Photo of worker adjusting a wireless access point.

Worker adjusting the wireless access point outside my window.

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Sunday, February 27, 2005
The Amazing Cinderblocks
Cinderblock sculpture
Originally uploaded by duien.
Virginia Tech architecture students hold a block party.

Saturday, February 26, 2005
Web Tunes
You could start with Jon Udell's illuminating podcast (mp3, 20MB, 21 min.) where he tells a story about the state of (free) music on the Web.

Or you could start with his blog entry about the podcast which has all the links he mentions in the audio. (So if you're podcasting, it's nice to have a transcript with the links.)

And what is a podcast? I know some of you are asking this. Check here for Dave Winer's official definition or here for the Wikipedia entry. But really, unofficially, a podcast is an mp3 file and you can listen to it with whatever music playback application that you have on your computer (iTunes, QuickTime, or more windows-centric devices).

Google Maps Walking Tour
Jon Udell created a flash movie walking tour of Keene, NH with Javascript and Google maps.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005
Web Design Resource
For an incredible listing of Web design-related articles check out Web Design References at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. Excellent design for including that much content. And it has an RSS feed!

Maintained by Laura Carlson.

Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy is not a great movie, not a good movie, so I guess it's a mediocre movie. Will Ferrell plays Ron Burgundy. It does have some funny parts especially the opening segment. But it swiftly tanks after that.

It does have a certain level of immature humor that may be entertaining to segments of the populace (young men?). Not something I enjoy.

I gave it two (of five) stars in Netflix.

Tuesday, February 22, 2005
Hunter's Obit
Denver Post has a nice obituary for Hunter S. Thompson.

Hunter S. Thompson
He's left us. His son has published some thoughts about his father.

Back with Regularly Scheduled Programing
Ten days post-less. Four of them in Grand Marais, MN where I could not find an Internet connection.

We stayed in a cabin on the shore of Lake Superior as temperatures dropped and ice started forming then breaking up then piling on shore from the push of the waves. The landscape at the edge of the water seriously changed each day.

There was snow, a huge amount of snow. We found a nice trail to ski. And we relaxed.

Pictures to follow soon.

Friday, February 11, 2005
Technical Triumphs with Audio
My latest tech triumph was to record a show off NPR's Talk of the Nation on deaf culture that ran last Wednesday.

The recording part is not so easy. Why? Well, it's easy to record (or "rip") from a CD in the modern Mac world via iTunes (and then you can rip it to a blank CD after you've brought it into iTunes). It's also easy to download music files. But NPR/MPR sound is "streaming" meaning it's not a file, it's pouring in over the network similar to how radio waves are pouring in to your radio.

So you really have to record the input on the fly as once it's "heard," it's gone.

There is software out there to do this. I found nothing free that would handle the RealAudio stream for the show.

But I found Audio Hijack by Rogue Amoeba which isn't too expensive ($16) and did the job. It "hijacks" the application (in this case RealPlayer) and records the stream to an AIFF file. It has cool features like the ability to schedule your recordings. It also is supposed to record the iTunes radio streams but I haven't tried it.

The AIFF file I recorded was humongous - 485MB. Still, that will fit on a CD.

iTunes will also convert the file to MP4 (or AAC) format. Who cares? Well the file will shrink to 44MB with no real noticeable loss of quality. So now I could fit at least 10 of these files on a single CD (playable in consumer CD players).

I'm not sure about copyright issues. I assume recording this for personal use is OK. What about recording and giving a copy away? I assume selling copies would violate copyright.

Science Alterations
Via Slashdot, the LA Times reports that scientists employed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service have been "directed to alter official findings to lessen protections for plants and animals." The findings are from a survey conducted by the Union of Concerned Scientists and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.

Bush and his team seem to favor a not-so-subtle altering of reality to fit their perceptions. Decide what the outcome should be and then find (or force) scientists to support it. Most of the electorate never know the difference especially given that most of the media doesn't see a difference either.

Minneapolis Indian Cuisine
Last night Mary and I ate at Moti Mahal (Pearl Palace) Restaurant at 3025 E. Franklin (right by the Franklin Avenue bridge) -- excellent food, good atmosphere, good service, a pleasurable experience. We both highly recommend it.

They have a luncheon buffet every day from 11:30 to 2:30.

They have a website too.

Movie: Stepford Wives
Stepford 2004 with Matthew Broderick, Nicole Kidman, Bette Midler, Christopher Walken and Glenn Close is a comedy and rather boring. Get the original 1975 film with Katherine Ross and be scared.

Sunday, February 06, 2005
Current Movies
Coffee and Cigarettes
Jim Jarmusch's short segments of two musicians or actors or comedians drinking coffee or tea and smoking cigarettes. Very strange. Very entertaining. Very Jarmusch.

Vera Drake
Excellent film. Vera induces miscarriages to help women who do not want to carry a baby to term. She takes no money. It's fifties England and it's illegal to do this. She gets arrested. Mike Leigh does a beautiful job of portraying facets of the sexual geography of England in the fifties and the hypocrisy surrounding the abortion issue.

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
This isn't a great film but it has some very funny moments. The New Yorker's short review says "Hardly anybody here looks young, and we can only guess at the experiences that have aged them, tested them, and cloaked them in Anderson’s brand of sadness." Much of the music is David Bowie covers on acoustic guitar and translated to Portuguese and sung by Seu Jorge.

Saturday, February 05, 2005
De-Lovely and Blogging Movies
I forget movies, sometimes not able to remember if I have seen one or not. Really good ones I do, at least, remember seeing. But I don't always remember the details. So I will store my memories here so I can return to them. You can read my first movie blog here.

Be forewarned: there are probably spoilers here if you know nothing about Cole Porter or his life. But geez, this isn't like a murder mystery or something. He dies in the end. Actually, I think he's dead in the beginning because he's with an angel.

Mary and I watched De-Lovely recently on DVD. It's the Cole Porter biography starring Kevin Kline and Ashley Judd. It's nicely done and we both enjoyed it. I would rate it higher than Beyond the Sea.

Like Beyond the Sea, it has the main character (Cole) looking back over his life. In De-Lovely, he is joined by what I assume is an angel (he's named Gabe). They watch Cole's life play itself out on a stage. (Beyond the Sea had the child Bobby Darin as life analyst.) In the old days, biographies would take narrative form and start at the beginning and go to the end. Now we have to analyze. De-Lovely's method works better than Beyond the Sea's because Jonathan Pryce who plays Gabe the angel is very charming.

Cole and his wife, Linda Porter (Ashley Judd), were very sophisticated. She married him knowing that he liked to fool around with guys more than with women. They weren't sophisticated enough to make this work, however. So they drifted apart then together again near the end of her life. (She seems to have died of lung cancer although I don't think anyone ever said the words "lung cancer.") She found an interior designer for him to act as his companion after she was gone.

There are some very cool parties where everyone sings together as if they are in a musical. I think this was artistic license but maybe sophisticated people really did have parties like this.

OK. I did like it and Mary liked it too and she is much harder to please. (As a marker, consider I just finished watching six DVDs of 24 from last season.) Porter wrote some really great songs and they are performed by the likes of Diana Krall ("Just One of Those Things"), Natalie Cole ("Ev'ry Time You Say Goodbye"), Cheryl Crow ("Begin the Beguine"), Alanis Morissette ( "Let's Do It, Let's Fall In Love") and Elvis Costello ("Let's Misbehave"). Costello's performance was my favorite but I'm a big fan of his already.

De-Lovely is a good story about a particular social class at a particular time in our history. It's about the music business and about Hollywood and about Broadway. It's about class as it existed then as I don't think it exists in the same way now. I don't relate to the people personally but I liked the story, I liked the way it was told, and I liked Kline and Judd. Definitely worth seeing.

Open Sourcing Tsunami Warnings
The recent extraordinary events in the Indian Ocean have awakened the world to the hazards presented by tsunami. While there are extensive tsunami warning systems available for the Pacific Ocean, the tsunami warnings from the International Tsunami Information Center were not disseminated quickly enough to prevent massive loss of life, because no warning communications infrastructure was available in the eleven countries affected by the tsunami of 2004 December 26.
This is from the Project Overview entry of the Open Tsunami Alert System (OTAS) Wiki.

OTAS was inspired by a column by Robert X. Cringely. He said:
We don't need governments and huge sensor arrays to warn people on the beach about the next huge wave approaching at 400 miles-per-hour. Thanks to the Internet, we can probably do it by ourselves.
Because of the public availability of raw seismic data, this really is doable. I think the OTAS people are going to prove it.

Cringely posted an update on Jan. 14 (after the Microsoft stuff).

Charles E. Matthews
The park was acquired in 1961 at a time when the residents in Seward neighborhood were excited about developing a park that was closer to their home. In reflection of this dedication, Matthews Park was named in honor of Charles E. Matthews, a life long resident of the area, who was active in community affairs including lobbying for a park in his neighborhood.
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board - Park Detail
Matthews Park in Minneapolis is near my home and I've blogged a bit about it in relation to our current winter (here and here and here or see the photos here).

Today I got a nice comment from Jason G. Matthews, grandson of Charles E. He also posted to his (looks brand new) blog.

Thanks for the nice comments, Jason, and you will probably see more photos of the park. My daughter played there and now her children are playing there.

Friday, February 04, 2005
Flickr for Beginners
Lifehacker (sponsored by Sony) has a nice set of tips for Flickr beginners. (You've been paying attention, right? Flickr is extreme photo sharing.)

The Guardian has a good article on Flickr and tagging - Tag Team. If you haven't heard or are wondering about the tagging phenomenom (bottom-up organization of complex data) this is a good place to start.

Thanks Flickr Blog.

Thursday, February 03, 2005

Originally uploaded by Roy.
This is a photo by Roy Wang. It's outside an Factory 798 in Beijing, a former defense industry complex. It's now an artist colony and if you click through on the image, you can view Roy's photo set of the complex. He may be one of the artists involved. I don't know.

Roy, I suppose you will somehow find out that I've blogged this. I looked around for a Creative Commons copyright and didn't find one. If you would like me to remove the photo from my blog, just say the word and it's done.

Mary and I have a very special interest in China after spending three weeks there in 2003. We hope to return and live there for a year.

Thanks for sharing this nice photo, Roy.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005
Myths, Memes, Lies
I read somewhere that there were some indigenous people (the Sea Gypsies or Moken) on an island in the Indian Ocean who knew that they needed to go to higher ground after the water receded before the tsunami. This wisdom, so the article said, was passed down from the ancients. The point was how we (people not indigenous, tourists) have lost touch with the ancients and thus did not automatically go to higher ground.

Not true.

Eliza Griswold in the New Yorker (Jan. 24, 31, 2005, p. 36) writes of meeting some of the Sea Gypsies and asking them about this. "We just saw the wave coming and ran" was the response from a woman named Misia Klah Talay.

Now since the original story was somewhere on the Web (likely a blog), it will spread and be repeated often and move off the Web into our non-digital life. It becomes a meme and part of the larger memetic pattern of the nobility and pureness of indigenous people, obscuring what is the the reality of indigenous life. (Read the piece to understand more of this. Might be at the New Yorker site.)

Another meme making its way through the US memetic network is that the Social Security System is bankrupt. Not true. President Bush is going to spin it hard tonight during the State of the Union Address. I don't understand why it is such a big issue for them but I do worry that making the changes he suggests (private accounts) will harm the elderly in the future.

Read "A Question of Numbers" by Roger Lowenstein in the Jan. 16, 2005 New York Times Magazine and check out Paul Krugman's piece "Many Unhappy Returns" at the Times site. (Thanks Talking Points Memo for the Krugman link.)

Tuesday, February 01, 2005
iTunes This Week
Free Discovery Download
In My High School by Blaine Larsen
Blaine is a teenager.

Free Single of the Week
Hoodstomp by K.V.

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