kirk.is | archive | 2011 nov

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mad monkey

(4 comments)
November 1, 2011
--Messing around with trying to get beyond simple lines and definite edges in my doodling. I like how it looks more dynamic, though I don't know if it would work with color.

more doodling

November 2, 2011
--Speaking of doodling Amber set me this link, referenced in an article Why I Take Sketch Breaks Instead of Internet Surfing.

I think it's a good idea, but it is possible to get too wrapped up in a doodle that you lose focus on the other stuff.

In the FWIW, videogames division, Zaxxon's Motherbase 2000 looks a lot worse than, you know, Zaxxon.
Trying Gmail's new look- looks like something I'd come up with, not nec. in a good way. Also, way too much padding if window is wide (>1024px)
Good Guy Lucifer, a little Sympathy for the Devil... (a riff on Good Guy Greg)
So is it wannabe designer blasphemy to thing that while choice of font matters, arial vs helvetica just doesn't?
Gmail redesign shows G. is in microsoft's "authentically digital" world. Apple's skeuomorphic overload might be Jobs' need for "more texture" - maybe I see where Apple is coming from-- Gmail is kinda cold. Those leathery textures might be humanish "hook".

qft

(1 comment)
November 3, 2011

--via 22 words (from toothpaste for dinner)
The Supreme Court is full of ignorant, agenda driven intellectual cowards.
Haha, the two topics of my louse 32 Klout score? "Tablet" and "Peggle". Awesome!
I believe everyone should play Peggle on the Tablet device of their choice, such as an iPad! (Better than Angry Birds, for my money)

au h2o

(1 comment)
November 4, 2011

--Interesting quote and not without some truth, but sometimes I'm not sure which side in the Unholy Alliance of religion and business is scarier.

random photos

November 5, 2011

Under a bridge near the Museum of Science


Wind turbines are popping up all over...
"BASIC is the Computer Science equivalent of 'Scientific Creationism'."
--http://twitter.com/siwisdom
""I'm learning to code" is the new "I'm working on a novel""
--http://twitter.com/roybahat
"I was surprised Hannah at work didn't know how to make a paper airplane."
"She's young?"
"Well like 22ish? I mean I knew how to make one when I was 8..."
"She didn't grow with no other stuff to do."
"Boketto" - I like that the Japanese have an explicit word for gazing into the distance without thinking.

endlessly repeating twentieth-century modernism

(3 comments)
November 6, 2011
Went to the MFA today... besides Christian Marclay's "The Clock", Josiah McElheny's "Endlessly Repeating Twentieth-Century Modernism" might have been the most intriguing work we saw... some intriguing glass vessels in an amazing mirrored box (there's a diferent tableau on each side) with the repetition going off into the virtual distance... and a good use of one way mirrors so you can just see the vessels, not your own reflection...


"IT COOL THAT IN HONOR OF ANDY ROONEY! WORLD GET EXTRA 60 MINUTE!"
--http://twitter.com/DRUNKHULK
The MFA store used to be a delight after an afternoon of museuming. At 1/3 the size and minus remaindered books it loses a lot.
The Boston MFA broke their Buddhas room by ripping out a permanently closed side door, transforming from sacred space to graceless gallery.
Also the MFA Art of the Americas wing is grand, but the great big glass doors' handles are terrible, the pull side identical to push-bad design. Sigh.
But I loved MFA's showing of Marclay's "The Clock", 24 hours of beautifully spliced footage from movies synced to real time by the time they show in the scene- memorizing. We watched from 12:30-1, coulda stayed for hours.


november blender of love

big ol head

November 7, 2011
--Sticking my head over Amber's shoulder in the mirror reminded me what an oversized cranium my neck sports... hadn't thought about that in a while

"The intelligent man finds almost everything ridiculous, the sensible man hardly anything."
--Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
"I think grown adult in a "SAW" movie should have to use algebra practically or EXPLODE, just to weaken some punk middle schooler's argument."
--http://twitter.com/BoobsRadley

zoom

(1 comment)
November 8, 2011

--via kottke
"Only four things really matter: laughter, kindness, the endurance of beauty, and truly great pizza."
--Red Shoe Diaries (1.1)
http://ohnotheydidnt.livejournal.com/64047251.html trends in movie posters
"Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of life's longing for itself."
--Kahlil Gibran
"Love is an ideal thing, marriage a real thing; a confusion of the real with the ideal never goes unpunished."
--Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
"Maybe the human brain has only so many "giving a shit" cells and that is why it is harder to get into new music as you age."
--http://twitter.com/rstevens

the force is not so strong with this one

(2 comments)
November 9, 2011
--Miller tweeted me this fun page of behind-the-scenes Star Wars photos, I'd only seen like 2 of them previously. I love both actors' expressed moods in this one.
Mobile Flash is dead. Yay-apps? HTML5? HTML5 is a funny catchphrase. It's mostly "canvas" but that would admit how bad sound support is...
"There is no greater importance in all the world like knowing you are right and that the wave of the world is wrong, yet the wave crashes upon you."
--Norman Mailer, Armies Of The Night
"I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don't. It's the great mystery."
--Steve Jobs
"1. Insert quarter.
2.Avoid Klingons."
--Atari's "Star Trek" game, allegedly-- Steve Jobs' bio says he dug the Zen like simplicity but I couldn't find reference to such a game... For-Play's Star Trek might be it? Or Atari's Starship 1, but that was later...

that maniak cyriak

November 10, 2011

--via bb Cyriak's done stuff like this before but I love BB's quote:
Sometimes, I suspect that [Cyriak] is the internet, trying to communicate with us in a language it thinks we understand."

Got an iPhone 4S. Siri is only so-so, partially because Reminders is such a weak app. (And the location based reminder service has issues, apparently my work building is too big for it to recognize when I'm at the address.) Hate that all datebook entries are "meetings". Still deciding if dictating txt messages is worth having to be overheard.

Siri is in a weird space in the twin uncanny valleys of audio and artificial intelligence.

12 sticks, 2 stones

(1 comment)
November 11, 2011
11/11/11 11:11

"AMERICANS. Today's date is 11/11/11, not 11/11/11."
--http://twitter.com/TwopTwips
"11/11/11 is a poor man's March 14th, 2015."
--http://twitter.com/FakeScience
"If you think you can't beatbox, just say today's date in Spanish!"
--http://twitter.com/BoobsRadley
"Stop saying "11/11/11" only happens once in a lifetime. EVERY date only happens once in a lifetime. That's how time works."
--http://twitter.com/MikeDrucker

Meanwhile, on my UI dev blog
...

a day in the life of the mbta

November 12, 2011

The Circle K in Wilmot NH - home of "The Beer (K)ave"...

to sleep perchance

November 13, 2011

--via cracked tumblr
On twitter I've been following @RealTimeWWII , breaking news from this day 72 years ago. What a scary and uncertain time!
on last night's debate It's fun that Republicans don't even have to pretend to know anything at this stage. Just say any fool thing that comes in their heads.

understanding coffee

(6 comments)
November 14, 2011

--via 22 words
Man, I wish I could find a photo of the pen-with-fidget-ball Apple's Jony Ive made at Roberts Weaver.
Reading the Jobs bio, it made me think of how derivative the Gap "X wore khakis" was of the Apple "Think Different" setup.
Wait, I guess it was the other way around, "wore khakis" came way before "Think Different".

jobs on jobs

(1 comment)
November 15, 2011
Isaacson's bio of Steve Jobs has a nice "And one more thing...", a self-reflective passage from the guy himself:
What drove me? I think most creative people want to express appreciation for being able to take advantage of the work that's been done by others before us. I didn't invent the language or mathematics I use. I make little of my own food, none of my own clothes. Everything I do depends on other members of our species and the shoulders that we stand on. And a lot of us want to contribute something back to our species and to add something to the flow. It's about trying to express something in the only way that most of us know howóbecause we can't write Bob Dylan songs or Tom Stoppard plays. We try to use the talents we do have to express our deep feelings, to show our appreciation of all the contributions that came before us, and to add something to that flow. That's what has driven me.
A good read in all.
"It just proves that if you're a good-looking French girl, you can get away with just about anything."
--Tomi on "La double vie de Veronique" from "The Making of Prince of Persia"
"It's as if Sony was using Helvetica before almost everyone else, then switched to Arial when the world followed suit."
--from this BoingBoing review. Many details matter. Arial vs Helvetica does not.
"Engineers are taught to make a decision analytically, but there are times when relying on gut or intuition is most indispensable"
--Tim Cook
"The axis today is not liberal and conservative, the axis is constructive-destructive, and you've cast your lot with the destructive people."
--Steve Jobs to Rupert Murdoch on Fox News
Once you start to explain individuals' behavior via logic after the fact, you're likely to start to see your group's norms and standards as universal.
iPhone 4S: Iffy battery life, Siri is kinda "Egg freckles"-y, iMessage is handy but less reliable than "just SMS". Nothing so awful, but it kinda lacks Apple "perfection".
Never thought I'd be brand loyal to gum, But Wrigley's, from oldies like Big Red + Doublemint to the weird "Dessert Delights" is superior to most everything else.
http://kirkdev.blogspot.com/2011/11/simplicity-simplicity-simplicity.html My essay on simplicity and the choice of Javascript toolkits...

viva la tuba!

(1 comment)
November 16, 2011

I couldn't embed the main video in this LA Times piece Tubas Become Horns of Plenty but I found this on Youtube.

The intro says:
Fidel Bernabe, a talented trumpeter in Mexico, is among the brass band musicians who are part of Southern California's 'tuba revolution.' They're showing their chops on an instrument whose 'thunk thunk' attracts dance-minded partygoers.
When they said "thunk thunk" I was somehow hoping it was part of a more electronic music style... ah well.

(The dirty secret is, if you have the lungs for it, tuba parts are generally much easier than the other parts, so trumpeteers moving into the turf makes me jealous.)

All that said, I still don't like the sound of tubas outside of a certain New Orleans style... every once in a while I'm still tempted to look for a used one though.

""Deck the Halls" started out as a drinking song. You were supposed to do a shot every time you heard "La." We nearly all died."
--http://twitter.com/angrysantaelf
Looking at a (lets say urban, light polluted) starry sky, is it mostly stars in our galaxy, or other galaxies we see? I always assumed the former but last night a friend said the latter.
Kind of asshole-ish how the Mem.drive†Shell station puts the expensive gas on the left so suckers are more likely to choose it by mistake...
New game in an unmoving car: watch Siri try to transcribe the guys on the radio..

blind to nuance, alive to details

(4 comments)
November 17, 2011
New navel-gazing, the latest in a search for a KUT (Kirk Unified Theory):

I have a very good memory for certain details I find "interesting", but also a disdain for, or at least disinterest in, other types of nuance.

I think the details that interest me, that have hooks my memory can grab onto, are the things that describe how an object interacts with other objects. Previously, I've seen this as appreciating the verbs of something over nouns. (Recently on my tech blog I put the implication for this in my work as "People and computers should be judged by what they do, not by what (you think) they are.")

In this world view, a nuance that's only a quantitative and not qualitative difference doesn't matter all that much. But of course there are shades of gray: The difference between two admittedly similar fonts, say, Arial vs Helvetica, will never matter to me, but I can appreciate how two radically differently weighted fonts will look different when piled up into a body of text. Eventually the quantitative changes add up, it changes how the object interacts with other systems, and that's how a qualitative change is born.

(A bit of weirdness is how a measurement is some usually a form of interaction. I think this might be why I better thinking about things that have a quantitative hook, it's clear how the thing interacted with the measuring system. When I gain or lose weight, I might notice pants or shirts are tighter or looser, but I never look that different to myself. So I depend on a scale to keep me on track, because otherwise I have no idea; degrees of chubbiness are a non-interactive nuance.)

I saw this in school a lot: classes where you had to learn a few basic ideas and then apply them in real time, I did well in. Physics, I was fine in; 4 or 5 equations explain so much. Chemistry I struggled with, there was just so much to know. Foreign languages were disasters. Math up until Calculus was easy but then suddenly there were SO MANY equations you just had to know... History classes were a seeming exception. I would have guessed they were full of dates and names to remember, but I think now since there were hooks and anecdotes about what the people did, or how they interacted, I was pretty good at it.

Anyway.

Lately I've begun to think that my difficulty remembering faces is part of this. A curve of cheek or a shape of nose is hard for me to remember because there's no interaction there, it doesn't change how people or things interact with it (until you get into the extremes of beauty or ugliness.)

This feeling of separating the sheep of details from the goats of nuance shapes how I read as well. I read at a breakneck, almost skimming, pace, but then I have time to go back and jump to the difficult or important parts. (This was a hugely valuable skill for many Standardized Tests.) Conversely, it is INSANELY difficult for me to take in spoken words in real time, like with simple directions, or even somebody spelling a word out loud. (Seriously, I hate when somebody thinks they're helping me by spelling something out loud, I get lost after the second or third letter.)

I NEED things written down... not because I think in pictures, but because I think in interactions. Come to think of it, words ARE better at describing interactions than pictures! It makes me think that labels like "thinks in words" need to be more specific... I don't remember seeing categories of learning or thinking style that quite get the noun/verb, interaction-centric system that I now see is so crucial to understanding where I'm good and where I'm bad at coping with the world.

(Another wacky anecdote, where I can see my thinking is verbal, but not audio or visual: spelling. I'm OK at remembering the spelling of words in terms of the consonants, but once it's a blend of vowels, forget it. If it doesn't come out in how I say it, I'm not going to remember what it looks like on the page. Amber had to learn that it wasn't just my usual laziness or a lack of attentiveness that was causing so many typos... she knows at a glance that a word is spelled wrong -- I think the hook is visual for her -- while it is physically much harder for me to get the vowels right because of no mouth-interactive consonants to grab onto.)
I think of the iPhone (and before that the PalmPilot) as an almost literal extension of my brain. Kinda funny how I can go ahead and look at a bit-o-brain.
"It's a fast paced, complicated world, baby.
Understand something or have an opinion on it.
There's no time for both."
--A Softer World

tweet treat

(1 comment)
November 18, 2011

--Warning, an F-bomb or two. Of course I always liked their Stress video (man, that must be over ten years old now) but this one is decent.
Amazon MP3 Downloader broken with chrome nowadays. Frustrating start to day, but amusingly song was "Mama Said (there'd be days like this)"
Funniest Siri parody I've seen - really captures and builds on the jokes I like to make about talking to "her".

the typewriters of our fathers

November 19, 2011

--My mom recently found my father's old typewriter... it predates him, coming from the late 1930s. I brought it to the Cambridge Typewriter Co. during their "Type-Out" event, and left it their to be cleaned up. It looks great! Such a funky piece of machinery, like having a small print shop on your desk. (The tab stop setting and using is especially retrocool.) Some quirks to the typing (I think pretty common for machines of the era) like where you use a lower case "l" for a 1, and ' and . to make an exclamation point.

galaxy high

November 20, 2011

The other week I posted on Facebook and Google+ about something a friend had claimed, that the night sky was mostly full of distant but visible galaxies, not local stars. This is incorrect. One of my buddies confirm the error of his thinking pointed to the photo above. It's also posted here with some deeper explanation. The photo is a composite, i.e. the sky never quite looks like that even with a great telescope, but it gets the idea of what we're missing with our naked eyes.

Man, that galaxy is huge! Or close. Or both!

I'm chagrined at how long it took me to confirm my friend was wrong (I was realizing the components of constellations were mostly talked about as stars, not galaxies) but I guess it's hard to have a first-hand intuition about this scale of thing!

"Bananas are shaped like penises because God was bored of making fruit shaped like tits."
--http://twitter.com/haydenblack
Great New Yorker bit on breeding apples... man, honeycrisps really are super great, need to try sweeTango...

will this joke EVER stop being funny?

November 21, 2011

When stalwart Republicans think the party is out of touch with reality, they are most likely out of touch with reality.
http://sethoscope.net/spew/veryunique.html "Very Unique" not considered harmful. Hush, you would be pedants.

in front of lake champlain

(3 comments)
November 22, 2011
Last weekend Amber and I were up in Burlington, VT, visiting her brother, along with their folks. I like this series of photos in front of Lake Champlain taken by her step-mom Laura... I keep trying to tell Amber that we (and everybody, I think) have too many boringly-posed photos like the first one, and not enough like the others...









...maybe that's a good thing
I kind of enjoyed reading about the 101 most despised athletes in sports history

takin' care of business

(1 comment)
November 23, 2011
--Amber helped me lay out what are clearly my best personal business cards ever.

My goal was to make a card people might actually enjoy looking at, and I think the Alien Bill art by Harvey James helped me to reach that goal. (Even if it holds a crease...)

Interesting comparing this one to the designs Dylan, Ranjit, and I came up with almost a decade ago. (Also there was Sarah's take and one I did 5 years before that. And the haiku ones from 2007.)

"Don't hate the Plato, hate the Cave."
--http://twitter.com/EvanLeed
"Happy to see the debug buttons survived your code change."
"Oh, really, sorry about that? ...Wait you were being sincere?"
"Well duh! Don't you think irony and sarcasm are getting kinda old and- ...crap, now I don't know if I'm being sincere or not."
--Ben and Me
Cookie Monster explains Occupy. Giant wage inequality and zero value add capitalism are the problems.
No hyperbole to rename Pepper Spray "Chemical Pain Spray" or better: "Torture in a Can". No excuse for use on passive folk.
Does Yiddish have a term for a day when you can't seem to do anything quite right? it seems like it should. ("Yes, for you Kirk, we're calling it 'Wednesday'")

happy givethanksing!

(2 comments)
November 24, 2011
Now that was a thanksgiving spread

"Don't wear those pants, there's a weird spot."
"Did you smell it?"
"...sorry, it's not in my DNA to smell stains."
"You're missing out! It smells like cotton candy. Seriously."
In the Casino Royale remake they play poker not baccarat. Brendan suggests Go Fish woulda been good. "Do you have a 6, Mr. Bond?"
The Red Lobster ad says prices higher in Hawaii and Times Square- "In the city that never sleeps I'm takin' ya where the breadsticks never stop baby!"
My iPhone thinks it's in Moscow not New Hampshire (and 4 in the morning not 7 at night) Happy Thanksgiving everybody!

get 'em gilliam

(2 comments)
November 25, 2011

--via kottke. I love the down to earth and non-condescending tone of this. It strikes me that 2/3 of this directly applicable to people making animated GIFs today... of course GIFs don't have sound, which loses out a bit, but they don't have to worry about little pieces of tape either...

the poetry of defeat

(2 comments)
November 26, 2011

--via 22 words. So boingy!
Saints Row the Third is taking much of my holiday. Good game. Fun vehicles and mayhem. Trigger warning for human trafficking though.
I like SR3's wrestling's shout out to Wii MadWorld. And "The Walking Apocalypse" is a truly great wrestling sobriquet.†
Overall Saints Row 3 does a good job of removing the annoying bits of sandbox games. Good elements of GTA, Mercenaries, and Crackdown.†

)

(2 comments)
November 27, 2011
So one suggestion if you have a typewriter, especially an attractive older one (IMO) is to just leave it out with a piece of paper in it and see what you or other folks tap out...



Kinda bummed about the lack of a closing ) in that, though.

I also wrote a holiday note to my high school English teacher (I thought it was a nice to split the difference between a word processed print out and forcing her to read my handwriting...)

Finally a typewriter is kind of nice to address an envelope with. I suppose some printers make that work as well, but I've never tried to figure it out.
When an author is writing a manuscript and the text refers to a specific page but the pagination isn't set- is there pseudo-markup for that?
So did China peacefullytransform from a bit of a cult of personality to a technocratic state? If that's about the size of it, kudos to them.
Mirroring trends in modern video games, Lego instruction booklets have gotten more explicit and hand-holdy.
The Lego booklets now tell you just what pieces will be used in this step, and start by suggesting/instructing one to sort by color first.
I guess a side benefit of the hand holding is it would make older/younger builder cooperation easier- here, sort these, or here, find these for the next step.
Having to any decorative decals yourself to the Lego bricks is kind of a drag, though.

shorter attention span theater

(2 comments)
November 28, 2011

--Beauty in a second, via BB. (It's really the music that ties it together.) The experience at Montblanc itself is kind of spoiled by a watch overlay.
On my UI devblog, Why Windows Taskbar beats OSX' Dock.
Scooby-Doo as secular humanism; a brave search for truth shows the spooks and monsters for the flim-flam they are.
http://www.candlemarkandgleam.com/store/delivery/constellation-games-serial/ My buddy Leonard is launching a terrific serialized novel: post-scarcity alien first contact meets classic video game study...
"There is a cult of ignorance in the United States, and there has always been. The strain of anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that 'my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge'."
--Isaac Asimov

super dynamic christmas decoration time!!!

November 29, 2011
Last night Amber and I decorated for the season a wee bit...

This corner, with the previously blogged typewriter, and my dad's "folk art tree" (we mostly decorated with soft stuff, because it's in reach of El Gato.)


We kinda like to go to town on the wreath...


See?


Finally a fond farewell to this little flat tree of misfit ornaments, mostly ones that got stained in storage a long while ago, and never get to the wreath or tree...

"The highest paid people in America today create no real wealth for the society."
--Bruce Judson on Ayn Rand and what is wrong with our economic system.
"I like getting calls from recruiters, even though I don't want something new, because it assures me that i *can* get something new."
--http://twitter.com/masukomi
"I asked my Italian instructor about Italian crisis. "We've seen worse," she said. When, I asked. "Fifth Century was pretty bad," she said."
--http://twitter.com/ereguly
Recaptioned school posters from the 70s. Funny.
"Tragedy plus time equals comedy-- but who has time anymore?"
--Michael Shaw
"Give a man a fish and he'll eat for a day. †Give a man handfuls of bees and he'll get really mad. †"What the fuck", he might say, or "Stop"."
--http://twitter.com/killtacobell
"SciFi: "Laugh at me?" said Dr Zarxo. "I'll show them! I'll show them all!" So he did a double-blind study and got the results peer reviewed."
--http://twitter.com/GenreStories

electric pow wow drum

(2 comments)
November 30, 2011
--FelisDemens (who is part of the Seneca nation herself) posted this on her Facebook page. I really dig the Indian chant/singing sound... there's something fundamental in it.
15 golden rules to live by while traveling the world. Literally the best, most concise travel advice I've read. Past couple trips I've got to live tips 2, 4, 6, 7, 9, 10, 11, 12, 14, 15, and the rest seem like gems...
More Win7 vs OSX UI analysis from my dev blog (that happens to be in favor of Win7)
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