Random Thoughts

Tech, words and musings from an Englishman in Seattle

The Very Essence Of Fatherhood

As usual, Dadcentric sums it up.

I have slammed doors and stood behind them as you cried yourself to sleep.

I have slept in your bed, curled around you like a blanket and felt my legs grow slowly numb.

I heal your wounds and you fix me when I am broken. We meet in the middle and find much happiness there.

Seriously, Dadcentric has some of the best writing out there.

Magnetic Scrolls: A Interview with Michael Bywater

Here's a little gem I just found on the interwebs: an interview with Michael Bywater. Michael is an astounding wordsmith; writer of my favourite columns in Punch and allegedly slept with my boss. Not my current boss, mind you.

Some gems:

My main memories are of course of Anita. And her bull terrier, Murdoch. And of the chaotic offices in the ancient and haunted part of London called The Borough, a warren of streets and alleys on the south side of London Bridge…

and…

Even things like Myst - which, hell, was just a droopy post-hippie HyperCard stack with a rather good music loop -- were way below the level of Magnetic Scrolls or Infocom in narrative terms. So the era came to an end.

My time at Magnetic Scrolls was a wonderful time of my life and I enjoyed every moment of it. Hopefully this article will give you some sense of what it was like for the non-engineering folks who passed our way.

Read it over here.

C++ FTW!

In an attempt to start posting on this blog again rather than everywhere else (friendfeed, twitter, facebook, etc…), I present you with the following:

Enjoy.

Money As Debt

This is seriously one of the best explanations of how the banking system, and money in general, works.

Do yourself a favour and carve out 45 minutes to watch this. You'll thank me.

A Couple Of Great TED Videos

One thing I like about the short flight from Seattle to San Jose is that I get to catch up on a bunch of TED videos.

Two of the videos I watched on yesterday's flight really stood out for me:

Definitely worth watching. Enjoy.

A Few Good Expenses

Very funny. Respect the salesforce…

And no, I don't believe they can be expensed…

WTF?!

I just received a couple of stickers from The Daily WTF. Yey! My laptop now has a new decorative item.

Never heard of the site?

Well, if you're a developer, it's a must-read. Amusing and sorta-instructional in a “no way I'd ever do that” kind of way.

Recommended.

Where Are the Software Engineers of Tomorrow?

An interesting article claiming that:

…Computer Science (CS) education is neglecting basic skills, in particular in the areas of programming and formal methods. We consider that the general adoption of Java as a first programming language is in part responsible for this decline. We examine briefly the set of programming skills that should be part of every software professional’s repertoire.

Another interesting quote:

It [Texas A&M] did [teach Java as the first language]. Then I started teaching C++ to the electrical engineers and when the EE students started to out-program the CS students, the CS department switched to C++.

Definitely worth a read.

I've have been worrying for some time that the core programming competence of candidates coming out of colleges has been dropping over the years as the “helpful” languages proliferate and the spectrum of languages that students are exposed to declines…

What's a pointer, again?

Worrisome.

[Tip'O'Hat to Lambda the Ultimate for the link.]

The Queen - On YouTube

According to The Guardian, the Queen (or more likely some footman) has launched her own channel on YouTube.

The Queen has taken a bold stride into cyberspace by launching her own channel on the video-sharing website YouTube. The Royal Channel launches today as Buckingham Palace seeks to promote Britain's monarch to a youthful global audience.

While aides were utterly convinced it was the way forward, the 81-year-old Queen - who only recently mastered emailing and had never used a personal computer until two years ago - was not immediately acquainted with the YouTube phenomenon. But after the concept was explained to her by, among others, her granddaughters Princesses Beatrice and Eugenie - both avid Facebook fans - she personally approved the channel's go-ahead after viewing its contents.

I guess we'll be watching the Queen's Speech online this year.

Bonus points to the first person to find the Princesses on Facebook…

Man Cold

Looks about right to me…

[Tip'O'Hat to the wife for the link. Are you trying to tell me something honey?]

Golf Is The Ultimate Social Network

Or so says Howard

BUT, I just realized I need some tickets…

To pull off tickets this year will require ultimate networking gamesmanship. Facebook is for weenies and posers when you need the real shit like Sun’s tickets.

That’s why while everyone is yacking about Facebook and now Google’s Open Social blah blah blah, you should remember that a friendly round of golf with some connected people is the way to get shit done.

Just so happens that I was golfing at Bandon Dunes with the head of Sun’s tickets. Random but relevant. Stay with me. He could give a rat’s ass about Facebook and Wallstrip and my personal blog and Techmeme. He does remember my sweet 74 that pocketed him $400 bucks…

I couldn't agree more :-)

Gnomedex 7.0 Video

I was just playing around with a new slideshow creator, Animoto. I imported my photos from Gnomedex 7.0 and it came up with this:

Rock! This completely takes the ideas that other products such as Microsoft's Photo Story 3 have run with and raises the bar through the roof.

Animoto is an interesting product, from an interesting group of people:

Animoto Productions is a bunch of techies and film/tv producers who decided to lock themselves in a room together and nerd out.

Their first release is Animoto, a web application that automatically generates professionally produced videos using patent-pending technology and high-end motion design. Each video is a fully customized orchestration of user-selected images and music. Produced on a widescreen format, Animoto videos have the visual energy of a music video and the emotional impact of a movie trailer.

The heart of Animoto is its newly developed Cinematic Artificial Intelligence technology that thinks like an actual director and editor. It analyzes and combines user-selected images and music with the same sophisticated post-production skills & techniques that are used in television and film.

Despite the buzzword and PR heavy description, it looks like they're onto something. Man, they even have a press kit!

Offer Letter

Now that is an offer letter that I'd like to see.

Man, life certainly if different for other folks.

Dear Peter,

Congratulations! Please accept our offer to become part of EA's rich game making history and future.

I am pleased to offer you a regular full-time position with Electronic Arts as President, EA Sports commencing on a mutually agreeable date at a base salary of $45,833.33 per month or $550,000 annualized, minus applicable deductions. You will be reporting directly to me.

Read on for the fun times of an ex-msft exec.

A Big Ass Table

I really love this product - I've played with it and have friends that work on the team. I really want one and I want it built into the island in my Kitchen.

But this had me laughing out loud…

[Tip'O'Hat to Kelly for the link.]

I May Have Found The Perfect GTD App

I've been on and off the GTD (Getting Things Done) bandwagon and my excuse, at least to myself, has been that I've yet to find a good tool that works for me.

I've tried ResultsManager which I liked on the PC, but unfortunately has no Mac version (btw, I love MindManager the application it is built upon), GTDinbox, Tracks and a few others.

Last week I found iGTD, a native Mac application that appears to do everything right. An uncluttered yet functional UI; keyboard shortcuts for everything; integration with QuickSilver hierarchical projects; notes and everything you could wish for..

But most of all, it just works.

Highly recommended for you list-makers, GTD faithful and everyone who wants some sanity in their cluttered lives.

iGTD

Apparently I'm An Old Fart

Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg implies that I'm an old fart with no potential and that I wouldn't get hired there due to my age and, as of three days ago, my impending fourties…

Handily Matt Mullenweg, himself a mere whippernapper, is on the ball with his consistently thoughtful (and of course, beyond his years) analysis

I'm inclined to agree more with Mitch. Biasing your decisions based on something completely out of someone's control, specifically the year they were born, seems as likely to have correlation to talent and success in a company as gender, race, or anything else that everyone knows doesn't matter. It's not what you're born with, it's what you make of it.

Rock on, Matt. Now where's my zimmer frame?

I Love ParentHacks

Recently (i.e. it seems like forever), the boy has been testing my patience more and more - to the point that I just lose it and want to curl up in a ball because I can't react like a man would to another man winding him up in a similar fashion…

Along comes the wonderful ParentHacks with a link to Tips For Controlling Your Temper. Wonderful! Especially the link to 'The Problem' is the problem -- not the kid

When I have a problem that concerns one of my kids (meaning: When I want them to do something that they refuse to do), I see that I have a choice. I could visualize my child standing on the other side of a line, next to “The Problem”, with me yelling across the line, “Hey, you better solve ”The Problem.“ Instead, I get myself to stand next to my child, with ”The Problem“ alone on the other side of the line, with me putting an arm around my child, saying ”Hey, you and me, we're gonna defeat “The Problem” together." I find that this attitude seems to make my kids feel better about themselves. It minimizes/eliminates shame.

This approach is actually working well. I am so in debt to the ParentHacks folks that anytime they're in the Seattle area, beers are on me!

I Hate This Shit

The apparent “we have money, bow before us” dichotomy continues.

So, apparently there's an event in New England where Venture Capitalists go and ski and entrepreneurs can pitch to them if their lucky enough to be on the same ski lift.

The VCs wear one type of ski bib, and entrepreneurs wear another.

Happy times for the VCs, annoying times for the startup guys who must go but have no guaranteed face time - just the chance that they might.

Sure it means you've got to have your elevator pitch down pat, and there are some organised events with “best pitch on the slopes” type fun things.

Well, fun if your the VC.

Sweating buckets if you're the entrepreneur taking time away from building a product on the off-chance that you'll get face time on a chair-lift with the VC on a jolly.

Why don't those VCs take some constructive time like Rick Segal and Brad Feld and offer up valuable time for some no-harm, no-foul calls instead?

Without entrepreneurs, VC wouldn't have jobs. Show them a tad more respect.

Oh, and I don't Ski. Got time for me in the lodge bar?

FSX Makes Its Debut In Bollywood

This is laugh-out-loud funny! Well, it is if you're a Flight Sim geek or the one partially responsible for the “what matters are the cool graphics” moments and married to someone who grew up having to endure Bollywood constantly playing in the house…

[Thanks to Susan for the link.]

David Harrison Reinvents The Internet

In a particularly well reasoned essay, David reinvents the control of the DNS infrastructure.

How did I stumble upon this? Well, David and I went to school together at Downlands County Secondary School (when did it change it's name to “Community School”?) in Hassocks (where I grew up) and Haywards Heath Sixth Form College (what's with the “Central Sussex College” thing?) in the south of England - both of us pretty much geeks! In fact we sold games that we'd written for the ZX Spectrum games and shipped them out on little plastic bags amongst other geeky activities.

We lost touch after we both went to our respective Universities, but happily he stumbled upon my blog a couple of years ago and we reconnected. Every now and again he sends me another great idea. Most of these ideas are utterly fascinating, if very off the wall. And sometimes they just make a lot of sense, even if potentially impossible to implement due to infrastructure inertia.

David's 'The Independent Network - An Alternative to the Internet' is one such missive. If you have any interest in the current domain name morass, it's a must-read.

And apparently I'm not the only one who's been getting David's semi-regular essays.

In his latest column, PBS' Bob Cringely talks about David's idea and, quite frankly, agrees with him.

Hopefully David's website won't explode under the traffic sent his way…

David hadn't seen the article before I sent some congratulations his way, to which he jokingly responded (and I hope he doesn't mind me quoting him): “If I'd known it was going to go public I'd have spent more than 30 mins writing it! :-)”

I think it took him longer than that…

Best Editorial Ever!

Gizmodo, along with Engadget, is one of the top tech sites on the planet. Last week one of their former editors, Joel Johnson, returned to the site with a blisteringly funny and to-the-point editorial

I gave up two years of my life writing about gadgets for this site. Waking up every morning at 5 AM, chewing up press releases to find the rare morsel of legitimate information, chasing down “hot tips” that ended up being photochops of iPods with reflections of genitals in the touchscreens. Oh, and the worst: fielding emails from PR parasites eager to suck away precious time in a half-hour phone meeting while the Senior Vice-President of Smoke Blowing tells me about how his company's software—based on an idea cribbed from Google-is going to change the way I look at something I didn't care about in the first place. (Inevitably, “forever.”)

Wonderful stuff. The comments aren't bad either:

I heard the sound of dozens of sphincter's tightening all the way in Canada.

Go and read it.

Write Code Like It's 1986

1986 was the year I started college. My first computing experience was on a DEC Vax 780 via Freedom 100 terminals. Man were they crap.

Now you can relive that glory on the Mac by the extremely cool terminal application GLTerminal. It even mimics phosphor memory and screen curvature.

Emacs in GLTerminal

I love it!

Late To The Party - Web 2.0 Video

I know I'm extremely late to the party with this video as everyone and his uncle twice removed has already blogged about it, but some of my dear readers don't follow ye olde blogosphere as avidly as you and yours truly.

So this is for them.

This truly is a wonderful piece of video and above all a great introduction to whatever this thing called “Web 2.0” might be all about.

DadCentric Does It Again

Just go and subscribe. You know you want to.

After all - who has time to work out when you're newly married? The year after my wife and I got married, the only activities we did in the apartment were have sex and eat. We'd go on Amazon and buy KY Jelly and a deep fryer. At one point, I think we subsisted on hot dogs for an entire month. A few months after that, we lived off Popeyes fried chicken.

Comic relief for the paternally challenged.

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Photographs That Make Me Cry

Hiroshima, the pictures they didn't want us to see.

On August 10, 1945, the day after the bombing of Nagasaki Yosuke Yamahata, began to photograh the devastation. The city was dead. He walked through the darkened ruins and the dead corpses for hours. By late afternoon, he had taken his final photographs near a first aid station north of the city. In a single day, he had completed the only extensive photographic record of the immediate aftermath of the atomic bombing of either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

Chilling.

Finding The Time To Take A Dump

Please go and subscribe to Chocolate Makes It Better - tales from an Aussie dad. At times touching, at times rip roaring funny.

When talking about how weekends are for family time:

Nope. Doesn't always happen like that at our house. It's more like sweat your arse off vacuuming, trying to fit in 5 mins to take a dump in peace and kids screaming, teething and throwing hard plastic toys at their sisters.

Subscribed.

Testing On The Toilet

Since I joined Google, I've been incredibly impressed by the focus on testing. You've probably heard that you can't escape even when you're in the bathroom - the test team post flyers in the stalls and in front of the urinals with useful testing hints.

Testing on the Toilet

Well now you get to see them too! The Engineering Test Team have opened them up on their new public blog.

We're unveiling the public release of “Testing on the Toilet”: one of Google's little secrets that has helped us to inspire our developers to write well-tested code. We write flyers about everything from dependency injection to code coverage, and then regularly plaster the bathrooms all over Google with each episode, almost 500 stalls worldwide. We've received a lot of feedback about it. Some favorable (“This is great because I'm always forgetting to bring my copy of Linux Nerd 2000 to the bathroom!”) and some not (“I'm trying to use the bathroom, can you folks please just LEAVE ME ALONE?”). Even the Washington Post noticed.

Subscribed.

A Classic

Top 5 Parental Sex Aids for 2007

Parental Sex Aid Number 5 - Vaseline

I love this stuff. Rub some of this on your knob and there is no way those kids are getting through the door. Their little hands slip and slide all over that door knob and you can get at least 15mins…

As the first commenter said (and be sure to read the rest), you had me at “knob”.

Subscribed :-)

[Tip'O'Hat to Parent Hacks for the link.]

Murky Direct3D History

I really need to sit down and write a history of Direct3D from day one, i.e. pre-Microsoft acquisition of RenderMorphics, through to around DirectX 6.

The anti-Microsoft venom that still surrounds the whole OpenGL v Direct3D wars still hurts - we honestly we're trying to (and did do) the right thing. Even the Wikipedia article I just linked to has unpleasant bias…

I still posit that the state of consumer 3D would not be what it is today without Direct3D appearing on the scene.

And OpenGL would still be in the same stagnant state that it was in 1995.

Anyhow, this little outburst was due to a comment on a blog I happened to stumble on.

Not quite a happy ending. OpenGL was totally shot down by Microsoft, who used its monopoly in the desktop OS market to push DirectX instead, a propriety Microsoft graphics library. Had they embraced openGL, we would be seeing good games on all platforms, not just Windows.

Lots of high-profile game developers signed an open letter to Microsoft, including John Carmack (who may have even authored the letter if I memory serves), to ask Microsoft to embrace OpenGL for the good of the industry, the developers, the games, and most of all, the consumers.

Of course, Microsoft wouldn't listen, and used their power to push out OpenGL and gain market control, as per their traditional modus operandi.

Sorry to be Debbie Downer, just wanted to point out that the ending isn't so happy after all.

To which I responded:

Regarding Zach's comment - Not to totally thrash a dead horse or anything, but I was the PM and oddly enough one of the developers on Direct3D and it's predecessor, Reality Lab.

We did not set out to “kill” OpenGL. OpenGL was stagnant, did not run on commodity hardware and had laughable realtime software rendering support. I posit that if it were not for Direct3D giving the 3D graphics hardware industry a kick in the arse, we would not have the games we have today and OpenGL would still be stagnant.

At the original PDK outing of Direct3D, all the 3D hw guys really had no idea what was going on - they were all aimed at arcade and military applications. No one was focussed on the consumer.

I wish people would look at that time objectively and not with “MS hate” in their eyes. Hmm, maybe it's time I wrote it up.

btw - it was Chris Hecker that authored the letter.

Time to sit down and write that history post…

Marketing 101

Now that is marketing.

Respectful, ingenious, class.

10. We're moving the first people in and are completely bought out - 389 residences before the completion of construction in a market that is decidedly not booming. (Don't get me wrong, this was a good building priced well in a great location. But, our marketing was the x factor in making it work.)

Godin is, to my uneducated ears, a total purple cow, the engineer of marketing. This just proves it.

Maybe :-)

Opt Out Of Unsolicited Credit Card Offers

I wish I had known about this loooong ago.

In a similar fashion to the do not call registry for cold sales calls, you can opt-out of the pre-screened credit card offers that are:

  • annoying
  • wasteful of trees
  • an identity theft nightmare

Visit OptOutPrescreen to do the business.

OptOutPrescreen.com is a centralized service to accept and process requests from consumers to “Opt-In” or “Opt-Out” of firm offers of credit or insurance.

OptOutPrescreen.com is a joint venture among Equifax Information Services, LLC, Experian Information Solutions, Inc., Innovis Data Solutions, Inc., and TransUnion, LLC (collectively the “Consumer Credit Reporting Companies”).

Btw, for those of you that might think that the site itself is a scam (the fact that it asks for your SSN should set your spidey-sense tingling), note that the FTC links to the site, it's SSL'd and the matter has been debated on Ars Technica and other places. Personally, I believe it's legit.

I've signed up - let's see what happens.

[Many thanks to Lifehacker for the link.]

Google Is The Number One Place To Work

According to Fortune Magazine, Google was the best company to work for in 2006.

Life for Google employees at the Mountain View campus is like college. It feels like the brainiest university imaginable - one in which every kid can afford a sports car (though geeky hybrids are cooler here than hot rods).

Here the shabbily dressed engineers always will be the big men (and, yes, women) on campus. “Hard-core geeks are here because there's no place they'd rather be,” says Dennis Hwang, a Google Webmaster.

Pretty cool, huh?

DayLife - Dig Deep

I've been playing around with DayLife today, and to be quite honest, I really like it. DayLife, for those who have somehow managed to miss all the coverage is a new aggregation site with a number of twists. There has been a bunch of commentary since it came out, so I'll just add a few of my impressions.

I like the design, the feel of the site. I love the use of images and callouts.

But most of all I love the ability to dig deep. Interested in that story on infant car seats Well, just dig a little deeper. Try clicking on the link on the right hand side to Graco Inc. Now you can dig deeper into the people and organizations related to the company.

I love it!

As someone who wants to know as much as possible about a story that interests me, DayLife might be a keeper.

Definitely one to follow.

Hackers On The Front Lines

Before entering a building, troops squirt the plastic goo, which can shoot strands about 10 to 12 feet, across the room. If it falls to the ground, no trip wires. If it hangs in the air, they know they have a problem. The wires are otherwise nearly invisible.

In other cases of battlefield improvisation in Iraq, U.S. soldiers have bolted scrap metal to Humvees in what has come to be known as “Hillybilly Armor.” Medics use tampons to plug bullet holes in the wounded until they can be patched up.

Also, soldiers put condoms and rubber bands around their rifle muzzles to keep out sand. And troops have welded old bulletproof windshields to the tops of Humvees to give gunners extra protection. They have dubbed it “Pope's glass” - a reference to the barriers that protect the pontiff.

[Tip'O'Hat to Boing Boing for the link and quote.]

One Six Right - Aviation Nirvana

After reading reviews of One Six Right by Paul and Susan, I headed over to the movie's site and ordered the DVD on the spot. It arrived a couple of days ago and last night Julian and I sat down to watch it.

Wow.

“One Six Right” is an exhilarating documentary film that celebrates the unsung hero of aviation - the local airport - by tracing the life, history, and struggles of an airport icon: Southern California's Van Nuys Airport. Featuring thrilling aerial photography and a sweeping original score, the film dispels common misconceptions and opposes criticism of General Aviation airports. Through the love story of one airport, past to present, the film shares the timeless romance of flying with all ages.

If you have a love of aviation, or love stunning film making, you have got to pick this up.

“One Six Right captures the spirit, joy and beauty of flight. One of the finest aviation films ever made.” - Harrison Ford

The movie basically follows the history of California's Van Nuys airport from it's humble beginnings through to the present day with lots of great footage and interviews with pilots old and young. A recurrent theme is the continual loss of general aviation airfields all over the country and the fact that once they're gone, they're gone forever. The movie also calls out the unforgivable rape of Chicago's Meigs Field by Mayor Richard Daley.

Highly recommended.

IE7 Search Observation

Nice one Microsoft.

When you install IE7 for the first time it gives you the option to select the search provider for IE. The available search engines are listed alphabetically which means that Microsoft's own search service is listed below Google.

That is some style.

Next question: When I visit my own website from IE7 does it show the toobar thingy and say “This website wants to run the ”Windows Media 6.4 Player Shim“ from Microsoft”? That makes my site sound dodgy, and I'm pretty sure it's not…

TrailFire

TrailFire is a cool service I came across recently.

TrailFire enables you to annotate a series of web pages and string them together into a “trail”. A very, very sweet idea. I can think of a ton of uses for this. What might be really interesting is a mashup with del.icio.us.

I use the tag toread to highlight articles I need to come back to later. Following them with an autogenerated trail would be kinda cool.

Anyhow, cool tech. Check it out.

Anthony Bourdain Evacuates From Beruit

I'm a big fan of Anthony Bourdain's travel and food show No Reservations (airing in the US on the Travel Channel). The guy is irreverent, interesting and amusing.

During last night's show, a trailer aired for an upcoming episode. Only this time it turned out a little bit different to the normal show. You see, Bourdain was in Beruit filming an episode for No Reservations when the bombs started falling. Bourdain details his experiences in an article for Salon.

The show based on the footage shot in Beruit airs on the Travel Channel at 10pm, August 21st.

Inspiring Speech On Urban Renewal

I just watched the speech that Majora Carter from Sustainable South Bronx gave at this year's TED conference. She talks about “her commitment to environmental justice and her vision for a renewed South Bronx”1 and it is everything that Guy Kawasaki and Kim Pallister say it is.

Her speech is inspiring, emotional, riveting and deeply interesting. If you have even the slightest interest in urban renewal, sustainable development or just doing the right thing by communities, then this is required viewing.

Plus she is a master speaker - check out Guy's critique.

I highly recommend that you spend the twenty minutes to watch it.

You can stream it from the TED site, or download it from Guy's site.

1 Taken from the blurb describing the video. 

Green Viper

Karl Jacob, serial entrepreneur (I knew him when he was the CEO of VRML startup DimensionX which we bought during the DirectX timeframe) and current CEO of Microsoft spin-out Wallop, is reconfiguring is Dodge Viper to run on e85.

Environmentally friendly at 1000HP. Who'd a thunk it?

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Programming Language Fun

Greg Costik recently posted about some fun programming languages including one who's syntax is entirely expressed in whitespace

Being a bit of a language geek, my favourite, and the one I always point people toward is SPL, the Shakespeare Programming Language. A good overview is here.

For example, here's a program to add two numbers (taken from the overview):

pre..

Romeo, A character to store the sum.

Juliet, An admirer who helps to calculate the sum.

Act I: A simple play.

Scene I: Juliet's conversation with Romeo.

[Enter Romeo and Juliet]

Juliet: Listen to your heart!

Romeo: You are as beautiful as a sweet red rose.

Listen to your heart.

Juliet: You are as brave as the sum of me and thyself.

Open your heart!

[Exeunt]

Wonderful.

Brighton's West Pier in Windows Live Local

I'd just heard that Microsoft have added Bird's Eye imagery for the UK to Windows Live Local, so I thought I'd check out the area in which I grew up - the south coast of England.

Well, it looks like there's only imagery for the coast in Brighton, but what I did see was a great before and after.

The aerial images seems to have been taken before the West Pier's most recent collapse:

Whereas the bird's eye images are post-collapse:

Here's a link to the area on Live Local, and you can read more about the West Pier's problems over at the BBC.

A Family Through Time

I've been meaning to do something like this, but now I'm absolutely going to do it.

Here is the family of an Argentinian man, photographed on the same day every year since 1976.

Wonderful.

[Thanks to Thomas Hawk for the link.]

Hair

This is the most laugh-out-loud funny piece of writing that I have read in a very long time. I literally had tears streaming down my face as I read it. Hopefully it will lighten your Monday morning.

People of a sensitive disposition or who hate potty humour should avoid following the link, but it is the most well written piece of toilet humour I have heard or read in a while.

Read about why you should not shave the hair on your bottom at your own peril.

Was that enough disclaimers?

[Thanks to Tom Reynolds for the link.]

The Geek Father

490.entry“>Top ten reasons Geeks make good fathers.

2. VIDEO GAMES. Due to the whole Man-Child thing as stated in #1, the Geek loves video games. And he's good at them too. My husband is the hit of all the kids' friends because not only can he talk video games, he plays them too. If my children get ”stuck“ while playing their Gameboys and bring it to me for assistance, all I can do is feebly hold it and say ”Mommy doesn't know how to play this." Daddy, however, can beat the game.

Cackle.

[Thanks to Parent Hacks for the link.]

Milk has Tryptophan in it?

Maybe that's why I always sleep better when I finish off the evening with a glass of milk… (Tryptophan is the amino acid in Turkey that ensures Thanksgiving Day is quiet after lunch. Maybe.)

From To-Done.com's article Tips for getting to sleep faster & sleeping better

Drink milk. Milk has an amino acid in it called Tryptophan that increase the levels of serotonin and/or melatonin in the brain which slow down brain activity. It's science folks.

[Thanks to Lifehacker for the link.]

I want one

Grassroots PR doesn't get much better than this…

Robert Scoble

I asked dozens of people “what did you see at CES that you'd spend your own money on?” I also asked “what was the coolest thing you saw?”

Most people stammered on both answers, but yesterday I started hearing about the Celestron SkyScout so Buzz, Shel, and I went over to the Sands to check it out.

It wins my award for the single coolest thing I saw at the show. By far. I'm not alone, either. Shel and Buzz were both speechless when they saw it.

My birthday is at the end of March.

Celestron SkyScout

A Word A Day

One of the few mailing lists that I subscribe to is “A Word A Day” from wordsmith.org. Every day a new word with description, history, audio pronunciation and other interesting information appears in my inbox.

For example, today's word is degringolade

The great humorist Mark Twain once said, “In Paris they simply stared when I spoke to them in French; I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language.” Well, that's the pitfall of learning a foreign language away from its natural habitat. We might become proficient in the grammar but there is never a certainty about the nuances of the language.

No matter. Some of the terms we borrow from French have become an integral part of the English language. They often help us convey a whole idea succinctly, in just a word or two. This week let's see five such terms from French.

degringolade (day-grang-guh-LAYD) noun: A rapid decline, deterioration, or collapse (of a situation).

Most weeks, the words have a theme, making each days' gem an interesting learning exercise.

I look forward to them every day.

Flagged Articles #2

Following up from my last flagging post, here is my list of some “interesting” articles for the week ending December 10, 2005:

As always, not in any way the most interesting stuff this week, but I flagged them for some reason…

Flagged articles

A week ago I started using Dare's aggregator, RSS Bandit, which has the nifty feature of being able to flag articles. These articles then appear in, surprisingly enough, an “Items For Followup” folder.

So, I thought it would be interesting to expose you, my cherished readers, to those articles that I deem worthy of further perusal. I plan on doing this weekly.

Note that this is not indicative of the “worthiness” those articles I've read in the 188 feeds that I've subscribed to. There are many more interesting articles of note or importance than these. But rather that these articles are ones that piqued my “that's worthwhile keeping for future reference”.

And so, I give you my list of “interesting” articles for the week ending December 2, 2005:

So there you have it. Not in any way the most interesting stuff this week, but in my opinion, the most worthy of keeping around…

Blowing Stuff Up

Joe Huffman, who I remember as nice guy and a great developer working on DirectX back in the day, runs Boomershoot on his property in rural Idaho. I remember that when Joe was working with us, he would commute weekly between Redmond and Idaho.

Anyhow, I'd recently found Joe's blog and saw that King 5's Evening Magazine had covered the event. You can find the video via the link in Joe's latest blog entry.

Looks like it was, ahem, a blast…

A Higher Power

Please tell me it ain't so. From the BBC: "God told me to invade Iraq, Bush tells Palestinian ministers."

Sorry Darling…

I love this new service, Save My Ass (of course, it should be arse - I don't have a donkey that needs saving...), because I had exactly the same idea back in 1997 shortly before relocating to the USA. Of course, I didn't do anything with the idea then...

If you're a successful professional whose career demands the bulk of your time, you know the problem. You want her to be happy, but you're busy and it's hard to be on top of flowers when you have deals closing or decks to finish. Sign up for this service once, and we'll take care of the rest. She'll be happy, you'll be happy.

It was a good idea then, and it's still a good idea. They should do more than just flowers though. By varying the type of gift, it doesn't look too suspicious.

I love the idea of a panic button, with a slider to indicate how bad you've screwed up. A cool, fun feature that means you don't mind paying a premium.

Save My Ass.

Via evhead.

Hunter's Final Farewell

A fitting final exit for Hunter. His ashes have been mixed with gunpowder and will be launched into the sky in 34 specially made fireworks.

Apparently Johnny Depp has footed the estimated $2 million bill.

Via Boing Boing.

London Wins Olympic Bid

So, London has won the bid to host the Olympics in 2012. I predict utter mayhem ;-)

I'd love to have seen Jacques Chirac's face when that was announced. Now he'll have to eat some food cooked in England. Mind you, with London now having more total Michelin stars than Paris, he'll probably enjoy it.

Toddler Property Laws

1. If I like it, it's mine.

2. If it's in my hand, it's mine.

3. If I can take it from you, it's mine.

4. If I had it a little while ago, it's mine.

5. If it's mine, it must never appear to be yours in any way.

6. If I'm doing or building something all the pieces are mine.

7. If it looks just like mine, it's mine.

8. If I saw it first, it's mine.

9. If you are playing with something and you put it down, it automatically becomes mine.

10. If it's broken, it's yours.

It's certainly correct!

I hadn't heard this one before, though a quick search finds loads of hits. No attributions though.

Swooning At My Feet

Ian Jones writes:

Another of my favourite PodCasts is Steve Lacey's A Brit Abroad, again, it's strange to hear a English accent in a PodCast, but this time you're prepared, as the title suggest you're going to get a British accent. I wonder, do American women swoon at his feet when ever he talks?

Never happened. It's a damn myth... honest guv.

Checking Out Ecto

I've been looking for a decent blogging tool for ages. None of the standard builtin editors in the RSS readers seem to cut it, and posting via the web interface is a bit of a pain.

Today I stumbled upon Ecto, and am giving it a try. We'll see how it goes.

Ecto. Via Dave Sifry.

Table Tennis Scoring

Table tennis scoring

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 18 Apr '05, 3.46pm PST.

We have a table tennis table in the lobby to our building. These are some scoring adjustments on a nearby whiteboard.

Err, ok

Err, ok

Uploaded to flikr by Steve Lacey at 14 Apr '05, 6.36pm PST.

Or, 4 for 10 bucks? Is some form of discount missing or is this just silly marketting?

Google Browser

Remember Music Plasma? Well check this out. It's pretty much the same thing for websites. Very Cool.

I love surfing relationships, be it via things like recommendations in Amazon or Netflix, Music Plasma, or this. It's another reason why web services are so important.

Via Boing Boing.

Apple iProduct

Hehe. Check out the "advert" on Gizmodo. Click on the picture for the full goodness. I must say, they've got me thinking about picking up a Mac Mini. The thing is small and relatively (well, for Apple) cheap.

Another interesting quote (again, from Gizmodo):

"The Mac mini is 2 x 6.5 inches. Your car stereo is 2 x 7 inches. Are you thinking what I'm thinking?"

- Matt Myers, System Administrator, Tru Playa

A Google Oops

From the Wall Street Journal's Editorial Site:

Bush Arrested?

Google News is a great site, offering an extremely useful search function that finds news stories published on the Internet within the past 30 days. The other delightful thing about it is its automatically generated homepage headlines. If you want to know what the top stories are, you're better off going to a news site that has an actual human editor (at this point we'd be remiss if we didn't plug The Wall Street Journal Online), but some of the stuff that makes its way through Google's algorithms can be a source of high hilarity.

Example: A left-wing site called Axis of Logic published a satirical (though unfunny) article yesterday titled "Canadians Authorities Arrest U.S. President Bush on War Charges," and it ended up as Google's top story. Seriously. If you don't believe us, click here.

Too Funny

Browsing through my referer log, I noticed that I'd been getting a few referers from a Portuguese BMW forum.

Someone there ripped off the pictures of my M3, and passed it off as his own! What was amusing is that he edited the photos to blank out the license plate... But my car has no front license plate!

Using google's translation tool to translate (badly) the posts, it looks like others on the forum figured out that he was lying and started flaming him.

Very amusing!

Very, Very, Freaky

Strange, but absolutely true! Just go ahead and try it!

While sitting at your desk, lift your right foot off the floor and make clockwise circles. Now, while doing this, draw the number "6" in the air with your right hand. Your foot will change direction and there's nothing you can do about it.

Sauce Reader

Just trying this new aggregator out. It appears to be very cool - a C# app and has that Outlook look'n'feel. It also includes what appears to be a great (well, we'll soon find out just how great) weblog publishing tool. I pointed it at my MoveableType installation and it found my various blogs, recognized the available categories, etc...

This post is being created with it, so we'll see just how great it is.

I currently use SharpReader and Bloglines. SharpReader is looking a tad too basic these days, so if it proves stable I think Sauce Reader will be replacing it for my offline RSS reading.

Sauce Reader is in beta right now, but appears to be very solid. Go download it over at Synop's site.

Update: So the post made it out fine, but its formatting isn't xhtml compliant as it uses uppercase for tag names. Also, it includes <p> tags, which doesn't work nice with MT's convert line break option. I guess I could turn that off though.

All in all, the aggregator looks good, and I'll be using it.

Spooky

Read the story before viewing the video (you may need audio).

This is a car advert from somewhere. When they finished filming the ad the people who made it noticed something moving along the side of the car, like a ghostly white mist. The ad was never put on TV because the unexplained ghostly phenomenon frightened the production team out of their wits.

Look closely as the car turns the corner and clears the trees you will see the white mist crossing in front of the car then following it along the road...

Classic Car Advert

Spooky!

A Plethora Of Steves

From Annals of Improbable Research.

The July/August 2004 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research includes lots about Steves. We have put the entire article online: "The Morphology of Steve," by Eugenie C. Scott, et al

As a Steve, I think you all need to read this.

By the way, what is the plural of "Steve"? "Steve's" seems wrong (not possesive usage), but "Steves" just seems plain daft...

New Sightings

A while ago I talked about an interesting, very well writen blog from a UK ambulance man. Now here is an equally well written and interesting one from a UK policeman. Go check it out.

Idle Thumbs

What a great article! This is a great take on the current state of the games industry and the games that we produce. The article kinda hits both sides of the FPS fence and tackles the "My son killed his friend ’cos he played your game" issue. I like the question he posits:

And, in a separate case that also occurred only a few days ago, a mother recently killed her 15-year-old daughter because she claimed God told her to. Why isn't religion taking any flak for this, when this crime may have been averted had the woman never heard of God? Because religion isn't at fault - and neither are games.

Indeed.

Politically Motivated Terror Alerts?

Here's a good one over at JuliusBlog which claims that the timing of the terror alerts shows striking correlation to dips in Bush's popularity ratings. Although it does seem a tad farfetched, I guess I wouldn't put it past the old boy. Especially with the last one appearing just after the DNC conference and based on old, pre-9/11 data that has "suddenly come to light". Ahem.

Anyhow, make your own mind up.

On Creativity

A wonderful article on creativity.

Everyone is born creative; everyone is given a box of crayons in kindergarten.


Then when you hit puberty they take the crayons away and replace them with books on algebra etc. Being suddenly hit years later with the creative bug is just a wee voice telling you, "I'd like my crayons back, please."

This really hits a home run. Everyone has the skill and desire to be creative, and a lot of people are; be it through music, coding, writing. People should spend more time making stuff.

Ok. That's a weird challenge

So there's a competition for the fastest time to get around all of London's zone one tube stations. Read about it over here and here - written by two of the competitors.

Sometimes I miss London...

Catch the tube

Surprisingly addictive, this little flash game has you racing to beat the computer to pick up passengers.

Go and Catch the tube!

We did not vote for him!

Found whilst browsing another Brit's blog.

The photo is a clothing label from a small American company that sells their products in France. Here's the translation of the French part of the label:

  • Wash with warm water
  • Use mild soap
  • Dry flat
  • Do not use bleach
  • Do not dry in the dryer
  • Do not iron
  • We are sorry that our President is an idiot
  • We did not vote for him

I think this is me

We have a lot of talented artists at work, and many of them do great things outside of work - for example, Jason Waskey, our art lead. In one of his online sketch books, I think I found me!

© 2001 to present, Steve Lacey.