there are 35 posts from December 2010

December 29, 2010

where to eat in half moon bay

Yesterday we threw the kids in the car (not quite literally) and after dropping extended family at SFO trekked across 92 to Half Moon Bay. Yes, it was cold and rainy. But we needed to get the munchkins out of the house before they destroyed it. And each other. And us.

Before leaving, I emailed friend of the show and HMB resident Andrew Anker and asked him for some restaurant recommendations. He came through with a great list, and in the spirit of service blogging he's posted it to 7 Places to Eat in Half Moon Bay. It's a good list, and more proof that top tens are so over.

December 29, 2010

go buy this


Monteiro's prints are at 20x200. You should buy one; you owe it to yourself after surviving the holidays.

December 21, 2010

my top 9 songs of the year

Top tens are so over. Here are my top 9 favorite tracks from 2010.



The first two I have to put on there because I'm a white guy over the age of 40. Two songs about telephones, both of which had excellent music videos (go watch them). Rihanna because even though people think she's a robot I thought she chewed up the stage on Letterman. (Mmmm, robots.) Kanye because. Sade as the anti-Kanye, and that whole record kills. James Blake's cover of the Feist song is mind-blowing, the video makes it better, and that's even before I understood his whole "thing" with the dubstep. And finally, as previously tweeted, Reznor clearly trumped Daft Punk in the great soundtrack war of 2010, and the reprise of Hand Covers Bruise, which comes about 3/4th of the way through the record knocks your socks off the way reprises should.

December 20, 2010

jeffrey wells on little fockers

This is a great, great line...

To watch it is to slowly succumb to a kind of corporate poison that spreads through your veins like embalming fluid, causing your skin and your soul to turn gray.


December 19, 2010

fitter, happier, more productive...not reading steve gillmor too much.

Because maybe it will make more sense to you this way, here's a computerized voice reading Steve Gillmor's latest TechCrunch column, The @Mention Cloud.  

BTW, didn't work for me.

December 17, 2010

scharffenberger tofu

John Scharffenberger (just typing the name makes my mouth water...) is now CEO of Hodo Soy Beanery, "an artisan food factory that makes products from organic, non-GMO soybeans."

Prediction: gourmet tofu will go mainstream in the next 24 months.

December 17, 2010

roger ebert's best films of 2010

They're here; I particularly enjoyed this bit about his top pick, The Social Network:

The tension in the film is between Zuckerberg and the Winklevoss twins, who may well have invented Facebook for all I know, but are traditional analog humans motivated by pride and possessiveness. If Zuckerberg took their idea and ran with it, it was because he saw it as a logical insight rather than intellectual property. Some films observe fundamental shifts in human nature, and this is one of them.

Also? Sounds like I really need to see The American.

December 16, 2010

three delicious things

Three small things about the rumored impending sunsetting of Delicious.

First, it's easy to grab an archive of all your bookmarks, and there are plenty of services that you can import them into.  But I never used Delicious as something to "store" things, I used it as a place for link blogging. Delicious wasn't about personal utility, it was about public performance.

So I just grabbed my archives and put them up here, where it's back to being about personal utility. Bookmark activity back to 2003!  Kind of fun, actually.

Second, one of the things I found there was a December 2003 bit in NTK, the fantastic brit email newsletter from the early aughts, about itself.  I've screenshotted the paragraph because if you were around the web then and read NTK, it will send you down a nostalgia tunnel so deep and long as to have no end.


Third, while having no clue what the hell Yahoo!! (so great now it deserves two exclamation points) is doing shuttering one of their Web 2.0 darlings, I absolutely loved this tweet from @fakecarolbartz.


December 16, 2010

this is my favorite photo of the year

I'm sure you're following The Big Picture's 2010 in Photos series (here's Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3). They're all great, but this one is my favorite.


Action and drama and fear and storytelling and metaphor, all wrapped up in one. The photos of the plane fireballing into the runway don't have near the impact of this one.

December 16, 2010

the groupon voice guide

At the risk of turning this into a Ken Norton reblog, via a comment from him on yesterday's Groupon copywriting post comes the Public Groupon Voice Guide, "intended to help new and applying writers lean Groupon's signature writing style."

The voice guide includes instructions to use all the things you're taught to avoid as a young writer...

  • Absurd images. Sweeping, dramatic nonsense. The absurd narrator.
  • Hypothetical worlds / outcomes
  • Fake proverbs, adages
  • Mixed metaphors
  • Fake history
  • Negative comparisons: “…unlike when…”
  • Highly technical language (medical, scientific, etc.). Use when it’s least called for to overcomplicate things.
  • Illogical comparisons and lists

So good.

December 15, 2010

groupon is copywriting performance art

I seriously love reading Groupon deals every day; their copywriting is really, really good. How can you not get interested in a local wine bar deal with a lede like this?

Unlike Similac baby formula, which is unfairly reserved for babies and experimenting teens, wine can also be consumed by adults.

Kudos, Groupon copywriters. I salute you.

December 14, 2010

remember kids, don't be a pseudonymous dick

Mat Honan on what comes next with Gawkergate: troll hunt!

I’ll be amazed if in the coming weeks we don’t learn several identities behind a lot of the Gawker commenter accounts. Sometimes it might be because the commenter had a clear bias or conflict of interest they should have disclosed. Others it’s just going to be because a famous person is involved. (And have you seen how many famous people—celebrities and media bigwigs—there are in there?) And of course sometimes names will just come out because someone is a dick.

Hello, The Awl. Sounds like a job for y'all. (Yes, I made that rhyme on purpose.)

December 14, 2010

google latitude pm ken norton responds

You know what I love about blogging? That I can toss off a quick kneejerk post about the new Google Latitude iPhone app, and get a thoughtful and well-reasoned response from Ken Norton, the product manager of Google Latitude.  (It probably helps that Ken's a friend; I don't think I have every PM on every Internet product reading my blog...but hey, a boy can dream.)

Ken's comment is on the original post of course, but it's worthwhile promoting it to the front page so that folks consuming the feed get the benefit of seeing it.

Since I'm the PM for Google Latitude, let me try to respond.

I've never been one to let the mainstream media dictate my product positioning, so let's set that aside for the moment. Here in the High Tech Octagon we sometimes overlook and important fact: for the majority of consumers, a mobile phone is a tool for staying in contact with close friends and loved ones. Yes, it's hard to believe when the echo chamber is awash with people using smartphones as a megaphone for broadcasting their every movement and whim to the entire planet.

Latitude has never been a product intended to be used with many, many people. It is, quite simply, a way to keep in contact with a very few number of your closest friends and family members. How do consumers do that today? With voice and text messages - "when are you leaving?" and "where are you?" and "how far away are you?" Just yesterday I received a testimonial from a user who got off at the wrong train station and was completely lost. He called his wife who was able to use Latitude to find his location and rescue him. We hear stories about former abused partners who share their location with a best friend just in case. I'm a cyclist and it gives me (and my family) peace of mind to know they can see where I am when I'm riding or driving to events.

Furthermore, Latitude has a pretty sweet "single player experience." Even if you're not sharing with anyone our History Dashboard is incredibly useful and magical. Privacy has been a *feature* of Latitude since we launched - you have complete control over who you're sharing with, you can choose to share your closest location, city-level or hide. We also send you email reminders when Latitude is enabled just in case you forgot, or in the event that somebody has enabled it on your phone without your consent.

Latitude isn't trying to be Twitter, and it's not Foursquare. That's not the point. So rather than asking "why would I want to share my location continuously with the entire world?!" ask yourself "would it be useful if I could continuously share my location with my best friend/spouse/partner/parent/loved one?"

Here's my response to Ken...

I understand the benefit of Latitude, and also the challenges of communicating those both inside and outside of the Tech Octagon. Frankly, I think the user model and benefit of Latitude ("let me make sure my close friends and family know where I am") makes a lot more sense for average users than the check-in model of Foursquare or even Facebook Places. And I get the privacy controls, and honestly do appreciate the periodic (monthly?) reminders I get from Latitude about what information I'm sharing and with whom.

My kneejerk reaction was to the continuous sharing. I understand how there would be benfit of doing that with (very close) friends and family. And I'm sure at some point I will turn that feature on (or turn it on for my kids) and will appreciate it. But I can't be the only one that has a visceral reaction to real time location sharing *with Google*, which is necessary and obvious to share that location with friends & family through Latitude. I'm happy to be accused of playing inside baseball here, but at some point people are going to want to know if / how that location data is being used at Google to make other services (advertising) more effective. The Mobile Privacy Policy is reasonably broad on this point, and all the help docs are solely focused on how you have control over what information is shared with other users, and how they can see / not see that data.

And note to self: less kneejerking next time.

More comments welcome.


December 13, 2010

understatement of the year

From MLBTradeRumors coverage of Cliff Lee:

Phillies fans are surely thrilled to have Lee back in Philadelphia, but the MLB Players Association won't necessarily like his decision to leave so much money on the table instead of setting a precedent for other pitchers. However, this offseason has seen two free agents (Werth and Crawford) sign nine-figure contracts, so players are doing well in general.

Emphasis mine.

December 13, 2010

um, no thanks.

Here's the lede of the blog post announcing the new Google Latitude app for iPhone.

“Where are you?”

Starting today, you’ll never again have to answer (or ask) that question when you’re on the go with your iPhone. With the new Google Latitude app for iPhone, you can see where your friends are and now, continuously share where you are – even in the background once you’ve closed the app.

Is it just me, or is leading with this "benefit" incredibly tone deaf? The mainstream media is awash with stories about how consumers are being tracked eight ways from Sunday, and Google decides that continuously sharing your physical location with them is the best way to sell their new app?

December 13, 2010

do you hear that? it's the sound of powerpoint...

Forrester speaks...

For the first time ever, the average US online consumer spends as much time online as he or she does watching TV offline.

...and around the world thousands of media strategist and planner types update their Powerpoint presentations to note that the lines have actually crossed.


December 12, 2010

book sampling

Zach Seward blew my mind with his latest post Arduino, where he weaves a sampled page of Robin Sloan's Annabel Scheme directly into the post. You have to see / read it to believe it.

December 10, 2010

ho ho ho

And a partridge in a peaaaaaaaar treeeeeeee.

December 10, 2010

compare and contrast

This photo from the August 8, 1969 photo shoot of the Abbey Road cover. (via kottke)

Abbey Sidewalk


And this undated (but most likely from around the same time) hand-written letter from John Lennon barring McCartney from accessing any tapes of the Beatles. (via Letters of Note


Breaks your heart.

December 08, 2010

will it waffle?

Via Food52 comes Waffleizer, answering the important question, Will it Waffle? We use our waffle maker at home this way, and so now I have 30 more ideas for how we can use our favorite kitchen appliance.

December 08, 2010

wikileaks information arbitrage opportunity

This bit from a former intelligence analyst on a mailing list I'm on caught my attention...

I'll bet there's a wonderful opportunity for market & other manipulation through forged Wikileak cables, i.e., if only a tiny smattering of them have been published as yet, and when they are they're often DDoS'ed into obscurity but potentially downloaded by some and forwarded around, then if some particularly juicy cable turned up, it's likely to be believed, for long enough, by a certain set of people.

So, say, a cable about apparent Russian mafia plans to corner a particular commodity... "leak" it to all the right people, after putting a bunch of calls on the commodity.

In further email conversation he pointed out that (a) the Intelligence Community wouldn't want to confirm or deny the veracity of any forged cables, and (b) Assange, being in jail, wouldn't be in any position to comment on them either... Now's the time, people.

December 08, 2010

i'd love to see traffic stats on

Tim Berners-Lee on the future of journalism:

"Journalists need to be data-savvy. It used to be that you would get stories by chatting to people in bars, and it still might be that you'll do it that way some times. But now it's also going to be about poring over data and equipping yourself with the tools to analyse it and picking out what's interesting. And keeping it in perspective, helping people out by really seeing where it all fits together, and what's going on in the country."

Guardian story found via Flowing Data.

December 07, 2010

you can't reason about products

The Journal's interview with Joshua Schachter is interesting, not for the attention grabbing headline and lede, but for the connection he makes between his feelings about angel investment and product development.

“You can’t reason about products - great products are emotional,” he says. “You build products and react and see how it goes. I think we’ll try to build a bunch of things. We’re still discussing what to do. We have to get to the first couple of prototypes, and those are almost always poor. It’s nice when you build something even if it’s not the right thing – it’s useful for the next project, and they come out faster and faster.”

I'm disappointed that Tasty Labs is no longer pursuing their "marketplace for used satellites" idea, and are on to the more mundane mission of "putting the useful back into social software." I'm gonna go poke Joshua on Facebook.

December 07, 2010

so long, front row video.

The video store around the corner from my house is closing, after being in business 26 years. I won't miss it.

December 07, 2010

oooooh, we used to wait

I heard Tiny Furniture superwoman Lena Dunham on Terry Gross last night on the ride home, and I enjoyed this bit of the interview, where they're talking about Dunham reading her mother's diaries from the '70s.

GROSS: Were there generational differences that you saw between what she experienced as a young woman in the '70s and what you were experiencing, you know, recently?

Ms. DUNHAM: I think a really fascinating thing to me was the lack of social networking because the fact that she would say, you know, like, and, you know, random boyfriend X didn't call me today. I'm going to have to walk to 14th Street and knock on his door.

And, you know, there was no way to sort of, like, poke someone on the Facebook or send them a text message. Or she's, like, you know, I'm supposed to see my best friend Jane this afternoon. So I guess I'll swing by where she works and see if she's on this afternoon. That kind of real engagement with other people, it was so kind of crazy for me to realize how much of my life is sort of mediated by these technologies that weren't even a twinkle in her eye.

Relatedly, this photo caught my eye from today's Big Picture...


White House reporters dash for the telephones on December 7th, 1941, after they had been told by presidential press secretary Stephen T. Early that Japanese submarines and planes had just bombed the U.S. Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

December 07, 2010

magaziner; letter to jane

Via @craigmod comes The Magaziner, "where magazines and digital meet and have a fun time together." And via The Magaziner comes Letter to Jane, this interesting looking iPad delivered indie magazine.

More like this, pls.

December 07, 2010

fallows on edwards

James Fallows on being at an event with Elizabeth Edwards with a bunch of "heavy hitters" during the 2004 presidential campaign...

The longer the evening went on, the more people kept deferring and asking questions of, Elizabeth Edwards. By the end, it was like a seminar that she was conducting for the rest. She was talking mainly not about her husband's campaign but about her assessment of the larger shape of the presidential race. ... There was nothing "brave" or tragic about it, just someone who was intelligent, clear-eyed, and tough. I would like to remember that accomplished side of her.

May she rest in the peace she deserves.

December 06, 2010

an oil tanker taking off like a saturn rocket

Composer John Adams has a great post up on his blog about the last minute scramble to finish and score Harmonielehre for its premier with the San Francisco Symphony.

"Harmonielehre" was the victim of the worst case of writer’s block I ever endured—eighteen months, in fact—and when I finally found the "code" and started frantically composing I had only a couple of months to grind out hundreds of pages of dense orchestral scoring. Most pages had thirty-two staves, and I went through number five Turquoise drafting pencils at the rate of one a day, my arm aching like an overworked fastball pitcher.

The whole story's insane.  If you don't know Harmonielehre, you should. A friend of mine once called it maximalist minimalism; here's a taste.

December 04, 2010

flipboard pages as media delivery engine

Faq-bonappetit From the information on about their new Pages (product? service?) effort...

Flipboard Pages are built on a lightweight JavaScript engine that lays out articles in a paginated format optimized for iPad. Through semantic analysis, the taxonomy of an article is broken down into essential components including headline, images, byline, captions, and pullquotes. The content is then reflowed into an HTML5 template for short- and long-form articles and image galleries, in both portrait and landscape orientations. Given that Flipboard is a highly visual experience, Flipboard Pages incorporate high-res images and significant branding elements as well.

Combine this with Mike McCue's comments to Om Malik about RSS and HTML5, and it seems that what they're building is a content rendering engine optimized for beauty. Flipboard's own iPad could end up being just the first place to experience Flipboard Pages content; it's easy to imagine them extending this to mobile, browsers, desktop apps...and then delivering the technology as a value-add service (combined with Flipboard-powered ad experiences?) back to the publishers' own domains as well.

December 03, 2010

mom, phineas and ferb are making a talk show

This makes me happy. 


December 03, 2010

mitch kapor is a very patient man

One of the great ongoing Berkeley sagas that Berkeleyside has been covering (well!) is Mitch Kapor's desire to build a home in North Berkeley, on a very odd lot that honestly would benefit from having a new home on it. But he's been having a hell of a time with it, thanks to the "Not In My Backyard" attitude of my fellow Berkeley citizens...except this time, the NIMBY's don't actually live in Kapor's back yard.

An unusual factor in the case is that immediate neighbors to the proposed home have publicly expressed their support for the Kapors’ plan. In his opposition brief to the court, Mr  Kulkari cited City Councilmember Linda Maio who remarked at the April Council appeal meeting that in her 20 years as a member of the Zoning Adjustment Board and City Council, this was the first time all immediate neighbors supported a project while other residents, who did not reside in the immediate vicinity, objected. Mr Kulkari compared the BHP group to “armchair planners” who were “raising their subjective objections from a comfortable distance away from the project location”.

Berkeley is fractal. Our city council isn't afraid to play armchair foreign our citizens aren't afraid to play armchair city planners. See also Michael Chabon's ode to Berkeley: "Nowhere else is the individual encumbered with a greater burden of shame and communal disapproval for having intruded, however innocently, on the sensibilities of another."

December 03, 2010

it's time for some recategorizing

So there I was, shoving pie in my face like a fat girl who didn't get asked to prom, when I heard my mother rambling on to someone who was pretending to give a shit about how much she loved being a mother.

Cue: Daisy guffawing.

"What? I loved being a mother," My mother rebuffed.

And then, with a smile on my face, and truly no harm (okay, fine, very little harm) intended, I said, "Right. Which is why you sent your only daughter to boarding school when she was fourteen."


Note: I just updated Google Reader and moved Daisy's blog from the "Friends" category to the "Parenting" category. While she's still a good friend, I think she's a great mommy blogger.

December 03, 2010

email from friendster

If something was wrong with Friendster, you could have just told it so. Whatever your issue was, it would have been a hundred times better to let Friendster know what was wrong than to just disappear and leave Friendster to sit alone for six years, desperately cobbling together a “Fun” section to win you back.


Mike Lacher's email from a personified Friendster ("We've noticed it's been a while since you've logged into Friendster!") is fantastic. Please, won't someone write the accompanying IM conversation with a personified Facebook where Mike dishes on the pathetic email he just got from Friendster, and Facebook piles on in an overly aggressive way? Thanks in advance.

December 03, 2010

all your friends were so knocked out

The NYTimes obit for Elaine Kaufman is worth reading, especially if you were a suburban kid who enjoyed Woody Allen movies and bothered to listen to Billy Joel lyrics.

Ms. Kaufman treated many of her regular patrons as both friends and extended family, though she had her limits. She had several run-ins with well-known personalities. After an argument with her, Norman Mailer vowed never to return and wrote her an unflattering letter. She scribbled “Boring” across the top and sent it back to him. A day or two later, he was back.

(Reminder: even if this Mailer story is fake, it's still real.)

December 01, 2010

links for 2010-12-01

  • "The Coens are obviously cream-of-the-crop fellows but I didn't care. Yes, I love the dialogue and don't want to see Steinfeld get hurt but other than that, I just don't give a hang about any of it. It has a certain historical charm and color but it feels too dry and cold, and it's nowhere near as amusing as I'd heard it would be."
    (tags: movies)
  • Felix Salmon's piece is a nice complement to Denton's.
    (tags: gawker)
  • "Outside observers will note that this layout represents some convergence of blog, magazine and television. That's true in the abstract but it's more of a description than an argument."
    (tags: gawker design)