Tycho from Penny-Arcade offers his take on Jason Kottke's move into professional blogging.
A choice quote to temp you:
"Then I start reading the various threads which have projected out from this thing, guys on both "sides" of an "issue" I can hardly perceive. Some people don't like the guy, some people would clearly give him their bone marrow."
Well, I've never been one that remembers dates well, and it took me almost a month to remember this one.
A little over five years ago, in January 2000, I first started blogging. At the time I was using NewsPro a proto-blogging tool designed for news sites more than personal sites. I don't think people called them weblogs back then.
In any case, I've enjoyed writing these entries and hope to keep entertaining you, the loyal Cruft reader, for several more years.
Of particular interest to tech-oriented people are the newer high end flashlights now available at lower and lower prices. But how to know what features are good and which are worthless?
Have now fear, my co-worker from the past, Richard Hess, can help you out. Richard has written THE definitive page on flashlights. Now, Richard takes his admiration of prtable a lighting a bit farther than I would, but the resource is great for anyone considering a high-end flashlight.
Richard is the guy that taught me about voltage-matched audio and proper grounding systems when I was a new TV engineer just out of college. Those two lessons have served me well throughout my career.
The voltage-matched audio is pure broadcast geekery at it's finest, and usually only appreciated by other TV engineers. Grounding systems are common to almost all technical professions and usually widely ignored in areas like IT until sparks start shooting off of racks.
Some of my most vehement professional arguements have been over grounding with ignorant blockheads who think that placing racks on wooden blocks is a sound method. There's a guy up at the CBC that had me ready to fly up there with a copper grounding bar and bash some sense into him.
Previously, I encouraged you to go check out Miles Mosley. I had downloaded his music and found that the ID3 tags were incomplete and didn't appear correctly on my MP3 player.
I fixed up the MP3 files with correct ID3 tags and even added an image. I've sent the files back to Miles for hopefully inclusion onto his site.
Until then, you can download a zip of the songs with full ID3 info.
Take a few minutes to listen to the music, I think you'll like it.
You see them at the convience stores and you can't help but wonder about what they really are. Yes, I'm talking about Hostess Sno Balls, the normally bright pink, coconut covered treats found next to the Twinkies.
Yesterday I was at 7-Eleven and saw that there were not one, but TWO, variations on the normal Sno Ball.
I took it upon myself to investigate. Here we have the green colored Lucky Puffs and the purple colored Easter Sno Balls. With St. Patrick's Day and Easter on the horizon, Hostess is wasitng no effort to make customers happy with new products.
I unwrapped the items and got a clear look at what I was dealing with here. They looked absolutely identical, except in color. They were spongy to the touch and had absolutely no aroma. If I didn't know otherwise, I could have confused it as a child's stuffed animal.
I carefully sliced the treats in half and saw that they had the same insides, the difference appeared to be only the color of the coconut on the outside.
This is a close-up of the Lucky Puff. The chocolate cake and creme filling are the usual tasty Hostess stuff you'll find in a Ding Dong or Cupcake.
The marshmellow stuff is kinda nasty. It's not like a traditional marshmellow, with an extremely artifical texture and flavor. I can only imagine is being concocted in a lab somewhere by people in white coats from chemicals and not actual food products.
Myself, I like coconut in all forms, so the best part was sucking the colored coconut off the marshmellow to partake in the fibery goodess of the tropical fruit.
I've eaten 1/2 of one of the 4 Sno Balls/Lucky Puffs. I've got 3 1/2 left if anyone wants some, I'm sure they'll last several weeks/months without ill effect.
A quick round-up for you people with nothing better to do.
Brad shows us his Evening Cocktail Ritual.
Martin shows us a Seadragon.
Being Daddy makes me laugh. (As a father of two daughters, I've worn barretts out into the world several times.)
Griff makes me laugh as well.
Tony gives a good review of 75 Nurse Orgy. (Phew, and I was >this< close to buying it.)
It appears that loyal Cruft readers liked my video about the morning coffee ritual and have requested more.
Who am I to refuse?
I present to you, the Evening Cocktail Ritual. (4MB wmv)
Yesterday I watched a short video by Tom Green about his Morning Coffee Ritual.
Pretty cool idea I though, so this morning I made a little video myself.
So I present to you the Cruftbox Morning Coffee Ritual (4 MB wmv).
Last night the Scarymommy and I headed out to the rock show, as the missus calls it. The main attraction was the Uptown Lights, a new band from Greg Dulli, the front man behind the Afgan Whigs and the Twilight Singers. Michele's all about seeing Greg Dulli play. Back in the day, she was a bartender back in Cincinnati he used to play at the laundromat/bar (no lie).
The tickets didn't mention an opening band, but a group took the stage at 10 and start to play. The lead picked up the stand-up bass and began to rock the house. The band is Miles Mosley, and they play some good jazz. I'm not talking about that crappy shit that Kenny G plays, I'm talking about the good shit that you want to hear when hanging with your friends or out for a night on the town with your baby.
Take a listen to What's Crackin'. Go ahead, take a listen, I'll wait...
Now, ain't that some good stuff? This junk mellow jazz that is floating around sucks, and it had me thinking I didn't like jazz. Well, I do like jazz, at least I like the Brothel Jazz as Miles plays it.
I stopped after the show and told him how much I like the music. He handed me a book to sign up for his mailing list and I was happy to oblige. He was grinning ear to ear after playing to a packed house and getting a good response from the crowd who was there to see someone else.
So, do yourself a favor and head over to the Miles Mosley site and check it out. We'll be seeing his next show, whenever that is.
And for you social software types, note that he's using Livejournal as the tool behind his web site. At first I was 'Wha? LJ for a site?' then I realized what a smart move it was. With LJ, fans can easily keep track of what Miles is up to by adding him as a friend. I doubt most LJers use aggregators and rely on their friends list to keep them up to date. By using Livejournal, Miles is going to be able to develop a fan community around him simply and organicly. The only thing I'd do is make the LJ access a little more obvious so there was a call to action for people that know what LJ is in the same place where you can sign up for the email list.
On the 9th, it became the Year of the Rooster on the Chinese calendar. Chinese New Year is upon us and it is a good time for all.
I took the girls down to Chinatown in LA for them to get a little taste of their heritage. The parade started around 2 two o'clock on Satuday and we were lucky enough to but into friends and get seats on the curb.
This is a close to a small town parade as we get in LA and the mode was fun and casual. I forgot my regular camera, so you get my phonecam photos.
There were a few floats paying homage to the Rooster.
Among them were several floats with Chinatown Queen/Princesses, but the images were crappy.
I have to give props to the Teo Chew Association for their spectacular float.
The people on the float tossed out candy & red envelopes to the kids.
Zoe was lucky (and fast) enough to get a red envelope with a lucky quarter in it.
The highlight of the parade was the dragons.
They danced around the street with the drums beating.
Beautiful colors and designs on the dragons.
This dragons came in for a close look at the girls.
I highly recommend a visit to Chinatown. The food is cheap, the bargains are plenty, and it's the complete opposite of the 'planned shopping environments' popping up across the Southland.
Sean Bonner posted some sort of chain email/post thingie, what the hell:
1. What is your full name? Michael August Pusateri
2. What color pants are you wearing? Tan
3. What are you listening to right now? People talking outside my office
4. What was the last thing you ate? Melted cheese on chips
5. Do you wish on stars? No.
6. If you were a crayon, what color would you be? Forest Green
7. How is the weather right now? Cool & clear, not cold.
8. Last person you spoke to on the phone? My wife
9. Do you like the person who sent this to you? Yes
10. How old are you today? 37
11. Favorite drink? Orange Bang
12. Favorite sports? Baseball
13. Hair color? Black
14. Do you wear contacts? Yes
15. Siblings? Matthew
16. Favorite month? July
17. Favorite food? Italian
18. What was the last movie you watched? Hellboy
19. Favorite day of the year? My birthday
20. What do you do to vent anger? Curse
21. What was your favorite toy as a child? The chemistry set
22. Summer or winter? When the leaves turn in autumn and green appears in spring
23. Hugs or kisses? Hugs
24. Chocolate or Vanilla? Dark chocolate
25. Do you want your friends to email you back? Yes
26. Who is most likely to respond? My brother
27. Who is least likely to respond? My wife
28. Living arrangements? Home with wife, daughters, toad & fish
29. When was the last time you cried? When Columbia was destroyed
30. What is under your bed? Dust bunnies
31. Who is the friend you have had the longest? My fraternity brothers
32. What did you do last night? Blogged and played World of Warcraft
33. Favorite smell? Tie between clove cigarettes and baking bread
34. What inspires you? People liking what I do
35. What are you afraid of? Heights
36. Plain, buttered or salted popcorn? Light butter
37. Favorite car? Not a big car guy, but a 60s Mustang Convertible would be nice
38. Favorite Flower? Orchid
39. Number of keys on your key ring? Two, one for home, one for work
40. How many years at your current job? Coming up on 10 years
41. Favorite day of the week? Saturday
42. What did you do on your last birthday? Quiet dinner with my family
43. How many states have you lived in? 2
44. Have many cities have you lived in? 3
Back in the 1970s, Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse Magazine launched a new magazine called Omni. Omni was devoted to science, the paranormal, sci-fi/fantasy stories, and technology in general. My parents would pick up copies regularly and so they became fundamental objects in my childhood.
Omni Magazine was the Wired Magazine of the 70s & 80s. Everyone from Nobel Prize winners to UFO crackpots were interviewed. News of new and fascinating inventions and ideas were a regular part of the magazine.
Recently I thought about a story I read in Omni at this time and wondered what ever happened to the magazine. I did a quick search on ebay and was happy to find plenty of copies.
I bought the 12 issues from 1982, my last year of junior high school, when I was intrigued with computers, BBSs, girls, and the science in general.
As I flipped through the pages, the old neurons flickered to life as I recalled many of the images and stories as if it was only yesterday when I last saw them.
The fiction is from well known authors such as Connie Willis, Harlan Ellison, Orson Scott Card, Robert Silverberg, Greg Bear, Isaac Asimov, Fredrick Pohl, Dan Simmons, Frank Herbert, and Ben Bova. Hell, the July 1982 issue has Burning Chrome by William Gibson in it. Omni Magazine was THE place for the launch of the internet age. The same people that were cobbling together usenet, the internet and building BBSs were reading Omni Magazine every month.
Here's and ad for the revolutionary service, Compuserve. Twenty-three years ago, they were trying to reel in customers with promises of online finance, travel info, games, and images. Not much different from what AOL offers today. In some ways the world hasn't changed much.
The funniest part of the magazines is looking at the ads. Ads for booze, cars, and cigarettes are bascially the same as today. But the technology ads are blast. Seeing the IBM ads for their computers starring their the Charlie Chaplin lookalike are incredibly dated.
Check out the ad above about the Panasonic knockoff of the Sony Walkman. It should be a reminder to the iPods fantatics as to what lives ahead for Apple's current hit product. Back in the early 80s, the Sony Walkman was the defacto standard for personal audio, bouyed by Sony reputation and great product, but as the market matured, Sony any semblance of an edge and personal audio player were completely commoditized, made by the cheapest vendor.
It won't take long for the iPod's currently huge marketshare to drop once the the inevitable market forces (and the Walmart factor) take hold. Seeing the ads for Betamaxes, cassette players, and cordless home phones remind me that whatever today's hot tech items are, they'll be on sale for $20 in a few years at the local discount mart.
Back to Omni, I'm glad I took the time to look into the past. Once I've read the fiction, I'll probably put the magazines back up on ebay for someone else to read.
In the last few weeks, I finished a few more books. Here's a brief review of each.
Not so much a instruction manual, but a retrospective on Tony Pierce's writings. Tony is a blogger in Los Angeles. He's young, witty, handsome, and all the fly women are making a fuss...
Part poetry, part prose, Tony writes about whatever flutters through his mind, women, baseball, politics, even his digital camera. I found his book a refreshing and funny break from my usual sci-fi or history book diet.
Help the guy out and buy a copy, it's worth it.
Amazingly, I saw this book before it was published in Bruce's office, in his house at last year's SXSW party. Sterling's work has ranged from future sci-fi to steampunk to cyberpunk over the years. In The Zenith Angle he gives us his take on America's spooks and the role of cyberspace in national security, and a taste of space warfare.
The book was a tasty treat that I consumed rapidly. You don't always know where the author is taking you, but the road is great. Scenes of the different worlds that Bollywood actors, dotcom billionaires, and government agents occupy are tantalizing glipses of lifestyles we mere mortals don't encounter often.
The book is a good thriller with enough tech tossed in to differentiate it from the typical DaVinci Code style book.
I heard about this book from Bruce Schneier's Crypto-gram newsletter as a good lesson in security. The basic idea -> "Nothing works more in a thief's favor than people feeling secure. That's why places that are heavily alarmed and guarded can sometimes be the easiest targets."
The book is the story of Bill Mason, a noted jewel thief in the 70s and 80s. This is the story of his criminal career from start to finish. Fairly well written, you begin to feel for the guy as he breaks into places and steals pillowcase after pillowcase of jewels from the rich.
At one point however, he does lose my sympathy as he describes his antics in Florida as he was on trial from one of his crimes as he continually taunted the police and judges. I really couldn't relate to this. I could relate to his problem solving methods and the way he concieved solving the security issues, but acting like a jackass and treating his family badly was disconcerting.
Worth a borrow from the library, but not worth a new hardcopy purchase.
This is the second book in the Alan Lewrie storyline, another Age of Sail hero in the tradition of Horatio Hornblower. I read the first book and thought it was promising. I stumbled into this book at the library and checked it out on a whim.I'd like to say I found the novel fantastic, but it was just OK. The continual use of endless anutical jargon about staysails and other details really doesn't do much for the tale.
It was interesting to ready about the American Revolution from the British side as Alan meets up with loyalists from North Carolina and tries to escape the Battle of Yorktown. Not many sea battles, but and few good descriptions of land battles and skirmishes.
The book does clear up quite a bit of Alan's history and the reasons behind his banishment to sea by his father. The look into Britsh marriage law and inheritance rights is fun and makes me glad not to live under the British system of family property.
In about a hour I'll get in a car, head to the airport, fly to New York, arrive at 6:30 AM, wait for a meeting that runs 9-6, get back on a plane and fly back to LA, arrving at Midnight.
There is a meeting I 'must' attend, or so I am told. I fear it will be powerpoint hell.
Modern business travel is amazing, silly, and tiring all at the same time.