Swimming with the Razorfishes

Friday, December 05, 2003

My God. Matt Stuart's street photography is brilliant.

[via memepool]

It is snowing like a mother out there.

Really blowing around.

I just got picked up a mouse, a trackball, and a media reader, all for less than $100. What a deal. Plugged all three in, and all three just worked. No drivers, fiddling, incantations, or cursing.

When I stuck a CF card in the media reader, not only did OS X mount it as a volume, but iPhoto opened and imported all the photos.

MacOS X rocks.

"I celebrated Thanksgiving in an old-fashioned way. I invited everyone in my neighborhood to my house, we had an enormous feast, and then I killed them and took their land." - Jon Stewart

He forgot to mention the whole "gave them smallpox" thing.

Dave Pollard is asking some interesting questions about the collective values of countries, comparing The United States and Canada. While I bristle at the idea of collective values for an entire country, the discussion is interesting nonetheless.

Dave is talking about a survey conducted by Michael Adams, author of Fire & Ice: The US, Canada and the Myth of Converging Values. Mr. Adams' findings suggest that America's shared values are moving toward survival roles and deference to authority, while Canada's shared values are moving toward idealism and individual fulfillment.

Mr. Adams has created a web site that allows you to take part of the survey used to generate statistics for his book. Here is how I placed on the spectrum:

But putting on my social psychology hat, I'm not sure those questions were sufficient to place anyone accurately on a spectrum. I understand that the actual survey was much longer, which would tend to increase its accuracy.

Apropos of nothing, I just found James R. Dean's site. He is an architect in Minnesota. Interestingly, he provides a reading list, which contains a Christopher Alexander book, and several other Alexander-ish books.

Having read a little Christopher Alexander, I'm curious to look at his houses in terms of a pattern language. I wish he had more / better pictures.


Few things are as satisfying in the morning as a good bagel, lightly toasted, lightly buttered, with a good cup of coffee.

Thursday, December 04, 2003

"Sorry I was late with the crudité dip everyone: a novice photographer with a pronounced erection had his grubby little camera all up in my business! Aren't I the mostest?"


Wednesday, December 03, 2003

Cracking open an iPod...


...or, what happens when your iPod's battery goes bad.


Tuesday, December 02, 2003

Why do people do this?

Why would one create a stylesheet that underlines non-link text when the mouse hovers over it? I find this rather usetting.

I want one! I want one!

I love Leicas. I've been lusting after an R8 with the digital back for some time.


I just noticed that the disk format for Safari's bookmarks has changed from HTML to XML. Interesting.

Quick Quiz: How many times a week do you call your own cell phone, trying to find it?

I'm thinking that three or four is too many.

Monday, December 01, 2003

"I'm not usually a violent person, but something clicked and I kicked the ever living hell out of my computer.  I mean hard.  I was livid.  I went East Side on my PC tower.  I threw a couple gang signs and even tried to stab the side of my computer with a screwdriver.  Seriously."

[via Janicek.com]

Dave Pollard is talking about a book by Jim Merkel, Radical Simplicity.

"In the face of looming ecological disaster, many people feel the need to change their own lifestyles as a tangible way of transforming our unsustainable culture. Radical Simplicity is the first book that guides the reader to a personal sustainability goal, then offers a process to monitor progress to a lifestyle that is equitable amongst all people, species, and generations. It employs three tools to help readers begin their customized journey to simplicity."

Sounds fascinating.

"Thus did students who are within months of graduating with their $160,000 computer science degrees learn how modern information systems are actually built, even by institutions that earn much of their revenue from educating American software developers."

Philip Greenspun, via Dave. Interesting story.

Oddly enough, Dave Winer and the Longhorn development people both got me thinking about something.

Dave is organizing his blog into a directory of sorts. It seems that date / time metadata plus Manilla categories will route stories into various "directories".

The people developing the Longhorn filesystem and its APIs are pushing the boundaries by attaching metadata to filesystem objects and by abstracting filesystem objects into things that are file-backed, network backed, etc... Wrapping this into a relational store adds an aspect of "queryability."

But here is my take on top-down, imposed taxonomies: they are fine, as long as you don't assume they'll be useful to anyone but you.

The idea of putting something "into" a directory or category is a premature optimization. When the simple act of parsing and categorizing data was a taxing procedure, like when we all had honkin' 286 desktops with 256k of RAM, it made sense to place the burden of categorization on the end-user; that way, the smart person imposed some kind of taxonomy up front, and the computer just had to handle the task of indexing and searching. "This file goes in this directory." That kind of thing.

But my PowerBook is damn fast. Way faster than I need for most of the software I use (with the notable exception of RadioUserland, Photoshop, and compiling large EJB-based software systems). It is so fast that real lexical discovery is possible with my information.

This is the Google model. "Just give me all your stuff. I'll analyze the soup and find my own connections."

That way, Google can figure out that my 'blog entry from February 16 should fall into the "fucktard" category; certainly not one I'd think of placing myself in. Google can also discover that in addition to my sparkling entry, Real Live Preacher and Chris should fall into the "fucktard" category. This leaves it up to the human to ponder the nature of the connection between these three things, rather than the connection itself.

The Google model is dynamic; it allows hierarchy, taxonomy, and connections to grow over time. The top-down taxonomy isn't better or worse than one allowed to emerge, but they inevitably reflect the mind that created them.

Beware the golden taxonomy.


This week's theme is "looking up in midtown."

Don't leave all the fun to the tourists.