Archive of Posts from February 2002

February is over! Man, that was quick.

I can always tell I'm about to see a Flash widget because my laptop starts a high whine. I usually click a link, hear the whine, then see the Flash. The annoying high pitch sound continues until I leave the page. I imagine my new laptop doesn't like it. "Whaaaaaa! Flash. Whaaaaa...," it's saying. "ok, ok, shut up!" I say then click away. It's a fairly new Dell. Maybe Dell has something against Flash.

What happens when Neil Finn rings up Radiohead, Eddie Vedder, Sebastian Steinberg (from Soul Coughing), and a slew of others and asks them to visit New Zealand for a week of live shows? 7 worlds collide. It comes in both CD and DVD forms. whoa. [via A at ElasticHeart.com 2/26]

I'm disappointed that O'Reilly's Emerging Technology conference is prohibitively expensive ($1395.00) for independent developers like me. It's one of the drawbacks of not working for a large company, but it seems there should be some sort of sliding scale available. I'm sure it's very expensive to put on a conference like this, and I understand the need to make money. But when the topics include Building Community Wireless Networks, I wonder how many people actually building the grassroots networks can attend.

If you haven't read it yet, Jason and Meg (and lots of others) are talkin' 'bout weblogs. With a capital J.

damn, damn, damn. This always happens. While I'm in Austin for SXSW Interactive, Neil Finn will be playing at a club in San Francisco. When I'm home from SXSW, he'll be playing in Austin. (3/15 Austin Music Hall.) damn.

marketing a market research method: "ZMET...the Zaltman Metaphor Elicitation Technique....represents an unusual attempt to put some of the insights of neuroscience (along with generous helpings of semiotics and Carl Jung) to profitable use as a window into consumer attitudes..."

This New York Times article is selling ZMET for some reason, but it's definitely not unusual to blend psychology with marketing. All of the pros do it. Edward Bernays, the godfather of the PR industry, was Freud's nephew. He used his uncle's discoveries to help sell everything from World War I to cigarettes. I'm fascinated by Bernays because he's shaped much of our modern consumer culture but isn't widely recognized for doing so. And that's the way he wanted it.

Check out this somewhat eerie chapter about Bernays from the excellent book PR! by Stuart Ewen.

Great quote on my calendar today:

"The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way...To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion—all in one." - John Ruskin

The more you tighten your grip, RIAA, the more star systems will slip through your fingers. (Illuminating MeFi discussion of the new royalty rate for web radio.)

For some reason it doesn't seem possible that FTP was invented before I was born. (me: 1973. ftp: 1971.)

I managed to get one decent picture of the moon through the telescope.

moon through telescope

I wish there was a test to determine which identity tests I should be taking. There are too many. I think learning which Backstreet Boy or piece of furniture I'm most like would give insights into my personality, but which tests would be most useful for a busy professional like me?

If you'd like to paste the results of this visit into your site, use the code below:

<a href="http://www.onfocus.com/index.asp?xml=2002_02_01_past.xml#2638">pb at onfocus says</a>: I wish there was a test to determine which identity tests I should be taking. There are too many. I think learning which Backstreet Boy or piece of furniture I'm most like would give insights into my personality, but which tests would be most useful for a busy professional like me?

Thanks to a tip from an astronomy teacher friend, I found out it's a great time to check out the night sky. (I've also read about some strange astronomical events going on right now.) I broke out the telescope tonight and spent the evening in the backyard enjoying the clear skies and warm temperature. First I found Jupiter with its moons neatly lined up beside it. Then with some help from skp and some star maps, we found Saturn, rings and all. We all see this stuff on television and in pictures, but there's something satisfying about seeing it with your own eyes through your own effort. If you have a telescope, I hear tomorrow is supposed to be the best time to see Saturn this year.

the Onion (great as usual): "A new television commercial from General Electric, unveiled Tuesday, proudly trumpets the company's federally mandated cleanup of a river it polluted."

Mustard is blooming...

mustard close up

oaks
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OJR : Suits Target Carte Blanche Posting : "Employees, shareholders, and competitors granted the power to reach a large audience without being named, took the opportunity to discuss companies in ways the business world had never seen." This article is a warning for people who maintain websites that allow public comments. If someone says something bad about a company, the site owner could be hassled. Classic Old Way vs. New.

Watched the California republican gubernatorial candidates debate last night. Not a winner in the lot.

I picked up a reprint of an 1894 Sears Catalog for some reason. Besides the great engravings, it has some superlative ad copy. One road cart ad says in giant letters, "You won't break it. Rides very easy. Has no horse motion." Things haven't changed too much. Just throw in a couple of extra words like "dent resistant polymer" or "laser-welded suspension" and you have a modern car ad. I also like the relentless way some of the ads stop the readers from their regular shenanigans: "Don't say you can buy it as cheap elsewhere. Don't say you ever heard of such a bargain before. Tell the truth, acknowledge it's the most wonderful bargain you ever heard of." ok, ok, your horse cart rocks.

I might be interested in the Olympics if I could get an alternative view of them. I'd love to see some of the athletes keeping a daily weblog; describing the events from their unique perspective and posting pictures. While I was flipping channels the other night, I saw that some of the people marching in the Parade of Participating Nations had camcorders. They should be posting that footage on the web.

But the IOC has strict rules about who can say what. It's against the IOC rules for an athlete to write anything about the games while they're happening. Only NBC can decide how people will view the event. And it's a sappy, painful view.

If I was NBC, I'd capture the personality of the Olympics by distributing camcorders to as many participating people possible and let them film whatever they want. I'm sure it wouldn't be professional, but I'd rather watch personal, amateur footage instead of those over-produced packages. And the athletes should interview each other.

I'm sure the Olympics are a real event...not just a TV event. And it's the event without scripts that would be emotional.

A walk around the neighborhood...

purple flower

bah
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I failed. I tried to make the transition from goatee guy to beard guy and failed. It's not a challenge to be accepted lightly. I stayed on target for almost a month; the crucial ammount of time it takes for a beard to go from scraggly to luxuriously full. I was just on the edge of complete beard success, when I realized that becoming a beard guy involves much more than growing facial hair.

Guys with beards are generally more happy and more cuddly than goatee guys...like big teddy bears. (It's a commonly held myth that beards are scratchy. Once past the itchy stage a beard is pretty soft.) Santa Claus is the archetypical beard guy. Goatee guys generally aren't boisterously happy. They're shifty and have something to hide. Movie villains have goatees. The Devil has a goatee. You can see why I wanted to make the change.

It's not that I'm shifty, have anything to hide, am a villain, or an evil-doer, it's simply that I couldn't make the move to jolly. I'd like to be jolly. I think we all would. But it's just not me. And I couldn't wear the beard knowing that inside I didn't meet all of the criteria for being bearded. (Plus, skp had taken to calling me beardo around the house...which got old.)

So in that sense, I failed. But as I stood over the sink full of freshly shaved facial hair this morning I wasn't too sad. I knew I made the right decision.

Interesting reading: American Advertising Goes to War at AdAge.com. [via sotd] Speaking of Spin of the Day, John Stauber, a founder of the Center for Media & Democracy is on a book tour. He'll be at bookstores in the Bay Area this month pushing Trust Us - We're Experts! I hope to hear him speak...he's doing important work.

drying shirts

The White-House-Superbowl-3.5-Million-Dollar-Murdoch-Bail-Out-Drug-Commercial-Extravaganza aired and the only good to come out of it will be some insightful comments at Metafilter. The money could have been spent on harm reduction programs.

Thanks to some encouraging words, I whipped up a Windows98 version of snapGallery. At least, it worked on the Windows98 machine I tested it on.