Friday, November 09, 2007

Sandra Oh Slows for Strikers

I've always thought I'd like her. Now I know I would.
Every creative intellectual worker -- writer, actress, programmer and photographer has a stake in this strike.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Greening of Love and...

sex. I thought it had just started when I read Yoga Girl on green-sex a few days ago. This morning, while checking out a custom search engine I'd created, I noticed that google includes an example custom search engine called Green Maven. Naturaly, I had to try it out with a few searches -- sex, lubricant, etc. Check it out. Lots of stuff! sex+green -- how could I have missed it.
Green maven appears to work by simply limiting the sites searched to a known list of green sites. Want in? They provide a page for site submittal, allowing a nice bottom up, if you will pardon the phrase, method to expand their sources.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Spiegle On Line Discoves Slow Cities

Kind of a nice article focused on Orvieto in Umbra, but mentioning other cities in Italy and the spread of the Slow Cities movement around the world.
"The miniscule Tuscan Chianti town of Greve became the first "cittáslow" in 1999, followed by Bra, Positano and Orvieto. Over time, the slowness wave has spread. There are now 42 slow cities in Italy, and more and more cities -- in Great Britain, Spain, Portugal, Austria, Poland and Norway -- conform to the movement's list of strict requirements. In Germany, a number of cities -- including Hersbruck, Lüdinghausen, Schwarzenbruck, Waldkirch and Überlingen -- have joined the select circle, which only admits cities with fewer than 50,000 inhabitants." Spiegle OnLine.
One of these Italian Cities would be great for a Slow Yoga Retreat -- especially Bra because that is where Slow Food started and Greve, because it is so close to Florence and so charming.

Its probably possible to find a place within biking distance of Greve.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Transformation in Architectural Design

An amazing view of relationships between shapes, buildings, design ideas and their transformations.

Pascal Mueller, along with collaboratoters Peter Wonka, Simon Haegler, Andreas Ulmer and Luc Van Gool, is responsible.

Checkout their Procedural Pompeii Reconstruction

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Friday, August 03, 2007

Current TV :: Viewer Created Content

Current TV's web site has a section on producer training. Cool.
  • Production Tips
  • Storytelling :: help from Ira Glass, Xeni Jardin, Sarah Vowell, Orville Schell, Robert Redford and more
  • Journalism :: help from Sean Penn
  • Broadband
  • Gear Selection
  • Shooting
  • Editing

Its not enough to have an interesting life.
You have to have interesting things to say.

--Sarah Vowell

My advice? Start with Sean Penn. Its Penn's focus is more on people who want to break a story on pesticides in Mexico than people who want to produce next generation kayaking videos, but he captures the zeitgeist. I stumbled into this after seeing the Ira Glass's presentation on story telling. Anyone who needs to communicate can benefit from this material on storytelling. Don't miss Sarah Vowell (see above) who nails the importance of editing, not the technique, but the value, the need for obsession.

Dive Deeper

Links are provided to a number of resources I did not even know I was looking for.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Soča River, Soča Front

Poking around the net today I found someone in Ilirsak Bistrica, Slovenia who turned me on to the Soča River. Pretty soon I was reading about the Soča Front, geocaching on the Soča, etc. What a beautiful river. The is in the Julian Alps, which looks like a beautiful place to travel. Who cares if there is wind on the coast for kite surfing? A mountain bike/kayaking/hiking trip in the limestone of the Julian Alps could be great.
Its amazing that I can look forward to a vacation in an area where only 90 years or so ago about 1,000,000 people died during WWI.
I found this photo through an account of action geocaching by a German geocaching club. Check out the page, its full of great stuff.

Out of Control

I'm unhappy with the way I use blogs, etc. in my own work. I'm often asked for advice on how to do this well, so i thought this may be a good chance to use myself as a case study. I must have 15 blogs spread over various servers. this morning i moved them in the direction of a mature portal as an experiment. it is very incomplete. here is what i did this morning:
  • decided to focus on three blogs -- Slow Blog, Haystack, Contours and attempt to give each with a better defined purpose. There is a summary of the role of each at the bottom of Haystack.
  • started using haystack as a place to experiment with blogger features, so it now has a video feed, a poll, atom feeds, google news feeds, etc. as a result it is ugly as sin, but that is just fine. it is a haystack and not intended to be neat.
  • added a feed from haystack, which has a short term and terse outlook to Contours (which attempts to have a broad outlook) . Also Haystack contains a feed from another blogger.
  • avoided adding ad sense support to any of them. Haystack is probably the natural spot.
All this is immature, but i think it will be useful and no software development knowledge was required. i have better places to put things and they are beginning to link together in ways that may be useful. i did find that for providing links to my blogs, html text was far more useful than a simple list.

With a little luck, I'll summarize a list of next steps tomorrow.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Piracy is progressive taxation


In 2002 Tim O'Reilly, publisher of an amazing array of technical titles, published an essay: Piracy is progressive taxation. In it he challenged many assumptions about business models in an internet-based digital world.

The essay is a good example of the reality that 'new' is not necessarily the best as it stands a model of clear thinking on the subject. To whet your appetite:
  1. Obscurity is a far greater threat to authors and creative artists than piracy.
  2. Piracy is progressive taxation.
  3. Customers want to do the right thing, if they can.
  4. Shoplifting is a bigger threat than piracy.
  5. File sharing networks don't threaten book, music, or film publishing. They threaten existing publishers.
  6. "Free" is eventually replaced by a higher-quality paid service.
  7. "There's more than one way to do it."
For those of us who are thinking of writing, publishing, distributing digital content over the next few years, this stuff may be useful. Personally, I'd like to make a video teaching people how to use an SUP (Stand Up Paddle) board to flatten their kite surfing learning curve. This may be a bit out of the mainstream, however.

As a 'worked example' of the problem, consider the problems I encountered writing this post. I could find many great photos on flickr and other photo sites, but the good photos I found were all licensed with "all rights reserved." So, I did not use any of them. However, if they had used, for example the license I use on this blog, I could have used them with attribution. Now there is no way I'm going go through the bother of getting rights or paying for a photo on this blog, but I could have provided free advertising for some photographers. Such a shame.
What was accomplished for the photographer? Not much. I can still point you to the photos I wanted to use.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

I'll see you at Piccino around 8:00

Amazing. I'll be doing something, perhaps even something helpful, at Piccino on the morning of the 4th. Here is what the Chronicle's Carol Ness had to say about Piccino.

Piccino is one of the many places around the bay area benefiting from the Chronicle's coverage of slow, local, quality food.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

camcorders :: direction unknown

For some time I've wanted a camcorder. So many directions; so little knowledge.

Sometimes I want something that is useful for spontaneous, low ceremony use. For that I may really want to have a digital camera, or even phone, which some video capacity. A youtube mentality begs for something simple, cheap, and always available. A short learning curve is also appealing.

A lot can be learned from even a simple photo:

Sometimes I want, or think I want, a pro level camera. Something like $5,000 will get one these days. Perhaps if I spend that much money, I'll spend the time an energy to really learn the thing. Reality check: there is no chance I'll do that. A pro level camera makes no sense unless I want to make some kayaking, kite surfing, paddle boarding, (or yoga?) videos with a commercial intent. That would mean partnering with someone who already is a real video photographer.

That leaves a bunch of cameras in the $1,000 to $3,000 range. Those are probably a good choice once I have done the basic work of developing some storyboards & using a cheap camera to get a feel for what the content -- that is what really counts -- would look like.

Storyboards. Even for something simple like a little video showing people how to:
  1. warm up for a kite session
  2. launch a 2 line trainer
  3. paddle a SUP without a kite
  4. step onto a SUP with a kite
Storyboards are probably worth more effort than countless hours comparing cameras. Here is a plan:
  1. story board a series of 4-5 2-5 min videos for a sequence something like that sketched above.
  2. fly it on youtube
  3. evaluate the response
  4. improve the videos & test them on a couple friends
  5. get a couple local kite surfers and yogis to model
  6. when people use the videos, get a better camera, a real photographer, and offer high and low bandwidth downloads.
  7. think about a serious camera using the learning curve as the chief criteria
I wonder what I should use for entry level storyboarding software?

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Mother, Kites and Title IX

Last Monday a friend wrote about the connection between breathing and a friend's terminal illness. Since breath was central to my involvement in my mother's final 29 hours, I started to collect clips from various notes and letters during mother's last week. That is taking much more time than expected; I did discover that this story does not appear to be in electronic form anywhere.

Five years ago mother became very sick while visiting friends in San Diego. Lisanne and I decided that I should drive down and move her up to UCSF where we could monitor her care carefully. It also seemed like the last chance she and I would have to spend on the coast together & that seemed better than spending time together in a hospital.
She was too sick to do much; a day's activity was pretty much limited to getting from the car to a restaurant for lunch. We had to lean her seat way back because she was too weak to sit upright for long. Still, she got to see some views; we got to chat & reminisce about beaches in Hawaii, the Caribbean, Mexico, and the west coast from BC through Baja.
I knew there was a kite surfing contest at Wadell Creek & with only a minor adjustment to schedule, we were able to pass by during the contest. I expected to stop for a 5, perhaps 10, minutes and move on. Everything about the trip suggested that she was not going to last long -- I was not confident we would get to UCSF. Her voice was flat and dull. There was never any true engagement.
The coast south of Wadell Creek is hilly, but the kites were visable from about 1 mile away. They are amazing. Colorful and moving in a manner that is both liquid and surprising.
All of a sudden mother sat up:
"What is that?"
"Those are the kites I've been telling you about, mother."
"What are they?"
"Lets stop for a minute."

Parking was not easy, but by being a tad rude, I got the car right in the middle of the bluff overlooking the beach, which was full of dazzling kites, not to mention a dazzling assortment of human males and females.

Mother got out and insisted on standing so she could see well for more than 30 minutes. She was struck, as I knew she would be, by the women. Strong. Bold. Fit. Exactly what she had been in her '20s. But then, it was not appreciated. Even when I had been a teenager, she was aware that she had arrived on the planet a bit early.

It turned out to be a great day. She collapsed. Slept well. And, eventually, was able to fly back to the east coast where she lived. Her health remained poor & after a few weeks she was sent back to an ICU. Her partner either was not frank about her condition or did not understand it. So for a few days she was at deaths door & I did not realize it.

She did give me a report later. When she was sent to the hospital she knew they expected her to die, but she did not intend to. For three nights in a row, she would find herself dropping into a dream that was too deep to really be a dream.

[Here it is useful to know that we both had had close calls with death from hypothermia while suffering from serious exhaustion and had discussed the need to force oneself to remain conscious & not give into the cold/sleep many times over the years.]

She explained:
"Blaine, each time I felt myself going too deep, I would see those kites again and remember the people, the beach, the kites against the sky. And then I could wake myself up again, because I knew I needed to see the beach and the kites again. Without them, I'd be dead."
There is much more to this story. How it happened that I did not understand how serious her condition was. Why kites were not enough the last time around. But its still pretty cool. So many of her hopes as a young woman -- world peace, a just society, democracy -- were not realized. But the satisfaction she received by seeing those beautiful kites and a generation of women, a Title IX generation, was profound.

Monday, May 07, 2007

New Leaf

I'm sitting in a slightly sleazy hotel on the beach in Corpus Christi. Still recovering from an unusually intense 3 month development effort & looking forward to a kite surfing session later today.

At the moment, I'm really thinking about Slow Food two associated problems:
  • Can Slow Food's image be changed in the US so that people realize its not just about expensive food for rich people?
  • Can the explosion of interest in yoga be connected to the complex matrix of concerns about globalization, organic agricultural products, sustainability, local food, GOs, the energy crisis, etc.?
A few hours before kite surfing I'd normally be focused on getting ready, etc. However the AIA convention last week has had an impact. Three or four years ago I was pleased when I encountered people in the industry who were concerned about energy and sustainability in their private lives. Now I'm seeing many who see it as the focus of their professional lives. Cool & inspiring.

Friday, April 20, 2007

CSS ZenGarden :: Taken over by squaters?

For years CSS Zen Garden has been my favorite site for showing people the power of CSS. This morning I was about to send a friend a link & discovered it was gone and appeared to have been seized by hackers. Fortunately I was able to find the authors in Wikipedia.
mezzoblue is covering the situation. Soon CSS Zen Garden should be available, but the experience with domain name seizure should encourage everyone who depends upon a domain name to re-think their approach for domain name renewal.

This just in: mezzoblue got things fixed while I was writing this post.

If you have never seen it, check out CSS Zen Garden.

Most people don't quite grasp what they are seeing when they first look at the page. On the right side of the page is a navigation column. Every page has exactly the same content, but CSS is used to alter the style, including positioning.

I know of no other example of the power of layout and typography to create mood, image, branding. Unfortunately many web sites are still based upon older technology or a combination of tables and CSS. Good site design, including design for accessibility, requires more advanced use of CSS, often called CSS-p, where the 'p' suggests 'positioning' through CSS rather than tables.

Note that CSS level 2 was defined 9 years ago. This is a good example of what really happens on the web. It has a reputation for evolving quickly and there is truth to that, but CSS level two was defined in 1998 and did not achieve wide recognition, or even good implementation, until about 3 years ago. Even now some sites are not using it in spite of clear technical superiority and industry acceptance.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

last month on the suunto t3

The Suunto GPS POD employs the Global Positioning System to track speed and distance across a wide variety of outdoor activities including hiking, cycling, cross-country skiing, inline skating and kayaking.

feb 16 2.5
feb 17 3.4

Monday, February 12, 2007

Nina and Fairuz

Today Oreilly Radar had a link to a clip of Nina Simone on YouTube. From there I saw an amazing video which mashes her album coves and some video while playing I Got It Bad (and That Ain't Good). I can't think of one location for such a range of images of Black women -- and its all Nina!
Unfortunately YouTube does not carry a video of Misisssippi Goddamn from the mid-60s, when t was released. Could be that one does not exist.
I Got It Bad was put together by nouhcs52. Checking other videos from the same source brought me to Fairuz: Ya Tayr. I'd forgotten Fairuz existed!