Monthly Archives: July 2005

googling in the groanosphere

ok…i think i’ve reached my limit.

i’ve been fairly tolerant of all the recently spawned language related to web logs (e.g., blogging, blogosphere, blogger). it seemed a fairly natural set of abbreviations related to writing web logs (with the possible exception of blogosphere).

today, however, the NY Times ran a piece talking about the "vlogosphere," the domain of video blogging. this is the linguistic straw that has broken my back.

other people have been ranting about the menagerie of new terms floating around on the web. i’ve decided to take a different approach — i’m going to make up my own. maybe i’ll start a stupid trend that will make people realize how stupid this is all becoming (i doubt it, but it’s worth a try).

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a little sweat for lance

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in honor of lance armstrong’s victory at the tour de france today, elaine and i took a ride on the sawyer camp trail this morning. the bikers were out in force today, many of them yellow–jerseyed (either in tribute or aspiration).

it took us about an hour to ride the twelve miles, with brief pauses at the bridge near san andreas lake and the top of the trail. on the way back, we got stuck behind a ranger truck, and had to weave our way between the hordes on the trail. even so, i just kept thinking that lance could have done it at least twice as fast (if not faster, judging by his time trial results today).

his is an amazing story, and his seven triumphs at the Tour de France a feat that may never be surpassed. even though he stands in the shadow of eddy merckx (and probably also of miguel indurain), he has cast quite a shadow himself.

[NOTE: for the reader interested in more comprehensive coverage, check out my friend chooky’s analysis of the tour de france.]

primer

primer
what if it actually worked?

i’m not sure. one thing i can say, though, is that primer is a gem of a movie, albeit one refined on planet claire. it’s an amazing piece of filmmaking, both because it was made for about $7000 and because it is so simultaneously involving and baffling. it also won a boatload of awards and acclaim for the mathematician–turned–filmmaker who created it.
i don’t know that i understood it in its entirety. i don’t even know if i understood it in its partiality. i’ll need to watch it a few more times before i can make more intelligible comments. however, i definitely enjoyed it, maybe precisely because i didn’t understand it.

this is the kind of film that inspires the geek in me to sit down and start drawing diagrams involving timelines and decision trees. not only did it tweak my noodle, it was beautiful to watch. i don’t know how shane carruth did it. well, in an interview i read, it seems he did it by shooting on Super–16, transferring to DV, editing on his PC, and not paying any of the cast (yet).

anything more i could say at this moment would constitute a spoiler, and not one that goes far beyond plot synopsis. after i watch it again, i’ll write more. in the meantime, if you feel like an in–depth analysis, check out my buddy chooky’s review.

what time is it?

i was waiting for elaine at the BART station today, and i saw an odd thing.

two people were walking along near the entrance. while they weren’t your garden variety homeless, they didn’t exactly fit with the financial district crowd. one of the two asked a passerby in a suit, "what time is it?"
the man looked puzzled. perhaps even flummoxed. he really didn’t seem to know how to respond to the simple question. he thought about it for about 5 seconds and then, without looking at his watch, said "seven o’clock," and then proceeded down into the underground.

frustration and anger crossed the face of the woman who had asked. "that’s not right," she said. and she was right — it was actually about 6:45. she knew he was full of it, that the request for the smallest kindness had been met by bullsh*t.

why did he say that? if he was so disgusted, why not just ignore them or say "i don’t know"? that’s what most would do. it’s the easy route when dealing with people that make you uncomfortable. instead, it seems he chose to lie, or at least to give an answer whose resemblance to truth was unimportant. did he feel like misleading them? was he drunk? insane? what did he possibly stand to gain? a feeling of superiority?

which is the greater sin: to ignore a request for help, or to meet it with a contemptuous lie? i’ve always felt the greatest punishment the homeless suffer is indifference, but perhaps careless dishonesty is even worse.

ulrich schnauss

ulrich schnauss - a strangely isolated place
ulrich schnauss - faraway trains passing by

i’ve been listening to ulrich schnauss a lot lately. both of his albums are excellent; the first (faraway trains passing by) is a bit hard to find, unfortunately. the second (a strangely isolated place) is available at your local amazon outlet.

reviews elsewhere will probably give you a better description than i could. for me, i just find his music eminently enjoyable. it creates a warm fuzzy atmosphere, one that envelopes you without suffocating or being overbearing. i find it the perfect cross between Boards of Canada (one of my top three desert island bands) and a lot of the old shoegazer stuff i used to listen to (Slowdive, Ride, MBV, Lush, etc.). it’s more ambient than the latter, and less sampled than the former…an ideal blend, in my opinion.

highly, highly recommended. if you can’t find the first album, at least do what you can to find the track Molfsee. if you can’t find that, then i suggest just putting ASIP on repeat and blissing out until FATPB is rereleased in the US.

Chemtrails

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some people clearly have issues — issues that are important to them and issues. i think you know what i mean.

this photo was taken near my favorite cafe/restaurant in berkeley (Cesar, on Shattuck near Andronico’s). i took its text as command and googled "chemtrails," which took me to a page about chemtrails vs. contrails. i’m sure there is some valuable information to be found there, but the way it’s advertised and presented, unfortunately, leads one to doubt the general stability of the presenter.

this is a shame, and it happens a lot. people who have important things to say often drown out their own messages with the other signals they send out. the world is a marketplace of ideas, for better or worse, and the reality is that sometimes, for a message to be heard, it needs to be spoken in a certain way…

Outdoor TV Land

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i was in santa monica today for a meeting. we grabbed a quick lunch at a food court at our destination, and since it was such a nice day, we ate outside. unfortunately, the only table that was open was right next to the 42" plasma screen they stuck by the tables in the shade of an overhang.

as a result, while eating an overpriced sandwich, we got to listen to (and watch, if we couldn’t avoid it) "days of our lives."

i got indigestion.

ps: at the risk of navel–gazing, i find the on–screen text particularly amusing.

the truth and the light

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there are times when the simplest things seem magical, like the way light reflects from a lens filter. light must be one of the most amazing things in our world, and yet it’s so common that we scarcely see it. how much more joy would we all take from the world if we always saw the beauty in these tiny things?

neologism nausea

i’ve been having some issues with a few neologisms that have hit the internet and blogosphere (ahem) lately.

it’s not so much that new words bother me (although some, like nucular, most definitely do). i came to the realization today that it’s their origins that can bother me.

take AJAX as an example.
i’m not talking about the popular cleaning product that guarantees it will get your sink and tub pearly white with little to no elbow grease involved. no, i’m talking about the term coined by a notable person at a design firm in san francisco (name and link withheld to avoid unnecessary page rank bloat).

it was coined in an effort to describe a collection of technologies that have been around for a long time (in Internet years, at least). people have been using these technologies for a variety of things (google maps, for example; or even microsoft outlook web access), but they’ve done so without the comfort of a name to say what it was precisely that they were doing.

and so this design agency author made one up. it’s an acronym, although he avoided the dreaded TLA (three–letter acronym) that is the focus of so many consultant jokes. it’s also memorable. kinda catchy. almost sounds like marketing.

and that’s what it is. marketing.

ever since i first heard the term, it was bugging me. it bothered me that they made up a new term for something that already existed. it bugged me that it wasn’t, strictly speaking, technically correct. it bugged me in general, but i couldn’t figure out just why. and then i realized why: because they stood to benefit financially from the creation of a new term, something that could become a meme in the internet world. something that everyone would pick up and say, "AJAX? oh yeah! that firm in ___ ___ invented it!"

bzzzzt. wrong. they didn’t invent it. they just knew how to market it and their ability to explain it — intelligently and in a ready–for–publication way. i don’t fault them for their insight regarding the patterns of usage of this particular technology combination. what i do fault them for is shameless self–promotion. one might say that they were just pointing something out for the benefit of the internet community, humanizing a technology to help it be better understood. i’ve been in this business long enough to know that’s about as likely as a beautiful snowflake in the molten pits of hell.

the other term that caused me to get all twitchy was folksonomy. this is a conflation of “folks” and “taxonomy,” meaning a classification system created by normal people (e.g., not librarians or those prone to organizing their socks by color, then texture, then projected lifetime). think of it as the dewey decimal system for crackers (a harsh and not–wholly–accurate analogy, but work with me here).

the idea is a very important one, but the term is just silly. just call it tagging and be done with it, ok? why was there a need to come up with a cutesy term?

if youre’ gonna come up with a new word for something, make sure your motives are pure. do it because there really needs to be a new word, in my opinion. otherwise, you just wind up looking like a linguistic poseur, and

we all know how much everyone hates linguistic poseurs.

notifications offline until further notice

ok…i give up.

i cannot determine what the problem is with my notifications. it appears to be the same bug that existing prior to MT 3.16, but that was supposedly fixed. i tried to log in to the support forums, but my password failed. then i tried resetting my password, and it failed again (twice more). then i wandered the site looking for information and didn’t find what i needed.

i have enjoyed using MT for the past several years, but i think their site is getting a little crufty. in fact, their code is probably getting a little crufty (understandably, and i can’t complain because i don’t pay for it). sixapart seems to be experiencing some significant growing pains; it will be interesting to see if they make it past the upstart dot.com stage and into a full–fledged business.

in the meantime, until MT 3.2 is released, notifications are permanently offline (unless someone out there knows a fix).