May 27, 2005

Search Engine Referrer Logs 6

27 May, Fri, 15:27:22 MSN Search: taunting child pictures
Posted by johndan at 06:43 PM | TrackBack

Guinness on/as Ice

For those impending hot summer afternoons: a HOWTO on making a Guinness popsicle (using the pint cans of Guinness). Might be dodgier with the tap or bottle version.

Note: Wolfen has exceeded his image bandwidth limit, but the text is still viewable. See the finished product in this boingboing post.

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 03:06 PM | TrackBack

May 26, 2005

Digable Planets Reunion Tour

According to this NPR report (now pretty widely circulated), Digable Planets is reuniting and planning a tour [cee knowledge link].

OK, is it lame that Digable Planets reunion tour surfaces via NPR? Or is it just lame that NPR is where I caught the news? Or both?


Posted by johndan at 01:46 PM | TrackBack

Customer Support Tips

If you're like me, you have a love/hate tolerate/want to kill relationship with tech support people. But, like telemarketers, they're just people making low wages trying to do their jobs. Unlike telemarketers (who are fair game for rants and taunting), tech support people have something you need: ways to solve problems. So it's in your best interest to read these tips about getting good phone support from Signal to Noise. (Note: I can tell you from experience that claiming you're an expert in usability, documentation, interface design, or vodoo won't help much, either. Nor will slamming the phone handset repeatedly on the table while screaming, My hard drive is making a noise like this! [whack!] Can you hear it? [whack!] Am I making the seriousness of this problem clear to you yet? [whack!]. The latter, though, feels viscerally satisfying.)

On a related note, Lifehacker, who linked to the above, also links to related and more humorous material at Gizmodo, including Lies Verizon DSL Support Has Told Me Today, and Lies I Have Told Verizon DSL Support Today.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 01:16 PM | TrackBack

May 24, 2005

Rescinding Password Security Advice

Lifehacker notes that a Microsoft security expert contradicts accepted wisdom that says writing down your password is a massive security risk. Jesper Johnson, senior program manager for security policy at Microsoft, speaking at conference hosted by the Australian Computer Emergency Response Team, offered this commonsense (but often-ignored) scenario [c|net link]:

"How many have (a) password policy that says under penalty of death you shall not write down your password?" asked Johansson, to which the majority of attendees raised their hands in agreement. "I claim that is absolutely wrong. I claim that password policy should say you should write down your password. I have 68 different passwords. If I am not allowed to write any of them down, guess what I am going to do? I am going to use the same password on every one of them."
Such advice may have made sense twenty years ago, when the majority of users needed password for a one or two systems. But today, even average users sometimes need a handful of passwords. Not counting systems of extremely low importance (like bulletin boards I rarely use or the NY Times), I must have 20 - 30 passwords that I have to maintain, ranging from banking sites to email accounts--sites where security is relatively to extremely important to me. I moved, quite a while back, to an app on my system that encrypts the account info into a file that I can use a master password to open. Not completely secure, but good enough for most of us. (One reader at Lifehacker suggested an index card file, which they can lock up, carry with them, etc. Low tech, but probably also "good enough."

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 03:26 PM | TrackBack

May 23, 2005

Tires and Sky


A blanket of tires covering livestock feed manure/compost (according to underdog) near a cattle farm in Hopkinton, NY. (Lomo LC-A with Fuji Superia 100.)

Posted by johndan at 03:39 PM | TrackBack

May 22, 2005

Paul Ricoeur, RIP

BBC News reports that way-influential phenomenologist Paul Ricoeur died recently. More info about Ricoeur at the LA Times obit on him, a wikipedia entry, and the International Phenomenology Network [in French].

Posted by johndan at 11:48 AM | TrackBack

Glazed Ginger and Gloxinia

Matt at Signal vs. Noise offers the top 10 "new" hot colors reported by the Pantone Color Institute. (Of course, unless you're obsessive about calibrating your monitor or have a set of Pantone color chips, what you'll see are only approximations of the actual Pantone colors. Interesting nonetheless.)

The comments section of the SvN post includes links to .jpgs [one, two] of a WSJ article of an article on Pantone's annual color forecast.

Posted by johndan at 10:29 AM | TrackBack

May 21, 2005

Becoming Sandra Bullock

At Flak Magazine, Aemilia Scott reflects on her role as a photo double for Sandra Bullock.

That woman in the trailer surely has to deal with the ramifications of her on-camera persona — that she will eventually change with age, as humans are wont to do, and that the public will become enraged that Sandra Bullock is fading away. But for now she can use this postmodern paradox to her advantage. She can revel in the portable nature of Sandra Bullock. That's where I come in.

(Scott identifies the structure as a ray, although it seems more in line with Foucault's author-function or Hall's ongoing articulation.)

Posted by johndan at 05:10 PM | TrackBack

May 20, 2005

Roach Cyborg

This is from SIGGRAPH 2004, but I just stumbled over it today: A roach/robot hybrid composed of a Madagascan Hissing cockroach, some velcro, and a ping-pong ball that the roach uses as a trackball to control a four-wheeled robot. Freakish.


Designer Garnet Hertz says as far as he can tell, the roach suffers no stress from using the device (since Madagascan Hissing cockroaches are named because they hiss when they're angry or threatened, and the cockroach running the robot doesn't make any noise when it's controlling the robot). After ten to twenty minutes sessions on the robot, the cockroach is removed and put back in its terrarium. More info about the roach cyborg at the Control and Communication page and info about other projects at Concept Lab's site.

[via Future Feeder]

Posted by johndan at 05:32 PM | TrackBack

Links for Web Designers and Developers

Check out this extensive list of links for Web developers and designers that Vitaly Friedman put together.

[via Lifehacker]

Posted by johndan at 11:23 AM | TrackBack

May 19, 2005

Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds

Hippocamp gathered a group of experimental musicians to deconstruct, remix, mangle, augment, and otherwise ruin (their term, not mine) The Beach Boys' Pet Sounds (links to mp3 tracks on page). Although purists will undoubtedly be offended, it's an interesting work.

Here are some things that need to be said:

Pet sounds is an album that everyone should own, study, cherish, and enjoy. Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds is an open-ended experiment conducted out of reverence, curiosity, and awareness of the sobering fact that you can't improve upon perfection. [...]

Here are some of the key concepts regarding Hippocamp Ruins Pet Sounds:

- The songs that form Pet Sounds are timeless and as relevant today as they ever were.

- Recontextualizing the sounds, lyrics, and feelings of the original work can transform the listening experience entirely.

- Anything we meager bedroom artists shall ever hope to accomplish will never hold a torch to the masterpiece that is the original Pet Sounds.

[via Spoilt Victorian Child]

Posted by johndan at 06:17 PM | TrackBack

Outsourced Tutoring

The Times Union reports on the possible use of U.S. No Child Left Behind act funds to offshore tutoring services.

The practice [...] is drawing attention in New York, where several firms licensed by the state to tutor students in poor-performing schools have dipped their toes in the overseas talent pool.

The No Child Left Behind Act, which mandates testing and says the students in low-scoring schools are entitled to extra help, provides federal funds for such tutoring -- estimated to be a $2 billion industry.

At least two of the companies licensed in New York, Brainfuse Online Instruction and, have either hired or looked at hiring overseas tutors.

[via Educational Technology Weblog]

Posted by johndan at 06:02 PM | TrackBack

May 18, 2005

Paper Plate Education

The Paper Plate Education project at DePaul asks people to simplify complex ideas in order to explain them using a paper plate. Examples provided include a demonstration of the transit of venus, a rainbow finder, and a demonstration of the effects of light pollution (designed by an eight year old).


Posted by johndan at 07:12 PM | TrackBack

Sonic Clothing Roundup

CreateDigitalMusic has a roundup of links about sonic clothing projects, including soundSleevs and a denim synth jacket. (I've been fascinated by this stuff ever since I saw Laurie Anderson's drum suit in Home of the Brave.)


Posted by johndan at 10:11 AM | TrackBack

May 17, 2005

Out of the Loop

I've been offline for a couple of days, in case you're wondering. Some on-location research. Long story I'll get into later.


Posted by johndan at 11:46 PM | TrackBack

May 13, 2005

Contagious Media

For those of you who (like me) are into big words and sentence structures that make your head hurt, the online journal Fibreculture's issue 4 focuses on theories of contagious information:

This issue of Fibreculture Journal, dedicated as it is to an exploration of the matter of contagion and the diseases of information, may be usefully read in the context of the political, ethical and theoretical problem of resistance, such as it was outlined by Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari in 1991. Indeed, the connection which Deleuze and Guattari make – between an excess of communication and a lack of resistance – suggests very strongly the possibility of an epidemiological determination of contemporary politics, and this in a number of senses.

Lots of Deleuze & Guattari, Virilio, Foucault, Serres, and more.

[via jill/txt]

Posted by johndan at 11:27 AM | TrackBack

May 11, 2005

Search Engine Referrer Logs 5

Just a selection.

10 May, Tue, 10:18:30 MSN Search: exam paper leakage
10 May, Tue, 14:23:20 MSN Search: "DUST COMMANDER"
10 May, Tue, 20:16:35 MSN Search: anal bulbs
11 May, Wed, 06:34:08 MSN Search: DONNA FAT LADY PAINTINGS
11 May, Wed, 10:37:19 MSN Search: kentucky derby .wmv files
11 May, Wed, 21:23:30 MSN Search: .mov horse

Posted by johndan at 11:17 PM | TrackBack

Remixing the BBC

This sounds promising: The BBC has just launched the beta of BBC Backstage, a bunch of raw material (feeds and APIs) that can be used to create your own version of BBC shows. is the BBC's new developer network, providing content feeds for anyone to build with. Alternatively, share your ideas on new ways to use BBC content. This is your BBC. We want to help you play.

Check out the prototypes section for some samples of what you can do. Current prototypes include WikiProxy, a BBC News feed that (among other things) scans BBC News posts and adds links to relevant Wikipedia articles, a searchable program archive (apparently something the current BBC site doesn't offer), and more.

Cory Doctorow at BoingBoing calls it "the Flickerization of the Beeb."

[via Boing Boing]

Posted by johndan at 03:45 PM | TrackBack

May 10, 2005

The History of Sampling

Despite the fact that it's a Java applet (the first comment on the link to this at MetaFilter was "BIG ASS JAVA APPLET," followed by a bunch of apologies and general gnashing of teeth), The History of Sampling is an interactive way of looking at links among older source materials to their sampling in newer music.


Above, for example, is a (much-shrunken) graph showing songs that shows two songs off Herbie Hancock's 1973 "Headhunters" being resampled by Digital Underground, Diggable Planets, US3, and others between 1988 and 2000.


Posted by johndan at 02:33 PM | TrackBack

May 08, 2005


I've been hoping to get a little more use out of my Sharp MD DR-7 recorder by augmenting it with a T-style stereo mic for a while. All the halfway-decent mics I've looked at run in the $100 range, so I've been putting it off. A month or so back, I started seeing reviews of VisiVox mics, built by John Enoch up in British Columbia, that people said were very high quality as well as relatively cheap. You can buy them from the site directly, or look for their occasional direct sales of items on eBay. I checked eBay and managed to catch one of their t-style stereo mics for $29 so I ordered it.


This a a nice mic. Very sensitive, nicely balanced. I've been using it only a couple of days, testing it out with simple environmental recordings and acoustic guitar, and so far I'm really happy with it. A lot more clarity than my Shure SM-57. And about 5% of the size to boot.

Posted by johndan at 04:17 PM | TrackBack

Online Discussion

Probably an old joke, but here's a take on online discussions from a Clarkson Daily Jolt franchise that's pretty much accurate for every online discussion space I've been on since the mid-1980s:

How many Forum Group Members does it take to change a light bulb?

1 to change the light bulb but, after posting that light bulb...

* 14 to share similar experiences of changing light bulbs and how the light bulb could have been changed differently.

* 7 to caution about the dangers of changing light bulbs.

* 27 to point out spelling/grammar errors in posts about changing light bulbs.

* 53 to flame the spell checkers.

* 41 to correct spelling/grammar flames.

* 6 to argue over whether it's "lightbulb" or "light bulb" ...another 6 to condemn those 6 as anal-retentive.

* 2 industry professionals to inform the group that the proper term is "lamp".

* 27 to post URLs where one can see examples of different light bulbs.

* 14 to post that the URLs were posted incorrectly and then post the corrected URLs.

* 12 to post to the group that they will no longer post because they cannot handle the light bulb controversy.

* 4 to suggest that posters request the light bulb FAQ.

* 44 to ask what is a "FAQ"?

* 4 to say "didn't we go through this already a short time ago?"

* 143 to say, "Do a Google search on light bulbs."

* 1 forum lurker to respond to the original post 6 months from now and start it all over again.

Posted by johndan at 03:52 PM | TrackBack

May 07, 2005

Building a Meme

The Contagious Media Showdown offers cash prizes ($1k-$2k) for publishing something on the web that, basically, gets a lot of people to link to you. The competition includes categories for sites with CC licensing (attribution-sharealike), most links from blogs, and more.

So, yeah, it's basically a popularity contest. But it's interesting from a rhetorical standpoint. Unfortunately, my rhetorical audience strategies (as I told my dissertation director when the audience question came up after Stuart Selber asked it) has always been largely limited to "People just like me but who know a little bit less." This strategy has consistently made me popular with four random and always shifting grad students and my dad.

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 11:46 PM | TrackBack

Now Watching


Big Ideas: A Radiohead Video Chronology. (Boot from somewhere, I think A screencap from "The Bends" at Later with Jools Holland.

Posted by johndan at 11:29 AM | TrackBack

May 06, 2005

Narrative Compression

Fimmaker h'biki (Stu Willis) discusses narrative compression and music videos as he edits a music video.

As an aside, and a kind of conclusion, the skill that I think the best music video directors have learnt - and have brought to the mainstream - is a deep intuitive understanding of pacing, particularly narrative compression. They understand how quickly an audience absorbs information and they've pushed the envelope vis a vis communicating that enevelop. David Fincher's films, especially, move swiftly. He knows that the information that an audience needs to get from a shot is X and once X is told, he moves on. Its an impressive feat of direction and is probably one of the areas in which music videos are criminally underrated vis a vis their influence on narrative cinema. They've pushed the unravelling of the continuity editing style in mainstream cinema.

The whole post is a great mix of technical, functional realities and philosophical, narrative concepts.

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 11:51 PM | TrackBack

DIY Algorithmic Music

Critters, a free OS X app from grain-brain, lets you design music based on algorithms.

Our goal at grain-brain is to provide a versatile, easy-to-use tool that anyone can use to compose original music. No musical ability required. Listen to a batch of critters, rate them and create a new generation based on your preferences. Breed them repeatedly, 'steering' your critters towards your desired destination. Or, start over with a fresh litter of random critters. Critters is not a loop-based composer. There are an infinite number of potential compositions (Well actually only 2 to the 10,000th). Create endless subtle (or not) mutations of your favorite critters. If you know what you like you can compose.

Apparently Critters supports Audio Units like Crystal and will export files to iTunes or to sequencers or GarageBand for dissection/use. As the Critter's site says, this could be a useful app for creating soundtracks to use in animations, movies, and presentations. There are several dozen features you can tweak, ranging from virtual instrument (there must be around a hundred patches included), key, scale, and lots more. I've only been playing with it for a few minutes (I have a weird techno/gamelan orchestra/tubular bells thing running in the background right now), but it's way cool. You should download this; trust me.

Posted by johndan at 11:28 PM | TrackBack

Manipulate Time With Their Hands


In Doug Pray's documentary Scratch, Naut Humon described turntablists as being able to "manipulate time with their hands." Khronos adds space to the mix. SIGGRAPH 2005 paperon Khronos, a video playback system that allows users to scrub video in bizarre ways, temporal and spatial. Too cool.

A classic video-tape allows a simple control of the reproducing process (stop, backward, forward, and elementary control on the reproduction speed). Modern digital players add little more than the possibility to perform random temporal jumps between image frames. The goal of the Khronos Projector is to go beyond these forms of exclusive temporal control, by giving the user an entirely new dimension to play with: by touching the projection screen, the user is able to send parts of the image forward or backwards in time. By actually touching a deformable projection screen, shaking it or curling it, separate "islands of time" as well as "temporal waves" are created within the visible frame. This is done by interactively reshaping a two-dimensional spatio-temporal surface that "cuts" the spatio-temporal volume of data generated by a movie.

There are some large .mov and .wmv demos (40-70 meg), but if you want something smaller, scroll down the main project page.

Posted by johndan at 10:47 PM | TrackBack

The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved

For those of you who need to begin ramping up for Derby weekend, the Derby Post has the full text from Hunter S. Thompson's "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved."

When the crowd stood to face the flag and sing "My Old Kentucky Home," Steadman faced the crowd and sketched frantically. Somewhere up in the boxes a voice screeched, "Turn around, you hairy freak!" The race itself was only two minutes long, and even from our super-status seats and using 12-power glasses, there was no way to see what really happened to our horses. Holy Land, Ralph's choice, stumbled and lost his jockey in the final turn. Mine, Silent Screen, had the lead coming into the stretch but faded to fifth at the finish. The winner was a 16-1 shot named Dust Commander.

Moments after the race was over, the crowd surged wildly for the exits, rushing for cabs and busses. The next day's Courier told of violence in the parking lot; people were punched and trampled, pockets were picked, children lost, bottles hurled. But we missed all this, having retired to the press box for a bit of post-race drinking. By this time we were both half-crazy from too much whiskey, sun fatigue, culture shock, lack of sleep and general dissolution. We hung around the press box long enough to watch a mass interview with the winning owner, a dapper little man named Lehmann who said he had just flown into Louisville that morning from Nepal, where he'd "bagged a record tiger." The sportswriters murmured their admiration and a waiter filled Lehmann's glass with Chivas Regal. He had just won $127,000 with a horse that cost him $6,500 two years ago. His occupation, he said, was "retired contractor." And then he added, with a big grin, "I just retired."

The Derby helpfully warns viewers that Thompson's article "includes adult language, references to drug and alcohol abuse, and other generalizations and behavior which readers might find quite shocking." The Thompson page also includes links to essays on the Derby by Steinbeck and Faulkner.


Posted by johndan at 10:04 PM | TrackBack

Deconstructivist (Information) Architecture

I've heard a lot of interaction designers and usability specialists discuss the problem of how to deal with drop-down menus for selecting countries in a global context. Most of us assume that my country is one of a handful of countries in the world (a short list that's generally composed of "my country," "a handful of countries I know people from or see on the news," and "the third world and countries we're at war with"). So despite the fact that the country drop-down menu is considered something of a difficult interface issue, I sort of like it. Users are reminded of the fact that they occupy a very tiny space in the world; their culture might seem universal, but it's in fact very local. There are other people out there.

Posted by johndan at 10:24 AM | TrackBack

May 05, 2005


Logging Chains

(Modified Holga, Fuji NPH 100 (I think) cross-processed. Sort of a photographic rube goldberg machine.)

Posted by johndan at 11:06 PM | TrackBack

Book as Architecture

I ordered the Phaidon Atlas of Contemporary World Architecture from Amazon last week. When I stopped by the office last night, there was enormous box from Amazon waiting for me. I figured it was just typical Amazon overpackaging--I frequently open boxes to find books that take up only 10% of the volume of the box, the rest filled with those little air pillows of cushioning.


I hadn't realized that the Atlas was not just oversized, but huge. 20" x 16" x 4". 19 pounds. (There wasn't even room in the box for those little air pillows of cushioning.) It comes packed in a thick plastic case with a carrying handle (good thing). I skimmed through it last night, and it's an amazing piece of work, full-color pictures and descriptions of more than a thousand buildings from around the globe. But just reading it presents ergonomic problems. I cleared off the kitchen table at home and opened it up; the right and left pages projected out off both edges of the table. Reading the text at the top of each page can cause eyestrain because the words are so far away. This isn't just a book about architecture, but something like a piece of architecture. It was an odd experience.

Posted by johndan at 10:06 AM | TrackBack

May 04, 2005

Moss Graffiti

Moss graffiti. With instructions and recipe.

Posted by johndan at 10:08 PM | TrackBack


Aardvark is a free Firefox extension that lets you dismantle web pages in WYSIWYG mode. Right-click or choose Start Aardvark from the Tools menu, and you have a whole bunch of new capabilities. Single-key commands allows you to hover over page elements and view their source code, change background colors, delete items from a page without changing the layout, and more.

I kept getting download errors, but eventually it installed. I've only played with it for a few minutes, but it looks extremely useful.

Posted by johndan at 08:53 PM | TrackBack

May 03, 2005

CSS Reboot

CSS Reboot, organized by B. Adam Howell and Matthew Pennell called on web designers to launch CSS-based redesigns of their sites on May 1, focusing particularly on the use of CSS techniques to make the sites fast loading but still useful and interesting (as opposed to the heavy use of Flash, which is often used to make sites interesting but very slow-loading, a problem B. Adam Howell noted plaguing the non-CSS-focused May 1st Reboot).

Posted by johndan at 06:06 PM | TrackBack

SUNY-Buffalo MMORPG Research Study

SUNY-Buffalo is apparently looking for volunteers to participate in a research project on "leakage between the real world and collaborative gaming work, in terms of both personality and social life." The project is currently titled "Playing Myself: The persistence of self-image in MMOGs."

As Kotaku noted in a post on this study, it might be hard to recruit subjects for this sort of research. Maybe the SUNY folk should consider conducting this as in-game study.

[via Kotaku]

Posted by johndan at 06:05 PM | TrackBack

May 02, 2005

Consumer-Driven Entertainment

Niall McKay at Wired News uses Gore's Current.TV as a springboard for a discussion of ZedTV, the three-year-old Canadian Broadcasting Corporation experiment in consumer-driven television programming.

The program calls itself "open-source television" because it not only encourages artists, bands, graphic artists, animators and filmmakers to use the ZeD website to submit content, but also invites them to use the site as an online portfolio.

In return, the site streams about 5,000 short-form videos gathered for the show's 300 episodes.

In the coming months, the site plans to launch a new function allowing users to stream a continuous random shuffle of music, art, animations and short videos to their desktops. The site claims 45,000 registered users.

Short-form content -- be it viewer-submitted videos, independent film or computer animation -- is nearly ready for prime time, according to analysts.

(I discussed ZedTV's decision to open source the software driving their website here previously.)

[via Cinema Minima]

Posted by johndan at 10:26 PM | TrackBack

"A Screaming Comes Across the Sky..."

Zak Smith decided to illustrate Pynchon's Gravity's Rainbow. One illustration for every page.

So I illustrated Gravity's Rainbow-- nobody asked me to, but I did it anyway. Most of the pictures are drawings-- ink on whatever paper was lying around, but there are also paintings (acrylic), photos I took, and experimental photographic processes. I tried to illustrate the passages as literally as possible-- if the book says there was a green Spitfire, I drew a green Spitfire. Mostly, I tried to make a series of pictures as dense, intricate, and rich as the prose in the book. The entire project was shown in the Whitney Museum's 2004 Biennial Exhibition of Contemporary Art and is now in the permanent collection of the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.


Posted by johndan at 07:16 PM | TrackBack

May 01, 2005

Partly Cloudy


I grew up in the midwest, so these images of massive funnel clouds really creep me out, even if my ethnocentric, monolingual brain can't make sense of the text.

[via one man safari]

Posted by johndan at 06:23 PM | TrackBack