Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Nitpicking Vista

Not simply because I work for Apple.

Not merely because Christa may take a contract to help a company make the Vista transition.

But because technology blogger Chris Pirillo is a mad f---ing genius of detail obsession, he lists here 65 errors, glitches, disconnects, oddities, and other concerns in a recent Beta version of Microsoft Windows Vista he was asked to evaluate, including every instance he sees where a font resource is applying Tahoma and Microsoft Sans Serif (Windows XP fonts) instead of Microsoft's self-touted (and disputed) new font Segoe UI.

I once wrote a memo like this to a client seeking feedback on their digital brand asset extranet. The sheer volume of information presented in a single brain dump can cause seizures of anxiety and seething hatred in recipients who have never seen the need to do better than C+ work in either their school or professional careers.

But to detail-compulsives like myself (and, I imagine, Pirillo), it's an equivalent high to a first-person shooter videogame in which you switch to the special weapon and lay waste to roomful after roomful of enemy soldiers.

Pirillo, in fact, enjoyed himself so much, he spent his Memorial Day weekend piling on with a list of 65 reasons why Outlook 2007 will suck and an additional 67 Vista mistakes.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Baby Loves Disco

(via SF Gate's Culture Blog):
So you know how movie theatres are offering "Mommy Matinees" for parents with wee ones?

San Francisco's swanky nite spot, Ruby Skye, is importing the latest family-friendly dance craze from Philly and New York, Baby Loves Disco. It will host several toddler/preschool dance afternoons, complete with live DJ spinning disco and funk (no Wiggles allowed) for the whole family on its 15,000 feet dance floor. June 17, July 15, August 19, 2 to 5 pm, 10 bucks a head.

Site has videos, lots of press clippings.

ZeroOne San Jose

When I think of cutting edge contemporary art, and especially cutting edge contemporary performance art, I don't think of San Jose. I think of New York, Los Angeles, Berlin, Amsterdam. Vancouver. Toronto. Maybe Minneapolis. Even Cleveland, Ohio (home to an annual performance art festival for nearly twenty years)

But now San Jose will host ZeroOne: A Global Festival of Art on the Edge & the Thirteenth International Symposium of Electronic Art (ISEA2006). (ISEA moves around the globe and is held a different city each year). It makes sense to bring the symposium to Silicon Valley, actually.

So what will a "Festival of Art on the Edge" be? Mainly an excuse to shell out $30 a ticket a non-narrative performances, chock full of eye candy (video projection, real time manipulation of data to create sounds/lights/images. You can see improvised cinema. You can see Peter Greenaway veejaying. Ironically, you can see all this 21st century cutting edge stuff in a restored 1927 theatre. Hilariously, Villa Montalvo is hosting the experimental/noise "Bleeding Edge" music festival within the festival.

But I can already tell you what is going to sell out first: Machines beating the crap out of each other. Mark Pauline's Survival Research Laboratories don't build robots. They build machines. Machines that are built to destroy other machines. Machines that shoot fire, wield 8-ton crushing mallets, or hurl molten metal at other machines, or sometimes even towards themselves. SRL is known for putting on the most dangerous shows in the world. I tried to see them in San Francisco about 12 years ago, out on some pier in Hunter's Point, since Randall was working the tech crew (He's known as "Blaster" in SRL circles). The line stretched out to 3rd Street, and I never got in (counterfeiters had xeroxed thousands of extra tickets... and the fire marshall ALWAYS knows when SRL is in town). It is so hard to get the permits to host an SRL show that they only do about two shows a year.

Edgy? Sure. Noisy as hell (they attached jet engines to some of the machines just for the purpose of making noise). Digital art? Not really. Some of the machines require electronics: remote control, so the flying sparks, molten metal, and fire don't incinerate or puncture their operators, and probably some kind of built in controls so that the machines don't operate at their full lethal capacity. But SRL isn't about digital information.

SRL are taken very seriously in the performance art world. And I get their apocalyptic vision of contemporary life as devoid of humanity with just industrial technology unleashed upon itself. I even wouldn't mind catching their show --bring earplugs--(alas, I'm probably out of town). But if, given the choice between shelling out thirty bucks to see "stunning video images of landscapes... gradually abstracted into pure data" or machines the size of backhoes pummeling each other to death with fire and electricity, I'm guessing the population of San Jose is gonna spend their cash on the machines.

Okay. I'm done ranting about the performance art.

The actual contemporary art exhibitions and installations look really fun.

Humor, Rhymes With Tumor

Miriam is written up in the Washington Post.

Plus on the same day she's featured up front in an article about cancer and humor in USA Today.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

British "Queen of Iraq"

Reuters revisits the life of Gertrude Bell, the woman credited with drawing the boundaries of modern Iraq at the end of World War I, and who later came to
doubt her success.
"We have underestimated the fact that this country is really an inchoate mass of tribes which can't as yet be reduced to any system," she once said.
See also her .

Monday, May 22, 2006

Colbert beats the Red Hot Chili Peppers

The NYT revisits Colbert's White House Correspondents Dinner speech again, after the Audible audio recording tops the iTunes album charts.
Donald R. Katz, the chief executive of Audible, said it was not such a surprise, because Mr. Colbert's speech was in essence "a comedy routine," and in this case, "you had to not be there to get it — the people in the room were not willing to join in the merriment."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

The Cube goes Web 2.0

Though Apple has been at the forefront of bringing digital content creation tools to consumers, it has been slow to embrace the Web 2.0 wave (WikiPedia, Flickr, YouTube,, digg), in which the content of a website is created by users, not by the top-down corporation.

Today, however, an enterprising young fellow took the opportunity to hijack the 24-hour time-lapse sequence on of the comings and goings of people into, out of, and around the new 5th Avenue flagship store on its first day open, by standing still for several minutes in front of the camera while brandishing a message to his girlfriend.

UPDATE: It's back online.

Click to the time-lapse video and navigate to the 5:00 hour. He arrives about eighteen seconds in.

(At one point today the young lad's message had been excised from the time-lapse video by the top-down corporation.)

If you can't find it, go here to see a screen capture..

Friday, May 19, 2006

The Cube

It's finally open.

The link is to the the most interesting shots in the applestore5thave flickr pool.

And here is the NY Times feature, minus any photographs.

The bits I contributed to (the glowing wall graphics) are too bright for digital camera circuitry to reproduce. Enjoy the architecture (including the crazy glass plunger of an elevator) instead.

10 Things I Hate About Commandments

Charlton Heston goes back to high school.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Plumber number one sentenced

James Tobin, Republican campaign operative of New Hampshire, was sentenced today to 10 months in prison for illegally suppressing votes through a phone-jamming scheme aimed at Democrats in the 2002 senate race.

Questions as yet unanswered: who did Tobin call in the White House at the time of the elecation, and why did the Republican National Committee spend millions to defend him at trial?

How many slow moving icebergs does it take...?

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

[Video] Al Gore Opens Saturday Night Live

A presidential address from an alternate universe.

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Meet Mr. Mucus

While watching a commercial for Mucinex, an expectorant, the other night, I asked Deirdre, "Why are there dancing potatoes in a cold medicine commercial?"

Then it dawned on us that we were not watching potatoes, but, in fact, dancing blobs of mucus in a respiratory tract.

Adams Respiratory Therapeutics, the number six brand c old/allergy/sinus relief product in the over-the-category last year has spent $35 million on this latest ad campaign for "Mr. Mucus," designed by Torre Lazur-McCann Healthcare Worldwide. Which is astounding, considering their sales in 2004 were only $54 million dollars.

Click here to enjoy all the Mr. Mucus commercials. The one we saw the other night is called, no joke, "Dance to the Mucus."

Or, just read the buzz on Mr. Mucus's animated feature debuting this summer.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

NYT, USA Today Reverse Roles

The Columbia Journalism Review discovers that, at least online, the "real" news can be found where you might not expect it.

Friday, May 05, 2006

Bollywood + Narrow Gauge Railroad: That's Entertainment!

(YouTube alert: mediocre video quality)

What's more fun that Shahrukh Khan leading adorable moppets at summer camp in a musical number? What could be more fascinating than being introduced to the Hindu festival of Holi by Sharukh's "Dead Poets Society" homage?

A playback song on top of a moving train, that's what.

Check out the shot about 4:55 into this video where the camera moves into the lead couple, goes around them, and backs into the chorus dancers.

From 1998's Dil Se, directed by Mani Ratnam. Song by A. R. Rahman. The combination of electronic beats with the traditional instruments was new at the time. This song appeared again in the musical Bollywood Dreams and in Spike Lee's 2006 film, Inside Man.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Making Colbert go away |

"Salon hit overall traffic heights over the last few days surpassed only by our election coverage and Abu Ghraib blockbusters. "

All over Colbert's appearance at the WH Correspondents' Dinner.

It's the top most emailed story over at the NYT.

But the MM is saying they didn't cover the story for days because it wasn't "newsworthy". Because he just "wasn't funny."

As Boing Boing's Cory Doctorow notes, "I've got a keyboard covered in nose-sprayed milk that says otherwise."

[Salon story; you gotta get the day pass to read]

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Liam Makes the Sunday Times

Still under a 1000 views (837 at press time), but this feature on videoblogging in the April 26 online edition of the Sunday Times of London contains, not a link to the Matchbook Films home page, but directly to the page holding Liam's Speed Sock Skating video.

On a list of recommended videos, nestled between that lightsaber duel and the Chinese lip synching duo.

Is it time to cross-post to YouTube?

The History of Play-Doh

This month marks 50 years of the stuff.
As you attempt to clean your children’s Play-Doh out of the carpet, the car, and the bathtub; take a look back with us at how it all got started.