Amazing Tech

Okay I love simple ideas that can benefit tons of people. The only thing that I love more is simple beneficial tech with hilarious alternate uses. Enter Grancrete. I picked up this pop sci link off digg, and I'm blown away. A liquid concrete that can be sprayed on cheap lightweight frames, and it hardens in 20 minutes. Aside from being able to house millions of homeless people in developing countries without adequate shelter, imagine the ability to erect complete concrete walls in a matter of an hour using a frame of styrofoam and some spray on concrete. The nefarious posibilities are endless. Hell, imagine how dorm pranks could be revolutionized by this substance.


Fulda Maybach Exelero-The car of my dreams

The original 1938 aerodynamic Maybach cabriolet was the type of car I've always wanted. Clean lines, long bonnet, decent speed and that unmistakable intimidating look of a 30's coupe. Fulda has recently updated the design to give it this extremely cool timeless batmobile kinda feel without losing the sensibilities of the original. Check out the gallery at gizmag for all the pretty pictures, this car is awesome. A little sidenote,it's built on the platform of the current maybach limousine, but it still does a nice 350km/h.


Wikipedia, it ain't guaranteed to be true, but you could make it better

There's been a lot of trash talk against wikipedia, and against wikipedia critics lately. A lot of it has stemmed from the Seigenthaler snafu ( incidentally it was martians that killed jfk). The most recent entry in the attacks coming from the register:There's no Wikipedia entry for 'moral responsibility'.

I think Wikipedia should have a warning on it in big red friendly letters that it should not be taken as definite fact. Hell, it's a community knowledge project and as we should all know by now, any community of sufficient size on the internet is teeming with idiots and nutjobs. That being said, there's a lot of good info on there, and for rapidly developing areas in tech it's probably the best general resource out there. It just behooves the reader to pay attention, because Wikipedia is only slightly more reliable than the average blog.

The only solution I can see to make a community project like this a more reliable source would be to add a market mechanism. Some sort of wagering system of points or money where a correct entry/edit would credit your account, and an incorrect entry would debit your account. Depending on the value people wagered (relative to their other wagers), and some careful analysis, you could get some interesting stats on how certain the author is about what he was writing before the story is verified. Clearly this wouldn't eliminate all of the false posts and take care of all the wackos, but it'd sure incent people to check their stories, as well as police eachother.

An interesting side effect of this would be to see how people tried to wield their developed wikipedia reputations or accumulated credit to try and push through false entries.


Blast from the past-the first webpage

Caught a link to this from digg. Here it is guys, the first web page ever:9101 -- /News Now to truly view this properly you should take a look at it from a terminal, or with a gray background (of course best viewed in vga or svga using a vesa compliant card and a crt for that warm holiday glow)


Thoughts about the future

So I just saw about half of the movie paycheck (alas, I forgot the charger for my gmini in LA), which was way better than I expected after the awful reviews. Thanks to the movie I started thinking about seeing the future. So I began to wonder, are there any truly random phenomena in the world such that, with the exact same inputs you could get non-deterministic output. It wouldn't take much, for instance if the systems that cause weather have some non deterministic aspects, that could lead to people behaving differently, and the farther you looked into the future the less accurate the prediction if it rests on human behavior. I'm not looking to find that the universe is completely random, I just want to feel like there are some things that are really just chance. I guess this is something I'll let bounce around the old skull for a while. Afterall, it's not an issue because we can't see into the future, and aside from that there'd be no way to truly freeze the inputs into any given system, but hey it's still something to wonder about.


Designer Emulation Kits, and Exec Toys

So it's the season of little useless holiday gifts for the person who has everyting. So I thought I'd add a suggestion to the pack. At Emulate :: Designer Emulation Kit you can find little pcboard homages to a few classic designers lamps. Each one of these snap assembly kits sits on top of a standard 9v battery (think smoke detector) and makes a nice addition to any executive desk.

However, if you want one of the classic 1980's interactive desk toys , I recommend one of the following(I left out a lot of the classic kinetic magnetic, pendulum, spinning wheel, and liquid movement toys because I feel the ones are better)

  • Newton's Cradle
  • Pinhead- readily available( called Pin Art these days), also look for the clock
  • crdl- really tough to find these days(only found em on ebay)
  • tangle- go for the original chrome or a primary color
  • Euler's disk


Mucking with the lexicon

Okay so sms and IM speak is starting to invade regular conversations among the younger set. I have actually heard someone use OMG, and jk in conversation ( tommy sh'oaks little sister). I shit you not, she actually uses "Oh-em-gee" and "jay-kay" in regular conversation. Rather than let this bother me I thought we should just try and add to the slurry. To muck with things a little more I want to try and introduce some new ones, based on the internet language of "love" (german), and see if they spread. My current personal favorite is MGIH or "mein gott in himmel!" as an OMG replacement if this catches on we can force a sort of AOLspeak++ (or maybe just end up with a bunch of sms messages we could trade at a kraftwerk concert).


Man am I pissed

Kansas education board downplays evolution - Science - MSNBC.com Yes gentle reader the kansas school board has gone and done it. Every once in a while people wonder why fewer and fewer americans are becoming scientists. Well it's gonna get worse. Kansas will now e teaching intelligent design. I don't even know what to say about this, but if this can happen I think it's fair to say there's a huge population of this country that I will never be able to understand, and don't really want to.

Nice Cans!!!

Products- mTUNE-N - Cordless Stereo Headset for iPod® nano So there were a lot of homebrew projects like this that I saw for the shuffle, and I'm glad someone finally figured this out. As soon as these are available, I'm totally sporting a set


n+1 article on what's wrong with the hipsters

So I like the music, I like the fashion, I like a lot of the lifestyle ( indie club shows, exhibit receptions, cheap beer, etc.), but I'm not really ever gonna' fit in with it. I think one of the things that always bugged me about the last few mainstream sub-cultures (esp. our current hipsters) is the lack of a cause, and the fact that achievement in traditional areas isn't valued. It's much cooler to be a waiter/struggling something, than to be any type of wageslave. This n+1 article: captain neato nicely sums up a lot of what I mean. It's not that I'm against the silverlake, williamsburg neo-bohemian lifestyle, I like a lot of it. I just don't really fit into the community completely. It's not that I'm a little too A-type and corporate, I'm sure there are plenty of pseudo-bohemians with "real" jobs (and not just trustfunds), but the difference is I like a lot about corp life, and am not embarassed about trying to excel in it.

My sweet ipod case

For the holiday weekend I decided to put together an LA hipster outfit as my costume. It was a huge success but the crowning piece was the ipod case I made. The case is basically a really narrow ugly tie with a vinyl window tied to a carabiner. The fabrication was really easy, I cut a square in the tie and glued in the vinyl window which I had cannibalized from a smartmedia card sleeve. I added a hole in the back for the headphone cable, a safety pin to make sure the nano didn't slide down past the window, tied the thing to the carabiner with a sloppy knot and voila hipster ipod case ready for any belt. I like it so much I think I'm gonna' start using it regularly


Ballerina dances with giant NASA robot penis

Yes that's right, in this pop-sci article they cover the worst jobs in science. Number 9 is NASA Ballerina. It's pretty nutty, you really have to read the article and see the ridiculous video.

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Urer'f n uvag:

Jul qvq gur puvpxra pebff gur ebnq?

to get to the other side


Red Elvises, Drifting Sand at Slim's (Saturday, October 22, 2005)

Hey Guys, this saturday my favorite communist surf band from siberia is playing at slims. you may remember them from the six string samurai soundtrack but if you don't you def need to check em out:Upcoming.org: Red Elvises, Drifting Sand at Slim's (Saturday, October 22, 2005)


Culture Based Security Measures

This post on engadget about a new flash key from SolidAlliance is great because it describes security measures that are purely cultural. That's right there is no extra software or hardware involved except for a small cloth bag . Read the post for details, but I think there's definitely something to this idea.


Infopr0n-Where do you live

While surfing wired, I stumbled on theCommonCensus Map Project It's an interesting project graphically showing the regions in which people assosciate themselves with certain cities. Unfortunately the sample sizes aren't real big and the site's a little broken right now, but it's definitely worth a quick look, and a hop back in a few days after all the wired buzz dies down and the new votes are added.


Hilarious spam/phish hook

Some of these phishers have gotten creative, but not much smarter. Check out the "clever" text at the bottom to confuse the spam filter.


Hi Katherine!

We are happy to present you with six deals from four different
brokers. Please remember that there is no commitment required
on your part, and your credit is not an issue.Please validate
your information with our secure and private database to ensure
our records are up to date and accurate.


Have a good day.


Katharine Sparks
Customer Service Rep
eBTB Inc.

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Super cool mp3 player

So while browsing engadget today I came across this super sweet pez dispenser shaped mp3 player. If I didn't already have 5 different portable mp3 playing devices (not including computers), I would order one of these right now. But if anyone's looking for a small storage mp3 player with a lot of style, you can't beat this sucker.

Livin it up in the Hotel Corporation

Yesterday I went out to dinner with an old friend, and in the midst of talking about our jobs, I came to the scary conclusion that I'm well suited to corporate life. Well, I suppose I should say that I'm suited to the culture where I work. At any company there are certain ways to behave to earn labels of being "a team player," "a real go getter," "a self starter," etc. Getting this kind of recognition is related to your actual work, but it comes more from what you do outside of the actual deliverables. Unfortunately there is no point in school where they teach you these little things, you have to learn them through trial and error, or from some sort of a mentor which isn't always easy to find. I'm sure e-how has lots of lists for this kind of thing, but it can vary a bit between companies and it's nice to have advice from the inside. Personally I've been really lucky with the trial and error, as well as getting a lot of good advice from people in the office and other companies. I just wish I'd had a quick seminar at school about what to do before i'd made it out into the real world, cause man if I knew then what I know now...

Green Guerilla Gardening

So a buddy of mine on this group blog I post to just put up something interesting:Green Guerrilla Gardening. There's a lot I like about this post aside from the alliteration (which, by the way, I am a huge fan of). It has a very hippie, reclaiming the earth kinda feel. If people went about it intelligently it could actually be a really good thing. Of course if people just arbitrarily scattered seeds you could get plant problems in gutters and storm drains, sidewalks getting messed up etc. but overall I like the idea. As I get more and more entrenched in my corporate life, I like to add little subversive touches. I think I'll add this to the list of activities for my guerilla group (subversive sararimen).


Nintendo acapella

DevilDucky - Redefined: A Cappella Nintendo Medley yes it's exactly what you think it is and it's worth the time :). My personal favorite is the tetris theme song with the interpretive dance.

The joys of airline catalog shopping

So this ones a few days old, but man do I identify with this comic. Penny Arcade's take on skymall, but where's the cat stroller?


When Interfaces Kill

So I arrived at this page through a convoluted set of links, but I think it's a really great post on human interfaces. Ergonomic design is an important consideration with any interface, but with some it can mean the difference between life and death. AskTog: John Denver: When Interfaces Kill


Beer bong technology saves your vodka!!!!

It's well known fact that you can revent blindness by filtering your homemade moonshine, but it can also really help take the edge off a cheap vodka. Since this knowledge made it into the mainstream a gray kangaroo has actually statred selling liquor filters . But you can accomplish this yourself really cheaply with a home made activated charcoal filter. The easiest way to do it is to get about a 3 foot section of wide tubing (2") at a hardware store and put in a screen and ball valve at one end, then fill it (reasonably tightly packed) with activated charcoal. At the other end put in a funnel. Tighten with hose clamps, pour your vodka in, and enjoy. If I had an apartment I'd have one of these running at all times


Go north my boy!

So, for all of you that were looking (Funzo, Hubris, etc.) , there is yet another reason to move from our wireless-backwater to our fair socialst neighbors to the north. Slashdot reports that Rogers and Bell canada are joining forces to provide nationwide wireless broadband.

(BTW the picture is of an inukshuk, it'll all make sense if you take the link)

Everything's bigger out here

So a few people have mentioned it in various blog comments, and it's true. I am no longer an international man of mystery. The assignment that pulled me away from the 3 months in London is a six month posting in Dallas Texas ( I feel that this should be punctuated by a Yee Haw!). I thought I'd share a few little tidbits from my first two weeks out here.
  • Out here they like both types of music ( Country, and Western)
  • It's humid, I mean armpit after a marathon humid
  • They have a conspiracy museum here ( and a grassy knoll)
  • People are much friendlier than LA, SF, or NYC ( I think I've heard about 15 unsolicited life stories this week)
  • Texas is all about beef barbequeue, so pulled pork and pork ribs just aren't as popular. Hell, out here people use beef as a condiment( for their beef), and a staple.
  • Looking European is not acceptable at the office (time to leave the jacket and shirts that fit well in LA)
  • There are a lot of good restaurants around, even plenty of foodie worthy stops
  • Driving in Dallas is easier than expected, they have LA type traffic, but none of the expected agressiveness.
  • A lot of people dig Jesus and will mention God/Jesus in conversation
  • You can actually see people wearing cowboy hats just walkin around on the streets

And now responses to the two things people always say when I mention I'm in Dallas for six months

  • No, I don't look much like a longhorn, your command of the obvious is staggering.
  • I am, in fact, hot on the trail of who really shot J.R.


Xwing step by step

Yes geeky readers, the next time you visit Paris you will remember this post, and you will all consider building an X-wing , and possibly even a TIE playmate for it. Of course CoG cause she's usually the first with links like this ( though lately much of my stuff has come from u)



Hey guys, Apple's done it again with the ipod nano I may have to update to this thing and just make sure I regularly update my music list and relegate my huge (size, not storage) ipod to the car


Coppola to make "On the Road"

I saw this story on bbc online about Coppola making Kerouac's "On the Road" into a movie, and I'm not sure he'll be able to do the book justice even if he covers all of the plot elements. Just like the progression of Hunter Thompson in fear and loathing in las vegas, I think a lot will be lost in the feel of the book when it maes it to the screen. But that said I'll still wait and see. I loved the book and hope the movie carries the same sense of urgency, confusion, and dissatisfaction.


Softcore American Apparel

So I don't know how many of you are familiar with American Apparel but they started pretty small in LA. Most of the time when you got a tshirt from them it'd be as merch from a show you went to. The ads were always a little seedy with the models (who I understand all hold other positions for the company) in slightly sketchy poses, but still not too bad. Somewhere along the line they started expanding...fast, now there are stores all over the place ( LA, NYC, SF, Montreal, etc.). With the expansion, the ads have gotten sketchier. Now there are ads allover theplace that have fairly scantily clad models with the faces cut out of the picture. I appreciate that they are a very good company in terms of how they treat their workers, and where they buy their cotton, but the ads are getting shadier than abercrombie these days.


Trouble Brewin

I think we have a bit of a problem with Rehnquist being with us no longer. I really hope the bench situation doesn't get too ugly.


Concept Concert: BYO headphones

This article at Wired has a great example of technology enabled isolation from people despite being right next to them. I feel like this kind of quasi-antisocial behavior is bound to actually bring together people who normally wouldn't have even left the house. I think it'd be really interesting if there were areas with different line filters to where you plugged in would give you a different listening experience.



So on my recent road trip to the land of my birth I made a stop in Buffalo. I had a mission, to find and consume buffalo wings. After consulting my buffalo food expert Gyppo Lou my companions and I spent 25 minutes getting from the buffalo airport to Gabriel's Gate home of the best wings in all of Buffalo. With the Gabriel's Gate Brown Ale and the "Hot" strength wings( more like medium at most Buffalo establishments) it was instantly clear that these wings were the source of the city's woes, afterall with such wings and beer we'd be obese and unemployed as well, the wings were juicy, crispy, and delicious and the ale was like a less sweet Newcastle. The food was great and the atmosphere great in a dive bar-ish way, but the really puzzling thing about the restaurant was its engrish menu with such gems as "For the men and women of business its location is unequalled"

No Meathooks?

So I just saw a link on u's blog to the NIN video for "Only". I'm inclined to agree with her; the video is awesome, but it kind of comes off as an apple commercial in the beginning ( if the commercial was filmed in the executive desk display area of a sharper image in the late 80s). I gotta say it's a hell of a departure from the creepy NIN videos of yore.


British police really fucked up

According to The Daily Telegraph, He walked to the train, sat down and was shot. I Don't know how accurate this news piece is but it makes me a little freaked out about my impending 3 month stay in London. Being slightly brown, and someone who could easily look out of place I'm thinking that tube rides might not be the best idea. Well, it looks like LA isn't the only place where innocent people have to worry about multiple point blank headshots from overzealous frightened cops.

gizmag Article: The LifeStraw – the invention of the century?

This little straw is brilliant, and it has the potential to improve the quality of life for millions of people around the world. I love it when you see things like this sprout up.


Food Meme Post

So I was tagged by Sal to toss out 5 childhood food memories. This was no easy task because my life has, from a very early age, revolved around food. So the 5 listed are all from around age 6 or earlier. It was extremely difficult to keep this list down to 5 and I think I got the key ones, but a lot of things are being left off the list.

In no particular order:
  • Beef and bacon roulades/involtini/meat-rolls ( just doesn't sound as tasty in English) with polenta- As long as I can remember eating solid food, this has been one of my favorite meals. My mom doesn't make it very often because of the health implications, but since I'm not around often I can usually convince her to make 'em when I'm in town. The dish consists of thin slices of beef rolled with bacon with a heavy sauce made from celery carrots tomato and ground pork, served on top of polenta. This dish is such a part of my life that I can't remember the first time I ate it, but it makes me salivate just to think about it.
  • Japanese omlettes with nori and green beans- Because of my sister and my prediliction towards picnics, and the sorry state of Rochester weather, occasionally we would have indoor picnics in the winter. Of course, this called for finger food. One of the more common indoor picnic meals was simple but still really sticks with me today. My mom would make a simple omlette with soysauce, salt and sugar and we would eat it wrapped in seaweed with rice and green beans sitting on a blanket in the livingroom with the bitter rochester cold outside
  • Smoked oysters- Before first grade( when I would still get out of school before lunch time), when the weather was good my mom and I would meet my dad at the U of R for a picnic lunch. We would go down to the Gennesee river and eat snacky picnic food which would often include smoked oysters on toast with onions. I liked them so much that during first grade I would occasionally insist that I take smoked oyster sandwiches to school for lunch. The smell of smoked oysters and onions made me extremely popular with my squeamish classmates and confused the hell out of my teachers
  • Donut holes and hot apple cider- One of the classic upstate newyork fall snacks, no haloween party or autumn gathering was complete without sugar or cinnamon dusted donut and hot unfiltered unpasturized apple cider. From the post pumpkin patch snack, to the fall birthday at school these were unavoidable between september and the end of november.
  • Keema( spiced ground beef with spinach and potatoes), rice, dal( lentils), and raita( yogurt sauce with cucumbers and fried mustard seeds)- This was a staple meal at our house and I would put everything in a bowl and mix it together. This is my basic "I'm home" comfort food. It's homestyle Indian food, and it just hit's the spot and gives me that warm fuzzy feeling inside ( though that could be all the starch).
Others that almost made the list were: mom's tandoori chicken, mom's arribiata and rosemary chicken, barbeque pork/roast duck over rice, grandpa's koftas, katsudon, orange quarters after soccer games, friendly's watermellon shaped icecream deserts, bomb pops from the icecream truck, white-hots, gyro's from princess cafe or aladdin's, opera tortes from creme de la creme, greasy bbq chicken on butter covered soft rolls from swiss chalet, mussels in white wine, smoked eel, hollandse garnalen on soft white bread with onions, frenchfries with "saus andalus", etc.


Montreal Food post ( meme post to come)

Hi all,
So I know I have a blog homework assignment from fellow blogger Sal, but the other post is slow coming and my astounding gastronomic experiences cannot be left undescribed. Last night I ate food so good that I have started looking into the feasibility of starting a Quebecois gastro-pub in NYC.

Yesterday for lunch I ate a Montreal style smoked meat sandwich at Schwartz's deli on Saint-Laurent. To put the greatness of this sandwich into perspective I'd like to add that on Thursday I ate lunch at katz's in the lower east side of Manhattan, and this sandwich was better. The bread was as good, the mustard the same, but the price ( quantity considered ) was half, and the quality was equal if not better. The juicy greasy meat on two small pieces of rye with mustard was a little slice of happiness, and the reasonable quantity ( about half that of Katz's pastrami sandwich for a quarter the price) made this a perfect lunch choice.

The Montreal trip would not have been complete without a trip for some poutine ( traditional Quebecois dish of fries with cheese curds and gravy). Being men of both audacity and daring, instead of going for the standard, we decided to go big. At "Au Pied du Cochon" we reveled in gluttony and ate a tomato tartlet, marinated deer tongue, a fois gras pate, and the incomparable poutine finale... poutine de fois gras. At this restaurant they raised the dish to a higher level, the seared fois gras over the poutine was absurdly good ( and rich enough to bury any average predator). Of course the fries, cheese curds and gravy themselves were significantly better than the average, the addition of fois gras was a master stroke. Granted it has probably made my heart slow as glacial movement and my arteries hard as steel, but I can safely say that it was worth loosing those few years off my life.

Because of these two meals and other miscellaneous Montreal snacking, Tommy "Sh'Oaks"(my partner in crime) and I have decided that the only thing to do is to open a themed bar in NYC's west village with snooty French speaking waiters, Montreal style smoked meat sandwiches, a variety of poutines, and of course: an vast selection of Canadian beers( esp those imitating Belgian beers). That's right folks if we get this off the ground you too will be able to enjoy these delectable treats from the safety of the good ole' U S of A, completely free of all the Canadian cooties.


Python for kids

At this blog entry:davidbau.com: Haaarg, world! you can see how a father begins teaching his son to use a programming language for the first time. I think this is fantastic and it reminds me of when my dad first helped me get started on the commodore64 with a basic program.


Working from home...er I mean the hotel... er I mean home

So today I got up, got ready and was considering hopping on the tube when I thought...hmm. The last attempt on london yesterday was unsuccessful. If I was an anti-western terrorist zealot I really wouldn't let that kinda thing stand, cause if there's one thing I imagine you should be good at as murderous fanatic it's got to be following through.

I'm not a generally timid person but the idea of being trapped undergrownd freaks the hell out of me. I'm not at all scared about being blown to smitherines ( if you are close enough to the bomb I bet you don't feel a thing), but the idea of being trapped under rubble or getting maimed really gives me the willies. So I figured I'd cab it. Unfortunately the rest of London seems to have come to the same conclusion that I have so there's a security alert/blockage and no cabbie will take me into London City. Yes, I came back from sunny warm Rome yesterday night barely making my busy commuter flight to sit in a hotel all day periodically gazing out into the grayness. At least my room here is nice and the hotel has wireless.

On a darkly funny side-note I heard a conversation today in my futile attempt to get a cab where one english woman said to her traveling companion "I rekon these days it really is more likely for me to be attacked by terrorists than to get married." Her friend off-handedly responded "Oh, I'm sure that's been true for years. Where shall we go for breakfast?"


With as much as we share it is time we're aware...

It's a small small world. Last night I went downstairs to ask the concierge for a good place nearby for (yes I'm a glutton) a kebab. In front of me at the desk was an American couple. So I got to talking to them and we end up eating dinner together at a turkish place nearby ( where I had a kebab). By a bizzare coincidence they're from the Sh'Oaks (quite close to my local fatburger) and related to someone who lives 3 blocks from my parents house, the world is really strangely small sometimes.

A weekend in Blackpool

So for those of you who don't know, Blackpool is a holiday resort in northern England. It's a working mans resort completely free of pretention and the place feels kind of like a cross between downtown Vegas and Atlantic City. My flatmate from Rome ( see apt pictures) is actually from Blackpool so I decided I'd have to visit the place after hearing all of his stories.

More than you wanted to know about what I did over a 48 hour period in blackpool:
  • Got yelled at and almost hit by a drunken scot for calling the weather cold. This was particularly unnerving because for a good 30 seconds or so I couldn't figure out a damn thing he was saying.
  • Drove along the "Prom" ( promenade) and saw what must be the worlds largest mirrored ball turning slowly beside the road
  • Saw 5 men dressed as cavemen ( definitely a stag party) sprinting down the street chasing one of their group
  • Witnessed part of a drug bust at a quiet pub. So this was the second drug bust I've seen, and it was nothing like the first. 3 cruisers and a paddywagon pulled up to the pub, about 6-7 cops walked in, a few people left, and the cops stayed milling around and talking to people in the back. Unfortunately we left the pub before the siezure and the arrests, but I think they wanted to do it after the place was closed. The drug bust I saw in berkeley involved a bunch of heavily outfitted cops using a battering ram to force open a door at about 11pm on University ave before rushing in with guns drawn
  • Rode the Pepsi Max Big One- the second tallest rollercoaster in the world ( 250 ft or so). It was good, but not fast enough, and it never goes upside down, so I think I still prefer some of the smaller faster ones like batman and riddler's revenge at six flags
  • Ate a very spicy delicious seekh kebab covered with raita, and had a long drawn out conversation with the shop owner about my super secret origins because he could tell I was Indian( I have him the usual story about a promising career in physics, a failed lab experiment, exposure to gamma rays, and the development of my super kebab eating powers)
  • Went for a long walk in stanley park in order to kill the kebab, but I was only vaguely successful ( thanks to the onions those things'll just stick with you for hours)
  • Visited a glass blower's studio run by my flatmate's uncle John, this was definitely worth the trip out there
  • Saw Blackpool's big nightlife attraction - the show at "Funny Girls" ( it's a drag show, so there was definitely something funny about those "girls"), and got invited to go for a drink in Wigam (a town not too close to Blackpool) with a very large woman who was part of a hen party. I politely declined.
  • Got pissed ( drunk) at a members only club for locals called the Devonshire Club. This was definitely a unique experience, there was a mediocre pub band that would play anything you requested ( except for freebird, I tried). The default gin and tonic came with diet tonic, and the crowd was mostly 40 and up locals. The place kicked ass and was open super late because it required membership, or a member to bring you in
  • Craving bodily harm, I had another kebab to soak up the gin, this time I got a donner kebab ( turkish style, think gyro) covered in mint chutney, onions, and garlic mayo (burping galore)
  • Went for a walk along the seaside in Lytham ( apparantly home of the most millionaires per square mile in the UK, kind of an Atherton on the sea with really crappy weather) and saw a Rolls-Royce club show/meeting (there were also several Bentlys)
  • Gorged myself at the local chippy (chip shop) in Lytham. I ate a steak and kidney pudding ( a large chunk of suet filled with beef , kidneys, and brown sauce) covered with chips(fries) , mushy peas, salt, vinegar, and of course... tons of gravy
  • Waited a couple hours then had a traditional northern sunday lunch: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, carrots and turnips, peas, cauliflower, and you guessed it...tons of gravy
  • Then it was back off to London in a train carriage (car) without any air conditioning with an loud arguing couple.
All and all it was a kickass weekend. I think I'm going to have to go back for a real holiday sometime, Blackpool is definitely like no other place I've been.


Festa (said with fist defiantly up in the air whilst sporting my che shirt)

So the last night I was in rome (before the pointless rome-london-rome-london trip) , my friend Gianfranco (don't you guys love these italian names) and I went to the Festa de l'Unita, or the unity festival. This is a festival put on by a party called the DEMOCRATICI DI SINISTRA (the democratic left, kinda between democrats and commies). The booths were the usual food, astounding timesaving product, and sponsor booths( vodafone, telecom, sky ) you find at festivals, regular tshirt stands, as well as a big bookstore tent. However, it also had: a free palestine booth( with excellent kebabs and a comfy hookah smoking tent decked out with couches and carpets), a booth of all natural clothing, a booth with shirts made by prisoners in jail, and a stage which featured music performances and rousing leftist speaches. It was kind of like a berkeley street fair with a little more style and credibility because this is backed by an actual political party with these views not just aging hippies and idealistic students...oh wait.... Regardless it was a lot of fun, the food was good, the booths were interesting, the crowd was cool, and I swear there was a recreation of the seating outside of wall berlin only with better cheaper coffee.

Towards the end of the evening I was just shy of picking up a copy of the little red book in Italian, then I decided to spend some money on greed based consumption and eat a kebab sandwich followed by some intensive decadant lounging on a carpet draped chaise in the hookah tent. When I get around to it I'll post some pictures

Music infoPr0n- this tool rocks!

Many thanks to pshairyn for this sweet new band finding bit of info porn: music-map. It's based on a learning directory where people put in 3 bands they like, then it autogenerates the positions of different bands in the map based on the links between them. Obviously this is directed at a slim demographic, but it's a great way of finding new bands. Also on the site are similar directory projects for books and movies. I really like the graphical element to the recommendations based on peoples input because it makes it a more tool than a simple amazon review.


Be Your Own Hotspot thanks to Popular Science

That's right, thanks to EV-DO, and a solar cell powered backpack, you can operate a backpack based hotspot. But it ain't chepa at all, the setup'll run you about 1k and ridiculous service costs, but come on this just rules. What they really need is to make a backpack with a cheap built in fuel cell.

I hate the crazy frog!!!

So I don't know how many of you are familiar with the "Crazy frog" ringtone, but it's basically a bad Axel F mix accompanied by this bizzare video of this crappy cg "crazy frog" riding a missle. Yes, it's that inane. Now because of the way the music charts are put together ( total sales and airplay) This ringtone was actually the number one single in the uk for a while, and now is 10 on the italian single chart, it's genuinely annoying but for some reason these people love it. I can't figure it out for the life of me, but enough people are paying for this ringtone that it shows up on the MTV countdown!! In it's defense, the crazy frog is only the second most annoying song in the top 10 ( tanto^3 being the worst), but it's impossible to escape because every where you go on public transportation you hear it. At least it's mostly limited to the under 16 set.


Watch of the future ( if it were 1950)

So I'm a big fan of non standard watches, but this watch by nixon is extra sweet. If it were one third the price, I'd own one already. Afterall how cool is walnut inlay on a watch. I see a return to woodgrain in consumer electronics for that retro analog feel chic, who's with me!!

My old Flat in Rome

Apt Terrace 1
Originally uploaded by hkarmark.

So I've been promising pics of my old flat in Rome for a long time. Here's a shot of the terrace and if you click through you can get to my flickr for other shots of the place. With any luck I'll be back there from jan to june. This flat is ridiculous: antique furniture, statues on the terrace, over 80 paintings and prints in gilded frames (there were paintings in the walk-in closet!!). I figured I couldn't live in rome and pass up a chance at a place like this, afterall the location is also amazing.

The flat is outfitted like this because the owner is an art historian who, I guess, had always wanted to live in a 17th century palace. I gotta tell you guys, he did a pretty good job of recreating the experience. You'd really have to see this thing in person to believe it.


Originally uploaded by hkarmark.
One of many pics I snapped at Live8 rome ( A good concert despite Duran Duran bailing from the lineup)


Marketing, memes, and good weekend reads

So thanks to my exceptionally helpful sis, over the past week I've gone through four fast fun reads (or fictional folios, in case, like me, you can't let the silly alliteration slip by) :
  • Gaiman and Pratchett- "Good Omens": a Light funny Douglas Adams-esque book about the apocalypse
  • James Maxey- "Nobody gets the girl": a novel in a very comic book style that's fun and a quick read with a predictable ( thanks to the publisher's note) twist at the end where we're supposed to question who are really the "good and "evil" characters
  • Jim Munroe- "Angry Young Spaceman": A guy's trip offworld to teach English with a lot of content about the spread of culture through marketing and the exploitation of perceptions to fuel/exploit subcultures. You can definitely feel munroe's adbusters pedigree in his writing, but it's not over the top, and the book's a great read ( though not as good as his "Everyone in Silico")
  • Max(x) Barry- "Jennifer Government": Heaviest of the lot in terms of mood but really the best of the bunch. It's got action, romance, marketing, explicit protest against evil megacorps, the jimmy stewart everyman schmo, and a gun-toting female lead reminiscent of a gibson razorgirl. I had a lot of fun with this one and I definitely like it's heavier social focus than other corporate controlled dystopian future views like gibson, stephenson, and p.k. dick.
The last three of these books all chronicled some serious spin ranging from controlling world understanding of catastrophic events to deciding what's cool for teenagers to wear. So, once again I've been thinking about what makes an idea or trend sticky and helps it get passed on. It's one thing to target a specific person to get them to feel strongly about something, but it's always impressed me how some sets of ideas can be so sticky that they spawn subcultures, and often bleed into the mainstream view of what's cool.

I find myself straddling the line on whether I'd like to be part of the machine manipulating and fueling these groups, or whether I'll join one that thinks of itself as fighting the trend. Ya know, engage in some culture jamming, wear antibrand clothing, buy fair trade goods, and maybe organize support for small to mid size businesses in developing markets ( what better way to hit coke or nike than help fund a co-op of locally strong brands with a joint production and distribution infrastructure).

This is of course all academic now but I've been jotting done on the post-it board again ( check the orange and red notes) and maybe a company will form out of some of this 5 years from now, or maybe I'll just become a more active blogger


You've got to be kidding me

This settles it, I'm going to either have to be rich and powerful, or move to less ridiculous country where the government can't arbitrarily bulldoze my house.
"The land of the free? whoever told you that is your enemy"
-RATM "Know your Enemy"


Pax Romana

So I have a movie idea in mind, and I'm giving it away. I just want to watch it. The rise of Augustus would make a hell of a movie, I'd definitely want it directed by someone like Scorsese, Coppola, or De Palma. Imagine scarface meets the godfather meets I claudius . The movie would open with the brutal assasination of Caesar with Brutus and the others walking back in slow motion to the capitoline surrounded by bodyguards. This story's got consolidation of power on a ridiculous scale, it's got large scale battles, assasinations, intrigue, it'd make for a hell of a picture. Now I just need someone to make it so I can sit back and watch it.


Like a feather

So last sunday thanks to an awesome friend I got to go to a Nikka Costa show at Templebar in Santa Monica. For those of you who don't know who she is, you should make an effort to see her live, cause the woman's got a set of pipes, and man can she move. When she first stepped out on to stage I thought she was relatively unattractive with a slightly porsine face. But when she started singing and dancing she became unbelievably hot. She is a great singer with a vocal style that's anywhere from funk, to blues, to janis joplin on a bender. She can sing, but she can also wail with serious intensity. I'd heard her music before the show, so what really caught me off guard was how she moved, she has this efforless quality to her dancing, which wasn't dirty, but somehow still makes you feel underaged. She wasn't doing anything particularly special in terms of movement, it was just that she was so natural and at home that it made her ridiculously hot. Grace isn't the right word, and saying that she was the movement sounds too new agey, but I think ya get the idea, she's got oomph.

Jst a little side note, one thing that surprised me about this show was how little people had dressed for it. Okay, I know it's a Sunday, but come on, this is LA, not San Francisco. I'd expect the crowd to have a little more effort than that.


Carousing...in style

In order to show some of my Euro colleagues a good time last week, I organized a party bus to pick us up from our hotel, the mariott in the heart of the thriving metropolis that is santa clara, and take us to suite one8one in the city where we would meet some of my local friends to dance and drink. The limo drive up from the hotel started fun with a trip to the safeway liquor aisle and very loud music in the bus. To give the reader an idea of the scene inside I'm just gonna list some first names : Harsh, Paolo, Gianfranco, Fabio, Fabia, Javier, Maurizio, Sergio, Carlos, Andreas, Carmelo, Francesco, Giandomenico, Enrique(yes, the group was as shady as it sounds). You can't make up a list like that, we were drinking campari OJ's, rum and OJ's, crown and cokes, and of course, roman cokes (just say it, it'll make sense). Now for those of you who have never been in a group of 15 drunk spanish and italian men, let me tell you, it is comedy. These guys were hilarious. When we got to the club we were greeted by a cheerful bouncer who denied 3 of our companions entry because they didn't have id ( being europeans the concept of carrying id at al times is completely foreign to them) so we sent them back to the hotel in the limo bus on a 1.5 hr round trip, but at least they had booze onboard. When we got into the club it became clear why the bouncer was so happy to see this group of 15 dudes ( and one girl), the place was dead empty except for people I had invited. It was like my own private party at the club. Luckily enough female friends had come out to balance the Euros, and everyone had a good time. I spent the whole night dancing and drinking, hanging out with tons of friends I haven't seen in a long time. The evening really took a turn for the hilarious when we piled back into the limo and things degenerated into adolescent ice fights and italians tackling eachother across the bus. Next time I'm back stateside I'm definitely doing this again.


Return to the US

Yes folks I am once again back in the US. This time it's only for about a week for a conference, but it's still good to be back home. When I hit LA ( a couple days late thanks to meetings and flight issues) I grabbed drinks with two college friends who had just bought houses(one closed on that day). It was kind of a sobering moment because my big life holding purchase is a new suitcase for my travels, which for me at this stage means exactly what a house means to them. Then again, I really like this life. I've had a year that I'm never gonna forget, but this whole travel thing is a little rough, I never thought I'd come back home and have cultureshock. Also, it's damn near impossible to find a good cup of espresso in palo alto.

Dancing ascii cat (trust me it's worth it)

Once again continuing with my love of ascii is this CoDvG link to a dancing ascii cat. This thing is fantastic and can easily eat up 30-40 seconds of valuable email and surfing time.



I'm writing this post from a hotel lobby in madrid because they can't get my internet working in the room. This trip has been cool, 10 mins after checking in the hotel caught fire and I was evacuated. The ethernet port in my first room was dead so they downgraded me because all the better rooms were full. Second room and mac address is being rejected by the hotel system because it says I just checked out. On the plus side, the guys in the spanish office are a lot of fun, and the hotel comped me a huge plate of mixed ham ( ham is a big deal to the spanish) and a bottle of wine to make up for the other issues. I think I can safely say that 2 years ago I never would have pictured myself nursing an overpriced beer in a hotel lobby in madrid, writing blog posts using wifi, and compaining about having to evacuate because of fire. The worst thing about this trip is actually that it's playing hell with my ability to speak any language, Every time I reach for a word in spanish it comes out in italian, and my english sounds like transliterated italian and spanish. At least I can understand most people. Life is odd, but good, damn good.


One URL to rule them all, one search engine to find them, one index to bring them all, and in the browser bind them

Well folks, it seems to have happened. I now have a consistent start point for every time I open a browser in the morning. Google has made a portal and it should scare the hell out of microsoft, yahoo, and aol, cause hell, I'm for it but it still give me the willies.



"You can never go home again, and the world is an alien place." However you can roadtrip there with a bunch of friends and acquaintences from middle school, and talk about how everything's changed. This summer I will be driving with an elite crew of former brightonians from NYC to the 716 yo. That's right we'll be hittin up Rochester NY, Brighton specifically, and possibly continuing into Canada to give love [America] a bad name. I've wanted to do a rochester related roadtrip for some time, if only so that I could experience that specific moment where you get the full realization that where you came from is gone, plenty of things are the same but you or your hometown have irreversibly changed, and I think a road trip beats a flight cause it builds the anticipation. It'll be a hell of a good time if I can get enough of the key faces back together, amazingly enough I have managed to stay in touch with a few of these people since I left rochester 11 years ago,without seeing some of them in the flesh for nearly a decade. I can't wait to hit the place, I'm already planning on going to a few clutch eateries out of nostalgia ( swiss chalet, dac hoa, the coal tower, aladdins, house of poon (no joke, though many will be made)).
hrmm I'm really beginning to think my life is way too centered around food.

24 hrs in the Cote d'Azure ( beats 2 days in the valley)

Last Saturday I flew out to Nice to visit the folks, and thanks to bad ticket prices and various strikes, my flight out was scheduled for 24 hrs later. Thanks to exceptional timing I got 3 great meals with many snacks between, 2 good walks around antibes, and plenty of time to hang out with the folks. All and all it was a fantastic weekend, hell I even got a tan. The weather was fantastic, and it was exactly what I needed to unwind a little. Between travel and involvement with a few projects I was starting to get crushed under the load, it's amazing what a little fresh air, a few walks, and a lot of rich french food can do to make a man feel like a million bucks. I'd say I'm now completely re-energized and ready to deal with the impending shuffle and travel over the next few weeks (including a new country, a new apartment, throwing a couple parties, and potentially a couple new projects). I just have to manage to do a weekend like this once every month or so and I'll be fine.


Roadtrip plans coalesce

So thanks to the following travel blog: Montreal| Gridskipper and Tommy Sh'Oaks' insistance, my first summer point to point has been decided. NYC to Montreal for some good cheap canadian livin on the weekend.
I have decided to break my summer vacation into a few small road trips. For other destinations I'm thinking...the south east ( got some friends in florida), maybe more northeast to see those ivy kids, and finally there's a chance of a wild DC to austin trip with the legendary R. Agamemnon Yang. Vegas and New Orleans were thoughts, but I think I want to avoid obscene heat so I'll only hit sweaty climates where I have a few friends.


On the road

I was feeling a little homesick hanging out in Heathrow yesterday waiting for my flight back to bella Roma (there's no place like Rome), so I decided to get a book that would exacerbate, or alleviate it. I picked up Kerouac's On the Road at an overpriced Heathrow bookshop and dove in.

I was diggin on the book for a couple hours when it occured to me that I've probably seen more countries (if you include principalities) than states. I think it's about time to change that. Given that I now have friends in all sorts of unusual places like Florida, Georgia, Minnesota, Conneticut, and even DC, it may be time for a roadtrip. I have decided that if I get some time off from work in August (Italy is completely shut down for two weeks) I will actually drive through, dare i say it, red states and fly-overs.

If you guys have any one horse town recommendations, or favorite koa sites, just drop em in the comments.



Once a fratboy...

Okay so I know I've been out of college for a few years, but it has come to my attention that the coolest piece of jewlery ever created is only 10 bucks on thinkgeek. That's right, for only 10 dollars you can be opeining beer bottles with less effort than ever before. I really shouldn't get one of these, but it really is sweet so we'll see how long I can resist.


Not Pr0n: you guys should play this game


Ops: The last 10 seconds in the life of a storm trooper, it's a brilliant kubrick meets tarantino meets homestarrunner sketch ( link lifted from screenhead)


Things come full circle

Last night I was in our London office at about 11pm with a couple co workers, and we decided it was dinner time. After about 5 minutes on local google it was clear that delivery pizza was our only option. After checking a few sites we finally found one that was open...
Flash-back to Rochester, NY early autumn one year in the late 80's. I'm eating at a little crappy pizza place on winton north of east avenue called Captain Tony's , and I think to myself, "self, you'll probably never eat here again."
I was wrong, the only pizza place that would deliver to the office after 11 was Captain Tony's Pizza and Pasta Emporium (found at www.captaintonys.com). Yes, this amazing woldwide franchise seems to be the only link between such glamourous locations as London, Rochester NY, and Quartz Hill CA. I really hope this isn't some strange portent of my impending demise


Rockin out in London

This city shuts down early, real early. I haven't had much time to explore, but it looks like if you don't want to go to a club, you are SOL for anything to do after 11. All of the bars, restaurants, and cafes are locked down at 11 or so, and with the ridiculous pricing, I'm finding it hard to get into this city. Last night I had a great dinner ( oysters to start, grilled monkfish, and a dill vodka), but what should have cost 40-45 bucks, came in around 40 pounds. So long as you don't pay attention to the currency everything looks right, but I'm paid in dollars, and convert prices compulsively, so it's a little rough. I'm gonna reserve full judgement till I get a bit of time to really get to know the city, but it's no Rome (which I fell in love within a day of walking around).


mmm music al dente

"With Teeth" the new album by NIN is available in it's entirety as a stream on the NIN site at myspace. It's very listenable typical nine inch nails, fairly mellow like the rest of the recent stuff. It's no pretty hate machine, but it's great to loop in the background while working, and of course there are periodic great lyrics interlaced with super cheezy ones.


15 songs to take the edge off

It's been a while since I've put down a playlist, so I thought I'd throw down my current 15 favorite songs (not in any strict order). These aren't my all time favorites, but the first five have been on the list for a long time. It definitely makes for a great shuffled playlist while waiting to board a flight. I'm sure this is a pretty heavy rehash of many of my other playlists, but I'm a bit of a creature of habit, and these always seem to make the grade.

Dave Brubeck- Take Five

Soul Coughing- Screenwriter's Blues

Santana- Oye Como Va (Sorry tito)

U2- One (everyone needs that one depressing song)

Beck- Deadweight

Cake- Comfort Eagle

Warren Zevon- Warewolves of London

INXS- I Need You Tonight

David Bowie- Golden Years

Bobby Darrin- Beyond the Sea

Stealer's Wheel- Stuck in the Middle

Outkast- Bombs over Baghdad

Ben Lee- Aftertaste

Johnny Cash- Burning Ring of Fire

Duran Duran- Hungry like the Wolf

Grant Robinson : Guess-the-google launcher

Grant Robinson : Guess-the-google launcherYet another CoDvG. I was really lucky on my first try and got a respectable 356. A couple successive attempts were a dissapointing 300-310 (I missed "land" twice. There aren't many sets, so after a couple times your score will just start improving consistently and it stope being as fun becuase it's just how fast you type. The surprising one for me was "hate", it seems the less you think about this the better you'll score. I highly recommend wasting a few minutes playing with this thing.


Oops I Did It Again: The Original

Oops I Did It Again: The Original A lesser known fact, Louis Armstrong originally sang this song back in '32. Now from supermasterpiece it is available on the web ( thanks screenhead). This is hilarious, the real question can you get someone to believe it?

Reverse dictionary

OneLook Reverse Dictionary- I've been waiting for this kind of tool for ages, this is another one CoG ( Courtesy of Geeta). It's not fantastic but it's a step in the right direction. I'm hoping to see all kinds of contextual search tools become available on the internet, also of note are kartoo and google sets. This stuff is developing pretty quickly because the information provides a huge amount of contextualized material just based on word proximity. By linking with dictionaries, the DMOZ, encyclopedias, blogs and wikis there're a lot of links to be made. The real dificulty comes in evaluating validity of the information based on the source. This is definitely an area I see developing quickly


More doom and gloom - [Sunday Herald]

Odac warns of global shortage of oil after 2007 - [Sunday Herald] Okay guys, time to ramp up my cult/commune formation, this oil consumption stuff is beginning to hit the mainstream. If you know anyone who's charasmatic and interested in being a figurehead for my cult, leave a comment. It looks like there's some real potential here.


My favorite gadget, and my gadget bag

While I'm in the US, my nokia 6620 is my favorite gadget, but while I'm traveling I'd say my favorite is a music player. I love my ipod, it has a fantastic interface, good simple features, and it synchs really easily with itunes, it's not my favorite gadget. For long trips it's definitely what I use for music, but if I only take one player with me somehwere, I take my archos gmini400. The thing plays video, right now I have an episode of scrubs, garden state, an episode of reno 911, a couple invader zim episodes, some southpark, and the hudsucker proxy. It also plays games, the thing is bundled with a couple crappy little games, but they're great airport time killers. It is of course also an mp3 player with passable interface, not a real ipod competitor but definitely usable. The most useful thing about it is that it's an external usb hard drive and it stores it's music and videos as normal files within a mac and pc accessible filesystem. This means I can swap files with anyone (without having to use 3rd party software), and keep backups of all of my important work docs on the thing. Finally, it has a standard hardware interface. The same cable that I use for the archos can be used to synch and charge my blackberry, or to power my portable speakers, one less thing to carry on little overnighters. The one gripe I have with the gmini is that it won't charge from the usb port which I feel is fairly boneheaded but overall it's the favorite thing in my gadget bag

Travel Gadget Bag

  • IBM Thinkpad T40- before I got one from the office I never would have considered it, but with it's reasonable weight, exceptional battery life, ease of connections ( wifi, bluetooth, IR, gigabit ethernet, usb, even parallel), awesome res (14000x1050), good trackpad, and great keyboard I'm completely sold on the thing
  • Blackberry 7290- longest leash in the world, but I'm completely addicted. I get my email instantly and full downloads of the directory from the office. All that and bluetooth connectivity.
  • Nokia 6620- I opted for the flat internet plan so when I'm in the states I use this thing obsessively, I've even got putty on it for when I absolutely, positively need to access a host remotely. I slapped a half gig MMC into it and I use the camera and video recorder all the time. For multimedia I have a couple tracks, games, and tv episodes on the thing for when I'm stuck. Hell in a pinch I can use it to backup files over bluetooth, usb, or just a mem card reader. If I had a good international plan and it was quad band this would be my one gadget to rule them all, but as stands it's second fiddle to the gmini
  • Archos ArcDisk 20- this extremely slim portable hard drive has been a lifesaver. completely powered off the usb port with a usb2 interface it's great for moving massive files back and forth, but also great for general backups. That and it's pretty
  • Minolta Dimage x20- pretty basic slim 2 megapixel camera with AA batteries. I'm not much of a photographer, I just needed something small and basic where I could take decent quality pictures. Despite often having it with me I'm terrible about taking pics
  • Apple iPod 15gb 3rd gen- needs no description
  • Creative laptop speakers- I don't remember the exact model, but these usb/battery powered speakers have been great with the ipod and for watching movies on the laptop. A great addition since I have no tv in my current apartment
  • Archos gmini400 -see above

The one thing that's really missing is some sort of portable projector, but mitsubishi's pocket led lit projector due out this summer will soon be part of my kit for sure. Other things I'm watching for are an apple handheld of some sort, or the archos pma430, cause my phone screen really isn't ideal for full web browsing


Beck's new video and diggin simple ascii

I  r e a l l y  dig Beck's new black tambourine video. Watching it makes me remember bbs ascii art and anarchist cookbook files that never worked. I think that may be part of the reason why I use a black background on this blog. However, I think I am beginning to appreciate simple black text on a white background. Particularly when it's in a clean serif-less font with the occasional word with spacing inbetween the letters for e m p h a s i s without SHOUTING _

btw for those of you with a netscape/mozilla browser I feel that my use of the blink tag above was perfectly justified


Googling for comedy

Aloha all,
in the nasty grad student catagory of news we have the following URL. http://www.pacm.princeton.edu/research/Lohman.jpg Use google to find out exatcly what's funny about this guy, you wouldn't believe me if I told you. But his picture looks exactly as you'd expect after you find the relevant articles


Nice walk for a saturday

Nice walk for a saturday
Originally uploaded by hkarmark.
Yesterday was an interesting day. I took a walk along via appia antica ( an ancient roman road) and took this picture down a private driveway. It was a great walk and a nice little change of pace getting out of the city. After I got back I met some friends for a pizza and drinks. Then sometime between 11-12 we heard about the Pope. Some people walked over to view the spectacle at St Peters' it was quite a sight, the huge mob in mourning, the reporters scouring for an interview subject. Given the nature of the event I think I'll hold comments that might be misiterpreted as callous. Maybe I'll post on it later.

Io con una barba

Io con una barba
Originally uploaded by hkarmark.


Be a good netizen

For those of you with way too much time and a bit of niche knowledge, here are two really good ways to help out on the net. The best part is that neither is commercial. Wikipedia is a collaborative encyclopedia where anyone can post. DMOZ is the open source directory project( the backbone of the netscape and google directories). I highly recommend contributing or helping edit, both are sites that represent all of the good community aspects of the internet.

Free con call (from lifehacker)

FreeConference.com - Free Telephone Conference Call Service This is fantastic, I don't know how they fund it, but now you never have to worry about expensive con-call services again

color logo

color logo
Originally uploaded by hkarmark.
The updated harshkarma logo, with a not too subtle nod to Mondrian



Wired 13.04: La Vida Robot Four highschool students win a national robotics competition against universities such as MIT. The underwater robot cost the kids only $800 as opposed to MIT's 11k. Oh and all of the kids are illegal aliens, someone give these amazing kids a grant or corp sponsorship!!!



So I've tried it before, and it's never looked good, but once again...I am growing facial hair. In college I briefly had a ridiculous goatee, and once for haloween I grew a scruffy pirate beard, but this time I think I'm gonna do it for real for a little while. So far I'm one week into the effort, and it looks really bad, but the purpose of this beard isn't for me to look great, just to look older.

Right now I haven't started shaping it in any real way aside from shaving my neck. I need to figure out what kind of shape I want to go with. In a couple days I'll post a pic and take suggestions for how to shape the beard so it can look anything other than ridiculous.

Once nice thing about trying this in Rome is the ubiquity of ugly facial hair. Many Romans have no idea how absurd they look, and at the office you can appear professional with a week of stubble (Rome is an odd city). Now I have another little side project, I think half of the appeal is the whole evil-harsh aspect of growing some facial hair. Of course once I start working on projects other than my current one, I will have to shave it. But till then I'm gonna have some fun with it ( right now I kind of look like an east european math grad student in the midst of finals).

Google...we need to talk

Where to begin? We've been seeing eachother since late 98 from your humble beginnings as only a search engine, back when I would still visit you, hotbot, metacrawler and a few others to discover content. Back then I still believed in bookmarks, instead of just turning to you for access to everything. Sure I've occasionally used other sites like kartoo for it's semantic relational appeal, dogpile for it's commerce heavy focus, even yahoo just to kick around the inktomi engine, but every day I come back to google. You've added a lot of functionality in the past years and it's brought us much closer. Blogger, Orkut, Picasa, Translation tools, Sets, Local, Google SMS, News, and the abillity to search the usenet have all made my life easier, but it's getting out of hand. You provide my only view of the internet, and are the primary channel through which I receive and disseminate information. I'm not alone, you've seduced all of the geeks I know with your technology and approach to information on the internet. But our relationship has gotten out of control, I'm way too dependant on you, I need to start using other technologies. I'm looking for other search engines and I'm going to move out. I'm in search of some nice server space and I'm moving to an MT blog in a month or so, I might still use the blogger api, and I'll never stop using your search, translate, and well... everything from the labs, but I need some space. And as you index this page, I hope you understand


oqo I want it almost as much as I wanted my mac

oqo: store So this is not new news, it's been available for a while, but this is the first ultraportable computer I'd really want if I lived in the states. With wifi coverage getting really good these days this thing has the potential to be really useful. Also with bluetooth and skype out it makes that cell phone a whole lot less cool



ThriftDeluxe - DIY For the Hip Jam the signal, one tshirt at a time

Viral marketing

Fimoculous.com: Feeding On Itself a blog post on viral marketing campaigns like subservient chicken. Runs down a list of a few of these campaigns and gives appropriate props to Crispint Porter + Bogusky

I pity the fool!

I gotta start posting ads like this and seeing what kind of response I get, cause I love it when a plan comes together.


Scary article of doom...

This article at lifeaftertheoilcrash.net is an extremely scary and vaguely plausible tale of our world descending into chaos. Time to buy arable land, seeds, guns, and solar cells, it's the end of the world as we know it, and I see an oppportunity in oil futures. This could be the perfect hook for my cult. Now I just have to get people worked up about it...


CYA from ID theft

Supposedly a corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company, but whether or not that's true a lot of this is great advice. Personally I think 2 is a little sketchy because MasterCard's official policy is that a card without a signature is not valid. I personally have both the sig and check id written on the back of the card.

===Original mail===
1. The next time you order checks have only your initials (instead of first name) and last name put on them. If someone takes your checkbook, they will not know if you sign your checks with just your initials or your first name, but your bank will know how you sign your checks.

2. Do not sign the back of your credit cards. Instead, put "PHOTO ID REQUIRED".

3. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, DO NOT put the complete account number on the "For" line. Instead, just put the last four numbers. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it.

4. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. Never have your SS# printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have it printed, anyone can get it.

5. Place the contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel. Keep the photocopy in a safe place. I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a name, address, Social Security number, credit cards.

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have firsthand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month. Within a week, the thieve(s) ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more. But here's some critical information to limit the damage in case this happens to you or someone you know:

1. We have been told we should cancel our credit cards immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them.

2. File a police report immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation
(if there ever is one).

But here's what is perhaps most important of all : (I never even thought to do this.)

3. Call the 3 national credit reporting organizations immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and Social Security number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the Internet in my name. The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit.

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. There are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away This weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, etc., has been stolen:

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742

3.) Trans Union: 1-800-680-7289

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line): 1-800-269-0271


Smart shoes

USATODAY.com - Adidas puts computer on new footing. That's right robotic (kinda) shoes. Now I'm big on better living though technology, but come on $250 for a shoe that doesn't have gps, any sort of wireless, or lasers...come on. On the plus side it supposedly adapts to your runing style and the terrain to provide dynamic support, but I feel most of us would just benefit from having a lighter shoe, or 3 different types of shoes each specialized for terrain types. Even the top of the line new balance is 20% less expensive

Frank Gehry's natural language watch at fossil

The Fossil Gehry Watch is pretty cool. Using an lcd display sliced a hundred ways to reproduce his handwriting, the watch displays the time using two numbers and his handwritten script for time representations like " 20 till 11," and "half past 10." I've always been big on non-standard time representations like eleeno watches, which can be found at tokyoflash, and a couple others at thinkgeek, but it's nice to see this kind of thing hitting the mainstream. Also worth taking a look at on the fossil site are the stark watches, and the build your own.


Who steals a sportcoat?

So I don't do much in the way of personal posts on this thing, but seriously, who steals a sportcoat in a restaurant!?!?!? I was eating at a mexican restaurant in pza Quiriti on friday night and when I returned to my seat after dancing someone had nicked my sportcoat. It wasn't particularly expensive for a coat ( not cheap either), but this kinda sucks. I don't have a ton of clothes out here, so now sometime this week I have to go out and get a coat of some type...che katso. I guess I'll take it as an excuse to find sometheing a little more unusual. Of course, that leaves me with a whole workweek without adequate clothing...balls.


Why should scientologists have all the fun? or Stop asking questions, and join the fold

How tough could it be to start a religion. As my dad once jokingly said, it's the next step in the economy: products, services, complex services, complex services supersized with an ideology. Before I go any further, I want to be clear that I'm not mocking any real religions here (I am of course mocking scientology, cause man, is that a screwy set of beliefs). Maybe religion is too strong a word, but a cult like organization that people will have some faith in and devote some time and money to is what I'm shooting for. I would of course use it for personal profit, but somewhere in there I'd also try and use it to do some good intelligently. This cult would be very fixated on this life rather than the next, hell maybe I'll call it something lame like the goodlife. Like all good religions there will be some sort of a manifesto that lays out the ethos, but how does one make the transition from club to cult. I guess the first step is the book, then the next step is seed money for spreading the publication like other pamphlet spread religions. I'm also going to need a charismatic or respectable figurehead for my religion, I don't have the ego, nor the ability to pull that off. The basic hook will be along the lines of "want to lead a better life with minimal effort." After the book comes out everything else will have to be worked out.


The Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager

The Baby Name Wizard's NameVoyager. This thing is a great little visualization tool for looking a the popularity of various names at various times in america. And of course, Harsh was not in the top 1000 names of any decade so far which is always a good thing because it's much easier to build a brand with a unique, or at least rare, name.


I am 24

Yes it's true, I am officially a 24 yearold. Now when I go to bars and tell women I'm 25, it's that much less of a lie (I wonder if I can pull off 26?). To celebrate the occasion I bought myself a semi usefull piece of travel gadgetry. The archos gmini 400 a tiny little personal media player with 20 gigs of storage, and 5hrs of movie playtime. I figure with a portable dvd player I'd get half the life and this way I can carry all the media on the device. When I get that tiny new mitsubishi led powered projector my little tiny theater to go will have fully come together.


Social networks

I have so many online community memberships that it's becoming ridiculous friendster, orkut, facebook, meetup, linked-in, I-neighborhoods, dodgeball, tribe, myspace, metails. Most of these communities have their respective foci like mobbing ( dodgeball), regions ( meetup, I-neighborhoods), commerce( metails), college(facebook), and professional networking(linked-in). I initially got started on these because of invitations from friends, and I didn't really do anything with them after that. At some point I realized that, as lazy as I am, these are a great way to keep up with friends. But as I started to hit a critical network size on friendster where I started attracting random friend requests (region switch to italy helped), I began to see real leverage potential. There is a great opportunity here to deliver a message virally and with subtlety, think chain letter or pyramid scheme only with a little more intelligence. All I need now is something to sell and a hook to hype it. The channel is already there, I'd just have to make friends with the right supernodes (people with lots of friends) and recruit them. The obvious and scary thing here is that someone has already thought of this, and is right now applying scientology like recruiting techniques (you think all those actors are scientologists because they think it's cool?) to the people in your social network that you deem to be cool. Why attempt to follow trends when you can make them, espescially when you have complete information about peoples likes dislikes and how they are linked to eachother. The real question is am I comming to this conclusion too late to do anything with it?


When the Sous-Chef Is an Inkjet

The New York Times has a link to something absolutely fascinating. This chef is doing some extremely interesting things with food.


Marc Hirsch, the iterations begin

I received two very good comments to the previous post and one really good comment over IM. Mentioning the project on the blog may have been an error. It instantly cripples the effort because if someone is very taken with him and googles him all falls apart. All considered, for the sake of comedy, I shall continue. I think I actually want to make marc a little more of a compelling charager with different views than my own. Mormon or not this will involve some research; afterall, the last thing I want to do is create a stereotypical caricature. This character should have some depth and be likable. I'm just worried that he will end up being an avatar of my id (trying to avoid this, I was thinkin someone personable and clean living). The "clueless narcissist" (see comment thread for previous post) persona might be good, but it hits a little too close to home, I think I could play the part too well...but maybe that's the point, let's run with that. Maybe marc can be self satire.


Live fps, gps enabled

So I just read an engadget post about the tron bike game being replicated with cellphones and gps, but what about using technology to do this with other games. Like what about a lasertag like game where both people have gps and you can see eachother's location on a near eye display imagine how sweet that would be if you could get a city wide game going where people join one faction or another and the gun is just a highly directional ir laser. I personally would pay a ton of dough for a game like this imagine just walking through a city with a pair of sunglasses on that suddenly bring up a map informing you that someone is within killin distance. There are a ton of variations that could come out of this. Cause man would that would be a cool way to spend a saturday, walking through a dense urban area looking to pick off members of a rival faction.


It's Dr Moreau time (stolen link from slashdot)

Animal-Human Hybrids Spark Controversy Yes folks that's right, human/animal chimeras. Huge potential in terms of research, but the concept of animals raised with human brains is a little disturbing. I mean how would a dog with a human brain behave, what kind of rights would it have, where would you draw the line. If it were drawn on actual cognitive ability would the mentally retarded then lose rights? The creepy dystopian possibilities are endless.

The revolution will not be televised, but will it be streamed, blogged, sms'd, printed on tshirts, and sung by artists with corporate labels?

thanks gil

Media is the message is so 20th century

"The Media is the Message" is overused and dated. The trendy update is Meta vs the Data, but I think I'm going to go with Context vs the content to, ya know, keep it real. The crux is of the conflict is whether you can deliver a piece of information with a different context (last hop to person receiving, such as: tv, radio, not necessarily dependant on the underlying codec/protocol) without altering it's meaning. A speech in a written letter vs an email vs an sms vs radio vs b/w video vs technicolor video vs true color video can have different implicit meanings and connotations. So how do you caputure this essential information and the author's intent when changing the medium of transfer, or even the overall context of delivery? More usefully, how do you exploit this and spin the context to deliver a new message without altering the content at all?


Makin friends with friendster

I've always just used friendster as a lazy way of maintaining relationships with friends, acquantances, and exes. This rome trip I found out that the co-workers I usually hang out with have been pulled off to other projects. Rather than just lament my solitude, or just go to bars and monuments to meet tourists, I have decided to dip into friendster and see if I can use it to make some new friends or at least find some people to grab a drink with. I did a search and turned up about 15 people who may be in Rome (friendster makes it tough to figure out the city in another country) with similar tastes in music and movies. I've sent out about 10 generic introductions, and it'll be interesting to see if I end up with any new friends/acquaintances, or if my messages are discarded as internet sketchiness.

Update: So far I have received responses from 3 people, all girls oddly enough


Readin, Writin, and Readjusting

Back traveling and in good health with a little bit of jet lag granted free time to wander the poorly lit alleys of the mind. Lately I've done a lot less thinking for the sake of thinking, writing (about anything), or liesure reading. So the ole bloggin' thing has fallen somewhat to the wayside but I shall fill in the large gaps of time from The Big Easy to LA along with at least one mroe installment in my book blog (100 nights at the bar).

After reading jim munroe's Everyone in Silico. I am back to thinking about subvertising, mainstream "counter-cultures", and the power of trend drivers, from not only a capitalist, but also an activist socially conscious point of view. Reputation and "goodwill" are more usefull on a large scale than capital alone, but if it were that easy to turn cash into admiration, I wouldn't have to occasionally pretend to be canadian.

Just thought I'd share some sprawling musings to get reacquainted with blogging the little fugitive thoughts that escape the confines of my skull. I'm beginning to see some clear themes reappearing regularly in this blog, and I'm probably gettin repetetive, but you never know, maybe one of these days's I'll start acting on these little tendrils of restlesness that are boring themselves through my brain.

Current auditory fixation: Gomez (concert review may be forthcoming)


iProduct, cause you know you want it

iProduct The newest product announcement for the latest apple fix. This little gem from gizmodo is only funny because it's completely true. Admt it, you know you want it.


First 2005 post

So my blog postings have been sparse at best lately , but when I return to traveling a lot more I'm sure they'll pick up a little. I've now officially gotten the worlds longest leash for work, a blackberry. Now I can be reached at all times in all places I go, well so long as I keep the thing with me. On the upside, I kept my own cellphone to avoid being completely tethered to the office but we'll see how well that works out.