October 30, 2004


Journalist Dan Gillmor, frequently cited here, has won the 2004 World Technology Award for Media and Journalism.

[via Joho the Blog]

Posted by johndan at 05:57 PM

October 29, 2004


Apparently, stones that are no longer rolling start to gather moss.

moss on tombstone

Posted by johndan at 03:06 PM | TrackBack


According to a CNN report, the Bush campaign admits that it used Photoshop to doctor a photo included in a television ad released earlier this week. The use of Photoshop to doctor photos has long been an ethical issue among journalists (and the public), but a high-profile case like this is sort of surprising. In the edits, a technician removed a podium in the foreground of the photo, then cloned several soldiers from another section and used them to fill in the foreground. Here's a weird quote from Mark McKinnon, the staffer in charge of Bush campaign advertising:
There was no intention on anybody's part to try to represent anything that wasn't true.
Not that un-altered photos somehow represent a unified and complete truth. McKinnon said he wasn't aware that the photo had been altered before the commercial was released (the technician doing the work isn't named), but this obviously pushes at the (already hazy) distinction between "true" and "false".
Posted by johndan at 01:31 PM | TrackBack


MacJams.com has opened their Loop Store: 40,000 loops professionally produced by PowerFX (who does audio work for Sony Pictures, Propellerhead, and Apple), available for previewing, purchasing, and downloading (in that order, I guess), as cheap as 40 cents apiece. [via MacMinute]
Posted by johndan at 10:15 AM | TrackBack

Narrative and Interaction Design

The always thoughtful Boxes and Arrows has a useful overview of the role of narrative in interaction design (beyond the obvious applications in gaming):

By making a conscious effort to integrate narrative into our work, we are better able to support creative learning, problem solving, and task completion by the people who use the things we build. At the very least, the experiences we create will be more engaging, both for the project team creating the experience and for the end users.

[via Boxes and Arrows]

Posted by johndan at 09:52 AM

October 28, 2004


The formalities were endless. We signed, by actual count, twenty-eight documents. We had taken to describing ourselves as a driver and mechanic because officials were used to that. Garry was generally the mechanic, primarily because he found mechanico an easy Spanish word to say. An orbiting official signed and stamped our logbook with the date and time.

We weren't, Garry thought, drivers so much as men who carried documents.

Documentaros, I said.

Tim Cahill, Road Fever, p. 171

Posted by johndan at 11:05 PM | TrackBack

Power Carving

Dremel is selling a translucent orange Halloween version of their popular power tool, complete with templates.

(The site appears to have been hacked--in addition the the standard product info, there's a pro-Kerry/Anti-Bush slogan printed in the middle of the page....)

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 04:36 PM

October 27, 2004

The Other Snell Hall

Trolling Holga camera photos at flickr, I found this pic, apparently of a building in Florida--I thought it was a pic of the building where my office is at Clarkson, in upstate NY, but then I caught the palm trees in the foreground.

Here's the Clarkson Snell Hall [from Clarkson's Virtual Tour]:


Either we had the same architect, or there's some sort of plan book they're all using.

Posted by johndan at 10:09 PM | TrackBack

Gilliam on Meaning

I've been re-reading Gilliam on Gilliam, a book of extended interviews with director Terry Gilliam.
And if other people offer different justifications or interpretations? When that happens, I just go along with it. It becomes their version of the film. I'm not proprietorial about the films; once they're done they belong to anyone who wants to watch them, and each person who watches creates a different film in their watching of it. But I also like throwing in things that don't quite add up, that aren't completely sensible, to create questions for which people can supply their own answers.
There's been a lot of discussion about the ways in which a medium like hypertext allows readers to create their own versions of a text, their own differing meanings for the same set of nodes, and how that activity enacts deconstruction. But it's always seemed to me that hypertext was a sort of training system for deconstruction, a way of helping readers/users see that this sort of activity goes on even for traditional texts. The hypertext version, too often, mistakes this fact, acting as if it's an extension or rather than a preparation for deconstruction, sort of like playing scales rather than using scales to enact a new musical composition.
Posted by johndan at 04:01 PM | TrackBack

Wallet Cards

I'm surprised more organizations don't create wallet cards like this: Moveon.org has created a wallet-sized PDF file on procedures for of dealing with polling place problems (including phone numbers and URLs). The ACLU used to have something like this for people who felt they were being hassled by the police--the wallet card listed procedures to follow (including what you could legally be required to do) and advice on how to deal with uncooperative officers (their advice was pretty common sense--don't give the nice officer a reason to pull his sidearm). Such situations can be confusing, and it's often hard to tell how to proceed. (I wasn't sure, for example, whether or not it was not technically illegal to flip off an Indiana State Trooper until the situation came up. (It's not--but I would have felt a little more at ease if I'd known this before I did it.) Leftist politics aside, it seems like there are lots of organizations and movements could use things like this for education and action campaigns.
Posted by johndan at 03:26 PM | TrackBack

John Peel, RIP

John Peel, influential DJ on BBC Radio One, died unexpectedly of a heart attack yesterday. (One of my favorite live shows is still The White Stripes, when he hosted them in his studio several years back. The juxtaposition of the mumbling Jack White and the eloquent Peel makes the music even more striking.)
Posted by johndan at 10:57 AM | TrackBack

October 26, 2004

Sports Photography, the Web, and IP

In another shift about the line that (sometimes) separates advertising from editorial/reporting aspects of newspapers, the NYT reports on a dispute between British pro soccer and sports photos at newspaper Web sites [free reg req'd]:
As the line between dailies and television blurs on the Internet, England's dominant leagues, FA Premier and Football, are seeking more control over sports photos posted on newspaper Web sites. [...] The current licensing deal between the Newspaper Publishers Association and the British soccer authorities is set to expire on Sunday, ending an agreement governing access and accreditation for journalists covering games. Ahead of the deadline, the negotiations have come to a standstill, largely over the use of Web photographs. And newspapers like The Sun and organizations like the News Corporation have responded with boycotts, generally shunning game pictures with logos and brands of advertisers - which have paid millions for their sponsorships to be seen far and wide. Sponsors like Coca-Cola and Barclays have paid dearly for the rights to sponsor games and emblazon their brand names in stadiums. Barclays' patronage of the Premier League championship, or Premiership, is one of Britain's richest sponsorships.
Posted by johndan at 08:17 AM | TrackBack

October 24, 2004


A cat in Low-G. (QuickTime .mov available at the site.)


Yeah, it's a little cruel. But if the cat in the video is anything like our cat, it enjoys being harassed (at least that what I tell myself when I harass the cat). (Apparently this was part of an Air Force experiment/demonstration. The boingboing reference to the site includes a funny physics lesson from the Air Force site as well.)

[via boingboing]

Posted by johndan at 06:43 PM

P2P Politics

p2p-Politics: Share and send political clips. Creative Commons licensed, with Wiki comment facilities.

[via Aaron Swartz]

Posted by johndan at 06:19 PM


The definitive guide to methods of lacing your shoes. More than 20 methods listed (and this only covers the lacing aspects--there's a whole other section on knots).

[via metafilter]
Posted by johndan at 11:09 AM

October 22, 2004



Posted by johndan at 12:19 AM | TrackBack

October 21, 2004

Which File Extension Are You?

I've seen (and taken) so many "Which X Are You?" surveys in the past year that it seems like I would have better things to do by now. Apparently I don't.

You are .jpg You are very colorful.  Sometimes you forget things, or distort the truth.  You like working with pictures more than words.
Which File Extension are You?

I'n not sure it's accurate. Well, maybe. [via The Sarah Show]
Posted by johndan at 10:20 PM | TrackBack

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail

At the risk of making two politics posts in a row, I just wanted to note that no one covers elections like Hunter S. Thompson (at least no one else would live to tell the tale)--see his recent piece in Rolling Stone for ample proof. [via boingboing]
Posted by johndan at 08:26 PM | TrackBack

October 20, 2004

John Edwards' Hair

I almost didn't post this because I'm, well, really leftist, but Harry Shearer offers up this satellite feed of John Edwards obsessing about his hair [page includes 100K WMV stream]. The clip is taken from a raw satellite feed, the transmission that occurs while the camera is still on, but either before or after the section that's "officially" broadcast when the feed is dropped into a live news show. (See the amazing 1992 documentary on the New Hampshire presidential primaries, composed almost completely of raw feeds, Feed for an early history.) What's interesting about the Edwards clip isn't really that Edwards is obsessed with his hair, it's that politics today is so consumed with image, with calculated image, that if Edwards appeard on a news show with messy hair, the media would have been all over him. If you've worked in or observed media production at all, you know this sort of activity is both ubiquitious and crucial. Which is fine, as far as it goes, but (odd as it seems coming from a postmodernist) it distorts reality: normal people don't look like tv people. But given the constantly mediated nature of high-level politicians, normal politicians are required to always look like tv politicians. But--importantly--tv politicians aren't supposed to reveal the fact that they spend a lot of time transforming their normal politician looks into tv politician looks. So while the other three platform candidates certainly spend enormous amounts of time primping before interviews, the fact that Edwards was the hairstyle front-runner makes this sort of gaffe inevitable. (The clip is part of a Slate piece about Shearer's art installation, "Face Time," [link has no video, so it's relatively low-bandwidth], now in a D.C. gallery.)
Posted by johndan at 10:23 PM | TrackBack

Coding and Narrative

Slashdot readers compiled and collaboratively rated questions for Neal Stephenson. Here are his responses. As you might expect, it was completely unsurprising: way smart + majorly witty.
still program, but I tend to do it as a diversion from writing, and so there is little crossover between it and fiction writing. Modern programming is hairy and difficult for me to get a grip on. This is because (1) there is so much user interface code, which kind of makes my eyes glaze over, and (2) GNU type code is crammed with macros, compiler directives and switches that make it very difficult for me to read the source files. Lately my platform of choice has been Mathematica, which is expensive (compared to gcc) but makes it easy to do anything with a few lines of code. Mathematica makes it easy to do proper documentation, in that you can mix narrative material freely with executable statements.
Posted by johndan at 09:26 PM | TrackBack


I walked out behind the house today and saw this bizarre juxtaposition:

flower and propane tank

The bizarre part, though, is that it's the end of October here in the North Country, and we've been having hard frosts for weeks. I sort of suspect it's a silk flower, but I didn't check.
Posted by johndan at 04:05 PM | TrackBack

October 19, 2004

Free Stock Photos (Really)

The morgueFile offers stock photography for free corporate or individual use. They provide hosting space; photographers upload images that they want to let people use for free (an attribution is requested, but not required). I'm chuffed--there are some nice images here. [via xBlog: The Visual Thinking Weblog]
Posted by johndan at 05:53 PM | TrackBack

Godzilla Conference

U of Kansas appears to be hosting a conference on Godzilla, on the 50th anniversary of his first film. In the AZCentral article about the conference, a UK student offered this:
"It's kind of odd," freshman Kathleen Schafer said. "I didn't think scholars would be interested."
"Odd ... scholars". The connection doesn't sound that perplexing to me.... [via Mediaburn]
Posted by johndan at 05:44 PM | TrackBack

Two Pieces of Paper and a Mr. Microphone

gramophone"GadgetStuff.com (UK) has a sub-$30 kit for making a (vinyl) record player from (apparently) a piece of paper, a needle, and some cheap electronics.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 05:33 PM

October 18, 2004

Unexpected Photography

File: A Collection of Unexpected Photography.


an ongoing collection of links to other cools sites, as far as I can tell.

[via Lockergnome Bytes]
Posted by johndan at 08:57 PM | TrackBack

Dual-Monitor Productivity

A man reports on the (temporary) rise in productivity he saw after converting to a dual-monitor setup. [That link is down, probably slashdotted. You can read the slashdot article.]

"Temporary" because he eventually saw better uses for the second monitor:

The productivity increase lasted for about two days. At this point I realized that I could to work on one monitor and watch a full screen DVD on the other. This was pretty cool until I realized how counterproductive it could be. Luckily I am quite adept at concentrating on my writing, while typing, while watching a movie.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 01:27 PM

Massive Change

I thought I'd posted about this site before, but a quick search through the archives didn't reveal anything, so here it is: Bruce Mau's Massive Change project:
For many of us, design is invisible. We live in a world that is so thoroughly configured by human effort that design has become second nature ever-present, inevitable, taken for granted. And yet, the power of design to transform and affect every aspect of daily life is gaining widespread public awareness. No longer associated simply with objects and appearances, design is increasingly understood in a much wider sense as the human capacity to plan and produce desired outcomes. Engineered as an international discursive project, Massive Change: The Future of Global Design, will map the new capacity, power and promise of design. We will explore paradigm-shifting events, ideas, and people, investigating the capacities and ethical dilemmas of design in manufacturing, transportation, urbanism, warfare, health, living, energy, markets, materials, the image and information.
Really cool material on design: resources, discussions, audio interviews, and more. [via Bruce Sterling's Viridian Design Movement email list]
Posted by johndan at 09:52 AM | TrackBack

October 17, 2004


From Flickrblog:
Someone asked Lia why they should get a cameraphone, and she said, "For moments like this."
Posted by johndan at 04:31 PM | TrackBack

Humming Along With(out) Glenn Gould

The Glenn Gould De-Vocalizer 2000:

Most vocal removing processors simply aren't designed to handle the frequencies in Glenn Gould's vocals. The GG-DV2000 Glenn Gould De-Vocalizer 2000 is optimized to remove only the humming and singing of Glenn Gould and leave the piano sound intact. No special CD's are needed. Just try that with any old vocal processor!

Now you can listen to Glenn Gould recordings without the extraneous humming and singing OR add your own with the included microphone. Great for dinner parties!!!

I've always thought the intermittent humming was one of the coolest parts of Gould's recordings. But I'm weird like that.

[via metafilter]

Posted by johndan at 04:23 PM

October 16, 2004

Spinal Tap Ready

Students at the University of Louisana at Lafayette have used MIDI files, USB connectors, and pneumatic valves to build a robot drummer (link is to a mirror; the original site was slashdotted).
It is capable of running 16 seperate drum channels, with each drum capable of being hit up to 19 times per second (which sounds pretty awesome on a bass drum by the way).
I hope the IEEE design contest they submitted the project to gives them bonus points for the acronym they've used to name the project: Pneumatic and Electronic Actuated RoboT. P.E.A.R.T. Get it?
Posted by johndan at 10:17 AM | TrackBack

October 15, 2004

In the Living Room

In the Living Room
In the Living Room,
originally uploaded by johndan.
This is pretty much what our living room looked like last year when a literacy survey person showed up at our house to ask us questions about how much we read. Her (scripted) questions included items like, "Do you have many books in the house? And if so, how many?" and "Do you encourage your children to read?"
Posted by johndan at 07:26 PM | TrackBack

Will Google say Hello to IM?

News.com suggests that Google is developing an IM client codenamed "fluffy bunny". If for no other reason, I'd switch to it just to be able to say, "Fluffybunny me at johndanseven."

("Aim me" or "iChat me" just don't have the same ring to them." (And who'd have thought I'd have to increment numbers up to "seven" to get an unused "johndan" AIM username. I should have seniority on the Web and be able to demand my username: I used to have a Compuserve account, and even a BITnet account.)

(Excuse the cranky-old-man prose here. I pulled my Achille's tendon last week, and I've been hobbling around with a walking stick for the last four or five days. I now know why old people often seem cranky. I emailed underdog this morning and told her that it was likely I'd have to kill her cat if I ran in front of me again while I was making my tedious way between the home-office and the bathroom.)

[via CNET News.com]

Posted by johndan at 07:00 PM

Illustration and Design Weblog

100 Years of Illustration and Design: a weblog on illustration and design (you probably figured that out in the before-colon part of the sentence), primarily focused on the 1900s (if you're a perceptive reader, your repetition meter is in the red now). All that said, there are cool scans and discussion there. [via Everyday Matters list]
Posted by johndan at 06:07 PM | TrackBack

No Chat


I had Stuart grab a shot of this sign (his new phonecam has better resolution than mine) in the University of Louisville library. (If you do research about chat or games, I guess you're screwed.)

Posted by johndan at 05:10 PM | TrackBack

Urban Warfare

Traffic light wars


[via metafilter]
Posted by johndan at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

October 14, 2004

Children Do Gray's Anatomy

Children draw anatomical illustrations. This is cooler--and not as scatological--as it might sound, or as I might have guessed.


[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 07:03 PM


Joi Ito, on "sauna, birch, sea, repeat" (hey, my family's Finnish on both sides, so saunas were a way of life growing up, at my own home as well as most of my relatives; and at Michigan Tech where I went to grad school (and only a dozen or so miles from where my dad was born), several of the houses we rented as students had saunas):

Just went with Marko and a bunch of friends (including Loic and Heiko) to the Finnish Sauna Society. The sea wasn't frozen yet, so it was avantouinti, but the ocean was 8 degrees celsius so it was plenty cold. Did the sauna, whip each other with birch branches and swim in the ocean routing five times. Then we sat around the fire cooking sausages. Very relaxing and a nice unwind after the Italian anarchy. ;-) Now I'm ready to spend the day tomorrow in a conference room with the Finns.

Of course, we subsituted "Lake Superior" or "Snow Bank" for "Sea" in Ito's chant, but it's much the same. Yeah, I know it sounds freakish if you haven't done it, and I can't really explain it in way that will make sense. Sorry.

[via Joi Ito's Web]

Posted by johndan at 06:29 PM

The Quicker Picker-Upper

MacFixIt has a mini-tutorial on dealing with beverages spilled onto your laptop.

If working at a computer constitutes as high a proportion of your waking hours as mine does, coffee, caffeinated sodas, just plain water and, um, "your beverage of choice" (as announcements about faculty gatherings euphamistically put it) are a constant feature. Last year, I dumped a just-filled mug of coffee over on my PowerBook when I was reaching for a pen. I've also periodically subjected my Mac laptops to spilled water, Diet Pepsi, bread crumbs, and "my beverage of choice" on several occasions. (I suddenly feel like a commercial for Bounty Paper Towels or a Swiffer.) I can vouch for the fact that the strategies described in the MacFixIt article, although not sure-fire, usually work....

There are only two types of geeks: those that have spilled stuff on their computers, and those who will. Read the article and be prepared. Five minutes of prevention is worth several $K worth of cure.

(Mostly Mac-specific, but many of the strategies can be adapted to other laptops.)

[via PowerPage.org]

Posted by johndan at 06:03 PM

Keeping The Brady Bunch Relevant

Boing-boing comments on the connections between Purdue research on laser printer output and The Brady Bunch episode about Jan's secret admirer:

Remember the Brady Bunch episode where the family traces a letter from Jan's "secret admirer" to Alice's typewriter? Of course you remember it. Now, researchers at Purdue University have developed a similar technique for laser printers. Law enforcement would use the approach to bust counterfeiters and forgers.

A more scientific synposis from the Purdue report:

Researchers at Purdue University have developed a method that will enable authorities to trace documents to specific printers, "banding" a technique law-enforcement agencies could use to investigate counterfeiting, forgeries and homeland security matters. The technique uses two methods to trace a document: first, by analyzing a document to identify characteristics that are unique for each printer, and second by designing printers to purposely embed individualized characteristics in documents.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 04:59 PM

October 13, 2004

Gameboyzzz Orchestra Project

The Gameboyzz Orchestra Project, now on tour in Europe.

Gameboyzz Orchestra Project is an experimental sound - visual project, basing on the use of GameBoy console as a music instrument. Main assumption of project's authors is to create new sound space on the base of tones generated live from console during the performance.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 01:51 PM

Printable Tattoos

Printable Tattoos from Hewlett-Packard.

Unfortunately, they're just tattoos for your iPod, not your body. Unless your skin is made of plastic.

[via MacMinute]

Posted by johndan at 12:53 PM

Really Low Budget Music Video

Freda Viola has built a music video for his song, titled simply "The Sad Song," using 15-second jpg movies taken with his Nikon Coolpix digital still camera. (His server is taking a beating, so someone's put up a mirrored version here. Doesn't seem to be much faster, though. The part that's loaded in my browser so far is pretty cool.)

[via metafilter]

Posted by johndan at 12:45 PM

Things Found in My Luggage, No. 1

transportation security administration slipWhen I got to the Brown Hotel in Louisville and opened my luggage, I found this slip (the reverse side is in English). I also discovered a bottle of shampoo that was open and leaking soapy fluid (luckily, I'd put the bottle in a zip-lock baggy when I packed it). And most of my stuff had generally been rifled through. I feel so much safer.
Posted by johndan at 12:32 PM | TrackBack

October 12, 2004

Why I like WZEN Radio

Current Tracklisting from WZEN radio:
  • Otis Redding - Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay - The Folk Years
  • Rachid Taha - Ya Rayah - Door To The Souk (Disc 1)
  • Johnny Cash - Five Feet High And Rising - Songs Of Our Soil
  • H.H. The Dalai Lama - Tibetan Prayer - Mantra Mix (Disc 2)
Posted by johndan at 11:34 PM | TrackBack

"Help! I've Fallen and I Can't Connect!"

bluetooth shirtThe National University of Singapore is working on a Bluetooth security shirt (as in personal, physical security for senior citizens rather than the network security type) (I think):

From the National University of Singapore comes a new idea for wearable Bluetooth devices—this time in the form of a T-shirt. Presumably targeted largely at seniors, this tech will detect how fast you are moving and the angle of your body to determine whether you're falling and, if you are, tell your PC or phone via Bluetooth about it, which in turn alerts your family or friends. Though it isn't specifically mentioned, there's no reason this tech couldn't be used to alert emergency services as well, although you'd obviously want to make sure the tech was extremely solid to avoid false alarms if your phone was calling 911. Though the device is currently attached out-board to the shirt, professor Francis Tay says they're working on integrating the technology into the shirt itself. Then they should build self-deploying personal airbags.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 10:32 AM

Digital Polka

Roland, the electronic musical instrument corp, announces the Roland FR-7 Digital Accordion.

roland_fr7.jpg image

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 08:05 AM

October 11, 2004


media trips, a weblog devoted to cultural remix projects. [via Lessigblog]
Posted by johndan at 08:23 PM | TrackBack

Ms. de Sade Visits the Sims

Evergray posts an account of a twisted Sims house she built:
I guess people actually play this game to make their little sims happy. I'll admit that i did that for awhile, but to be honest, it just got boring. So of course I reverted to my typical gaming pattern of torturing innocents to death. I start out by creating a random couple. I build them a little room, seen below, with a door. One they've both walked in to check their "home" out, I get rid of the door. As you can see, the room contains the following:
  • A ghetto chair
  • A fireplace
  • A clown painting
You can read about the discovery of fire yourself.
Posted by johndan at 07:51 PM | TrackBack

GMail Drive

Viksoe.dk has released GMail Drive, a "Shell Namespace Extension that creates a virtual filesystem around your Google GMail account, allowing you to use GMail as a storage medium." (Haven't had a chance to test this out yet--looks like it may require Windows.... Interesting concept, nontheless.) [via daypop top 40]
Posted by johndan at 04:08 PM | TrackBack

October 08, 2004

No Comment

I've temporarily closed comments while I'm on the road, since the spam comment-blocking plug-in I use requires daily attention in order to be effective. I'll open comments up next week after I get back into town and clean out the spam.
Posted by johndan at 10:38 AM | TrackBack

October 04, 2004

On My Way Through

Back home for about 36 hours before I head out to Louisville.


On the bridge from Ontario into Ogdensburg, NY a couple of hours ago. I'm not quite sure what that industrial plant is at the lower left, on the St. Lawrence Seaway, and I'm not sure I want to know. But it looks cool as the cloud-strangled light breaks over it.
Posted by johndan at 10:08 PM | TrackBack