there are 67 posts from August 2010

August 31, 2010

overdue comeback

Comebacks posted by msippey at Flickr

I think I missed the deadline for Longshot Magazine issue #1. Drat.

August 31, 2010

in a volvo-shaped handbasket

Heather Havrilesky on Jonathan Franzen's Freedom. "The really impressive feat here is Franzen's larger portrayal of the misguided mistakes of middle-class America: the delusions we indulge in our pursuit of happiness, the ways we neglect the greater good for the sake of our little family units, and the difficulty of setting aside our personal needs to save a world on the brink of total collapse. We're free, yes, and we use our freedom to build our own little fussy, claustrophobic, granite-countertopped islands, while the rest of the world goes straight to hell around us."

August 31, 2010

design sensibilities v. design skills

Marty Cagan is the best thinker about product management out there. His blog / newsletter coming out of his Silicon Valley Product Group is great reading; today's piece was typically excellent, and contained this particular gem: "Don’t confuse someone that has strong design sensibilities with strong design skills.  Recognizing and appreciating strong design, and being able to create strong design, are very different things."

August 27, 2010

liquid angels

Fred Wilson on angel liquidity and the Etsy deal. "The interesting thing about this transaction is that it was not founder liquidity driven. The founders did not sell in the transaction. It was not VC liquidity driven. Some of the existing VC firms actually bought in the transaction. It was angel liquidity driven."

August 27, 2010

hi. i'm bill.

Bill Gates in the 80s posted by Esthr at Flickr

I dare you to stop staring back at him.

August 26, 2010

for some reason this reminds me of jeff spicoli

Erika Hall on Google Calendar's notion of working hours. "To a person on deadline, a calendar invitation is a hostile land grab. ... In fact, [working hours] is enshrining in the interface just the attitude we are trying to combat, that work is defined by meetings—or, euphemistically, 'events.' Events are what I attend outside of work."

August 25, 2010

this is a depressing letter

UC Berkeley professor Michael O'Hare writes a letter to his incoming students. "I’m writing this to you because you are the victims of this enormous cheat (though your children will be even worse off if you don’t take charge of this ship and steer it). Your education was trashed as California fell to the bottom of US states in school spending, and the art classes, AP courses, physical education, working toilets, and teaching generally went by the board."

August 25, 2010

i will buy these

Angry Birds plush toys. "Rumor has it that the toys will be in the form of stuffed Angry Birds, and the game, which follows a flock of birds fighting evil pigs, may be the first major intellectual property to go straight from iPhone to plush form." Just say yes.

August 25, 2010

be an unbeatable person

A letter of note from a kamikaze pilot.  "Do not envy the fathers of others. Your father will become a god and watch you two closely." An almost unbearable pairing of economical language and devastating emotion.

August 25, 2010

adam mathes is on fire


Yeah, I know I'm a link-sharing cycle behind on this one, but holy moly imagesoak is great stuff.

August 20, 2010

typing in textareas

Limited edition t-shirts; order yours before September 3. "Shut up. It'll still be popular by then. Just like Net Moguls."

August 20, 2010

Land, Speed and Bonneville: Places: Design Observer

Martin Hogue at Design Observer on the Bonneville salt flats. "I would argue that in this sense racing became a sort of idealization of the site and its resources, and that consequently the activities of racing and the events of record setting are in fact entirely connected to a greater sense of the landscape in both space and time. It was in recognizing the potential of the Bonneville flats as a natural surface to race on that a mutually beneficial relationship among technology and ambition and the landscape was forged — and with it a deep respect for the land."

See also Richard Misrach's The World's Fastest Mobile Home.

August 20, 2010

all is vanity

Mark Paschal on the iOS game Vanitas. "In a market full of games offering cheap achievement, lighting up all twelve stars would be a real accomplishment, a distant goal in an ever-refreshing software simulation that frames human frailty like a small wooden box."

August 19, 2010

nothing compares to sinead

Matthew Perpetua on his favorite cover. "The best cover version I can think of is Sinead O’Connor’s version of 'Nothing Compares 2 U.' ... The song is absolutely brilliant, one of the best Prince has ever written, and O’Connor rescued it from obscurity and turned it into one of the most emotionally devastating pop hits of all time. Prince’s versions are okay, but never really get it right — he always makes it sound too syrupy, and the stakes never seem very high. Sinead makes you hang on every syllable, every moment is life or death. It’s a truly incredible performance."

August 19, 2010

first amendment for $200, alex.

Ken Norton's pop quiz, Which mosque opponent said it. I was hoping they were all Sarah Palin's, but apparently not!

August 19, 2010

actually, this is exactly what i was looking for.

27b/6's latest, Missing Missy. "It's a design thing. The cat is lost in the negative space."

August 18, 2010

kermit and jim


Kermit's expression, as always, is priceless.  Swiped from, and they're not sure where they found it.

August 18, 2010

glorified cursers [sic]

Henry Jenkins elaborates on his quotes re. Inception as a movie for gamers. Finally got around to reading this (thanks, Instapaper!). There's a lot to enjoy here, but I liked this bit.  "The very nature of an interactive narrative serves to strip characters of psychological depth -- game characters are often glorified cursers, vehicles we use to move through the game worlds, rather than characters into whom we project sophisticated motives or anticipate character development."

August 17, 2010

there shouldn't be any guilt involved in these pleasures

Writer Joshua Braff confesses his guilty pleasures. "For all I achieve in fiction, I thank John Irving and Stephen King. These authors are maestros of craft. Their characters live and breathe before, during and after the story ends." Amen.

August 17, 2010

that show was a piece of work

William Powhida pens a massive rant on Bravo's Work of Art.  Here's a representative sample.  "That Bravo reduced art to series of BFA level challenges was arguably the most artificial and insulting part of the show for me. I mean, beyond the fact they have an absurd shooting schedule and severe time restrictions. On his FB page, @Jerrysaltz asked his thousands what challenges they would issue. OK. So, let’s just get this fucking straight. Would it be cool if I just went on my FB page and asked “Hey kids, what should I do next?” Of course fucking not, it’s the central challenge for an artist. 'What the fuck do I do?'"

August 17, 2010

obsessive much?

NEWS FLASH: Stephen Wolfram uses many, many computers. Including, apparently, a custom-built archive of 20 years of keystroke data.

August 17, 2010

more data exhaust

UBS is incorporating satellite data in its reports on Wal-Mart. "By counting the cars in Wal-Mart’s parking lots month in and month out, Remote Sensing Metrics analysts were able to get a fix on the company’s customer flow. From there, they worked up a mathematical regression to come up with a prediction of the company’s quarterly revenue each month." UBS didn't comment on whether they're also including keystroke data from Stephen Wolfram in their analysis.

August 17, 2010


Tell me Stuart Elliott isn't phoning it in just a little bit here. "A search on Monday of the New Era Web site found 128 types of Yankees caps, including some — in hunter’s plaids, 'metallic cotton' and 'intergalactic' — that might have given Babe Ruth a pain to rival his 1925 bellyache heard round the world."

August 17, 2010

breathe deeply

Justin Bieber's U Smile slowed down 800% (via @zefrank). If you listen all the way to the end you'll be magically transported to an Antarctic ice floe where you and Justin will be all alone, he will stare deeply into your eyes, and you will finally find peace.

August 17, 2010

belief is a choice

I choose to believe this Federer trick shot is real.

August 16, 2010

typekit + adobe

Adobe partners with Typekit. This is big news in the web + fonts world, and a major coup for Typekit. Congrats to Jeff, Bryan and the rest of the crew over there!

August 16, 2010

the list goes to 11

Marty Cagan's top 10 reasons for a weak product. Bug report -- there are actually 11 in his list. But who's counting.

Here's number 10: "Lack of corporate courage. Doing something significant typically requires taking some risk. We have several techniques to mitigate this risk (protecting the company’s brand and revenue), but still there is risk. Sometimes it is the team that is scared to take the risks, and other times it is the leaders that are scared. But many organizations let fear constrain their products from moving forwards."

Relatedly, I'm reading David Kirkpatrick's book on Facebook, and just got to the point where Zuckerberg pushed through the backlash over the news feed, with the realization that so many people were able to organize so quickly against the feature because of the feature.

August 16, 2010

sweet and sour

Berkeleyside lays out the best baguettes in Berkeley, but only ranks on the sour axis. Between you and me, La Farine's sweet baguette is the way to go, especially if you've grown tired of the neverending diet of sourdough in the Bay Area.

August 16, 2010

reed me

Reeder for Mac coming? I'm a huge fan of Reeder on the iPhone and iPad; so much so that pretty much all of my feed reading happens there now. (Insert usual bit about those devices being great for content consumption, etc.) So I'm conflicted about Reeder for the Mac, but will probably end up buying it anyway; they make nice software.

August 16, 2010

one of these things is not like the other

It's time for the baked-in Android UI to die...and for every manufacturer/carrier combo to be reduced to lowest common denominator hardware + pipe provider? Good luck with that.

August 16, 2010

jukebox hero

The Singles Jukebox, "Pop to two decimal places." How come I didn't know about this before?

I love this bit on Animal from Neon Trees: "Hit songs based on memories of hit songs from two years ago based on memories of hit songs from five years ago based on memories of hit songs from twenty-five years ago. It’s time to take the remnants of 'alternative' radio out back and shoot it." Subfollowed.

August 16, 2010

gawker v. the awl

Brian Moylan at Gawker goes all psychoanalytic on last night's Mad Men:  "We know exactly what Don is going to do because he keeps making the same mistakes over and over again. In his mind he can break free, but we're going to have to see if his behavior matches up to the perception he has of himself."

Meanwhile, Choire Sicha at The Awl goes all art historian on the mid-60s, (ab)using Dan Graham's mirror pieces to push last night's metaphor to the breaking point. "And still later, [Graham]'d turn to the two-way mirror, just as our callow, lady-baiting shrink focus-grouper on 'Mad Men' does. 'Two-way mirror used in office buildings is always totally reflective on the exterior, reflecting the sunlight and transparent for workers inside. Surveillance power is given to the corporate tower,' wrote Graham."

Ah, Mad Men: the rorschach test of the New York media blogger crew.

August 16, 2010

game show hosts for $1,600, alex

Who is Alex Trebek? "$1,600: This game-show host has been mocked by comedians for decades and made to look like a fool on national television in front of his family. He never complains, because he is a good sport, but, at the end of the day, he’s still a human being and obviously the mean impersonations sometimes hurt the feelings of this host." In a perfect world this blog post would have won me a Supernerd badge for blogging a New Yorker shouts and murmurs piece about Jeopardy. Then I could have shared that badge on Facebook and Twitter.

August 16, 2010


New York Times reporter goes rafting with scientists, and they discover that attention is the holy grail. "Everything that you’re conscious of, everything you let in, everything you remember and you forget, depends on it." There is no dark side of the moon really. Matter of fact, it's all dark.

August 16, 2010

but will anyone ever play cayce pollard?

Rooney Mara will play Lisbeth Salander. After Inception we were rooting for Ellen Page (if only to balance the rock hard jawline of Daniel Craig), but OK. Please God make sure this movie doesn't suck.

August 16, 2010

but who can take a year off to travel?

We will eat, we will pray, and we will love all that is Bali! "You read 'Eat, Pray, Love.' And you loved it.  And you wanted to change your life, too.  But who can take a year off to travel?  How about a week to experience some of the marvelous changes author Elizabeth Gilbert enthralled us with in her memoir?" Book deal not included.

August 16, 2010

baggage galore!

Rich Juzwiak on Baggage. "GSN's Baggage is the most cynical dating show I've ever seen, and it just might be the best. It's as though the genre itself has hardened and grown bitter in the 45 years since its birth and this is the result: a show that suggests everyone has suitcases full of shit that you have to put up with, and the most suitable mate is the shit-bearer you find most tolerable." Must watch.

August 15, 2010

the freemium myth

Seth Levine on pricing models and the freemium myth: "You should understand very clearly what drives your own costs as you start to matrix out your pricing so you know what user behaviors cost you money. You should also understand (by talking to early users) what drives customer adoption, usage and lock-in of your product. And with all that in mind, be careful what you chose to put a tax on." Lots of great nuggets of wisdom in this post; worth reading in full.

August 15, 2010

oracle v. android

RoughlyDrafted on the Oracle and Google patent fracas. "If Oracle is successful in its bid to 'impound and destroy' the heart of Google’s Android, it might result in more than just a massive upheaval of the smartphone industry and a congratulatory high fiving between Jobs and Ellison. It might also result in a concerted effort by Google to join Oracle and other tech giants to decommission the nuclear threat of software patent proliferation in the future."

I'm not sure I completely buy his line of reasoning (1994 is quite a while ago, and I can't imagine Google and Oracle joining hands over much of anything after this battle), but the piece is worth reading. And oh, buried in it is an amazing parenthetical aside.

August 15, 2010

mistah kurtz, he dead

The LA Times on Kurtz and the darkness at the heart of Star Wars. "The discussed ending of the film that Kurtz favored presented the rebel forces in tatters, Leia grappling with her new duties as queen and Luke walking off alone 'like Clint Eastwood in the spaghetti westerns.'" And all the Ewoks would have drowned in the river.

August 15, 2010

like i need an excuse to eat more cookies

An ingenious mug design by Enstresuelo.1A. "This design adds an ingenious touch to a mug with a rim shaped in such a way that you can dunk in the whole cookie, sideways." Mmmm, cookies.

August 15, 2010

after the explosion

B. Hockey J.: "After the explosion it’s quiet for awhile. More quiet than that. Everything holds its breath. The furniture. The books on their shelves. The photographs hanging on the walls. None of them move. Well. I suppose they never move, but now they move less. Everything holds its breath."

August 14, 2010

this is the best you can do?

If you decided to spend a month driving around the country to write a massive message based on GPS coordinates, I doubt it would be "Read Ayn Rand."

August 13, 2010

tweetdeck and the single stream

John Borthwick has a good post dissecting the new Android version of Tweetdeck, which, from all appearances (I'm not an Android user) does something interesting in combining streams from mutiple services and differentiating the updates in a useful way.

The original Tweetdeck broke new ground in how Twitter could be used.   All the Twitter clients had until that time taken their DNA from the IM clients.   They all sought to replicate a single column, a diminutive view of the stream.   Tweetdeck on the desktop changed all of that.   Offering a multi column view that was immersive, intense and full on.     As you move your service to different platforms (say from Web to mobile) you are faced with the perplexing question of whether you re-think the service to fit the dimensions and features of the new platform (mobile) or you offer users the same familiar experience.

It's a pretty bold move for the Tweetdeck team, whose product brand is pretty much defined by the "I'm a power user, hear me roar from the cockpit of my social media supersonic jet fighter" multi-column layout. Would love to see this in their iPhone version.

August 13, 2010

the best deck on the internets

What's your favorite slide? You tell me yours, I'll tell you mine.

August 13, 2010

file under: professional jealousy

I loved this little parenthetical bit from Dana Stevens' review of Eat Pray Love in Slate.

(It's a flaw of both the book and the film that the negotiation of this contract is glossed over so hastily. There's no shame in having landed a sweet book deal, and having the financial underpinnings of Gilbert's trip made plain would help to mitigate the audience's resentment at her barely acknowledged privilege.)


August 12, 2010

tim carmody at kottke

I sure love me some Jason Kottke, but I'm going to miss Tim Carmody when he's gone from He's been on fire this week; I love today's post The city is a hypertext for connecting "the arguments we have about the cognitive effect of reading for the web are largely a replay of the upheaval surrounding mass urbanization at the turn of the century."

August 12, 2010

ruth bourdain gets a new intern...

Ruth Bourdain gets a new intern, thereby bringing the whiteboard firing meme to a satisfying close.


August 12, 2010

one of our engineers even figured out how to make a hat

McSweeney's channels The Onion...and fails.

August 12, 2010

faster! faster!!

Not sure if the app is for me, but I really like the demo video for Tweet Agora. Fast demo action means this is for power users.  If you can't follow along with what's happening, then this product probably isn't for you.  Following lists of Greek gods + references to The Bachelor? Clever.

August 12, 2010

berkun on wave and kin

Scott Berkun blogs about the lessons from Google Wave and MSFT Kin. The snark in me loved his line about Wave -- "As a rule, any software in this century that reinvents the scroll bar deserves to fail" -- but it's depressing to think that the Kin team won't even get a postmortem. As Scott writes, "the lessons of Kin will likely die with Kin."

Also, a belated congratulations to Scott on joining Automattic -- they're lucky to have him and I look forward to seeing the impact he has on and the company as a whole. Good stuff!

August 11, 2010

new bay bridge

Wired has a great photo essay up about the new Bay Bridge.  I loved this pic...


...because there's a tunnel in the bridge. How cool is that?

August 10, 2010

we used to do this by hand

weeplaces map posted by msippey at Flickr

Weeplaces is a pretty slick visual animation of your Foursquare checkins over time. Back in the olden days we used to do this by hand, using Bryan Boyer's Indy Junior. Good times.

August 10, 2010

surrender monkeying

Google’s real problem is that it hasn’t found sufficient ways to diversify its revenue stream beyond its still stunningly profitable search ads. Now, those just aren’t growing the way they have been, and Google is struggling to find another gold vein to mine.


It no longer made financial sense for Google to fight the carriers with its own open phone hardware, even though that meant abandoning its open wireless principles. In retrospect, they may have never actually been principles — just an aborted marketing strategy that proved unnecessary.


Ryan Singel's piece on the Google / Verizon proposal is worth reading; he does a great job of laying out the timeline of what's happened with Android, the Open Handset Alliance, the Nexus One and all of the other devices that have since come to market.

But. The cynic in me can't get over the idealism in Singel's piece -- and a lot of the other commentary that's been making the rounds in the past 24 hours. Of course it made sense for Google to toot the Open Trumpet when they were fighting the iPhone battle...and now that they're seeing success with Android and have found a way to milk the carriers for a new revenue stream, of course they're changing strategies.

The devil here isn't Google, frankly. You may disagree with their business strategy, but it's their strategy to take, in order to maximize returns for their shareholders. If you're looking for a devil -- or, preferably, an angel -- it's time to look to the FCC. It's their job, after all, to make sure that the mobile marketplace actually is more competitive and does change rapidly.

August 10, 2010

one other thing re. flipboard...

flipboard story view posted by msippey at Flickr

As previously mentioned, I'm a fan of Flipboard. But one nit -- that list of people that have RT'd the story? That's pretty much useless, other than for amusement value: "Hey, look! Mindless parrots!"

August 10, 2010

I love this view

image from

August 09, 2010

[this is good]

Speaking of Yoko Ono, MoMA unpacked a Fluxus box and got an interesting surprise, including this note from John and Yoko. I'm unclear on how this impacts the current debate over whether she's actually human. But the story's good nonetheless; go read the whole thing.

August 08, 2010

the horn section makes it

(via kottke)

August 06, 2010

wait. she's human?

"There's just an element that we're not very happy about, as people."


Yoko Ono, commenting on the neverending negotiations to bring the Beatles' catalog to iTunes, inadvertently betrays the fact that she's not, actually, from another planet.

August 06, 2010

it may have explained the prozac in the drinking water

The Hollywood Reporter is running a story with this headline...

Hollywood happy kids willing to pay for content

...which is all about how execs are optimistic "regarding young consumers' willingness to pay for digital content."  But I initially read the headline this way...

Hollywood: happy kids willing to pay for content

...which would have reported that well-adjusted kids are less likely to pirate content from their malcontent "friends" or steal intellectual property from those shady online networks. (Ah, the difference a colon makes.) The story had this pic right under the lede:


That kid on the right - doesn't he look happy and willing to pay? Maybe too happy?

August 05, 2010

flipboard, the new digg and stream fatigue

I've been enjoying Flipboard the past few days: the design is engaging, the flipping animation addictive, and their content channels are well-packaged.

The most interesting feature, of course, is the social aggregation.  Flipboard isn't the most efficient way to catch up on Twitter and Facebook, but flipping through what my friends are posting and linking to is fun. And maybe it's a function of the people I'm following, but the pages the app generates are sometimes just plain weird.  In a good way.  Like this.


Ah...some sort of moldy cheesebread from a woman wearing black lipstick...and a story about Vic Gundotra, together at last. Outcomes like this are what make Flipboard such a gutsy product:  people are messy, their social/interest graphs are messy, and algorithmically forcing the flat stream of posts into a hierarchical magazine-style layout is bound to produce some odd results.

Now compare Flipboard to the new Digg.


Digg may have a ton more going on behind the scenes re. content distribution, community-based filtering, social-filtering etc...and all those algorithms may produce a more effective newsfeed. But it doesn't feel half as fun. It feels like work. And engaging with media shouldn't feel like work.

Flipboard's cut up machine as social news reader may not work as a mass product. And Flipboard will likely tune their algorithms to make the pages seem a little less random (though I personally hope not). But their magazine-style layout, coupled with the iPad form factor, has afforded them the opportunity to create something compelling.

August 05, 2010

berkeleyside on traywick

In the end, the success of a show like 2-D/3-D, beyond the magic that the artists themselves create, has much to do with Katrina Traywick herself, who dares to transform her space into a living and shifting laboratory of sorts. In doing so, she inspires each of us to consider bringing something fresh and unconventional into our own homes, or, at the very least, to move our pictures around from time to time.


I love my wife. And here are some pics of the pieces in the show.

August 05, 2010

art logic

Art Logic posted by msippey at Flickr

PLZ RT is the new QED.

August 04, 2010

no one was looking for wave

And people aren't looking for a replacement for email, or instant messaging, or blogs, or wikis. Those tools all work great for their intended purposes, and whatever technology augments them will likely offer a different combination of persistence and immediacy than those systems. Right now, Wave evokes all of them without being its own distinctive thing. Which means it's most useful in providing reference implementations of particular new features.


Never mind the "Pushbutton platform" stuff that comes in the paragraph after, it's this paragraph that matters. No one was looking for Wave.

Regardless, kudos to Google for killing it so quickly. No matter how obvious it is that it needs to happen, killing children is never easy.

August 03, 2010

mmm, tiny.

Ah, what a difference a decade makes.  10 years ago Stewart Butterfield kicked off this little contest where web folk had to produce a site that lived entirely within a 5kb.  Ten years on the fine people behind A List Apart are doing another little contest where your web app[1] needs to weigh in under 10kb.

My how things have changed in the last 10 years.  Designers can reference jQuery, Prototype and Typekit, their JS can be minified, they can use the browser's local storage, and, from the FAQ...

3. Can I use a 3rd-party Web service like Flickr, Twitter, Google Maps, etc.? Yes, you can use as many general-purpose 3rd-party Web services as you want. The data from these Web services does not count against your 10k limit. However, cheating is not allowed. For example, entrants are not allowed to upload all project-specific design assets to Flickr and then reference them from the app to bypass the size limitation, or host project-specific code files in a Web service to bypass size restrictions.

So far none of the entries are that compelling -- unless you're looking for yet another to do list. Personally, I'm hoping that someone pulls out the stops and builds a <10kb app framework lets visitors build their own <10kb apps. Then someone else can build a <10kb app store that only distributes <10kb apps.

[1] Note: sites aren't cool anymore.  Only apps are cool.

August 01, 2010

true/slant shuttering

From zero to a million uniques in eight months; bought by Forbes, now being shut down. Michael Roston's thank you note to the site's readers and writers is worth reading.

August 01, 2010

borthwick on the ipad

Great in-depth post from John Borthwick on his impressions of the iPad. I particularly loved the bits about reading apps (Flipboard and the like) and how they're filling a need created by the overwhelming streaminess of FB and Twitter on the one hand, and the glutted up u/x of websites on the other...

Something has to give here — surfing the web works very well on the iPad, the surfing works, the problem is that its the web sites that dont.

The issues embedded in these readers stretch back to the beginning of the web — all the way back to the moment that HTML and then RSS formed a layer, a standard, for the abstraction of underlying data vs. its representation.   Regardless of your view of the touch based interface its undeniable that the iPad represents a meaningful shift in how you can view information.    Match that with the insanity of how many web sites look today and you have a rich opportunity for innovation.

Worth reading in full.