January 31, 2005

Music as Architecture (Literally)

Living inside a musical instrument: The Wege House.

The house is set up with a series of musical experiences that are intriguing and inviting for the Wege family and guests. Curious fingers of any musical background find the excitement of bringing the Architecture to life through sound/music.

All the Architectural instruments are based around strings. The Architecture becomes the structure, bridge and resonator for these giant stringed instruments. Specially developed brass wire and piano wires are used as “the strings” of the instruments. The use of long string technologies developed by Bill Close allow for the instruments to be architectural in scale. The complex patterns of strings are extension of the architectural lines of the house and become an integral part of the visual experience.

Philosophy, Pictures, and Movies available at the site. (Note: "Architectural in scale" means that the stringed installations are huge, rising multiple stories inside the house.)

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 09:43 PM | TrackBack

January 30, 2005

Stupid Technology Move of the Week

Retrieving wet laundry from the washer on its way to the dryer, I discovered my cellphone at the bottom of the drum. It actually still works. Except for the display, which remains dark, mocking me. Which makes the cellphone fairly useless.

This is a sign, I think, that I have too much technology in my life. I'm going to have to get some of those idiot strings that parents to force their kids to attach to their mittens.

Underdog says I'm grounded.

Posted by johndan at 11:42 PM | TrackBack

Journal of Maps

Journal of Maps is a new, free, online scholarly journal on maps. Free registration required to download articles in PDF format. (Note: your username needs to be your email address. This isn't obvious at first, or at least it wasn't to me....) The first issue includes pieces such as "Mapping the British Motor Sport Industry in Northamptonshire" and "Map of the Glacial Geomorphology of North-Central Québec-Labrador, Canada."

[via The Map Room]

Posted by johndan at 10:38 PM | TrackBack


Metafilter references Snakes, an animation based on a woodcut by M.C. Escher [web page at that links allows you to choose 18 MB or 5 MB QuickTime streaming video]. Haunting images (and soundtrack). As someone at MeFi says, this is somewhat dated--the copyright at the Etereae Studios site is 2003--but I hadn't seen it yet.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 01:24 AM | TrackBack

Party Mix, Vol. 10

"What I don't believe," Minus Five, Down with Wilco
"Play It All Night Long," Darrell Scott Band, Live at the Station Inn, Nashville (9.20.03)
"Black Math," The White Stripes, Elephant
"Messing With The Kid," Johnny Winter, Walking By Myself
"Flying Around the Sun at Remarkable Speed," Giant Sand, Live at Muhle Hunziken (10.15.04)
"Sweet Thistle Pie," Cracker, Garage D'Or
"Cemetary Savior," Son Volt, Live In Ames, Iowa
"Cigarette Tricks," Guided By Voices, Alien Lanes
"8/7/03 Practice Session," Bark, Wednesday Night at the Clubhouse
"Confessions," Violent Femmes, Viva Wisconsin
"Forbidden City," Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros, Rock Art & the X-Ray Style
"New Zandu," Los Lobos, Just Another Band From East L.A.
"Lesson 2," Double Dee and Steinski, Lessons
"intro," Darrell Scott, Live at Fireman's Kitchen (5.29.03)
"The Black Crow Keeps Flying," Kelly Joe Phelps, Lead Me On
"Clear Day Thunder," Jay Farrar, Sebastopol
"Fair Weather," Chet Baker, Chet Baker In New York
"Daily Source Code, 2004-12-30," Adam Curry, Podsafe music and mashups
"Recording Session of Freddie Freeloader, So What, Blue In Green," Miles Davis, Recording Session of Freddie Freeloader
"I Forgot That Love Existed," Van Morrison, Poetic Champions Compose

I'm starting to like the idea of an iPod Shuffle.

Posted by johndan at 01:21 AM | TrackBack

January 28, 2005

89.3: The Current

Minnesota Public Radio affiliate The Current has (a) streaming audio, but more importantly, (b) a great and very eclectic format. In the last half hour, they've played Rilo Kiley, Tegan & Sara, Ash, Azure Ray, and Cat Power. Too cool by half. (I had some problems loading the CD-quality feed, but the 24k Windows Media stream works ok. Our DSL is a little wonky, so maybe it's just my connection. The content is so good I can put up with the low-rez feed.)

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 11:10 PM | TrackBack

Another Wilde Cunningham Update

New World Notes post an update on Wilde Cunningham, which I mentioned yesterday and a month or so ago.

the new computer has arrived~ share our joy!! woo hoo! we plugged it in at the end of the day and is up and running for tomorrow! we zipped into sl for about 10 min long enough for me to show them the difference i'd been telling them about and point to the buttons we werent able to see or access before. the room was filled with squeals of delight and the look on each face was priceless! no more second rate playing now!!

[via New World Notes]

Posted by johndan at 10:49 PM | TrackBack

Life is Macintosh

A scanned version of Matt Groening's illustrations from an circa 1989 Apple ad: "Who Needs a Computer Anyway? A Student's Guide."


[via daypop/top]

Posted by johndan at 11:31 AM | TrackBack

January 27, 2005

Superheroes in Hell

Hiëronymus Bosch action figures. Words fail me.

My Valentine's Day shopping is now finished.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 09:29 PM | TrackBack

101 Dumbest Moments in Business

Business 2.0 documents the 101 Dumbest Moments in Business, including gems like

4. Do as I say, not as I...hey, get a load of those!
After joining the Bank of Ireland as CEO, Michael Soden issues a dictate: No porn surfing on the job. His next dictate: The IT department is to be outsourced to Hewlett-Packard. Shortly after the outsourcing deal goes through, IT staffers, now employed by HP, discover porn on Soden's computer. Soden resigns, leaving the bank and HP scrapping over who should pay his severance, estimated at $5 million.

5. For more nostalgia, you can always check out your legal bills from the DOJ antitrust lawsuit.
"Microsoft has had competitors in the past. It's a good thing we have museums to document this stuff."—Bill Gates, in a talk at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, Calif.

Posted by johndan at 08:37 PM | TrackBack

Things Found in Used Books 6


[via underdog]

Posted by johndan at 07:35 PM | TrackBack

Wilde Cunningham, Part II

I posted an entry earlier about Wilde Cunningham, the Second Life gamer whose character is collaboratively operated by a group of severely disabled people. Lilone, the person at the center who "drives" the character for them, since they individually aren't able to operate a computer, forwarded me the URL for Wilde's Writings, where some of Wilde's constituent people have posted narratives, poetry, and other material. (Lilone has some additional comments back at the original post linked to above.) Cool.

Posted by johndan at 06:32 PM | TrackBack

Philip Johnson, 1906-2005

Way-influential architect Philip Johnson died yesterday at age 98. NPR's All Things Considered ran a good piece this morning on his career (at least Underdog said it was a good piece; I just started listening to it).

Posted by johndan at 05:03 PM | TrackBack


Snow on Eaves

Posted by johndan at 03:54 PM | TrackBack

Free Fonts

dincTYPE, apparently suffering from cabin fever, has released a boatload of their fonts for free download (both Mac and Win versions). I've been a fan of their design work for a long time; there's a wide range of styles available, ranging from grunge to retro. MacMerc, who I swiped the link from, says this is a limited-time deal.

[via MacMerc]

Posted by johndan at 03:34 PM | TrackBack

Happy Feet

Even more off topic than normal, here's a link to Where the Hell is Matt?:

Matt is a 26-year-old itinerant deadbeat from Connecticut. He quit his job in Brisbane, Australia to go walk the Earth, like Caine from Kung Fu. He made this site so he could keep his family and friends updated about where he is in his travels. He realizes that Caine from Kung Fu probably wouldn't make a web site about walking the Earth, but he accepts that there are certain ways in which he and Caine differ.

There's 36 meg .wmv video as well.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 12:17 PM | TrackBack


I've been telling people that I doubted Apple would be rolling out a G5 version of the PowerBook in the near future, but the rumor mill has been heating up. Gizmodo comments a report at the Register containing a hidden bit of HTML on Apple's website that suggests a G5 PowerBook might be coming up.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 11:45 AM | TrackBack

January 26, 2005

Emoticons in History

McSweeney's Internet Tendency offers a list of emoticons Civil War soldiers might have used if they had access to email, including

Old Abe


The Yanks
Posted by johndan at 12:36 PM | TrackBack

Social Network Analysis for Newbies

A PowerPoint presentation on Social Networks Analysis for Newbies [that's a direct link to the .ppt file]. Wonky design, but good info (but not a short read--116 slides).

[via Kairosnews]

Posted by johndan at 12:19 AM | TrackBack

January 25, 2005

The New SAT

I was unhappy when I heard that the new SAT will include a 25-minute timed writing section--this goes against everything writing researchers have found about how people write in real situations--but this is even more alarming. According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the raw writing samples, handwritten in pencil, with scratch-outs and the rough structure and surface-level issues that likely mark such hurried assigments, will be available to college admissions boards.

[via NCTE In-Box]

Posted by johndan at 11:04 PM | TrackBack

The Occasional Jeff Noon Quote

What was the use of it? What was the use of writing? The book was the noise. I couldn't fight it any more. All that was done, fighting was done now, and I tore the page from the book. Then another, at random, another page, the next page, letting them fall. Somehow or other and without realizing I must have cut myself on something, cut my hand, there was blood on the paper, dripping down words as I tore through them.

I took the photograph from its pocket. There it was, the senseless image. The colours, the various objects depicted, somebody, something, something else. The strange shapes. For too long now I had carried this thing around

- Jeff Noon, Falling Out of Cars

Posted by johndan at 12:17 AM | TrackBack

January 24, 2005

The Long-Lost 1984 Mac Intro

A long-lost original broadcast of the introduction of the Mac by Steve Jobs. The original /. post seemed to indicate this was the 1984 commercial, but it's actually footage of Jobs introducing the Mac, apparently at an industry show--there's some retro-cool footage of the original Mac interface, and of Jobs in a tux rather than black slacks and turtleneck. Weirdly nostalgic.

Read the /. discussion for some other download options (here's a link to a BitTorrent).

The other interesting aspect to this story deals with the effects of being slashdotted. The original posting of the video was at preinheimer.com, but that quickly went offline due to dramatic increases in volume. "They could probably use more mirrors" is an understatement. Preinheimer posts this chart from their monthly bandwidth report:


[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 10:18 PM | TrackBack

MIDI Bagpipe Roundup

MusicThing offers a MIDI bagpipe roundup. The model they show in the article is sort of hard to explain, except that it doesn't look anything like a set of bagpipes. More like, well, the love child of a tin whistle and an iPod Shuffle.

I'd repost the image here, but after re-reading my description, I'm kind of creeped out.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 09:52 PM | TrackBack

January 23, 2005


I hate buying new computers. Well, not so much the getting the new computer, but the part where I have to decide what to buy. My aging aluminum PowerBook is slowly accumulating terminal sorts of symptom; the latest involves the hinges, notoriously bad on PowerBooks. The LCD panel is about a degree out of true, so the right-hand side of the screen is about a centimeter higher than the left-hand side. Which wouldn't be a huge deal, except (a) it occasionally sticks, and I really have to reef on it more than I like to get the display to close, and (b) I think this is leading to a crimp in the wires going to the display, so occasionally the screen flickers when I move it, and sometimes goes black. Anyway, not good.

So now I'm sort of stuck. I just got a dual-processor G5 at work about three months ago, so I'm not going to be able to spring for a new high-end (or even mid-range) PowerBook. I could do an iBook, but I'd lose the ability to run an extra display on it, which I really like. I'm thinking maybe I'll just get a Mini and use a small firewire drive I have to move files back and forth between my home and campus office. But I haven't located a file synchronization program that I like, so I'm sure I'll end up getting my files mixed up when I move from system to system. Damn, I hate this. Part of me just wants to ditch it and work exclusively with a fountain pen and a moleskine notebook.

Posted by johndan at 10:25 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

January 22, 2005


Boing-boing posts this brief story and link to video of Claude Shannon's (he of "The Mathematical Theory of Communication" fame) various quirky things, such as the juggling robots [QuickTime file] he built. Creepy-cool.

update: I skipped over much of the text in the first link above, but re-read it later--aside from the interesting video and pictures, the main page hosts some nice personal anecdotes about Shannon from his colleague Arthur Lewbel of MIT. Among other things, there's this:

Claude told me this story. He may have been kidding, but it illustrates both his sense of humor and his delightfully self deprecating nature, and it certainly could be true. The story is that Claude was in the middle of giving a lecture to mathematicians in Princeton, when the door in the back of the room opens, and in walks Albert Einstein. Einstein stands listening for a few minutes, whispers something in the ear of someone in the back of the room, and leaves. At the end of the lecture, Claude hurries to the back of the room to find the person that Einstein had whispered too, to find out what the great man had to say about his work. The answer: Einstein had asked directions to the men’s room.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 11:13 PM | TrackBack



Did anyone else notice the irony in this headline on CNN's website, which answers its own question?

Posted by johndan at 10:19 PM | TrackBack

January 21, 2005

Rhetoric of Journalism vs. Blogging

Joho the Blog posts some interesting observations about the different rhetorical strategies used by journalists versus those used by webloggers (although he doesn't use the R-word):

Journalists have a tiny vocabulary for expressing incredulity: 'alleged,' 'reportedly,' 'claimed,' 'suspected.' The rest of us have a rich rhetoric of semi-belief, starting with a simple 'I think that...' and going all the way to 'I find it really hard to believe anything that lying fathead says, but...'
Although this seems like a minor difference, as Joho notes, weblog rhetoric provides a wider range of "degrees of belief" for reporting. Whether this is good or bad depends on how you look at it.

[via Joho the Blog]

Posted by johndan at 03:33 PM | TrackBack

January 20, 2005

Web Design Handout

I was putting together a set of readings on basic screen layout issues today for my Intro to Web Design class today and dug up this handout, which summarizes several key issues in screen design. I converted it from the original PageMaker format to PDF; feel free to download it [88k pdf] and use it in your classes if you like. It's loosely based on Gestalt Theory, with some other issues I thought useful thrown in.

Posted by johndan at 11:05 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Analog Controllers

near near future describes two audio controller projects that rely on unusual shapes and dynamics: Murat Konar's loopqoob lets users control a computer-based musical generation system using two cubes that sense XYZ orientations to modulate sound. Piano Cubes uses two square jam jars filled with syrup and mercury switches to vary pitch and speed of a looping track.

[via CreateDigitalMusic]

Posted by johndan at 11:01 PM | TrackBack

Talking to Nabokov

Lib.ru hosts an archive of interviews with Vladimir Nabokov (scroll down for English links).

Interviewers do not find you a particularly stimulating person. Why is that so?

I pride myself on being a person with no public appeal.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 10:26 PM | TrackBack

Some Kind of Monster

CultureCat links to the personality-trait quiz, "What NetHack Monster Are You?" Part of me despises these quizzes, but another part (which causes way more damage points) always takes them. So, here I am, the Floating Eye. How postmodern and detached.

If I were a NetHack monster, I would be a floating eye. I see and sense absolutely everything that happens around me. I just don't do very much about it.
Which NetHack Monster Are You?

In my third year of college (and my second year as a sophomore), I spent an Everquest-level of hours playing NetHack on a Compaq Portable with a 3" LCD built-in screen, and actually won (somewhere on the 25th level, where I defeated a Minotaur in a maze). Seemed like a big deal at the time.

[via CultureCat]

Posted by johndan at 10:02 PM | TrackBack

How to Cook Everything

This is even more off-topic than usual, but (The Other) Kevin Kelly praises Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything [purchase at the amazon link, $22.50 new, cheaper used]. I've been cooking adventurously for 20 years, have worked as a cook (not a chef, but a short-order cook, but you learn a lot about how fast foods carbonize), and have more than a hundred cookbooks (we have a full floor to ceiling book case in our kitchen) that I pull something from at least once a week. But I still refer to Bittman's cookbook about once a week to check some basic issue; it's eclipsed the Betty Crocker Cookbook my mother gave me in 1982 when I left for college. (Sorry Mom.)

[via Cool Tools]

Posted by johndan at 05:06 PM | TrackBack

Bad Karma

California proto-punk/ska/polka/whatever legends Camper Van Beethoven, currently on a reunion tour, have had their gear stolen for a second time in the last few months:

Around 1pm eastern 01/18 we got word that someone in Dallas stole their gear again. The band was staying at the Comfort Suites - and they even had a security guard. The trailer was backed up against a parking deck wall so the doors would not open. The thieves cut through the side of the trailer and helped themselves.

The tour is continuing, probably with gear borrowed from tour sponsors and fans as they did after the last theft. (CVB is touring as a hybrid Camper Van Beethoven/Cracker collective, the latter of which is composed of several key CVB members. if you didn't know that already, you probably don't care. If nothing else, it's an answer to that trivia question, "Who is this group that Johndan and Stuart quote in their article about postmodernism and technical communication?")

Posted by johndan at 07:18 AM | TrackBack

January 19, 2005

Zappa Lives On (Sort Of)

Not sure this is legit, but someone at Metafilter posted a link to a website that has gathered evidence from scientific journals on natural objects named after Frank Zappa. Andy Murkin's website offers stories, quotes, and citations describing scientific names based on variations of "Frank Zappa," including the gene sequence ZapA in the bacteria Proteus mirabilis through the asteroid officially named ZappaFrank. True? I don't know, but it's nice to think so.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 11:33 PM | TrackBack

Deconstructing Comics

Josh says, "I read the comics, so you don't have to." To be honest, his commentary is usually funnier than the comics themselves. Here's an ironic commentary on a recent episode of Gil Thorpe:

I’ve done a lot of diligent reading over the past few weeks, but I still can’t say for sure that I can tell you exactly what’s going on in Gil Thorp. I’d heard that the strip was a hotbed of conservative agitation, and it seems to be living up that reputation: one of the two (or possibly three) plots going on right now involves Hadley, a player for the girls’ basketball team, who’s outraged that nobody pays attention to the girls’ basketball team. This results not in an onslaught of sisterhood and feminist agitation on the part of the other team members, but rather a lot of eye-rolling and belittling. In a classic move used against feminazis everywhere, Hadley’s teammates have decided that what she needs to shut her yap is a boyfriend. Unfortunately, as we see here, they’ve set her up with Steve Luhm, an effeminate poindexter who’s every bit as determined to smash the patriarchy as she is.

Other recent reads include Spider-Man (described as "like Mary Worth, but with more spandex"), an actual Mary Worth strip, For Better or Worse, and more. If newspaper comics were as funny as Josh makes them, I would be spending my time reading Her! [Girl vs Pig] and Red Meat. Actually, I guess I'd rather just keep reading those two, plus Josh's commentaries.

Posted by johndan at 11:08 PM | TrackBack

January 18, 2005

Computer Screens: More is More

A Ubiquity interview with Mary Czerwinski of Microsoft Research:

UBIQUITY: What is your own environment like?

CZERWINSKI I have two monitors strung together and a laptop — well, it's really a tablet — and a smart phone. So I have four lined up across my desk that I move back and forth between. And in our lab, which is right across the door from me, we have various kinds of displays, including a big-screen SmartboardTM that's touch-enabled. We also have various projectors all around the room that project large displays onto the walls, and some of them are dual projectors for doublewide display. Soon we will have 4x3 grid of displays on one wall; at the moment it's a 3x3 grid of displays. That's been very useful.

At an NN/g workshop in Chicago last year, Stuart Card and one of his colleagues talked about having (I think) five or six LCD panels in an array on their desks. And Robert Rodriguez, in one of the featurettes on the Once Upon a Time in Mexico DVD, provides a tour of his sprawling home movie production studio; many of the workstations he shows have three or more large LCD panels. If your work involves moving information around and discerning patterns in information, more is almost always better.

I (and my employer) can't afford one of those swanky wall-mounted LCD installations, but I have some pictures of my computer setup at Flickr; I take this approach to analog spaces as well, as evidenced by my office wall at home (an image that, by coincidence, someone just emailed me this morning to ask about).

[via Beyond the Beyond]

Posted by johndan at 07:22 PM | TrackBack

January 17, 2005

M/Cyclopedia of New Media

Students at the Queensland Institute of Technology have built a M/Cyclopedia of New Media.

[via Kairosnews - A Weblog for Discussing Rhetoric, Technology and Pedagogy]

Posted by johndan at 10:03 PM | TrackBack

January 16, 2005

Spelling Mistakes: The Intentional Fallacy

I had always assumed that "Google" was mis-spelled primarily because the founders had decided that the general public wouldn't remember the correct spelling, "Googol." Apparently I was giving them too much credit. (Of course, this might be a strategic PR move to make Google seem more human. But given their general emphasis on overall full disclosure, I'm not sure. But the interview is interesting.)

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 12:20 PM | TrackBack

Things Found in Used Books 5


In a copy of Reflex and Bone Structure.

Posted by johndan at 11:32 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 15, 2005

Altoids DIY MP3 Player

LadyAda at MIT shows how to build an MP3 player with $50 worth of parts (including a compact flash card) and an Altoids tin. It's not an iPod Shuffle, but it has more geek points. (Site's a little slow right now due to slashdotting. But worth the wait.)


[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 11:24 PM | TrackBack

January 14, 2005

Human Clock

The Human Clock website is composed of user-submitted pictures that display the current time in a browser window, in either digital or analog format. The pictures are weird, in a good sort of way. The time in each picture are written in various media, ranging from handwritten cardboard signs to people and vegetables. [SFW, as far as I can tell]

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 12:47 PM | TrackBack


I've received the revised page proofs for Datacloud (the book) from Hampton Press, and they look about ready to go to press (which means, among other things, that I'll soon be taking the manuscript pages offline). The publisher asked if I wanted to compile the subject index, or if they should hire someone to do it and charge it against my royalties. I came up with this first rough cut at an index:

Everything: 1 - 176

Introduction to Everything: i - xii

I suppose I should hire a trained and experienced professional.

Posted by johndan at 10:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 13, 2005

The Barn


The barn, after a ice storm last month. (Shot with a Holga using Illford HP5+ b/w film, no correction after scanning.)

Posted by johndan at 11:47 PM | TrackBack

Look at Me

Frederic Bonn, Art Director at The Morning News and host of the Look at Me project, discusses finding one family's box of discarded vacation photos at a flea market [The Morning News link].

Back at home, I started organizing the photos—most of them had written information on the back. The first photo is from 1953, and the last one from 1977. In most of them are a man and a woman, a couple who took photos of themselves for more than 20 years. The woman was probably the one writing on the back as the man isn’t present before 1958, and we see her with another man in 1956. This couple traveled a lot; there are photos from lots places in the U.S. and abroad; they made a habit of capturing each other in front of famous places and views.

Bonn discusses the photos, as well as the larger Look at Me project, which is composed completely of orphaned pictures--"lost, forgotten, or thrown away. The images now are nameless, without connection to the people they show, or the photographer who took them."

There's also a gallery accompanying the interview.

Posted by johndan at 06:16 PM | TrackBack

January 12, 2005

Charles and Ray Eames Exhibit Online

The Library of Congress Website hosts an exhibit on 20th Century design icons, Charles and Ray Eames. Text and (lots of) images, with categories covering their influential work in furniture, architecture, and film.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 10:57 PM | TrackBack

Grading Essays

Albino Blacksheep posts a scanned version of a graded essay on Oedipus, "Planes, Trains, and Plantains". References to Lou Gehrig, Lenny Kravitz, an Oxy Clean commercial, Dr. Dre, and Aqufresh. Even funnier are the attempts to apply a traditional grading system to it (complete with red pen and points off for mis-spelling expletives).

(NSFW if your co-workers are both literate and hovering over your shoulder; the text is pretty small, and occasionally on hot pink paper.) (Really.)

[via Clarkson's Daily Jolt Forum]

Posted by johndan at 06:29 PM | TrackBack

January 11, 2005

Wi-Fi Traffic Jam

A frustrated new WiFi access point owner discovers that there are already twenty neighbors in his apartment building who have used up all available channels. The new kid on the block receives advice ranging from hacking the access point to hacking the other access points (it looks like many of them are still in complete default config, which would allow reprogramming) to just sponging off the neighbor's open connection (allowing the person to sell their WiFI equipment on eBay can cancelling their own Internet service).

I expect this is going to be an increasing problem for people in densely populated areas, including not only apartments but rogue users in office.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 10:58 PM | TrackBack

Now Watching

Tom Waits, Live at the Apollo, London (11.23.04) [DVD]. Wow.
Posted by johndan at 08:41 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 09, 2005

Embodied Interaction in Games

Foe Romeo has a great overview of some interesting issues related to embodied interaction in games, ranging from gender, the ethics of labeling behaviors, seduction versus flow, and more.

Posted by johndan at 08:52 PM | TrackBack

January 08, 2005

Wiki for Documentation and Collaborative Writing

Michael Angeles (is that a pseudonym?) reports on using a Wiki at Lucent for internal documentation and collaborative writing.

With some time, my department slowly began to edit and add new pages on their own, starting with updating the essential worklife-related information we use occasionally and moving on to creating new pages to document project-related work. Eventually people outside my department started participating, but the majority of active authors is still small. Perhaps 1/4 of the staff are regular updaters. Some people prefer to channel changes through a few selected gatekeepers.

[via Montague Institute Review]

Posted by johndan at 09:10 PM | TrackBack

January 07, 2005

Pushing Up


Posted by johndan at 11:43 PM | TrackBack

Open Source Community Television

ZedTV, the community-driven, Canadian TV show ["zed" = "the letter z" to those of you living South of the The Great White North] has open-sourced the code driving their website. This is no minor deal, since ZedTV's website is pretty robust, and oriented toward community sharing of video projects; at ZedTV, it's the space that viewer/users work in to upload and vote on content that is eventually shown in the weekly show. Should be useful to people attempting to put together websites (and perhaps cable channels) to distribute video from communities of contributors.

[via /.]

Posted by johndan at 11:07 PM | TrackBack

Badass Sewing Machine


One of the reasons I like Gizmodo is for its ironic attitude toward geeky product reviews. Here's a post today from the Consumer Electronics Show, that orgy of liquid-cooled Z-Box Joysticks and 7-foot-wide (measured diagonally) "proof of concept" versions of LCD displays. Gizmodo reviews, of all things, the Brother Innov-is 4000D Sewing Machine

I didn't expect to find the words, 'that's a badass sewing machine' coming out of my mouth, and from the look on his face, neither did the guy from Brother Sewing. He should be used to it, though, because it's totally true. The Innov-is 4000D converts any image file into an embroidered pattern—even directly from USB flash drives.

And yes, that's a full-color touchscreen on the side

Proving that any technology can be geeky if you push on it hard enough.

Here's the product page at Brother if you're interested.

(And I just saw that Gizmodo scored an interview with Bill Gates. If nothing else, the photo + description are a hoot.)

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 10:17 PM | TrackBack

Pattern is Movement

IndieFeed's alt/modern rock podcast today includes a song by the group Pattern is Movement, "Gunsmith." (The announcer described the group as "emo-tinged math rock".) The song was cool, but I was really taken with the band name, combining as it does space and history in a postmodern way, evoking ideas about architecture, urban planning, symbolic-analytic work, etc.

Posted by johndan at 04:37 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 06, 2005

Warning Labels

The Michigan Lawsuit Abuse Watch announced the winners of the 8th "Wacky Warning Label Contest." The winning entry, from Ed Gyetavai of Oldcastle, Ontario, was printed on a disposable toilet brush: "Do not use for personal hygeine."

Other top entries include the label on a children's scooter reads, "This product moves when used," and one from a 9"x3" plastic pillow of (used as packing material), “Do not use this product as a toy, pillow, or flotation device.”

Click the above link if you want to read the label on oral/anal thermometer.

[via Michael Moore on the Association for Teachers of Technical Writing discussion list]

Posted by johndan at 04:06 PM | TrackBack

January 05, 2005


I'm not sure what's more pathetic, the fact that this guy called the old Tommy Tutone-titled phone number 867-5309--in every area code--or the fact that I read the log that they kept of the calls.

Posted by johndan at 03:46 PM | TrackBack

Hi-fi iPod Recording

Create Digital Music discusses how to (a) hack your iPod to enable high-quality recording, and (b) install linux. ((b) is required to do (a), although apparently (b) now includes a dual-boot option.)

[via Create Digital Music]

Posted by johndan at 12:53 PM | TrackBack

IP and Documentaries and Lessig

Cinema Minima discusses the rising costs of securing rights to footage for documentary filmmakers, initially reported by the Center For Social Media. The CM post includes some useful links if you're in that field, or just generally interested in the depressing state of IP law.

Speaking of which, Lawrence Lessig was on NPR's "Talk of the Nation" yesterday [link]. I was depressed (as I think he was) about the number of callers who didn't understand the basic concept of Creative Commons. Caller after caller essentially said, "Why are you trying to force me to give away my IP for free." And Lessig would patiently say something like, "Look, we're trying to help you get your material out to more people, and maybe make some money off that by working outside of the typical system." Even the announcer kept interrupting Lessig to ask him to re-state the simple facts he'd just stated, confessing his inability to get his head around the concepts.

The current IP system is so entrenched that people can't even begin to think outside of it.

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 09:45 AM | TrackBack

January 04, 2005

A Wall

A Wall

Behind Sergi's Italian Restaurant.

Posted by johndan at 09:27 PM | TrackBack

Remixing Pi

A Flash site that lets you remix Pi: Select your own notes from a keyboard (or pick a major scale, or click random) and the program converts the notes to digits of Pi and plays them back to you.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 02:29 PM | TrackBack

Learning a Foreign Language with The Sims

The Journal of Language Learning and Technology has an article about ESL learning using The Sims. Here's a chunk from the abstract:

Rather than seeing entertainment-focused media forms as adversarial to educational content, educators should instead embrace them. This commentary examines how content originally designed for entertainment purposes can be modified to provide natural and context rich language learning environments, without sacrificing its entertainment value. First, I examine a modification to the number one selling video game The Sims that intelligently combines game data from the English edition with data from editions of other languages to form a bilingual gaming environment. This exposes learners to abundant L2 vocabulary, yet still provides enough L1 support not to detract from the game. This principle is then extended to other applications such as music videos, typing tutors, and voice-navigated games. Finally, areas of otherwise wasted time are identified, such as waiting for Web pages to load or walking to class, with suggestions of how technology can facilitate language learning during these times.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 09:59 AM | TrackBack

LED Guitar Pick

The StroboPick: a guitar pick with built-in strobe that uses red and green LEDs that indicate tuning. $35.

By shining a flashing light at a vibrating string you can clearly see whether the string is in tune with the light source. StroboPick emits 6 light frequencies matching standard guitar tuning with great precision.

Myself, I like to be at least a little out of tune (and with the gain turned way up) so I have an alibi for hitting the wrong notes.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 09:34 AM | TrackBack


"Loaded," a massive Lou Reed Guitar Archive, includes album index, guitar tabs, gear overview, and more.

[via metafilter.com]

Posted by johndan at 08:38 AM | TrackBack

January 03, 2005

Kelly Freas, RIP

Joho notes that Mad Magazine illustrator Kelly Freas died today at age 82. He was responsible for many of the greatest early Mad Magazine covers. I grew up on these. Joho lists many of Freas' other accomplishments, including designing the official NASA patch for Skylab.

Here's the full AP report. (I was going to reproduce a low-fi vintage cover here in thumbnail size, but all the official website images are set at "no-copy", so I'll respect that urge for profit by his heirs.)

[via Joho the Blog]

Posted by johndan at 11:39 PM | TrackBack

Podcasts and NetNewsWire

The new beta of NetNewsWire (my favorite RSS reader) supports podcasting, among other things. I don't have an iPod (when I was going to buy one a year or so back, I also really needed high-quality recording for band practices, so I went for a Sharp MiniDisc recorder instead), so I wasn't all that interested in being able to download music and audio clips to listen to offline (the purported primary market for podcasting). But since I downloaded the NNW beta to use, I decided to check this option out. Surprisingly, I really like it.

NNW (like many other RSS browsers) periodically downloads new posts to weblogs so I can read them without connecting to the actual website. With podcasting support, I can essentially sign up for periodic updates of small (or even large) chunks of audio I might not normally track down the streams for. And my DSL connection at home is relatively fast, but a little uneven, so streams sometimes break up. But since NNW lets me subscribe to feeds and downloads them to disk (and then dumps them directly into iTunes), I find I'm listening to a lot of interesting things I might not normally track down:

  • Ottmar Liebert's Listening Lounge: Periodic free tracks from the Nuevo Flamenco whiz. [podcast source]
  • Al Franken's Show on Air America: Leftist and loud (there's nothing more ironic--or truthful, I'm not sure which--than Franken reporting from his USO Tour in Iraq; which side is the full-body armor protecting him from?). [podcast source]
  • Whole Wheat Radio: A couple from Talkeetna, Alaska (2.5 hours north of Anchorage) running an indie music radio station and live music venue out of a 12' x 12' shack. Indie folk music primarily, with a back-country attitude that needs to be heard to be believed. Lots of on-air alcohol consumption and screaming (usually in tandem) as well as cool music. [podcast source]
  • Adam Curry's Daily Source Code: Ex-MTV VJ (one of the original ones ... I'm old enough to remember how big a deal that is/was) is still relevant (which sounds like a back-handed compliment, but I didn't mean it like that; I wish I was ever relevant, let alone still. Hell, I wish MTV wishes it were still relevant. It used to be; trust me, kids.). [podcast source]

None of this is exactly earth-shattering, on the face of it, but it does expand the scope of easy web publishing into the audio sphere (simple as uploading a script to a folder on your server, then uploading MP3s). It seems like one of those seemingly little gaps that get opened in a technology that might promise big changes. Enough to make me want to funnel some consulting income into an iPod purchase, if nothing else. (Yay, Capitalism.) (Underdog, you didn't see that last paragraph.)

Here's a list of freeware and shareware podcast clients if you're not using NNW: Wikipedia entry on podcasting. Or check Engadget's How-To for podcasting or a Wired article.

Posted by johndan at 09:24 PM | TrackBack

Reviving Advanced Hypertext

Jakob Nielsen's newest Alertbox entry discusses reviving advanced hypertext. Remember hypertext, as Jay Bolter said three or four years ago? The web offers one incarnation of the technological system, but only one--and a pretty weak one at that. Neilsen dicusses fat links, typed links, integrated search and browsing, overview maps, large-screen design, and physical hypertext.

Posted by johndan at 03:07 PM | TrackBack

Cell Phone Booth

A personal phonebooth for cellphone users. (Basically a performance art piece composed of a small, old-fashioned phone booth re-envisioned as a hat...).

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 12:07 PM | TrackBack

January 02, 2005

Wireless Distributed Snowplowing

Mobile Community discusses a report on wireless distributed coordination of snowplowing (both technical issues and social issues) written by Oskar Juhlin and Alexandra Weilenmann.

Abstract. This paper seeks to inform the ongoing redesign of air traffic management by examining current practices and the adoption of a new system aiming to relieve traffic control from work and reduce radio communication. We report from ethnographic fieldwork among mobile, distributed airport ground personnel. By examining the ways in which they use the ‘old’ technology, i.e. VHF radio, we identify a set of important aspects of work carried out through radio talk. These are: repairing misunderstandings, discussing the task-at-hand, and negotiating next actions. The new system fails to support this negotiation work, and is hardly ever used by the ground personnel. The distributed workers in the field make their own decisions and negotiate coordination with the tower based on local information. In this respect, current work practice is already decentralized to a certain extent. The problem with the new system, we argue, is the idea to decentralize the organization by providing distributed workers with more information, whereas the current institutional arrangement for coordination is built upon highly formal and hierarchical ideas. When redesigning the system it is necessary to take into account the ways in which radio talk is used to carry out the everyday work among ground personnel.

Here's a direct link to the 172k pdf.

[via Mobile Community Design]

Posted by johndan at 06:37 PM | TrackBack

"Wow, what a ride."

Dan Gillmor posts his final newspaper column from the San Jose Mercury News.

As noted, I'm not smart enough to tell you what's coming in any specific way. But we can look together at the trends and imagine some of what might be, if all goes well.


The Internet and its progeny are still early in their development, meanwhile. The Net is nowhere near as universal as it will be when we enter an age of what some call ubiquitous computing, but the outlines of its value are obvious today. For example, all media will eventually move around the world in little digital packages, called packets, that are the basic units of tomorrow's communications. The importance of this -- in decimating old businesses while improving most people's lives -- has not been sufficiently appreciated.

The risks are growing, too. When the ability to do great things spreads away from the center, so does the ability to do massively dangerous things. The power of one fanatic or small group to create incalculable damage -- assuming we don't do it simply by mistake -- should worry everyone. But we should not allow that concern to stifle progress.

And, as always, the people and institutions currently holding the clout don't cede it willingly. Governments are clamping down on us in all kinds of ways. Incumbent business powerhouses are trying to hold back the tide as well, not just to keep their positions but also to thwart new innovation that might threaten them.

Dan has been a pioneer in online journalism; his new job extends that work into grassroots journalism. Should be interesting.

[via Dan Gillmor's eJournal]

Posted by johndan at 01:09 PM | TrackBack