there are 26 posts from October 2010

October 29, 2010

close your eyes

Sports Illustrated's Joe Posnanski has a great piece up today about Matt Cain's no nonsense approach to executing his pitches.

And as he talked, I was reminded of my favorite Matt Cain answer of the postseason. It was on Wednesday, and the talk was about nerves, and the question was this: "How do you sleep the night before a start in the World Series?"

And Matt Cain's answer was this: "Close your eyes."

Love. It.

October 29, 2010

bill simmons on lebron james and dwayne wade

I read this excellent post from Bill Simmons about the Miami v. Boston game this week, and in the back of my head keep hearing that line from the Highlander series*: "There can be only one."

LeBron and Wade are creators in a decidedly modern way: scorers first, then passers if they can't score. I got this. That's how players think in the post-Jordan, AAU-dominated, microwavable fame era. That's how you earn the most money, generate the most attention, land shoe commercials and end up producing one-hour shows in which you pick your next team. You can't expect two superstars in their primes to suddenly shut off the "I got this" switch. It's not realistic.

* Shut up. You know exactly what I'm talking about. Don't try to pretend you don't.

October 28, 2010

stating the obvious, part 1955

io9 has a multi-hundred word screencap-illustrated post (tl;dr) on Why Doc Brown is the real villain of Back to the Future with the perfect lede:

The real monster in the Back To The Future movies isn't the bully Biff, argues Premiere's Gene Newman. It's Doc Brown, the lying manipulator who deals with terrorists and nearly destroys the space-time continuum. Spoilers ahead.

Emphasis mine.

October 28, 2010


This one minute 51 second YouTube video of a bunch of people dropping a 1,169 pound pumpkin on a car is pretty much what it sounds like. If you're impatient and just want to see a huge pumpkin smash in the hood of an already busted up car, you can skip the first 40 seconds, and the last 60 seconds. 

October 28, 2010

guilt replaced by acceptance

Dave Winer nails the whole new product from Apple thing, combined with the Amazon one click ordering thing.  "You know you're going to give in at some point and click the button. If you click it right now you can enjoy the product tomorrow! Turns out that's just the right amount of instant gratification. Not so much that I have to feel the guilt now, that gets postponed a few hours. And by the time it arrives, the guilt has been replaced by acceptance."

October 27, 2010

worth reading in full

Roger Ebert's appreciation of Hugh Hefner. "Hefner and Playboy have been around so long that not everyone remembers what America used to be like. It was sexually repressed and socially restrictive. College students were expelled for having sex out of wedlock. Homosexuality and miscegenation were illegal. Freedom of choice was denied. McCarthyism still cast a pall over the freedom of speech. Many people joined in the fight against that unhealthy society. Hefner was one of them, and a case can can be made that Playboy had a greater influence on our society in its first half-century than any other magazine."

October 27, 2010

let's go giants (clap clap, clap clap clap)

Drew Hoolhorst nails the feeling in The City* this week in his love letter to the San Francisco Giants.

It’s legitimately a magical time in San Francisco right now. I have the fortune of working approximately two blocks away from AT&T/”For Christsakes, it’s PacBell” Park, and it’s been absolutely surreal. If a unicorn came around the corner and high fived me right now and said, “Go Giants”, I wouldn’t even take an earbud out. I’d just high hoove him right back and point and smile.

* Yeah, tell me you don't miss Herb Caen right about now.

October 26, 2010

it's a thin line between love and hate

Finding this story from NPR about our irrational relationships with dentists is great timing (thanks, Matt, for sharing it!), since I spent two hours in the chair yesterday being poked and scraped and drilled and generally unhappy and sweating nervously while biting down on that black rubber mouth guard.

Dentistry is basically [an] unpleasant experience. They poke in your mouth. It's uncomfortable. It's painful. It's unpleasant. You have to keep your mouth open. And I think all of this pain actually causes cognitive dissonance - and cause higher loyalty to your dentist. Because who wants to go through this pain and say, I'm not sure if I did it for the right reason. I'm not sure this is the right guy.

I highly recommend Jill Martenson at Piedmont Dental by Design in Oakland.

October 26, 2010

is asking 'is [blank] a failure' on quora a failure?

Quora: where product people go to defend their products. Asked on Quora: Is Facebook Places a failure? This is obviously a dumb question (based on what objectives? on what metrics? on what time scale?), but only on Quora will the product manager for Places call you out for it being a dumb question.

No - but your question makes it difficult to answer anything else unless we've directly done something that caused 499M of our users to abandon the service, led to the exodus of all our key staff and caused the valuation of the company to plummet to single digits.

Touché. (And no, this wasn't my question.)

October 24, 2010

did they really put this in?

The Paris Review has put all of their interviews online, fifty years worth. Here's one of my favorites -- a 1993 interview with Don DeLillo, where (amongst other things) they discuss the research he did for Libra.

There are acres of FBI reports I barely touched. But for me the boring and meaningless stretches are part of the experience. This is what a life resembles in its starkest form—school records, lists of possessions, photographs of knotted string found in a kitchen drawer. It took seven seconds to kill the president, and we’re still collecting evidence and sifting documents and finding people to talk to and working through the trivia. The trivia is exceptional. When I came across the dental records of Jack Ruby’s mother I felt a surge of admiration. Did they really put this in?

Somewhere in a box I have a copy of this issue of PR. I like it better now that it's online.

October 24, 2010

bengie and buster

Former Giants now Rangers catcher Bengie Molina continues to be the best blogger in the major leagues. His post last night after the Giants won the National League pennant is a keeper.

I know one of the story lines of this Series will be me and Buster Posey, the rookie who replaced me on the Giants. People seem to have a hard time believing that Buster and I have nothing but affection for each other. He's a talented, smart and humble kid. I appreciate how he conducts himself and the credit he gives me for teaching him a few things. He texts me all the time, including after we won the pennant Friday night. And I texted him and other Giants players tonight, congratulating them. I'm so happy for all of them. I know how hard they worked.

On Twitter today KNBR's Brian Murphy replied to a fan's question "Will the fans boo or cheer Bengie Molina?" with this...

Standing O! Bengie was a heart and soul #SFGiant. Show America how we roll.

After watching Green Bay boo Brett Favre off the field tonight I damn well hope SF treats Bengie with love and respect. And then kicks his team's ass.

October 22, 2010

click. click. buy.

Quick Friday afternoon thoughts on the Mac App Store.
  1. I'll buy apps through it.  And I'll bet that I'll be able to discover software through it that I otherwise wouldn't have known about, and pay for apps that I otherwise wouldn't have paid for...mostly because the checkout process will be tied to my Apple account.
  2. In addition to inspiring a lot of hand-wringing posts about user control and the personal computer, I'm hoping it will also inspire some innovation in software pricing and distribution models.  The app store works if you're selling downloadable apps; the Google Chrome Web Store that's coming will be a good test as to whether that works for free / ad-supported apps, or subscription-based apps.
  3. If you look at the app store trend from a 30,000 foot view, there's clearly a hole in the market around software discovery, installation and management that's starting to be filled by these app stores. Is this a failure of the web? Of the googlebot?
  4. If over time the PC experience becomes more like CE, where the experience is tightly controlled, are developers more or less likely to shift work away from client software to browser-delivered services?  Local or cloud?  Objective C or Python + JavaScript + HTML5?
  5. The pain point around safe and reliable software discovery, installation and management is much higher if you're in the Microsoft ecosystem than if you're a Mac user. How long until the Windows app store arrives?
  6. Posit for a minute that there are three major modes of information / app discovery:  curation (I'll tell you what's good and put it on a list), search (you know what you're looking for and I'll help you find it) and social (discover what your friends are using). Curation requires taste, and that's where Apple's brand strength lies.  Search requires breadth, and breadth means that you need to let in more than you could ever really understand.  And social requires, well, an integrated graph.
  7. Microsoft's investment in Facebook is looking smarter every day. 

Fun times ahead.

October 20, 2010

this is the best thing i've seen all day.


October 20, 2010

that didn't take long

Facelette: chat roulette for FaceTime. I like their privacy policy. "Dude, you're submitting an email or phone number to a public site for strangers to call you. Let that sink in."

October 20, 2010

janet zweig's lipstick enigma


Speaking of Jenny Holzer... This is a "computer-driven sentence-generator" that renders its sentences in pixels of lipstick. I'd love it more if the lipsticks rotated as they appeared. (Via Today and Tomorrow, of course.)

October 19, 2010

will apple put the air in macbook air?

In all of the rumors and speculation about tomorrow's Apple announcement and new Macbook Airs, I'm surprised by something. In all of the discussion re. hardware, there's been nothing mentioned about an integrated wireless modem. An 11.6" MacBook Air with an integrated 3G modem would be an interesting addition to the product & price point line up.  Has the rumor / leak mill just missed this one, or does that veer too close to iPad land?

October 19, 2010

when the grownups show up and talk about punk rock

I usually don't go in for the web podcast thing, but when Kevin Fanning tweeted that he wanted to have the transcript of the latest episode of 5by5 tattooed across his chest, I had to give it a listen.  Lo and behold, Jeffrey Zeldman talking with Paul Ford about a bunch of things...including our dearly missed friend Leslie Harpold.

I'll embarrass Paul by transcribing one particular passage here. (It will embarrass him not for the sentiment, but just because Paul's a very precise writer, and I can only imagine what I'd feel like having random snippets of conversation unprofessionally transcribed and excerpted...) Jeffrey and Paul were talking about the pre-blog days, the mid-to-late 90s when there was all this online zineish activity happening, and a ton of really strong personalities were mixing up their online and offline lives...with occasionally very interesting results.

Leslie was this very clear, clean input at that moment.  Everybody's just trying to figure out this medium and she just sort of came in and said "Actually, it's for grownups. We're here to create interesting work, and talk about punk rock and do cool stuff..." And that was a good eye opener for me.  When the grownups show up it's not always a bad thing.  It can settle everyone down and say "we're here to create a community and do complicated things," and it took everyone away from the personal ad-ness of the whole thing.

Leslie was that grownup, and when she showed up she raised the game of everyone she worked with. I was lucky enough to work with her on a few things -- personally and professionally -- and she made me better, faster and stronger just by being around, and doing interesting work, and occasionally talking about punk rock.

Like Jeffrey and Paul, I miss Leslie. Lately what I'm missing isn't her fantasic wit or her never ending love of Diet Coke or her pitch perfect song recommendations, but that grownup perspective. She always found the right way to either pump you up or burst your bubble, depending on just how foolish you were being. And if she were still here I'm sure she'd have the right things to say at just the right time about all the change of the last few years -- Obama, the economic crisis, the steady decline of mainstream media, Facebook and its Aaron Sorkin movie, the Tea Party, Lady Gaga & Kanye West, etc., etc. 

But she's gone. And in addition to feeling that lack almost every day, I take Paul's memory of Leslie as a challenge to those of us that knew her: we're the grownups now. We need to be that clear signal. We need to create a community and do complicated things. And occasionally talk about punk rock.

October 19, 2010

jay-z just set the new bar for a transmedia ad campaign

Jay-Z's new book Decoded will be promoted by reprinting pages of the book in the places mentioned in the book, combined with a treasure hunt run and sponsored by Bing. "While about half of the pages will be displayed in traditional outdoor advertising like billboards, the rest will be offbeat, printed in one instance on the bottom of a hotel swimming pool, in another on the lining of jackets in a store display window, and in another on the felt of pool tables in a pool hall." Oh, and online the Decoded billboards will be superimposed on Bing 3-D maps.

I'd love to see the presentation that Droga5 used to pitch this idea.

October 19, 2010

cue the rimshot

Gawker reports on the FCC live tweeting baseball scores to keep Fox-less Cablevision customers in the know. "What was a funny publicity stunt—intended, one imagines, to keep pressure on the two companies to strike a deal—also serves as a reminder of how powerless the government agency is in this situation. Unable to step in and do anything besides call the companies' CEOs and ask them to figure something out, the FCC is reduced to a scorekeeper. Literally!"

October 18, 2010

everyone's work is equally important

I shot this in Vegas last week.

Of course, I'm not the first to shoot these truisms that are outside the downstairs entrance to the Aria Hotel, so I made a YouTube playlist of a bunch that I found there.

October 12, 2010

a sight gag is worth 673 words

In The Atlantic, Matthew Battles writes 673 words on smartphones, apps and "the decline of the wristwatch." I'll spare you the vast majority of those words (and the obligatory Dali ripoff illustration). He concludes...

Matched against the almost infinite possibilities of the smart phone, the watch seems likely to slowly go the way of the sundial, the factory whistle, and other quaint measures. 

The Office did it better. In the middle of Andy's production of Sweeney Todd, Kelly asks Ryan what time it is. Ryan pulls out his iPad and launches a massive clock app.


So good.

October 11, 2010

pseudonymity for the win

Entertainment Weekly interviews The Simpsons producer Al Jean about the Banksy opening sequence.

Did you learn more about the identity of Banksy?
I never met him. Even my emails back and forth to him, I would email Bonnie, who would email his producer, who would email him. I’m pretty sure it’s really him because if it wasn’t him, the real Banksy would have said something.

But would he have? If you were the real Banksy, and you didn't actually do this, you probably wouldn't come forward, because "you" had just pulled off a tremendous media hack, without lifting a finger.

Note: I don't use phrases like "For the Win" lightly.

October 11, 2010

i like the new windows phone 7 ad


Save us from our phones by selling us another phone. Please.

October 08, 2010

exogenous trending topics

danah boyd has a great post up about endogenous v. exogenous trending topics on Twitter, after seeing "Pep Rally" make it to the list.

It’s Friday in the middle of October. A lot of high schools will have homecoming games tonight. Whenever there’s a homecoming game in the States (and often for other games too), there are pep rallies at the end of the school day. Schools typically let out around 2.30PM. So around 3PM, I login to Twitter and voila, Pep Rally is a trending topic.

I love fall. Who wouldn't love a little pep rally right about now?

Update, 5:16 pm: trending now in the U.S. is "Homecoming Game."  Perfect.


October 07, 2010

Giants win.

image from

October 07, 2010

even massimo vignelli needs a power cord

Was interested to learn (via kottke) about this short film about desks from Imaginary Forces. And, like Jason, I love this photo of Massimo Vignelli's desk.


But unless Vignelli has an intern whose full time job is to quick (!) plug in the master's laptop anytime he's not looking to make sure the master's MacBook never runs out of power, then his desk most likely looks something like this.


Just sayin'.

Update: Walt Dickinson recommends that the master drill a hole in his desk in order to minimize how much cord lays there. The more I think about it, though, the more I'm of the opinion that he has a power supply intern, full time.