Archive of Posts from February 2010

  • API + No-Hurdle Accounts + Incentives = some krazy foursquare hacking. "...I think the combination of a poorly moderated and insecure folksonomy with incentives (e.g. badges, mayorships, free meals, etc.) is a fragile one. The greater the incentives, the greater the motivation for cheating." [via mathowie]
  • Looks like a simple way for a web app to send/receive SMS messages.
  • Not only did I post this link to delicious, I "liked" it at Google Reader, commented about it at Facebook, retweeted, dugg, and potentially verbed it in other ways that I might not be aware of. But yeah, more author tools--hear, hear!

Great Graphic Novels

I'm a big fan of a very specific kind of graphic novel. I'm not very keen on superheroes, war, fantasy, horror, or manga and that doesn't leave much left. I dutifully visit my local Borders every week and look through the "Other Graphic Novels" section but I rarely find anything to pick up. The New York Times tracks the best sellers in Graphic Books, and most of them fall under one of the categories I mentioned.

I've only found a handful that I enjoy, but I enjoy them so much that I'd like to request more from the universe. I'm not quite sure how to classify them. Non-fiction seems to fit, but not always. I have a hard time explaining to people who aren't graphic novel fans that there are indeed great ones out there. Here's a quick list and a panel from each of my favorite graphic novels:

Logicomix by Doxiadis and Papadimitriou

You have to wonder why there hasn't been a graphic novel about Bertrand Russell before now. Logicomix is partly about the fall of set theory, partly about Russell's life, and partly about the making of the graphic novel itself. ok, it sounds like a horrible trainwreck. Somehow it all works to show that there are people and personalities driving progress in philosophy and mathematics. Here's a panel with Russell and Wittengstein arguing about sets.

Logicomix

Burma Chronicles by Guy Delisle

Delisle writes personal travelogues. His work in animation has taken him to inaccessible places such as Pyongyang, North Korea and Shenzhen, China. In Burma Chronicles he accompanied his wife to Burma for her work with Doctors Without Borders. He chronicled his time there exploring the repressive culture, expat community, and locals he met. Instead of a long arcing narrative he presents a series of progressive vignettes.

Burma Chronicles

A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge by Josh Neufeld

A.D. follows the stories of six people who experienced Hurricane Katrina in different ways. Some evacuated, some stayed behind, some left, some returned. It gave me a more personal view of something I only experienced through television.

AD

The Push Man and Other Stories by Yoshihiro Tatsumi

This is a series of short stories by manga pioneer Yoshihiro Tatsumi written in 1969. They're gritty, looking at the darker side of human nature without ever tipping over into the grotesque like I think manga tends to do. He sets his cartoonish, simple characters against a realistic background as in this panel:

Push Man

It's a Good Life If You Don't Weaken by Seth

The main character in this picture novella travels across Canada looking for the work of an obscure cartoonist who worked briefly in the 40's and 50's. Like the main character, the entire book is an anachronism and maybe the medium is too.

Good Life

I'm not sure what ties these together beyond realism. I've picked up a few guides to graphic novels including Graphic Novels by Paul Gravett and 500 Essential Graphic Novels by Gene Kannenberg and I still have trouble finding books that are in my favorite genre—whatever that might be.
  • Minimalist Clipboard Buffering for OS X.
  • simple, mouse-driven window management.

Looking for Style

I know next to nothing about clothing or style, but I'm learning. I have lived my entire life blissfully unaware that a conversation has been taking place around me that involves clothes. I don't mean conversations about clothes, but with clothes. People have been telling me things about themselves through their clothes and I've been completely oblivious. Through a series of odd events I'm finally starting to pay attention to this conversation.

I'm not a very social person and that's probably why I gravitated to computers. For my work I'm always hunched over a keyboard and monitor at home or in some back room far, far away from the normals. I didn't ever need to learn the difference between business and casual dress because I didn't need anything more than casual. Any time I was required to dress up I felt uncomfortably self conscious. If my own clothing choices even entered my mind they didn't rise above the level of thinking, "I like things from REI." In fact, my personal pinnacle of style has always been a shirt with buttons from REI.

Sometime last May there was a question at Ask MetaFilter (where I work, hunched) that resonated with me: I'd like to learn to dress well and look sharp... but I've got no natural talent for it. Can anybody help me figure out how/where to start? I felt like I could have written that question, or a variation of it, and I enjoyed all of the answers from the more fashion-literate members of the hive mind. I filed that conversation away in the back of my mind and didn't think much more about it.

Around that time I got serious about dropping weight and managed to lose 20 pounds by August. One day I was hunched over my keyboard coding away when Matt said, "You need new clothes." As usual, I hadn't even thought about my clothes or how they were fitting. He was right.

I was all set for a trip to REI when I remembered that Ask MeFi thread and went back to reread. In it, someone recommended a book called Men's Style so I figured it was as good a place as any to start. I picked up a copy thinking it would go directly in the trash. I found myself on a plane with the book in hand but like dressing up, I was embarrassed to read it. I needed a fake Mastering Emacs dust jacket so I could read it without feeling out of place. Men's Style was not perfectly aimed at me, but at least it gave me a sense of how much I don't know. I was fascinated by the history of standard clothing detail that I hadn't noticed before. That's when I got the sense that clothing is an ancient, continuous conversation that I have been missing.

In October, as if tapped into my consciousness, podcast personalities Jesse Thorn and Adam Lisagor started their project Put This On—A Web Series About Dressing Like a Grownup. I finally entered the target market for something style-related. Since then, following their lead, I started tuning into other daily style reads such as A Continuous Lean, Urban Weeds, The Sartorialist, Nerd Boyfriend, Sartorially Inclined, and the impossible cool.

I started 2010 with a new respect for style and I'm starting to make conscious decisions about what to wear. There's nothing wrong with my REI safe-zone, but now I realize there's a world beyond casual hiking clothes. I'm not taking part in the style conversation yet, but at least I'm slowly learning the grammar.