Archive of Posts from May 2004

Extreme Ironing

I'm not sure why I feel the need to pass this on, but Extreme Ironing. [via WordSpy]

Brooke Wilberger Missing

Corvallis is in the news right now because a woman was abducted sometime Monday—just across from the OSU campus. Her name is Brook Wilberger. If you're in the area, please take a look at her picture--it can't hurt having everyone keeping an eye out for her. Here's the most recent story in the paper: The search intensifies. There are signs with her picture up all over town, and remote news trucks at Reser Stadium. This is the first violent crime to happen since I've lived here.

Silver Falls Photos

I went for a hike with some friends along the "Trail of Ten Falls" at Silver Falls State Park on Saturday. The best part was being able to hike behind some of the falls. Here are a bunch of photos:

Silver Falls Photos (click for more)
more >>

Matt got a great, misty running-water effect in this photo of South Falls on his site. I was pushing my camera's exposure time in manual mode, but I still didn't get as nice an effect as that. I think a neutral density filter may help.

Early Adopters at Amazon

Amazon has a new feature updated their feature called Early Adopter Products. I'm not sure how it works exactly, but the site says they're "analyzing purchase patterns" and I think they're trying to see what's bubbling up to the top before it's on the top sales lists. It seems like this could only work if you analyzed the buying patterns of certain people who were flagged as early adopters. How do you know when something is being purchased by trend-setters rather than just having an initial burst of sales after being released? (For example, several books in the Early Adopter Computer Books list don't strike me as books that are being purchased by what I consider early adopters.) I'll be disappointed if it turns out to be just another way to highlight new products. In any case, it's a cool concept and I'll be keeping on eye on it to see if it's useful.

Lo-Fi Amazon Hack

In Amazon Hacks, I show how you can use Amazon Web Services to create a WAP version of your Wish List so you can always have it with you on your cell phone. (Handy for remembering movies you want to rent, CDs you want to buy, etc.) Merlin has a lo-fi version of this hack, and all you need is a wishlist, a printer, and a pocket—Tip: Amazon wishlist to go.

A Scanner Darkly

Good insider news at boing2. Linklater is making a film adaptation of Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly. It sounds like it's going to be faithful to the book. w00t.

Oregon Primary

Today is primary voting day in Oregon, and I'll be watching the Benton County stats: Returns and Turnout. In Oregon everyone votes by mail (or at a dropsite) which is very convenient—so why the low turnout?

Yaquina Bay Pan

sk and I went out to Newport on Saturday and Sunday and had a great time. I'll be posting photos from the trip in my photolog (especially of Ona Beach) and here's a panoramic I took in Newport:

Yaquina Harbor Pan
Yaquina Harbor Panoramic (click for a larger 223k version)

Status

I am currently away from the computer.

Kurt Vonnegut article

Cold Turkey by Kurt Vonnegut: "...we are here to help each other get through this thing, whatever it is."

New Amazon Hacks PDF

Amazon Hacks If you've been waiting to buy Amazon Hacks until you get more than just the book with your purchase (heh), the time has come to buy. You'll get five new hacks in a PDF if you buy the book on Amazon now. I wrote the new hacks a while back. One is an AppleScript that loops through your Mac Address Book and finds people with Wish Lists. Another hack walks you through creating a generic Amazon bookmarklet, and describes some bookmarklets that are already out there (like Library Lookup, and RIAA Radar). If you already have Amazon Hacks and you just want the new PDF, I'm not sure how you'd go about getting it.

In other Amazon hackery, someone posted a good tip about product manuals on Amazon at the Hacks site.

Weblog Panel

I think the panel discussion last night went well, and it was fun meeting some new people behind weblogs I read. Kevin, Heather, and I were all in agreement that weblogs are just beginning their impact on the world. There was a great discussion with the audience, and I was a bit nervous being on the panel side because there were so many people there who could have been on that side of the table. But it was a very casual setting, and I think a fun time was had by all. Now for the name dropping—I finally met b!X, biohabit (jeremy), strangechord (emily), and Brad from LiveJournal. There should be more weblog get-togethers because it's great to be able to put a face with a site. (I tried to get to a Portland Bloggers meeting last week, but couldn't find the place. There's a Bend Bloggers meeting tonight.) Thanks again to Brad Stenger for inviting me to participate.

Josh (who I didn't meet) posted a picture at ORblogs of me gesticulating last night. Matt posted a photo too.

flickr

Speaking of innovations in web applications, check out the way Flickr handles tagging photos. Very cool!

Weblog Songs

Back in 2000, I posted about digital culture saying that "...every cultural revolution has songs. Why shouldn't we?" Today Anil Dash compiled a list of songs about weblogs. Our weblog revolution does have a folk soundtrack, even though it's not "folk" music.

Panel organizer starts weblog

Brad Stenger—the man behind the blogging panel coming up this Tuesday—has started a weblog on OregonLive. I'm not sure what it's going to be about exactly (no description on the blog itself), but it's called Tech Blog so I assume it'll be about technology. Mr. Stenger has contributed to several scientific magazines, and has been involved in academic scientific research. It's good to see that his research into weblogs lead him to going native.

Blogger facelift

Blogger.com got its first major facelift in four years, and I like the new look. I also like the new profile pages. Unfortunately I'm not a fan of the new MovableType-esque posting interface. What I liked about Blogger was that you could see all of your posts in context, much the way you see it in your weblog. Taking the messiness out of posts by showing the last five as a list with just the title is something I've never liked about MT. I'm not sure the post-listing style interface makes weblogs easier for people new to blogging. (Where did my words go?) Also, homogenizing weblog tools so the interfaces are exactly the same (well, similar) isn't a step forward either.

Weblog tools haven't really innovated on the posting interface side. Blogger and TypePad have worked to make the interfaces solidified in 2001 drop-dead simple, but there hasn't been anything new there. Why no post filters like gmail filters? Why no "post templates" that could define different types of posts? Why no web services-style integration with other applications to pull in data from other sources?

Don't get me wrong—I think the new Blogger design looks good, I'm just disappointed that there hasn't been more innovation on the tech side of weblog tool interfaces.

Alsea Falls Photos

sk and I went for a hike around Alsea Falls south of Corvallis. Here are a bunch of photos:

running water (click for more)
more >>

It was a great, relaxing hike and I had fun taking pictures of the water.

Tuesday Night at Powell's Tech - Blog!

I'm going to be participating in a panel discussion on Blogs, Bloggers, Blogging next Tuesday night at Powell's Tech in Portland. I'll probably talk a bit about my time at Blogger, a site I manage called ORblogs that aggregates Oregon weblogs, and what it means to write a blog for fun. Kevin Cosgrove from OregonLive will be there, and I'm looking forward to hearing about their use of weblogs on the site (they've been adding them like mad lately). I don't know Heather Gorgura, but her site mentions her studying alternative media and activism. The last I heard, Rael wasn't going to be able to make it—but I hope I'm wrong. The fun starts at 7:30, see ya there! (Here's the upcoming.org listing of the panel.) I believe this is going to be an open discussion, so the difference between panelist and audience member should be minimal. In other words, be ready to discuss weblogs.

Are you going? What would you like to discuss with this panel?

You thought you had a bad commute

The CTO of Amazon, Al Vermeulen, lives here in Corvallis, OR but works at Amazon in Seattle. It's about 4 hours by car, but Vermeulen makes his commute work by flying there himself. There's a profile of him by the Seattle Times (syndicated in the KC Star): Amazon chief, Java problem solver: Al Vermeulen.

Update: A User/Pass is now required to view the article. (Try picking one up for that site at bugmenot.)

Paul Ehrlich at OSU

sk and I went to see Paul Ehrlich speak tonight at OSU. He's the Professor of Population Studies at Stanford. His latest book is One With Nineveh: Politics, Consumption, and the Human Future. (Nineveh refers to the capitol of the ancient Assyrian empire that once existed in what is now Iraq.) He covered some fairly depressing topics—everything from the threat of nuclear annihilation to the threat of a mutant flu. He talked about the terrible inequity in the world (3 billion live on $2/day or less) as a root cause of many problems, and of course he's not happy with the direction the country is currently heading. Among many other criticisms, Ehrlich said the doctrine of preemptive strike sets a very dangerous precedent in a nuclear age. But it wasn't all doom and gloom. He had some hopeful things to say and reminded everyone that change can happen very quickly. Equal rights for African Americans, for example, took huge leaps forward in just a matter of decades after being horrible for hundreds of years. Because of successes like this, he said idealism is realism. I enjoyed his talk, though it wasn't easy to hear his view of the big picture.

Update: Here's an article about the talk in the local paper, Scientist: World population a growing problem.

Weekend

Some friends tipped us off about the OSU pet day last Saturday, and we took the dog there bright and early for their 5k pet run (more of a walk for us). The best part was the cacophony of barking when the run started:

Pet run starting line

Too bad I didn't have my camera recording sound.

The dog walking

The walk wound through the OSU campus, which is beautiful this time of year. Check out these gigantic rhododendrons that are blooming everywhere:

giant flowers

After the walk, we looked at the pet-related booths, and watched the expert border-collie frisbee masters. People were very curious about the dog, and she got way too much attention. Luckily we missed the big controversy that happened, but we heard the fireworks from another location. Apparently, the stadium expansion celebration people and the pet day people didn't coordinate very well—or maybe the stadium organizers thought that dogs love fireworks. Anyway, this bit of bad planning was the front page story in the paper on Sunday. Update: OSU Apologizes.