Re¢ently

  1. Googleplex in Boston/Cambridge

    brian on 2005.05.31
    at 05:35 pm

    Dear Google,

    Thank you for considering Boston for a new Googleplex, now come quick! I know you’re listening, because our logs show us that you like our blog.

    I say this not because I dislike my current employer. Not at all. I say this because Google is one of about 5 corporations I’d like to work for, and for whom working for wouldn’t make me feel slimy. I am currently employed by corporation numero uno on that list, but for whom most of their work is done out of California, limiting my upward mobility within the company substantially.

    I’ve always thought that if you are a large enough company, it would make sense to have major corporate presence in several major cities, and sales force alone doesn’t count. The reason is that not everyone would like to live in Silicon Valley. I would not leave New England for a couple reasons. The main one is family. My fiancé is very close to her family, and while my family has more of a tradition of branching out (although all still pretty much on the East Coast, save one cousin in Iowa) it’s still nice to have the grandkids be close to the grandparents. No amount of salary or sweet emerald campuses surrounded by lush mountains can really replace that. Additional reasons for not leaving New England include things like “snow” “culture” “history” “seashore and mountains within short drives” “educated and honest people” and “I like it.”

    Having corporate presence opens you up to a greater employee pool. People don’t always want to relocate far, far away, plus you get a diversity of employees. Also, if you have employees who do want to relocate, you can save costs by keeping them with in the company and allowing them to transfer. All around, it’s just more efficient.

    Anyhow, hopefully some other Boston bloggers will speak up and welcome Google into the neighborhood and encourage them to sign the papers. Things like the Boston Community WiFi effort encourage employers like Google to want to come to our area, by the way.

    [addendum SEW links to this, much more informative article from Boston Biz Journal.]

    Posted in: Technology

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  2. To Serve Man

    jake on 2005.05.31
    at 03:44 pm

    Let’s try this again shall we? The post last night for Revenge of the Sith posted but ecto spit back some errors I couldn’t work out before having to get some sleep.

    To Serve Man

    There is an episode of The Twilight Zone —based on a short story—where aliens come to Earth and trick us into trusting them. Coincidentaly it was released on March 2nd, which happens to be my birthday. Not the same year of course.

    Mr. Chambers! Don’t get on that ship! The rest of the book, “To Serve Man”, it’s… it’s a cookbook!

    I’m not sure if it’s just a coincidense but that is what the Billboard Liberation Front put on their protest of McDonald’s corporation.

    From: Boing Boing

    Posted in: Recent Events · Television

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  3. Star Wars: Episode III

    jake on 2005.05.31
    at 02:13 am

    A Little Intro

    Well this took me long enough. I did finish a basic implementation of XML-RPC for Brian and I to update the site. I simply translated over the nice Textpattern implementation.

    So now I get to use ecto for writing this post. And if I don’t finish I can save a draft and come back to it later. At least as long as I have Peanut Butter.

    The Movie

    Episode III movie posterBeing a fan of the original trilogy as a young boy I was excited when these three came out. While Episodes I and II were decent, they could not live up to the memory of the old set. Episode III on the other hand did a good job of living up to the memory. Most of the characters were handled well. Kottke pretty much sums up my feelings with his review and he’s better spoken so I’ll let him finish up.

    …which was the biggest surprise for me, that sadness. Somehow, Lucas made a real old-fashioned tragedy here; he actually made the evil Darth Vader into a sympathetic character.

    Balance to the force?

    Something I can touch on that is unique to my knowledge pertains to the whole “balance to the force” concept. I recall when Episode I came out a bunch of friends of mine were confused by all the talk of bringing balance to the force. Wasn’t it Luke who wins out? But, as my buddy pointed out, Darth Vader actually hurls the emperor down the ventilation shaft. Was it a ventilation shaft? Ehh… No matter.

    The twist is that to remove all of the Sith would not balance the force. It would skew it to all positive. I don’t know if George Lucas meant for this or not, but the galaxy far far away seems to not understand this simple word. For good you need evil. For evil you need good.

    My take on it, Anakin does bring balance to the force. If you remember what Obi-Wan says in the first set of movies, that Darth Vader hunted down the Jedi and murdered them all, then you also notice that Yoda and Obi-Wan are seemingly the only Jedi left at the start of Episode IV. A master and an apprentice—well sort of, we know Obi-Wan didn’t directly study under Yoda—are all that are left on either side. Four masters of the force, two on either side. Were the Jedi confused all along?

    Posted in: Movies

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  4. Missing links from this week

    brian on 2005.05.27
    at 11:25 am

    Here are two links I’ve been meaning to blog for the past few days.

    The World’s wind can produce more energy than humans currently consume.

    Researchers at Stanford Univ. have done an exhaustive yet conservative estimate of the world’s potential in wind power. The conclusion: we can get more than we need, if we just tap the resource.

    The map, compiled by researchers at Stanford University, shows wind speeds at more than 8,000 sites around the world. The researchers found that at least 13 percent of those sites experience winds fast enough to power a modern wind turbine. If turbines were set up in all these regions, they would generate 72 terawatts of electricity, according to the researchers.

    That’s more than five times the world’s energy needs, which was roughly 14 terawatts in 2002, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Gimme the Geospacial Web!

    Tagging and “folksonomy” are huge right now, an explosion of meta data, tagging things in Flickr, Technorati, del.icio.us. But what if we extended this idea to provide information about meatspace, the real world? GEOurl is one example of this now, but things could become much more rich.

    ‘Tag the world’ is sentiment of Mike Liebhold, writing on the O’Reilly Network. Let’s describe our world. Let’s have things like WiFi be contextually aware, that is to say, they contain information about where they are, for those who are nearby. Things like Google Maps are just barely scratching the surface of what Mike is proposing. Combine GPS, WLAN, RFID, mapping servers, GIS info, and embed them in everything. The cyber spills out and becomes real in the physical space. Have a look for yourself.

    …we can see the beginning shapes of a true geospatial web, inhabited by spatially tagged hypermedia as well as digital map geodata. Google Maps is just one more layer among all the invisible cartographic attributes and user annotations on every centimeter of a place and attached to every physical thing, visible and useful, in context, on low-cost, easy-to-use mobile devices. In a recent email, Nat Torkington, organizer of the upcoming Where 2.0 conference, said it this way: “Everything is somewhere. Whether you’re talking about assets, people, phone calls, pets, earthquakes, fire sales, bank robberies, or famous gravestones, they all have a location attached. And everything we touch in our lives, from groceries to digital photos, could have a location. From these locations we could learn a lot more about ourselves and build new economies.”

    Posted in: Science · Technology · Television · Web

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  5. Breaking News: Auto Accident at Beacon and St.Paul St.

    brian on 2005.05.24
    at 11:53 pm

    Brookline Citizen Journalism Experiment

    We interrupt your regularly scheduled weblog with…

    Two car accident at the intersection of Beacon and St. paul Streets in Brookline at about 8:30pm Tuesday evening Two car accident at Beacon and St.Paul Sts, Brookline, MA 2004 May24

    St. Paul Street traveling south is being rerouted via Parkman to Powel, which intersects Beacon one block further east, and via Pleasant which intesects Beacon two blocks further West (just east of Coolidge Corner)
    Two car accident at Beacon and St.Paul Sts, Brookline, MA 2004 May24 Alt angle

    More info and pictures coming. Watch this space for updates.

    UPDATE 1: Two pictures, both facing south on St. Paul, Beacon crossing left to right. Green Line train at the St. Paul T-Stop, heading inbound to Boston. Apologies for the poor night time photography, and iPhoto doesn’t quite have Photoshop’s abilities yet. Maybe I’ll adjust levels in PShop later, speed is important in the breaking news business.

    Update 2: The car closest in the picture had major damage to it’s passenger side read door. It’s a compact, I believe a Toyota Corolla. It was struck by a larger sedan, I believe a Toyota Camry, which struck the Corolla with its passenger side headlight, which you can see better in the 2nd picture, but crumpled the hood pretty good. The weather very well could have been a factor, seeing that it was pouring thanks to the nor’easter.

    As I walked up the street to get to the scene, an ambulance was just leaving the scene. I saw no occupants of either car still on scene. Several police officers, their cruisers and the flat-bed wrecker truck, all of which had the scene cleaned up by about 9:15pm

    Update 3: Backstory: I was watching some science show in my living room when the fire trucks pulled by. No big shocker, it happens all the time, we live on one of their favorite routes. They passed, I un-paused the TiVo. But minutes later I hear loudspeakers and seeing flashing blue lights. I determine out our bay window that Brookline Police had blocked off St. Paul one block north of Beacon and were barking directions attempting to redirect traffic.

    I suit up in my rain gear and boots grab the camera and walk down the block. Then I hustled back to upload the pictures. If I could find my damn USB cable… and that leads to now, in which I now wait to see when/if this report’s been picked up by Universal Hub the Boston area’s citizen journalism hub and general place to read blog rants.

    Posted in: Recent Events

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  6. Javascript: Insert text at the cursor point

    jake on 2005.05.22
    at 11:34 pm

    One of the things that’s more difficult than it ought to be around here is adding images to posts. At least when it comes to remembering the steps.

    What I worked up the other day is some javascript to make it a little simpler. First I added a little call to only show the alt and title fields when adding images. And I added a little link to put the correct image tag into the textarea.

    The only problem was the simplest script can only throw the element in at the end of the text or replace the text completely. Through good old Google I found a script that Alex King discovered and posted to do exactly what I wanted. So now we have a script to insert the image element where your cursor is.

    But I had already built a variable along with adding in onfocus="lastFocus=this.id;" to all the textareas to set the variable. In this case the main article and the excerpt. So I modified the javascript to use the variable and getElementById to paste the code into the correct textarea.

    It’s not a very complex little group of scripts but it adds in a nice little feature to our home grown system. And hopefully this can help someone else out there.

    Posted in: Web

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  7. Republicans Attempt to Break Congress

    brian on 2005.05.22
    at 10:55 pm

    I’ve tried to keep politics to a minimum here, save for the truly horrific. This is truly horrific.

    The Republicans are attempting to change the way Congress works by removing the long standing “filibuster.” Quite simply, the Democrats are going to filibuster to right-wing extremist judicial nominees, and the Republicans don’t appreciate that they do not have the power to work around a filibuster. So since they can’t play by the rules, they are attempting to change them, with a tactic they call “The Nuclear Option.”

    What can you do to prevent the Republicans from breaking our important system of checks and balances? Write your Congressperson! Here’s a link to a petition where you may state your opposition to the nuclear option, and it will be hand delivered to the appropriate parties. Do not wait. The vote is Tuesday May 24th.

    Act now.

    Posted in: Politics

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  8. Samsung 40" OLED display.

    jake on 2005.05.20
    at 07:12 pm

    40 inch OLED display.Perfect! This television couldn’t get any better. Well OK, I’m sure they can make it better, but it’s still pretty nice. I’ve never lived in a space that could accomodate one of those 54” tv’s. But all the new, high tech ones are hard to find below sizes like that. A 40” OLED tv would be awesome to own. It’s so thin… and check out that viewing angle in article… Too bad it probably costs $15,000 bucks…

    Posted in: Technology

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  9. Syncing Hot Dogs and Buns

    jake on 2005.05.20
    at 07:05 pm

    Sweet Jesus. The end is nigh. Equivalent quantities of hot dogs and buns. Start the hysteria!

    From: Boing Boing

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  10. Netflix brings in Wal-mart's DVD rentals.

    jake on 2005.05.19
    at 01:54 pm

    Netflix LogoIt was hard to decide between Blockbuster and Netflix. Blockbuster gave out coupons for free rentals every month at the store. That was a nice perk but about the only distinguishing quality. So in the end I went for “underdog” Netflix. Even though Netflix invented online rentals Blockbuster has been around for years.

    Well now the third competitor, Wal-mart, has folded and is sending customers toward Netflix. Sure it’s probably like fifty people but at least Netflix doesn’t have to worry about them pushing a price war any longer.

    Posted in: Movies

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  11. Some interesting articles from the May issue of Wired

    jake on 2005.05.17
    at 01:18 am

    I’ve been trying to keep my extraneous items out of my space. That means throwing away magazines I don’t really need anymore. If the subject matter is more technical, like how-to shoot a good portrait I’ll throw it into Del.icio.us. But sometimes it’s just an interesting article, and it makes more sense to share those here and archive them for posterity. This month’s issue of Wired falls into the later category.

    • Manhattan Map from 1609Destination: Manhattan, 1609 — A comparison of Manhattan in 1609 and today.
    • White People Can’t Text — I am not sure what they’re getting at here. It sounds like cell phone content providers, aka assholes, are going to target minorities. Personally I find all of that crap a rip off, remember everyone, they overcharge you for content, you don’t need to buy from them. Getting a ring tone or two for $2.99 is one thing. You don’t need to repurchase all the latest hits. It’s why the bastards don’t want the iTunes phone to be released.
    • Mega Player 522BT — If I don’t get a bare bones phone, it’ll have Bluetooth. Too bad more mp3 players don’t have features like this one. And too bad this one is not an iPod:.
    • Shopping Cart — If I was still in college I’m sure I could get some use out of the The Ring Thing.
    • Cracking the Real Estate Code — All the lingo surrounding real estate can be confusing, just like any other industry where you’re an outsider. This article tries to help level the playing field.

    So consider the terms in the box on the previous page: A “fantastic” house is surely fantastic enough to warrant a high price, right? What about a “charming” and “spacious” home in a “great neighborhood!”? No, no, no, no, and no.

    In fact, the terms that correlate with a higher sales price are physical descriptions of the home itself: granite, Corian, and maple. As information goes, such terms are specific and straightforward – and therefore pretty useful. If you like granite, you might like the house; but even if you don’t, “granite” certainly doesn’t connote a fixer-upper. Nor does “gourmet” or “state-of-the-art,” both of which seem to tell a buyer that a house is, on some level, fantastic.

    Posted in: Cool Info

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  12. Survived Sugery

    brian on 2005.05.16
    at 10:11 pm

    Just wanted to mention that I had surgery today at New England Baptist Hospital remove a stone from my prostate. Everything went exceedingly well. I was asleep the whole time. I’m still kinda groggy and smiley from the various drugs they put into me. Thanks to everyone there for making an uncomfortable experience relatively painless.

    Now I think I’ll try to sleep off my medicine-enduced fog. Then perhaps an on-topic post!

    Posted in: Service Announcement

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  13. Tag Clouds

    jake on 2005.05.16
    at 05:49 pm

    Everybody loves tag clouds. Well for the most part. I don’t write enough about design. Maybe it’s because we haven’t modified this site since it’s inception in 2001. Well at least not cosmetically.

    In any event Zeldman has a little writeup about the subject. Tag clouds are supplemental data that users submit for “categorizing” the content. Naturally in a community where numerous people can all pick words that are relevant to their content you get a lot of unpopular data.

    Tag clouds are starting to be very popular as ways to navigate where simple category listings would suffice. Which is the main conundrum. Tag clouds work well for grouping popular information but they are flawed in that they can not give you all the information unless you only have a handful of tags.

    Zeldman’s right some instances need more structure and hierarchy. Hopefully after they are overused for a while developers will come up with some acceptable uses and swing the pendulum back. Tag clouds could be the next Flash.

    Posted in: Design · Web

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  14. Myspace in the news

    jake on 2005.05.13
    at 06:30 pm

    There are a couple things in the news about Myspace. Before I get into their discussions I’d like to talk about my experience with this social software. I’d like to point you to my profile, but they’re not functional right now. Which is my biggest gripe with the service currently. I realize that they’re a very large site and have seen explosive growth but as far as I can tell the underlying structure is flawed.

    The pages load fairly slow and the HTML is right out of 1999. The tables wouldn’t bother me so much if the site had at least valid code.

    They allow you to hack your profile page and adjust colors or add in backgrounds, etc. And while trying to work with the code I actually found one spot that I couldn’t adjust because the tag soup was so atrocious. We’re talking incorrect nesting here.

    I’m not saying the developers don’t have a lot to handle, and they’re probably more worried about keeping the servers online than cleaning up the code, but they’re not gonna last long without bringing the quality level up a couple notches.. Heck I still use the site regularly. I just can’t take them serious when the code is as mature as the thirteen year olds (claiming they’re sixteen) rambling on and acting “cool.”

    Which is a nice segue for the first Myspace article. MSNBC brings up Myspace a few times in their article discussing how kids are revealing too much information on the Internet. Nobody seems to be telling them that posting provocative photos and revealing information such as your full name and hometown is not a good idea. Though it seems to be moving away from chat rooms and IM in discussions and heading over to personal weblogs.

    I’m smart enough to know that I should only give out Brian’s information.

    The other article is Tom Coates commending Myspace for surpassing Friendster. Apparently he was quoted in a Guardian article on the subject. Good for you Tom.

    I wish I was quoted in a newspaper, but usually my posts just turn into rants like above. I’m not as cool or well spoken as Tom.

    Posted in: Media · Web

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  15. Star Wars Tidbits

    jake on 2005.05.13
    at 05:02 pm

    Well with the new Star Wars movie coming out soon there’s buzz all over the place about related topics.

    There’s how stuff works where you can learn the ins and outs of how to build and wield a light saber.

    Nearly anything you would normally find around the home or office is easy to cut with a lightsaber, including steel pipes, reinforcing beams, mounting struts and so on. If you happen to find yourself hanging upside down in a cave, a lightsaber is the perfect tool to use to cut the rope.

    We also have a little movie combining Star Wars with a funny little movie from last year. Anakin Dynamite uses terminology from the Star Wars universe in the setting of Napoleon Dynamite. It has some discrepancies with the original text, things like not saying “gosh” enough. But it’s still pretty funny if you know the original.

    Finally we have Darth Vader’s Weblog. It’s full of posts recounting events from Episodes IV-VI as seen from ole Anakin’s perspective. Things such as parenting.

    I escalated my own level of brutality, and he lost ground. Still I found place to wonder: what fires his naked hatred? This is not the sting of a political idealist.

    He popped out of the carbon chamber before I could freeze him, which was a neat trick.

    Neat trick! Ha! And it’s nice to know the Empire learns its lessons.

    And so my master appointed me the task of overseeing the final phases of activating the armaments of the New Order’s greatest work of engineering: a new DEATH STAR, ten times more powerful than the first, a glorious rebirth of Tarkin’s dream. (And this time we’ve built it without the need for a vulnerable secondary thermal exhaust port, right below the main port.)

    Ahhh… That darn secondary thermal exhaust port.

    Posted in: Movies

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  16. Dashboard Tray Shortcut Found!

    brian on 2005.05.03
    at 02:17 pm

    For all of you who have made the jump to Tiger, here’s the epiphany I had today: there is a keyboard shortcut to open the Dashboard Widget Tray when dashboard is envoked: it is Cmd-= (semantically it’s cmd-+ but that’d actually be cmd-shift-+, right?) Additionally, it toggles the tray: you can both open and close it with the same combo.

    Rejoice!

    Posted in: Apple · Software

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  17. Popemobile

    jake on 2005.05.02
    at 07:26 pm

    Sweet, the pope drives used to drive the same type of car as me.

    Posted in: Auto

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  18. US Universal Health Coverage GOOD For Business

    brian on 2005.05.02
    at 12:32 am

    I was just reading through Matt Haughey’s feed and found he shares a sentiment that I concur with, and have for a long time:

    I’ve also long believed if we could offer healthcare for all in the US, the explosion of creativity and entrepreneurism could have the potential to pay for it. I know many smart, motivated people filled with ideas that work boring jobs just so they can have healthcare for their family. Who knows how many business ideas, technology applications, and clever inventions are going to never see the light of day because their creators waste away at a desk somewhere. In that respect I see universal healthcare as good for business, since small business owners are off the hook for paying for it and everyone with a good idea won’t be terrified of leaving their job behind to pursue their dreams.

    Amen. How much easier would working for yourself be? America is a simmering pot of creativity. This would let it finally boil over…

    Posted in: Politics

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  19. Hubble may get a reprieve

    brian on 2005.05.01
    at 10:20 pm

    Potentially big news from NASA. Servicing of the Hubble Telescope may soon resume.

    Previously, “inspired” by the current administration’s desires to drop everything and fly to Mars (I suggest they go personally, and leave today) the Hubble was going to be left to die a slow death and eventually to burn up in our atmosphere. Hardly a burial fit for a project that may be one of the most successful projects in scientific history.

    NASA administrator Michael Griffin said Friday he would proceed with planning for a shuttle visit to the Hubble Space Telescope, despite a two-month delay in the fleet’s return to flight.

    However, it seems Shuttle service is being delayed further amongst new safety concerns.

    But, it is a grand step in the right direction. I applaud NASA today for correcting their course.

    Posted in: Science

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