:Archive Of January 2001:

Monday, January 29, 2001

- 6:46 PM -

Very nice. Fine Japanese drawing of an unusual subject. Click 'em for the large versions.

Thursday, January 25, 2001

- 10:25 PM -

Whoa! That was a rush. Since I mentioned the other day, Y-H Chang has added another piece. Check out Dakota.

- 6:00 PM -

As Altavista proceeds with what seems to be yet another insane internet patent case, I am reminded of a similar debacle in the emerging technology of aviation between the Wright brothers and Glen Curtiss. It's a story of greed, ego, patent office incompetence, lawyers, big money, and some truth. And its lesson for today is ... there isn't one. WWI came down the pipe and the US government shut down litigation and onerous royalties so that the industry could develop. It did, and abundant wealth was generated for all. But the mechanisms for patent and dispute were not improved. This bed has been on fire for a while now.

- 1:26 AM -

Heh. Hehehehehee! A highly respected blogger uses her blog to spark letters! You remember those. That glorious tradition of surprises in the mailbox. Yay, Claire!

(Don't mind me. I've survived reading waaay too many simplistic academic papers on the death of books, mail, and literacy due to the net, so this tickles me no end. Hear me you PhDs and MAs : It's*not*the*same*thing.)

Wednesday, January 24, 2001

- 7:06 PM -

... Since the last time my system got so buggy that I had to format and do a complete reinstall, everything has been running smoothly. Four days ago I got around to re-adding Netscape 4.72 to check some web work. Other than being appalled that it seemed to choke on javascript even worse than I remembered, I noticed the whole system seemed to be running more slowly. By the end of a day everything would be grindingly slow, even when I hadn't used Netscape at all. Surely, I thought, this must be placebo effect. Yet last night and today I am back to where I was before: the whole machine is distinctly slow, and reboots complain of a corrupt registry and have to try again with a backup. So just now I decided to try unistalling the big N to see if there would be a difference. Guess what? 4.72 cannot be uninstalled. No icon, no appearance in Add/Remove Programs, nothing in the Netscape directory. Yes, there is steam coming out of my ears now.

Sunday, January 21, 2001

- 10:21 PM -

What I like about the web: you bump into the damnest things. Here, a rough, rambling, and thoughtful rant about The Day the Earth Stood Still.

"...But the most important aspect of The Foreign film is its use of sub-titles. Both Hollywood and Slavic Despair when exported have little need of sub-titles. Their simple plots, dramatic gestures and high action make these no more than silent films with soundtracks. The Foreign film has as its essence the nature of language - it was the real beginning of the 'talkies'. "

Saturday, January 20, 2001

- 2:01 PM -

The spectacular Pikasso by Linda Manzer. Also a sound clip interview followed by Pat playing the guitar.

Friday, January 19, 2001

- 11:33 PM -

The Visual Telling Of Stories Archive. There is so much in here. This is one favorite.

- 7:52 PM -

Well that's the end of that. I've had a Hotmail account since way before Microsoft bought them. Today they've begun pop-up window advertising. Morons. So ... who's your favorite web-based email service? I'd like to still have one to balance out my flaky mail-losing ISP.

Anyone tried HushMail?

- 1:32 AM -

As we gather around the communal fire glow of our monitors to tell power-outage stories (Stewart started it), I'll tell mine.

Some time ago the particular place I was sitting when the lights went out was in a self-serve station kiosk on the graveyard shift. It's one of those jobs where you deal with the general public and have plenty of opportunity to reflect that Darwin has some catching up to do. People would do things like drive off with the hose still attached to their car. Regularly. It wasn't enough that I was sitting in a plexiglass box beside six pumps of ridiculously explosive gasoline and their accompanying large underground tanks, but the other corners of this intersection had two more 24 hour gas stations and one propane station. Under the road ran a natural gas line, and all of this was nestled beside a nuclear power plant. To deal with emergencies my employer equipped me with a box of kitty litter, a fire extinguisher, zero training, and minimum wage. In a way, I had Homer's job. So in that dead hour of around 3 am when the lights went out as far as I could view in all four directions down those long roads, the complete silence and darkness got my entire attention.

Wednesday, January 17, 2001

- 1:53 AM -

! Y-H Chang Heavy Industries has a couple of new ones up. Always leaves me grinning. Definitely on my Best of the Web list.

Tuesday, January 16, 2001

- 9:54 PM -

Interview with industrial designer Karim Rashid. Click it now, because the CBC program Arts Today only carries the current show. Interesting words on "democratizing design".

"Design at one time, everybody got pleasure out of going to a museum and going 'Wow, my chair got into the permanent collection at the MoMA.' For me it's more important that my chair is in Canadian Tire."

(CanTire is like a WalMart with a leaning to Hardware.)

- 12:09 AM -

A networks specialist friend of mine was visiting from Toronto and sent an email to meet him at Starbucks. At the agreed hour I arrived and settled in with my paper clad brew to watch the sidewalk circus stroll past. My cel rang quietly and by the time I got it out of my pack I'd missed the call, and had to wait for the message service to register it then contact me. "Owen, It's Brian. Call me back. I'm right here in town but Fido for no reason will make the charge long distance via Toronto so I'll hang up and then call you back when you call me." So I rang. We hung up. He rang. "Owen, where are you?" "Starbucks." "But... I'm in Starbucks." "Stand up Brian."

Insert image of two geeks with cel phones standing up in Starbucks to see each other, put away their phones, and proceed to a common table.

Woohoo. We tech.

Sunday, January 14, 2001

- 6:14 PM -

Damn. That's really nicely done, Neale.

Saturday, January 13, 2001

- 11:03 PM -

Virtual activists? Click "Projects" link of this frames site.

Friday, January 12, 2001

- 9:06 PM -

Ack. To be avoided: Cre@teOnline takes a discussion of web workers, calls it a "usability debate", and makes a nine part 74 mb download to give you a very badly shot postage stamp video with really cruddy sound recording.

Nothing was said that I hadn't hear before, or better expressed.

Jakob took part, and they decided to set the camera on him half the time while others spoke. He didn't contribute more, or host the talk. I guess his raw sex appeal took over the director's mind?

In part 5 he says his problem with Flash is it's "a tool that encourages problems", "a tool that encourages bad design", but didn't explain. On the face of it, you can say the same about HTML, or pen and paper. I still don't understand why he thinks Flash is individually inherently bad.

Oh, and the video has what looks like a bunch of buttons on the screen, that of course do nothing. I guess someone thought this would lend a cool webby look.

Sheesh. Let's talk about usability here. I don't see that a transcript wouldn't have been better. I think Cre@teOnline made the choice of video to appear cool while being lazy.

Tuesday, January 09, 2001

- 4:01 PM -

So... Oven Digital has closed. Maybe I'm just a bloody idiot but I keep thinking the dotcrash is an opportunity. A chance to get back to the roots and change things. Literally get radical. When an entire outfit closes, there's darn good people available who've already worked together. There's been so much said in the last year about what's wrong with management and clients and the commercialization of the web just not "getting it", that I see this as an opportunity for all these overworked creatives to have the time to sit down together and say, "Right. Now how should things be done?" Do all those designers and information architects and usability experts really only know how to polish the same old ideas? Is everyone over 20 too old to have the ignorance and guts to try new ones?

Seems we've got a real opportunity to change the direction the web has been heading during the last twelve months. As open as when Hotwired was new and exciting. No formulas, no copying. New. Ideas.

- 3:25 PM -

You might want to check out Infolets. It doesn't seem to be getting much traffic lately, and it's rather good. News For Nerds without being Griping Of Geeks.

Sunday, January 07, 2001

- 3:27 AM -

Slashdot points to the Sony eVilla. (Good work guys. Another poorly thought out name like 'Virtual Boy'.) It's a net appliance. It might, like others, be too limited, be tied to poor service, and get obsolescent too fast.

But I'm going to watch this one. The PC never wiped out dedicated game boxes mainly because people get fed up loading software and having things crash. I'm personally biased to having a configurable box, but I'm also pretty tired that there still isn't a computer I can just hand to my parents and walk off.

Oh, wait. No CD port. Augh! Even my parents have CDRoms. Like the Petersen Bird Guide.

Fup. Back to hoping someone makes a strong, solid, consumer OS for the PC. Perhaps Eazel.

Saturday, January 06, 2001

- 10:08 PM -

I want to go visit a gravestone. On the surface that sounds morbid, or shallow ("let's go visit a celebrity gravestone!"). But I've just learned Barbara Frum commissioned Bruce Mau to do hers. 'Of course'... a gravestone is after all a media. And Barbara Frum did not live an ordinary life; there is no reason her marker should speak as the others do. There is every reason it should not.

Funny, one my other favorite designers, James Cutler, also does memorials. Mostly he's known for wonderful timber framed modern houses. But he also did the memorial for the Salem witch trial victims, and another for US servicemen. The latter is a small field with windscattered bronze "pages", each cast with the words of an actual last letter home. And there is also a serene house he designed for a beautiful wooded lot. From the central point of that house you can sit on tatami and gaze directly out across a large pond. To where the owner's wife is buried. He commissioned the house and grounds as his Taj Mahal to her.

- 9:55 PM -

Last night I watched the Bruce Mau video STRESS. You should too. Made me think about how manufacturers promote by logo. How it gets to the point where the merchandise is irrelevant, you buy just as way to become part of the mythos of a logo.

Kinda sounds like the classic complaint against the dot.com new economy, doesn't it? That they took this too far. That someone finally said the emperor is naked.

I just can't shake the feeling that that's not right though. That really just some of 'em were sacrificed so we'll go back to sleep and let the game keep on happening. Unexamined. Unadmitted.

- 9:44 PM -

Always a trip. SRL has a nice 10 minute sample from their Tokyo show.

Friday, January 05, 2001

- 1:38 AM -

Perhaps because when I was very small, computers were very large and covered with fascinating colored switches, these bland tan boxes we have now bother me on some level.

I have begun to mend the wound. For Christmas, friend Bert gave me a bright red keyboard button with PANIC embossed in white. A little time with a knife and epoxy, and hey presto, it replaces my escape key. But it actually looks pretty good out on the edge of the curvy ergonomic keyboard. So I got thinking back to that groovy era of color-coded switches of the 60's. What would those designers decide would be the right colors for all these keys and the rest of my hardware? This could look pretty cool.

Thursday, January 04, 2001

- 8:18 PM -

Is it me, or is there some syncronicity that the Flash virus and Visa's New Multimedia Logo show up at the same time? ("Let's call it the Visarus!" Uh, no. That sounds more like a dinosaur with a thick brow. Hey, wait a minute...)

- 4:06 PM -

Has anyone done a nice anthropological study of the evolution of toys? How these items have risen in years of acceptance into adulthood? Not just hidden toys (hobbies like radio and automobiles that gained respectability by expense), but actual toys just like kids have because it's fun to have them around. Like Lego. Like simple wind-up things that snuk into adulthood under a cloak of 'retro'. You don't even have to put on a face that you're "collecting". You can just plain have a toy that sits on the kitchen counter 'cause you like it there. A forty year old man can do this without raising an eyebrow. Friends will say, "wow, what a cool toy!" It's fully accepted. Forgotten that it was once uncool to the point of disturbing.

- 3:52 PM -

So, convergence means an electronic police state? From "copy protection" harddrives to televisions, it's a very faint line to cross to achieve hardware that censors what you can see and do, and to having a society that thinks that's a good thing. (Cue Larson cartoon, "Wait! We don't have to be just sheep!")

Wednesday, January 03, 2001

- 4:53 PM -

Okay, I didn't know anything about that. Human powered railroads, via gmtPlus6.

Monday, January 01, 2001

- 2:26 PM -

Whoz Yer Pope? (Simple Evils)

As the Telcos and the media conglomerates reorganize to take back the net from free individuals, I am thinking of 1453.

The year that "Gutenberg's invention was the ocean that allowed the ripples of the renaissance to spread." Are there parallels? Yeah, actually. By then the church had pretty much tied up printing and what could get printed. They had the scribes. And a pretty complex EULA for anyone wanting to access that.

- 2:44 AM -

Hmmm. Little article here on little bots. I am having a sleep deprived thought: how about if we shift the whole concept of designer pets like AIBO to "custom" units by the interactivity experts currently known as web designers. Like a k10k issue AIBO. A little plastic puppy that's funky Dane inside. Bow wow.

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