March 31, 2005

Cluetrain Remix

Scott Adams of Arkansas Tech remixes the Cluetrain Manifesto for education. I'm not completely happy with every thesis of Cluetrain--it's a manifesto, so it's a little unproblematized (ok, a lot) at times--but it's a great conversation starter for educators and students when I've used it in my classes.

[via Joho the Blog]

Posted by johndan at 07:33 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Good Citizen

Alt-hipster Mike Doughty reports that he was selected for jury duty, and he's "perversely stoked" with the opportunity.

I have a strange daydream that my old drug dealer--who actually cut me off at one point, when it looked pretty clear that I was about to die--is going to be standing in front of me, on this grand jury, and I'm going to have to vote on whether he gets indicted.

[via maps and legends]

Posted by johndan at 07:15 PM | TrackBack

Art/Media Audio & Movie Archive

The Ubuweb Files has an amazing, free archive of art and media films for online viewing: work by or interviews with Man Ray, Marcel Duchamp, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy, Jean-Luc Goddard, Marshall McLuhan, John Cage and more. There goes my weekend.

[via The Mediaburn Radio Weblog]

Posted by johndan at 07:00 PM | TrackBack

Sin City: Emulating Comics in Film

Film Rotation provides some side-by-side comparisons of graphic novel and film versions of Sin City. The film does an incredible job, at least in the scenes provided here, of capturing the stark and angst-ridden film noire feel of the book (which, I suppose brings film noire full circle) [some nsfw images a couple of links into it, but the main page is fine, if a car hurtling off a pier strikes you as "fine"; the Dukes of Hazzard were able to get away with it 30-40 times an hour in primetime].


Late to the party, I just finished reading Sin City 1 last night. Too cool. Dark, depressing, violent, and cynical. Everything I look for in a good (picture) book. There's an obvious misogynistic stream running right down the center of it, but I'm reading all of the above as ironic. (I gave up reading rhetoric and communication theory to give myself more time for reading important things like this.)

[via Drawn!]

Posted by johndan at 06:25 PM | TrackBack

Storyboard Version of Moleskine

Cinema Minima reports that Amazon is now selling storyboard versions of the Moleskine notebook. CM is obviously taken with the movie-related possibilities of the notebooks, but I think they'd be great for interface design as well.

The first half of the book has two frames per page — the last half has four frames per page along the left side, with room to write text to the right of each frame. A great productivity tool to help create graphic and narrative depictions.

[If you're going to buy one, route yourself through the link above so Cinema Minima get a small commission--no extra cost to you.]

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 06:07 PM | TrackBack

March 29, 2005

Free conference calling

I haven't tested this out yet, but looks potentially useful to those of you who work at companies that provide long-distance service for work-related calls, but don't offer easy conference calling that lets participants dial in (like my university).

In order for conference participants to reach our service, each one must call a telephone number. For Reservationless Standard and Web-Scheduled Standard conferences this number may be local or long distance, depending on their location. The only costs for these type of conference calls are whatever long distance rates are charged by each individual conference participant's long distance carrier (Sprint, MCI, AT&T, etc.). We do not require the use of any specific carrier, nor do we know what rates you pay on your calling plan.

For Web-Scheduled Premium 800 conference calls the dial-in number will be a toll-free number.  The conference Organizer will pay $0.10 per minute for each Participant in the conference.  Since the Participants in the conference will use a toll-free number they will not pay anything to use our service.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 10:49 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

Linux in an Ethernet Jack

Slashdot points to a recently released linux box that fits inside a standard RJ-45 Ethernet Jack.

World's Smallest Linux Box Fits in RJ-45 Jack: "An anonymous reader writes 'German electronics company Kleinhenz is shipping a network-enabled Linux system built into an RJ-45 Ethernet jack. 'Picotux' has a 55MHz ARM processor, 2MB of Flash, 8MB of RAM, a serial port, and five lines of GPIO. It measures 0.75 x 0.75 x 1.4 inches (19 x 19 x 36mm), and weighs 0.64 ounces (18 grams), packaged in a metal housing. A wireless 802.11 version appears to be on the horizon, too. So, if you've ever wanted to network-enable, say, a robot, boombox, or model airplane, this could be the system for you.' Is this really the world's smallest? It looks a bit chunkier than a tiny gumstix machine."

It's not high performance, but devices like this are opening up a new space for enduser product development, given linux's ability to run relatively low-demand applications on limited-resource machines. (And I thought the fact that I once ran Apache on my Sharp Zaurus, linux-based PDA was cool.)

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 07:19 AM | TrackBack

Someone Comes to (Sim) Town

This summer, SF-author and general web celebrity Cory Doctorow will participate in a Second Life contest to develop an in-world version of his forthcoming book, Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town [amazon link].

What I find interesting about this is that virtual books such as this--texts that we normally see in "physical" form being replicated and mutated into virtual versions in MMORPGs--are typically discussed without reference to a "physical" book's own virtual nature. Physical books are, simultaneously, virtual and physical objects, possessing a materiality that somehow seems to balance their inherent (and hierarchically superordinate) virtuality. I'm not dismissing the fact that in-world/virtual books work differently than their physical counterparts--they do, and that's a good thing--but it's interesting to watch developers, users, and communities come to grips with the shifting and sometimes contradictory articulations of what these new things "mean".

[via New World Notes]

Posted by johndan at 07:03 AM | TrackBack

March 28, 2005

Staring into the Void

You know in movies where someone is hiking in dense woods in the mountains, and they suddenly emerge into a clearing and pause briefly and look down, only to realize with horror that they're standing at the edge of a precipice, and the camera pans down to reveal their feet on a crumbling, rocky trail, small stones tumbling out from under their shoes to fall several thousand feet into a yawning void that they've almost stepped out into? Checking my email this morning, still groggy and uncaffeinated, I almost clicked on this link in an email message apparently from my bank. (Note actual URL in the status bar at the bottom.)


Posted by johndan at 07:45 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 26, 2005

Slipping Into the Art Scene

Banksy's website lists his current exhibitions at New York City's Metropolitian Museum of New York, the Museum of Modern Art, the Brooklyn Museum of Art, and the Museum of Natural History. In an act of DIY publicity, Banksy installed the art himself. The Wooster Collective has images of the installation process and the art he installed.


Banksy installing one work at The Met, from the Wooster Collective website

[via Underdog and Michael Moore]

Posted by johndan at 12:39 PM | TrackBack

March 25, 2005

Extremely Bad Logo Design

Boing-Boing shows an almost indescribably bad logo design for the Arlington Pediatric Center [NSFW; yes, it's that bad].

This is one of those instances where I think, "Computers can put an immense amount of creative power into the hands of average people, letting average people write and design things that were once the purview of elite professionals. Unfortunately, some of those people shouldn't be allowed near sharp objects, let alone computers."

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 11:40 PM | TrackBack

Tom Waits Top Twenty

Tom Waits discusses his top 20 favorite albums of all time at The Observer.

7 Lounge Lizards by Lounge Lizards (EG) 1980

They used to accuse John Lurie of doing fake jazz - a lot of posture, a lot of volume. When I first heard it, it was so loud, I wanted to go outside and listen through the door, and it was jazz. And that was an unusual thing, in New York, to go to a club and hear jazz that loud, at the same volume people were listening to punk rock. Get the first record, The Lounge Lizards. You know, John's one of those people, if you walk into a field with him, he'll pick up an old pipe and start to play it, and get a really good sound out of it. He's very musical, works with the best musicians, but never go fishing with him. He's a great arranger and composer with an odd sense of humour.

Posted by johndan at 08:49 PM | TrackBack

Free Audio Article Search Engine

Pro DAW has a search engine of free articles on a wide variety of topics related to digital audio production. Categories covered include sampling, mixing, basics, and about thirty more. They don't provide a count of how many links are in the pool, but a quick skim suggests it's in the neighborhood of a boatload, perhaps as many as more than you can shake a stick at.


Posted by johndan at 02:12 PM | TrackBack

Street Art

Web Zen this week offers links to Street Art sites.


Image from

Posted by johndan at 09:58 AM | TrackBack

Reality Hack

Wookie at Flickr collects photos of an interesting reality hack: Take a picture of what's behind your computer monitor and then set that image as your desktop. Here's an example:


[image from felipemusica's Flickr account]

[via Boing-Boing]
Posted by johndan at 12:03 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

March 24, 2005


Another Holga shot.

Reddish House

Posted by johndan at 11:10 PM | TrackBack

Search Engine Referrer Logs 2

23 Mar, Wed, 13:13:27 MSN Search: picture of dogs eyeball
Posted by johndan at 10:36 PM | TrackBack

Yahoo Creative Commons Search

Lessig notes that Yahoo just launched a search engine for material usable under Creative Commons licenses.

So, as I feel like I've said 10,000 times when explaining CC on the road, 'Show me pictures of the Empire State Building that I can use for noncommercial use,' and this is the first of about 13,000 on the list.

[via Lessig Blog]

Posted by johndan at 10:33 PM | TrackBack

Hello from TC310

Just a demo. Ignore the man behind the curtain.

Posted by johndan at 01:29 PM | TrackBack

FC Now: Free Advice

Ellen Lupton, design theorist, teacher, and practitioner, collects design aphorisms from designers (and others) on this web page.

We all were pillagers. - Carin Goldberg


Furniture is social poetry. - Abbott Miller

[via Fast Company]

Posted by johndan at 07:27 AM | TrackBack

March 23, 2005

Sand Animation

This has apparently been floating around the web for a couple of years, but I just found (via a MeFi post) this video of Ferenc Cacko's sand animation performance at the Seoul 2003 animation conference [direct link to 29 mb .wmv].

There's some more footage of other performances available from Cako's official website. [page has secondary links to .mpg files]

Posted by johndan at 11:15 AM | TrackBack

Search Engine Referrer Logs

Selected entries from this week's crop of search engine referrer log entries at Datacloud:

20 Mar, Sun, 20:08:51 MSN Search: drawn duck hats

21 Mar, Mon, 12:44:09 Yahoo: textbooks/rhino/pdf

22 Mar, Tue, 03:13:59 MSN Search: washing machine cover

22 Mar, Tue, 15:36:28 MSN Search: pictures of cats in party hats

And winner of the award for "Narrowing Search Results By Entering a Whole Book Into the Query Field" is,

21 Mar, Mon, 23:13:12 Google: max payne 2 text dialogue "All this time we got the fable of sleeping beauty wrong. The prince doesn't kiss her to wake her up. No one who has slept for a hundred years is likely to wake up. It was the other way around. He kisses her to wake himself up, from the nightmare that has brought him there."
Posted by johndan at 06:54 AM | TrackBack

March 22, 2005

Jeffrey Zeldman Presents The Daily Report

Jeffrey Zeldman reports on a tech panel/tech developer gameshow at SXSW where participants focused on users rather than geeking just for geek's sake.

But the surprise kick of the panel came from someplace completely different.

What was fresh and unexpected was the way panelists approached their tasks as users. Over and over, from the Flash and the “HTML” side, one heard comments like the following:

“I thought, as a user, what would I like to see here?”

For instance, when both teams reimagined Ludicorp Research’s Flickr, the panelists in charge began by talking about why they loved the Flickr application — and then discussed (and executed) changes that could make Flickr even better from a user’s perspective. As a bonus surprise, on the night before the panel, the folks at Ludicorp implemented some of the changes made by the HTML team. (Digital) life imitates (virtual) game show.

Thinking like a user. It seems so obvious. But it is not.

Tragic but true. Not that being geeky isn't important, but it's depressing how many tech developers never get beyond the level of doing cool things just to impress their small circle of friends.

There's an old IBM commercial showing a bunch of geeks in a logo gathered excitedly around a computer screen. A newcomer peers over their shoulders to the animated image of a company logo with colorful flames leaping out of it. "It's a flaming logo!" one of the geeks exclaims. "Why's it flaming," the new guy asks. An incredulous face looks up at him and says, "Because it's a flaming logo."

[via ]

Posted by johndan at 10:29 PM | TrackBack

Subject Lines

One of my pet peeves (I have so very, very many) is uninformative email subject lines. Since, like many of you, I get between 100 and 200 messages a day (that's after spam filtering). And a good percentage of them say things like "Hi" or "?" or "Re: ".

Subject lines aren't the only way surface-level feature I use to skim my In box; the From: field is usually about as important, so if it's from a family member, colleague, for friend, the subject line isn't really an issue. But I frequently also get messages from other people who need information from me or are trying to get me important messages. But if I don't recognize the sender's address/name and the subject line doesn't give me any useful info, the message will frequently be ignored for days (sometimes forever).

Brendan Connelly has some useful tips over at Slacker Manager. Some would require a little coordination among users, since they're basically short codes ("911" for extremely urgent info/requests), but it's a start, anyway.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 08:12 PM | TrackBack

March 21, 2005

Gas Pumps

I long for the days when gas was only $2.07 a gallon. (I paid something like $2.22 last weekend.) Slipping into my old-man-with-ridiculous-stories mode, I recall riding around in my cousin Wendy's nova to distant varsity basketball games, and stopping occasionally to fill up the tank with change she kept in her car's ashtray.

Gas Pumps

And I'm rethinking that decision, several years back, to buy a Nissan XTerra instead of a Prius. The Prius wouldn't have been able to make it down our driveway between late November and mid-March, but for the money I'd have saved on gas, I could have hired several people to lift me onto their shoulders, even at above minimum wage, and carry me into campus every day.

[Shot with a heavily-modified Holga and Fujifilm NPH 100. The photo processing lab sent me a note to tell me that my camera seemed to have "issues." Don't we all.]

Posted by johndan at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

March 20, 2005

Worst Jobs in History

Here's a useful site for those days when you're reconsidering your career choices. BBC's Channel 4 "The Worst Jobs in History." Here's a bit from the job description for rat catchers:

Join the world of pest control and tell the cats to move aside – you'll be doing the rat catching in your street from now on.

If the idea of despatching the poor little rodents with your own hands offends your sensitive soul, don't worry – you can keep them alive. Just bag up the little bundles of fur and take them around to your local pub. There you'll be handsomely rewarded for your trouble. The slathering dogs in the rat pit will do the dirty work for you to the delight of the drunken crowd.

As the kid from My Life as a Dog says, "You have to have something to compare to."


Posted by johndan at 05:22 PM | TrackBack

March 19, 2005

Last-Minute Cramming

The USA National Memory Championship was recently held at Samuel Gompers High School in the Bronx. I thought I was doing well because I memorized Pi to 12 places when I was in high school. (And I'm embarrassed to say that I've been unable to clear those 12 digits out of long-term memory for something more useful in the twenty-five years since.) Includes events like Speed Numbers and Random Words:

Mental Athletes will have 15 minutes to memorize a list of words organized numerically in five columns with 20 words per column. Competitors MUST start at the first word of column 1 and remember as many of the words as possible.

Overall 2004 winner Ram Colli, a Virginia Tech grad student, won the Random Words event with 114 points. It's not clear exactly what "114 points" means on a quick glance, since scoring is (predictably) complicated, and includes six different methods of scoring based on performance.

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 09:09 PM | TrackBack

March 18, 2005


Three words: MIDI Sock Puppet.


Posted by johndan at 12:56 AM | TrackBack

March 17, 2005

The Eyeball Kid

The Eyeball Kid: A weblog about Tom Waits.

[via The Raindogs List]

Posted by johndan at 07:25 PM | TrackBack An online archive of freely usable multimedia art (supports .jpg .swf, mp3, and many more--also accepting submissions.

On you are free to download, copy, use, change, display and distribute all works.

You can also upload the works that you modify or post comments and feedback.

For photos and movies use the gallery uploads (supported file types: jpg, gif, png, avi, mpg, mpeg, wmv, mov, swf)

For music files, mp3s, waf, pdf, aiff, docs... use the uploader.

You don't have to login or register to use the website to upload your work and post your news.

Please remember to credit the original author and note that commercial use of the works is not allowed.


Posted by johndan at 07:14 PM | TrackBack

date +%s Turning 1111111111

date +%s Turning 1111111111: "initsix writes 'Break out your party hats. According to , Unix time is supposed reach 1111111111 on Fri, 18 Mar 2005 01:58:31 GMT That's only 1036372537 seconds from 2^31 (ie Tue, 19 Jan 2038 03:14:08 GMT)!!'"

[via Slashdot]

Posted by johndan at 07:00 PM | TrackBack

March 16, 2005

"The +10 Hammer of Eternal Banishment"

MMORPG juggernaut World of Warcraft permanently suspended more than 1,000 users that were engaging in the practice of selling their in-game gold for real-world dollars, a practice parent company Blizzard says violates the game's terms of use.

[via Ars Technica]

Posted by johndan at 08:28 PM | TrackBack

Ego Mosaic

AmazType snags book cover images using Amazon Web Services to construct a mosaic based on author names or book titles.


[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 06:54 PM | TrackBack

That's My Vader

Rob Eccles imagines his life if he was played by Darth Vader and limited to dialogue from the first Star Wars movie.

8 a.m.

Vader hovers over my wife, breathing angrily as she dresses the baby. As one article of clothing is applied, the baby swiftly removes the previous article, dropping it to the floor and laughing.

Wife: [shaking fist, feigning anger] You’d better be good, young lady!

Baby: You go away!

Vader: The Force is strong with this one.

Wife: Why don’t you go let the dog out?

Vader: [exhales powerfully and spins dramatically, whipping his cape behind him and knocking a framed picture to the floor] Don’t underestimate the Force.

Wife: And make sure the gate is closed!

Vader: Escape is not his plan. I must face him. Alone.

[via The Morning News]

Posted by johndan at 06:08 PM | TrackBack

March 15, 2005


A group of professional illustrators are collaborating on CAN, a collaborative art novel.


[via Drawn!]

Posted by johndan at 08:03 PM | TrackBack

Billy Bragg

Rhino hosts streaming versions of two classic Billy Bragg videos: You Woke Up My Neighborhood and Sexuality [page has links to QT, Real, and WM versions in several bandwidths].

The MeFi post I snagged the above from also links to a more recent live appearance [direct mpeg link].


Posted by johndan at 07:41 PM | TrackBack

Physical Graffiti

Pips Lab gathered graffiti artists, gave them lights, and asked them to trace tags in the air while they filmed long exposures with multiple cameras to create 3D light graffiti. [Flash site that takes a while to load--it's worth the wait.]

[via Drawn!]

Posted by johndan at 10:59 AM | TrackBack

March 14, 2005

Don't Work With Karl

Best Job Safety Training Video in the Slasher Film genre [.wmv link]. (NSFW, unless you're trying to get your co-workers to stay away from you.) The dialogue is in German, but blood is red in most cultures.


Posted by johndan at 11:47 PM | TrackBack

7 Words You Can't Say in Email

Susan Fisher at e-marketing firm BeTuitive lists (and discusses) seven words that are likely to trigger spam filters in email, including "win", "big bucks", "enlarge", and "free".

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 07:06 PM | TrackBack


On Campus

Posted by johndan at 12:42 AM | TrackBack

March 12, 2005

2005 Snow Sculpture Championships

The results (including images, video, and links to previous year's pages) of the 2005 Snow Sculpture Championships have been released. Here's first place:


Posted by johndan at 11:39 PM | TrackBack

What's In Your Bag

Boing-Boing points to this cool tag at Flickr on the popular meme, "What's In Your Bag?" I didn't post to this since I just switched bags, from an old Timbutktu Deedog to a Crumpler Crippy Duck, and between the newness of the bag and it's relatively small size, it holds a pretty uninteresting gathering of my 12" PowerBook, a couple of Uniball Micro pens, and one lone folder of papers. But the Flickr tag has some interesting pix.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 01:19 AM | TrackBack

March 11, 2005

Open Textbooks

WikiTextbook just just launched.

Posted by johndan at 05:20 PM | TrackBack

Extreme iPod: Survives Washer AND Dryer

This is handy information. iPod Mini survives trip through washing machine and dryer.

In somewhat related--but less successful news--a Motorola V300 doesn't survive being dropped into a bowl of soup.

[via and Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 11:43 AM | TrackBack

March 10, 2005

Rethinking "Writing"

When I was gathering some extra readings on Creative Commons for my Mass Media class, I found this O'Reilly interview with Lawrence Lessig I hadn't seen yet. Aside from other great thoughts about IP and culture, Lessig offered this question about how our culture is redefining "writing" (a topic I've been thinking about for four or five years, both in terms of IP and more broadly as it "writing" applies to things like sampling, databases, and collage.

One way I've begun to think about this is to question whether within our culture, writing is allowed. Now when you say the word writing, for those of us over the age of 15, our conception of writing is writing with text, and in fact our tradition protects the right to write with text and to draw upon other people's writings with text quite substantially. People can review my book and quote my words in reviewing my book, criticize me, do whatever they want, and that's protected by a tradition of fair use that has taken hundreds of years to develop but is now pretty strong.

But if you think about the ways kids under 15 using digital technology think about writing--you know, writing with text is just one way to write, and not even the most interesting way to write. The more interesting ways are increasingly to use images and sound and video to express ideas. Well, all of those ways of writing under the law as it's understood right now are basically illegal unless you secure permission from the author up front. So the same act of creativity in some sense, you know, taking, creating, mixing out of what other people do, is legal in the text world and illegal in the digital media world. And the struggle is to get people to recognize that there's no good reason for the rules to be so radically different between the two contexts, and that we ought to be encouraging a wider range of creativity using digital media--both because there are many people who would be extraordinarily talented in exploiting those types of creativity, and also because it would really spur growth in collective literacy about how media itself functions and how it has its effect.

More about this in the "read" section of my website, including the Datacloud manuscript, the "Subject Lines" talk I gave at a couple of places last year, and "Understanding Composition as Architecture".

Posted by johndan at 05:05 PM | TrackBack

Reason 3.0 Out Today

Propellerheads' long-awaited update to it's synth/sequencer/virtual audio kitchen sink app Reason 3.0, is out today. Here's CreateDigitalMusic's take on it:

Is the hype a little out of whack? Yes. But there's some incredibly clever features here: basically, the ability to preview soft synths without the instrument, and easier MIDI control and layering/routing configuration than you're likely to find anywhere else. Routing was always one of the ingenious features of Reason, so while this is an evolutionary, not revolutionary release, it's not one to ignore, either. And Reason has always been a great compliment to software like Ableton Live. Oh, and you beta testers will get a deal on it, too.

I bought an M-Audio Radium61 MIDI keyboard last month--so far, it's illustrated the fact that I can't play keyboard, but I can push a key to start some cool loops and synths--and it came with a stripped-down version of Reason. Reason 3.0 looks like an interesting upgrade.


Posted by johndan at 05:00 PM | TrackBack

And Now For Something Completely Different

The complete archive of scripts from Monty Python's Flying Circus.

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 04:42 PM | TrackBack


Spamusement: "Poorly-drawn cartoons inspired by actual spam subject lines." Here's "Make Yourself a Man":


[via Drawn!]

Posted by johndan at 04:40 PM | TrackBack

March 09, 2005

Variables and Cognition

University of Queensland and Griffith University researchers are researching the cognitive limits of people attempting to track multiple variables. Here's part of a summary of the research that was published in Psychological Science:

In their experiment, 30 academics were presented with incomplete verbal descriptions of statistical interactions between fictitious variables, with an accompanying set of graphs that represented the interactions. The interactions varied in complexity -- involving as few as two variables up to as many as five. The participants were timed as they attempted to complete the given sentences to correctly describe the interactions the graphs were showing. After each problem, they also indicated how confident they were of their solutions.

The researchers found that, as the problems got more complex, participants performed less well and were less confident. They were significantly less able to accurately solve the problems involving four-way interactions than the ones involving three-way interactions, and they were (not surprisingly) less confident of their solutions. And five-way interactions? Forget it. Their performance was no better than chance.

After the four- and five-way interactions, participants said things like, "I kept losing information," and "I just lost track."

Halford et al concluded from these results that people -- academics accustomed to interpreting the type of data used in the experiment problems -- cannot process more than four variables at a time. Recognizing these human limitations can make a difference when designing high-stress work environments--such as air-traffic control centers--where employees must keep in mind several variables all at once.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

Is a Cinema Studies Degree the New M.B.A.?

NYT asks the question, Is a Cinema Studies Degree the New M.B.A.? (The answer: Maybe.) Much of the article turns on the notion that the growing importance of visual and audio skills are applicable across a wide range of professions.)

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 10:40 PM | TrackBack

I Like Your Colors

I Like Your Colors lets you enter a URL and then view a map of colors (and hex codes) used at the site. I'm not recommending stealing someone's color scheme, but it's a useful way to build your understanding of how good websites work (the first step in learning to build good websites yourself). (Note that this won't include any colors in images; it's just the HTML colors.

Datacloud, btw, is #CC9933, #669999, and #336666. Which I think came straight from the MovableType template I used. I wasted what little creativity on coming up with the name and modifying the stock photo heavily so I could use it in the banner.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 09:41 PM | TrackBack

Sunset 3.9.05

Sunset was weird tonight, going all purple, then red, then gold.

Sunset 3.9.05

Posted by johndan at 12:33 AM | TrackBack

March 07, 2005

Marker Board Walls

Kevin Kelly (not the Irish one) discusses several solutions to wall-sized whiteboards.

[via Cool Tools]

Posted by johndan at 10:24 PM | TrackBack

March 06, 2005

What's In Your Gadget Bag, Dave Barry?

Gizmodo asks Dave Barry what's in his gadget bag.

The main thing I carry in my gadget bag is about 28 different power converters. I don't know what they're all for: Some of them date back to the early 1990s. But if I ever need to recharge a notebook computer that I no longer own, I am READY.

[via Gizmodo]

Posted by johndan at 03:17 PM | TrackBack

Life During Wartime

As I left the house this morning, I could hear a jet overhead. Which isn't odd, since we're on the edge of a flightpath into Montreal, I think. But this was louder than usual. When I reached the bottom of the steps and looked up, I saw four parallel contrails just over the treeline. Either a training mission from the base an hour or so east of here, or four airline pilots staging a bizarre, coordinated work slowdown to protest wage stagnation.

Jet Trails 3

Underdog and I stood outside watching them trace arcs in the air for several minutes, back and forth across the sky. Almost poetic.

Useful training, I suppose, for intimidating terrorists who have never seen synchronized Olympic swimming events. Anyway, it looked cool.

Posted by johndan at 12:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 05, 2005


SSI provides online marketing videos of their Quad™ shredder. Your shredder handles lots of paper? Maybe even DVDs?

The Quad™ also does slightly larger items, like truck tires and washing machines.


Posted by johndan at 10:56 PM | TrackBack

March 04, 2005

Pinball Wizard Meets AARP

The Internet Pinball Database.

The Internet Pinball Machine Database — also known as the IPD or IPDB — is a comprehensive, searchable listing of virtually every pinball machine ever made.  It is an ad free, popup free, registration free resource.   The database is constantly expanding, but currently includes 24,740 images of 4,728 games and 2,282 other game related files, as well as links to other pinball websites, all arranged by machine.  The database also includes pitch & bat baseball games, cocktail table machines, bingos, and payout machines, when they have a pinball theme. It may also include information on some obscure games that are not pinball machines but sometimes are confused as them.

[via Kotaku]

Posted by johndan at 03:50 PM | TrackBack

Institute for Backup Trauma

John Cleese stars in a viral marketing piece from LiveVault: The Institute for Backup Trauma.


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Posted by johndan at 11:25 AM | TrackBack


Since Datacloud: The Dead Tree Edition is headed into print in the next month or so (I proofed front and back matter last week and approved a final cover design), I'm going to be taking the manuscript version (Word files) offline at some point next week. (If you've battled your way through the unproofread and un-copy-edited version, my apologies. I used to be a copy editor, but I burned out. Now I have to rely on professionals to fix extremely large number of noun/verb agreement issues, run-on sentences, mis-spellings, and various typographical errors. (Clearly, there is no such clean-up for my weblog.)

Posted by johndan at 11:15 AM | TrackBack


As I confessed earlier, I need to replace my cellphone. Unfortunately, my service contract doesn't expire until early this summer, so I'm not automatically eligble to upgrade my phone. Given how expensive it is to purchase a new phone outright (due to the market economy of cell phones, which are based primarily on service contracts rather that cell phones), I need to somehow convince Cingular that cutting me a four-month break on this is in their best interest, given that my family pays more than $60 a month for cellphone service spread across three phones, and the other two contracts in my family have already passed their two-year mark. Or something; I'm still working the rhetorical moves out in my head.

My local dealer doesn't have the particular Cingular phone that's compatible with the bluetooth software I use on my PowerBook (both iSync and Salling Clicker to control DVDs and PowerPoint), but the Cingular Website has it. Cool. Unfortunately, when I try to access the page I need to find prices and order it, I get an error message telling me they're experiencing technical issues, and that I should try again in a few minutes. I've been getting the same error message for several weeks, on numerous computers and browsers (both Windows and Mac), so apparently this route won't work.

Then I made my big mistake: I decided to call Cingular Customer Service.

Right now, I'm taking a break from nearly an hour talking to something like 12 different customer service reps. I was writing down names and responses at one point, but I gave up after the sixth transfer. (I've only been talking to humans for about eight of those minutes; the rest I've been navigating a phone tree that makes a Banyan look like a Pine. The number "12" doesn't include the numerous times I've selected an option in the phone tree and ended up back in the default phone tree, for now apparent reason.)

Half of the customer service reps said that they couldn't personally help me, but that they could transfer me to a department that could--then they dumped me out into dead ends or dial tones or back into the main default phone tree that I started out in.

Not that the process hasn't been educational. I've learned, for example, that Cingular's phone tree will offer you four or five options, then pause. Initially, I had been picking whichever of the four or five options might work best, even if none of them seemed ideal. Once, though, I hesitated and, after five seconds of dead air, the recorded voice offered me more options. Like, "OK, if you're really not happy with that, I guess I can give you some more. If you insist."

I was told by "Kim" at one point that I could purchase a phone at a discounted price (not as cheap as the new activation/upgrade, but cheaper than buying it outright) if I signed a two-year contract.

When I was transferred, the next customer service rep told me that her office didn't handle the specific phone I wanted, but she could transfer me to a department that did.

Then she dumped me back out into the main phone tree.

When I called back, another customer rep listened patiently as I recounted my odyssey, then said that she had a number I could use. She gave me the standard customer service number (which I had initially dialed).

When I asked her if she had a direct line for that department instead, she said, "We used to, but we don't have it any more." I laughed and said, "But you're a phone company." She said, "Um ... yeah. But I can transfer you."

Then she transferred me to the default phone tree.

I told Underdog that she might just have to get used to me not having a cell phone.

Update: After an hour and a half, my fourteenth customer service rep, Oliver (my New Best Friend) offered to not only sell me the phone I needed, but also give it to me at the standard upgrade price (rather than the elevated price I'd expected to pay since my contract wasn't up yet).

Of course, there's better than even odds that Oliver got wind of my travails over the customer service grape vine, and right now he's rolling on the floor laughing his ass off. We'll see if the phone ever arrives in the mail. (Yeah, I know, I should have just bought a phone off eBay. But I've heard of too many buyers who did that and ended up a with a phone that wouldn't work for them, for a variety of reasons.)

Posted by johndan at 08:58 AM | TrackBack

Web Zen: DJ Zen

Web Zen this week: DJ Zen, including links to things like DJ Fingerpuppet.


Posted by johndan at 08:03 AM | TrackBack

March 03, 2005

NYPL Digital Gallery Online

The New York Public Library launched their Digital Gallery today. 275,000 images. Categories include "Arts & Literature," "Cities & Buildings", "Culture & Society," "History & Geography," "Industry & Technology," Nature & Science," and "Printing & Graphics" (topics not suitable for use with "&" need not apply). Let's just say there's a lot of interesting stuff here.

[via Jeffrey Zeldman Presents: The Daily Report]

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Google Image Montage

Google Image Montage-Maker: Type in a search term and this app hits google image's site, collects 20 images, then arranges them in a montage. Either this is more interesting than it sounds, or I'm tired. Maybe both. (Note: Don't type in "roadkill".)

[via Gizmodo]

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March 02, 2005

Designer's Toolbox

(I thought I'd posted this to Datacloud earlier, but apparently not.) The Designer's Toolbox: an extremely useful website for designers, providing CSS generators, greeked-text ("Res Ipsa Dolor") in multiple formats and character lengths, sizes for common media inserts and envelopes, and more.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 10:36 PM | TrackBack

Getting to "No"

At OnlineOrganizing, "Professional Organizer" Ramona Creel offers 20 ways of saying "No" when asked to take on additional work.

I'm frequently asked for advice about getting through the tenure process (probably because someone as absent-minded and unqualified as me must have had some tricks up their sleeve), I tell new faculty members and grad students that it involves either (a) learning to eat coffee beans without first converting them to liquid form or (b) learning how to say "No" when your department chair asks you to join another committee or spearhead a new initiative.

With Creel's work as a resource, I can finally start pushing people to option (b).

None of the advice is wildly innovative, but it's surprising how hard it is to come up with valid reasons when you're put on the spot. Most of the suggestions are great. But the "I need some free time for myself" probably won't fly in many corporate or academic circles--but you can whisper it to yourself after you offer another one, such as "Let me hook you up with someone who can do it." Learning how to dish work off onto an unsuspecting colleague is a time-honored tactic.

[via Lifehacker]

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Jamming the System

The Couch Potato Tormentor is a small infrared device that you can program with a tv remote, then hide in a room where it will randomly play back various signals (switching channels, changing volume, etc.). $14.95 is a small price to pay for the ability to goof with passive media consumption.

The website provides the helpful advice, "Remember to discontinue use if it becomes more than a minor annoyance to others," a statement their lawyers probably required in order to limit liability for the violent reaction this might induce.

[via Gizmodo]

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Hacking the Mass Turnpike experiments with exactly what you can get away with when you toss coins (or other objects) into the tollbooth change bin at the Mass Turnpike. He begins by tossing in 97 cents rather than the required dollar, and was surprised to get away with it. After a second experiment with a mere seven cents, things get weird.

Experiment #3. The next time I went through, I decided to just write them an I.O.U., and tape it to the toll booth. I signed it "Mariah Carey," because I figured she can afford the extra dollar.


Then he drove off. No one came after him. Other experiments include two pictures of rapper 50 Cent (which, he explains, equals a dollar), mixed currencies (rupees, markas, and Chuck E. Cheese tokens), and more.

[via Boing Boing]

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From a Fast Company interview:

No matter how well you decorate a cubicle, it's still a cubicle.

- Dan Rosensweig, COO, Yahoo

[via Fast Company]

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