October 29, 2003
San Diego FireIf my math is correct, 9.1% of San Diego County has been burned by the Cedar fire. San Diego County is 4,261 square miles -- approximately the same size as the state of Connecticut.
Just another way of realizing how huge this fire is.
Posted by brian at 05:06 PM
October 25, 2003
Apple MacOS X PanthermaniaIf Jon Stewart of Comedy Central's Daily Show covered tech events, he'd probably have this to say about this evening's Apple insanity:
"If your local shopping mall has an Apple Store, you may have noticed huge lines tonight as Apple launched its Panther upgrade to its MacOS X operating system. Hundreds of people mobbed each Apple Store nationwide in an effort to buy the $129 upgrade and take advantage of 10% discounts on any other merchandise including new Mac hardware.
Just think: I must've seen every Mac user in San Diego County tonight. That's great, and it's pathetic at the same time. :-)
One thing I thought was a weird choice at the Apple Store in San Diego last night was the background music in the store: they were playing Steely Dan's "Everything Must Go" CD.
Now, I love this album immensely, but, have you listened to the lyrics!?
It's high time for a walk on the real side
Maybe not the most inssspppiiiirrrring choice for store background music if you think about it . . .
Well, my G4 PowerBook is now running Panther. It is fast. The new features are good. The upgrade was worth it.
Posted by brian at 01:10 AM
October 23, 2003
Plunderphonic idea for iTunes' AudiobooksApple's iTunes Music Store is a great place to get high-quality sound samples. All 400,000 songs are available in 30-second previews. Great stuff.
But what really interests me, as an untapped artistic opportunity, is Apple's new collection of 5,000 audiobooks, radio interviews (Fresh Air, Science Friday, Car Talk, etc) and comedies. The sound samples in this section of Apple's music store are 90 seconds long, and there are 5,000 of them! That's like 125 hours' worth of spoken word material to plunder!
Imagine the possibilities for samples. Setting aside the copyright clearance issues: I'm strictly thinking of the artistic possibilities for sampling this huge spoken word archive, and inserting snippets of clips into new musical compositions. Remember you read it here first when some big publication publishes an article about it.
Posted by brian at 12:04 PM
Finally! Searching INSIDE booksOk this is cool. Amazon's introduced a new feature, Search Inside the Book, which I'm immediately finding incredibly useful. I'm discovering all kinds of books that make reference to information of interest to my own book research.
This feature will drive new sales at Amazon, no doubt. But I'm not sure the feature, which I'm going to be using like crazy, is going to cause me to buy additional books from Amazon. I suspect my Amazon purchase rate will stay the same. For me, the tool will be useful as a research tool pointing me to sources that I can then go find at a library, used book store, or at ISBN.nu.
UPDATE: Here's a good overview of Amazon's new service, by Gary Wolf in WIRED News.
2nd UPDATE: Some additional thoughts. For someone like me, who's doign a huge amount of research, the ability to do full-text searches through hundreds of thousands of books is a dream come true. Best thing to happen on the web since Google opened up the Usenet archive.
But I'm wondering: won't there be publishers or authors will object to this new service? For instance: I can now go do a search, get say 80 results back, and surf through the results (can take hours) capturing the images of the actual pages of the books within the results. Amazon was nice enough to let you page forward one or two pages beyond the "hit" page. So all you need to do is do another search, for a phrase that happens two pages ahead, and the result will be the next several pages.... and so on. It is now possible to basically read the whole book without buying it.
I notice that Amazon requires users to be logged in, in order to use the new search service. That means they can easily track, and record, exactly what you're searching for, and, more importantly, which full-screen pages of the book you're drilling down to actually view. Will heavy users of the service be receiving scary emails from Amazon warning them about their over-use of the service? Or, will Amazon start charging users a fee for the privilege?
UPDATE #3: This is too big a deal. Decided to write more about it. See new article at Nettle, my other blog: http://www.nettle.com/archives/000062.html.
Hate vs TrustScoble writes about How to Hate Microsoft. He's a Microsoft employee.
Me, I do not HATE Microsoft. But I do not TRUST Microsoft.
For me, when it comes to Microsoft, TRUST is and always has been the issue. Not hate.
Why is trust the issue? The company's track record makes it untrustworthy.
It's not about hate at all, imho. It's all about trust. Microsoft brings whole new meaning to the term "anti-trust".
One other thing: Scoble says,
Don't worry, we can take it. We want to have an operating system that's beyond reproach when it ships.
First, Microsoft is over 25 years old. I am glad to hear it's finally "bringing customers directly into the design process." Question is, why haven't they done so before? How can you have a "design process" that doesn't involve customers?
Second, as to the comment about the "unparalleled look" at how operating systems are designed and developed, I only have one word: Linux.
October 22, 2003
Google, GoofleGoogle's added something to their homepage. Always an attention-grabber, that! The new feature? A running tally of searches you've done, along with a "spectrum" graphic complete with a little pointer indicating how far along the scale you are.
What's the point? I don't quite get it. I also notice that all you have to do is press ENTER (don't even bother entering a search term), then click the Google logo to return to the home page, press ENTER again, click home, ENTER, home, ENTER, home, etc., etc. Okay. Done. Um, now what? And why does the count stop at 100?
October 18, 2003
Interconnected PicturesTwo very different uses of a similar zooming technique:
The second one, Scott McCloud's new comic, makes the zoom feature the central focus of the comic --- and the central focus of the user experience. You literally click on the center of a comic image and the next frame zooms in, as if you're walking forward into the comic.
The first one is merely a series of Polaroid photos, each containing the previous photo in it. Too bad the UI for this person's website doesn't incorporate the same sort of "click the image to go to the next one".
October 16, 2003
BoingBoing publicityJason Scott (the guy doing the massive BBS Documentary and the guy behind textfiles.com) mentions my PLATO book project in a column called "Five Things Worth Looking Into on the homepage of BoingBoing. Scroll down on the right-hand side of that page to see this:
Actually, PLATO stands for "Programmed Logic for Automatic Teaching Operations" and did from the very beginning. It's a myth that they "tacked on" a meaning for the acronym at a later date. At least, by June 1960 there are documents from the Coordinated Sciences Laboratory that show the full meaning of the acronym was already in use.
October 14, 2003
Computer History Museum
While on my trip to Foo Camp, I stopped by the Computer History Museum to see the new building and exhibits. My main goal was to determine if, now that CHM had settled into its expansive (and expensive) new facility, they'd managed to do anything about their PLATO problem. For the answer, go read the story here.
Mobile Game ideasOne of the sessions at Foo Camp was on Mobile Gaming. Participants were invited to suggest ideas for multiplayer mobile games. There were some really interesting suggestions. Here are two I proposed:
1. The Game game
At some point, you get a message on your cell phone or other mobile device. It might tell you something like, "Appear at The Red Lobster restaurant at 123 Main Street at 8:19pm tonight. Walk up to this person (photo included), make sure he has your full attention, and then say these words exactly: 'They're here. They know. Don't go back to your table. Get in the cab outside immediately.'" and then walk away and don't turn back." That would be it. Then maybe weeks or months later you get another CRS request to do another task. It's like flash mobbing only on individuals. Of course, who's to say if in the end the game is on you the volunteer? Creepy just thinking about it!
2. Ghostbusters Mobile Game:
You can easily expand the idea beyond Ghostbusters, that's just an analogy to help explain the idea. What I like about games like this is that they harken back to earlier computer games where imagination was a key element to the game.
UPDATE 16 Oct 2003: I remembered some more things that I suggested at this conference session. Just for completion's sake:
Also, here's a link to a blog wherein Mike Liebhold served as scribe, jotting down notes while the session was on. (Unfortunately that site lacks permalinks, so as this link ages, look for that site's October 13, 2003 entry).
October 11, 2003
foo campI'm in Sebastopol, California at Tim O'Reilly's weekend Foo Camp. Interesting group of people here.
Most interesting session so far: Bernie Krause's lecture on recording environmental sounds outdoors, and his analysis of biophony (the cooperative symphony of sounds that animals and plants make), geophony (the sounds of nature, i.e., wind, falling rocks, etc.), and anthrophony (the racket humans and human-made machines make).
More details (and maybe some photos) later.
October 08, 2003
Not with a bang, but a whimper...Michael's Minutes will not doubt be looked at by future digital archaeologists as the inscriptions of a late-20th-century Ozymandias...
Day the music died at MP3.comFull story available here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/content/6/33249.htm
Meanwhile, check out Alexa's view of MP3.com usage patterns over the past two years. The graph is the daily ranking within Alexa's top traffic sites. It's currently #894. The glory days are over:
October 04, 2003
Stunning Story on ArnoldThis is not a political blog, and I'm not going to start writing political stuff in here. But this Greg Palast story on secret deals between Arnold Schwartzenegger and Enron's Ken Lay is so stunning (if accurate), I simply had to provide a link to it.
Update -- 04 Oct 2003 -- Like everything, someone else had the story first. Here's the Utne Reader article from August 2003 on Arnold's Enron connection.
The unfortunate thing is, it's not odd or usual that the major media's silent on this story. If they know it's bogus, shouldn't they say so? If they know it's for real, shouldn't they say so as well?
October 03, 2003
Read More in the Archives:
February 2006 | January 2006 | December 2005 | November 2005 | October 2005 | September 2005 | August 2005 | July 2005 | June 2005 | May 2005 | April 2005 | March 2005 | February 2005 | January 2005 | December 2004 | November 2004 | October 2004 | September 2004 | August 2004 | July 2004 | June 2004 | May 2004 | April 2004 | March 2004 | February 2004 | January 2004 | December 2003 | November 2003 | October 2003 | September 2003 | August 2003 | July 2003 | June 2003 | May 2003 | April 2003 | March 2003 | February 2003 | January 2003 | December 2002 | November 2002 | October 2002 | September 2002 | August 2002 | July 2002 | June 2002 | May 2002 | April 2002 | March 2002 | February 2002 |
Be sure to take a look at these other fine websites:
Copyright 2002-2004 Birdrock Ventures. brianstorms is a trademark of Birdrock Ventures.