to do more off the cuff posting by email, but it’ll probably take me all year to get half as good at it as he is.
  • Goal for 2009: 365 days, 365 posts. There may be some days with one post, and some days with more, but I’d love to get back into that rhythm.

And scene.

December 30, 2008

What I want from Macworld this year

Macworld is right around the corner and I thought I’d throw my two wishlist items out there, so that if they’re actually delivered I can be that much happier than the next guy because I wrote my wishlist down. (Ah, the lessons of Santa.) Both wishes are iPhone-related, and both would make it a much better writing device. (2009 resolutions: stop carrying pens around, make significant progress in killing what remains of my penmanship, and quit fantasizing about that new Curve 8900.)

First, landscape mode in email. I have big thumbs (all the better for hitchhiking!), and I find it much easier to type in landscape mode. I recently picked up the WriteRoom app for note taking, but that’s five bucks I shouldn’t have had to spend, as much as I enjoy supporting ISVs who ship elegant software that takes advantage of a weakness in their host.

Second, a haptic feedback option. There have been rumors on the internets for about a year now that Apple is partnering with a provider of haptic tech, but we’ve seen nothing yet. The touchscreen Blackerry tried to do this, but failed – in the few minutes I spent with the device it just didn’t feel right. (Then again, I’ve grown accustomed to the iPhone.) When I’m doing email I usually turn on the typing sound…but based on the occasional lag in the audible “click” from the speaker I’m not sure if the thing’s fast enough to do a micro- vibrate-on-type right. If it worked, my gut is that it would help make typing on glass for more than a few sentences muuuuch more enjoyable.

It’s 2009, the year of modest expectations. I’m not asking for a solid state sub $500 netbook, or a 7” iPod Touch or even a ship date for Snow Leopard. All I want is for the iPhone to be as great a device for content creation as it is for content consumption. A boy can dream, right?

December 29, 2008

scenario planning

“I’m convinced. If we were to actually fight Transformers, this is how we would do it.” Lt. Col. Francisco “Paco” Hamm, the Air Force liaison to Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, as quoted in USA Today.

December 29, 2008

more on iphone gaming

A couple more data points on the “iPhone as very interesting gaming platform” curve…

  • Passage is now available. It’s pretty much the opposite of Rolando (which I’m still working my way through, and still loving), but I’ve come back again and again to Passage since I first played it back in January, and each time the experience is just as devastating.
  • Crayon Physics is coming in January. Could there be a better platform for Crayon Physics?

Completely obvious thought of the day: email is to Blackberry as gaming is to the iPhone. Friends showing friends the email experience on the Blackberry is what helped spread adoption for RIM. The same will happen with the iPhone and over the shoulder game demos. And with enough interesting features available in the API (motion, multitouch, etc.) there will be enough different types of games to appeal to different types of users. Me, I’m into things like Rolando and Passage and Crayon Physics, and I’ll demo those for all three people I know who would also like those games but don’t already have an iPhone to play ‘em on. My sister, on the other hand, may be into puzzle games, and there certainly isn’t a shortage of those for her to demo to her friends…

The difference, of course, between RIM and Apple is in the distribution accelerant – RIM had to rely on corporate IT departments to deploy BES for users to get the full benefit of the platform, while Apple has iTunes and new retail channels like Wal-mart.

Update: Randy rightly points out in this little act of sharing…

…that I completely neglected to credit his tweet as the source of news re. Passage and Crayon Physics. I’d tip my hat, but I’d likely blind him with my skull and he’d crash his fixie into the nearest Blue Bottle.

December 24, 2008

dale dougherty on bill gates

Dale Dougherty writes an appreciation of Bill Gates on O’Reilly’s Radar.

The truth is that while he was busy developing software, he’s also worked on developing himself. He is the self-made American who has matured into a role model and leader. He is thoughtful and tactful where a younger version would have been brash and impetuous.

I love Dan Bricklin’s comment

So we have a new vision of techie geek: Works tirelessly to bring technology he/she loves to the world. If makes money, continues tirelessly to fix problems in the world. Sees all people as important, even if they aren’t techie geeks or poor. Builds society and doesn’t just live off of it. They may not dress in the latest of clothes, but you’d be extremely proud if your kids grew up to be one of them.

The post was inspired by the interview of Gates by Charlie Rose this week. Now in the queue for the holiday week.

December 22, 2008

roll on, rolando!

So while everything in Touch Arcade’s review of Rolando is true…

Your job is to free the Rolandos from evil across 36 levels of play. The primary goal of each level is to free a minimum number of the Rolandos by getting them safely to the exit while avoid bad-guys and circumventing obstacles. Secondary goals includes collecting gems and beating the clock to increase your achievements and offer some additional replay value beyond the primarily plot.

…the review doesn’t come close to capturing the joy of actually playing the game. They roll! They jump! They bounce on things! They call you Finger, and treat you like a deity! Highly recommended iPhone fun; the perfect way to ignore your family this holiday season.

December 17, 2008

moca's higher power

Tyler Green continues to do the best blogging on the MOCA mess.

Just in case it needs be said again, the MOCA trustees are proving that they’re the worst art museum board in America. … The idiocy of this cannot be overstated: The MOCA board is apparently more willing to inflict upon itself an embarrassing public failure than it is to admit it needs help. Is there a 12-step program for non-profit mismanagement?

Question: if MOCA was to go through a 12 step program, who would be their higher power? Eli Broad? Michael Govan from LACMA? James Wood from the Getty?

Update: Looks like it wouldn’t be Wood, since the Getty endowment is down 25 percent since June…

December 17, 2008

marketing myopia

James Surowiecki, in his new Yorker column on the current state of newspaper business (spoiler: they’re in trouble, but he doesn’t prescribe any particular way out of their mess) has an excellent summary of Theodore Levitt’s 1960 article “Marketing Myopia.”

Levitt argued that a focus on products rather than on customers led the [railroad] companies to misunderstand their core business. Had the bosses realized that they were in the transportation business, rather than the railroad business, they could have moved into trucking and air transport, rather than letting other companies dominate.

A quick search turned up a PDF rendering of “Marketing Myopia”. I remember reading this in grad school, but hadn’t looked at it since then. On a reskim I particularly enjoyed this nugget about the “Population Myth” (emphasis mine):

The belief that profits are assured by an expanding an more affluent population is dear to the heart of every industry. It takes the edge off apprehensions everybody understandably feels about the future. If consumers are multiplying and also buying more of your product or service, you can face the future with considerably more comfort than if the market is shrinking. An expanding market keeps the manufacturer from having to think very hard or imaginatively. If thinking is an intellectual response to a problem, then the absence of a problem leads to the absence of thinking. If your product has an automatically expanding market, then you will not give much thought to how to expand it.

Internet, anyone?

December 17, 2008

kanye west album generator

Wouldn’t you love an app like this?

I’m trying to keep it simple, but if you have ideas for additional features, I’m all ears.

December 16, 2008

the folks at gizmodo deserve a raise

Gizmodo covers the speculation on an Apple netbook for Macworld; but I’m fairly certain that the post was an excuse to publish the best artist’s rendition of an unreleased Apple product evar. It’s so good I won’t swipe it for myself — they deserve all the page views they can get for this one so click, dammit. Click.

December 16, 2008

quote of the day

“We’re on track for a terrific show this year,” said Paul Kent, IDG’s general manager for Macworld, when asked to comment on the news that Steve Jobs won’t be keynoting January’s event and that Apple will be pulling out of the event after 2009.

Perhaps he meant the archaic definition of terrific?

December 15, 2008

it's new to you, part two

I think I’ve discovered a microtrend: reviews of things that aren’t new. There’s reviewing things everyone else has read but you haven’t, or there’s reviewing things you’ve already read…and maybe some of your readers haven’t. Example: Cynthia Crossen reviews John le Carré’s 1986 A Perfect Spy in today’s Wall Street Journal.

Generally, I don’t reread because so often the books disappoint me, and I feel as if I’ve lost an old friend. With the element of surprise gone, most books seem less powerful to me on a second read. It’s as though I’ve developed scar tissue.

You can buy the paperback edition of A Perfect Spy for a shade under $11, or if you have a le Carré fan on your Christmas list, a first edition first printing for just under $33.

December 14, 2008

the key to reserva

The Key to Reserva is a short film produced as an ad for Freixenet Cava, directed by Martin Scorsese and written by Ted Griffin. In it Scorsese produces and directs the only three surviving pages of a “long-lost” Hitchcock screenplay.

The whole thing’s a joke, of course (an elaborate, beautiful, wonderful, well-produced joke), but I love the scene at the beginning between Scorsese and Griffin, where they’re discussing how Scorsese will shoot the project:

Scorsese: It has to be the way he would make the picture then, only making it now. If he was alive now making it now he would make it now as if he made it back then.

Griffin: I understand perfectly.

December 12, 2008

single serving -- a play in one act

Hi, Mom! Hi, Dad! I’m so excited to be home for winter break — what a rough semester it was! Exams went OK, I think, but what really crushed me was the paper I wrote on single serving sites. Yeah, single serving sites. You know, websites that only serve a single page. It’s awesome, I published it as a single serving site — you can read it at Get it? What was it about? Well, it analyzed why people do it, how long their domain names are, whether those names have verbs in them, what their designs are like, what the future holds for single serving sites. It’s the awesome. What’s that? No, I haven’t really been keeping up with the news lately, as I said, I’ve been busy writing my paper on single serving sites. I mean, I know the economy’s bad and all… No, I didn’t hear that about student loans. Wait, why are you talking about student loans…I thought you were covering my tuition. No?

December 12, 2008

project management lingo

I lurk on this great email list of project managers called PMClinic; it’s full of smart people who share war stories of (mostly software development) projects. It’s hosted by Scott Berkun (yes, him again) and each week one of the list members posts a challenging project scenario and the non-lurkers chime in with ideas and suggestions.

This week’s starter topic was a bit different though. The subject line was “Is there Project Management Lingo?” and there are about 60 some-odd responses, with people defining the terms they’ve come across; everything from “86’d” to “Whack-a-mole.” I took a few minutes to catalog all the terms (without definitions; I’m not a masochist); here they are[1], in alphabetical order.

  • 86’d
  • Action required
  • All up
  • Analysis paralysis
  • Arrivadodging
  • Baseline
  • Bear race
  • Blocker
  • Boiling the ocean
  • Cleaner
  • Clue bat
  • Clue bus
  • Clue by 4
  • Coconut shuffle
  • Come to Beavis meeting
  • Come to Jesus meeting
  • Conceptual integrity
  • Consistify
  • Constant time to completion mode
  • Crunch mode
  • Dead in the water
  • Death march
  • Drive
  • Eat your own dog food
  • Eating the elephant one bite at a time
  • Eight days a week
  • Engage
  • Engagement model
  • Enterprise phase
  • Fitting ten pounds of crap into a five pound sack
  • Gantt flotsam
  • Gelled team
  • Greenshifting
  • Happy status
  • Herding cats
  • Heroics
  • Hit with the scope bat
  • I’m going to have to push back on that
  • In the weeds
  • Keeping you up at night
  • Looped in
  • Lugubrious
  • Mitchy2008
  • Mocks
  • Nine women can’t have a baby in one month
  • Open kimono
  • Overcome by events
  • Permalancing
  • Permanent prototype
  • Programmatics
  • RACI
  • Rat hole
  • Ready fire aim
  • Red hat period
  • Redshirt
  • Run up that hill
  • Schedule chicken
  • Scope
  • Scope creep
  • Scrub
  • Second system effect
  • Setup for failure
  • Setup for success
  • Shovel ready
  • Showstopper
  • Sign up
  • Silver bullet
  • Slip
  • TEM
  • TPS Report
  • Then a miracle occurs
  • Ticket on the clue train
  • Tiger team
  • To the right
  • Triple D (dollars, date, deliverables)
  • Upside risk
  • Whack-a-mole

My personal favorites are three of the ones I’d never heard before; compound words that even if they didn’t mean a thing just sound great: consistify, arrivadodging and permalancing.

[1] Note that a few of the items in this list actually came from the comments in Scott Berkun’s similar blog post about the PMClinic thread. Of course, this is not meant to be a full list of every single bit of project management lingo ever uttered by any project manager anywhere. Have one that’s not here? Leave it in the comments.

December 12, 2008

it's new to you

Scott Berkun (of Making Things Happen and The Myths of Innovation fame) has posted a couple of interesting reviews on his blog of things you’ve probably already read/seen: Thoreau’s Walden and the pilot episode of McGyver.

Here’s Berkun on Walden:

Thoreau seems like the kind of fellow who spent too much time on his own, and his wandering mind, unaware of the confusion he creates in the minds of others, rambles around on its own selfish whims. He was a true recluse and I think it shows.

And Berkun on McGyver:

Forget the fun of wild ingenuity and brains over brawn I remembered the show for - which is there in moments - instead the show works on an entirely deeper level as a time warp back through television history when this sort of fantasy was acceptable entertainment.

I’d love to see more reviews like this — there’s so much archived content available online that enterprising bloggers could cut themselves a nice niche of reviewing things that are new to them.

December 12, 2008

election fraud

I voted.

I voted, but my vote was changed.

December 10, 2008

hp labs on twitter

The HP Labs report on Twitter is worth reading in full…and not just for backing into an active user number. I found this graf particularly noteworthy: “These initial observations suggest a systematic investigation into the nature of the social networks that actually matter to people. By networks that matter we mean those networks that are made out of the pattern of interactions that people have with their friends or acquaintances, rather than constructed from a list of all the contacts they may decide to declare.” Here’s to more systematic investigations.

December 10, 2008

a running friendship

I’m not a runner, and I don’t have any friendships based on running, but I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Sara Corbett’s new piece in Runner’s World, Someone to Run With.

Any friendship that is based on running is, in essence, about accrual – of time, of miles, of intimacy built over a lot of small steps forward. It sneaks up on you that way, I think. It can seem merely enjoyable until you need it for more.

Worth reading in full, especially for the lovingly run-on description of her friend Clare. (I won’t ruin it for you, go read it in context.) If Corbett’s name seems familiar it’s probably because you’ve spent hours with her on the weekends: she’s a a contributing writer to the Sunday Magazine in the New York Times. This past April had a long piece there on cellphones and global poverty.

December 09, 2008

golden state model railroad museum

The Golden State Model Railroad Museum is one of those local attractions that even long time Bay Area residents probably don’t know exists. We only found it thanks to a pre-schooler and her grandparent who both have a passion for miniature trains. Located out in Point Richmond, across the street from the Miller-Knox shoreline park, the museum is a 10,000 square foot warehouse where serious train geeks have constructed scale models of major train depots around California (Oakland, Bakersfield, Sacramento, etc.) in N, O and HO gauges. I wish I had had a decent camera with me, but here’s a pic I took with my phone:

The big news this weekend at the train museum was that they had just finished installing trains that were owned by the late talk show host Tom Snyder. Snyder had Lionel standard gauge track running through several rooms in his home, and his collection was donated to the museum when he died. I’d never seen standard gauge track before – it’s 1:24 scale, which makes room for a ton of detail. Here’s a pic swiped from the GSMRM site, since all the ones I took didn’t do it justice:


Check out the rest of the photos they have on their site; or if you’re obsessed with both Snyder and model trains, you’ll want to one click Celebrity Train Layouts, Part 2 - Tom Snyder, available on DVD. No, really.

The museum’s worth a visit, even if you’re not the type who buys DVDs of model train collections. Visit their site ahead of time, though, to make sure you go on a day when the trains are actually running, otherwise you’ll probably end up watching guys drink cold coffee and repair tiny little engines. And that’s just not as much fun for the kids.

December 01, 2008

fourfour on britney

Fourfour’s take on the Britney documentary is today’s must read. Or, initially, must stare: I had a really hard time getting past the animated GIF grid of Britneys at the top of the post. Click through and stare for yourself; it’s hypnotizing.

Bonus points for the list of questions that he wishes the interviewer had asked, including this gem: “For the love of forward-thinking pop, why the fuck did you squander that Timbaland and Justin Timberlake collaboration?”