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April 17, 2010

It’s the Great Emu, Charlie Brown

I had pulled this card out for a trade but it didn’t work out. Someone beat me to the punch.

But how can you pull out a card that looks like this and not post it?

You can’t, that’s how.


This Week In Eating Out

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[Photo: Nick Solares]

Bowery-Style Pizza: Nick Solares heads over to Pulino's Bar and Pizzeria in New York to taste the pies that have created a lot of recent hype.

Best of London: In Southeast London, a half-Greek, half-Irish, carpenter and caterer, Yianni Papoutsis, is making amazing street food burgers at The Meatwagon.

Main Lobster: Erin Zimmer takes a trip to Cape Elizabeth, Maine, to sample the fresh lobster roll from the famous Lobster Shack Restaurant at Two Lights.

Chicago Burgers: The Bad Apple is plating high quality, creatively topped burgers and fries that impress.

(Not) Made in Dumbo: Carey Jones samples the menu at Hecho en Dumbo, recently moved to Manhattan from Brooklyn, featuring house-made tortillas and salsas, sopes, tacos, and burritas.

Graffiti and Hip Hop Legend Fab Five Freddy Curates Youtube

On the homepage of YouTube, graffiti and hip hop legend Fab Five Freddy introduces a selection of videos, talks about graffiti, hip hop, and Banksy's film Exit Through The Gift Shop.

Fred sent us this terrific annotation of his favorite videos currently on Youtube:

I was a part of a very cool underground public access TV show in 1979 called Glenn Obrien's TV Party that aired weekly back then. I was a regular guest and one of the show's cameramen. Typically, it was a groovy talk show format but this was a theme show. Bad musically, but a lotta fun. Check Jean Michel Basquiat standing there with a guitar smiling. And he wrote Mock Penis Envy on the wall visible behind Blondie's Chris Stein, also with a guitar and shades on.

This is a mash up video of scenes from my film Wild Style. Some clever guys in Amsterdam did this and I love it.

Here's the my scene from Downtown 81, a film done in that year that stared Jean-Michele Basquiat and is a very good look at that time on the downtown scene in New York City. Lee Quinones, the legendary graff artist, is in the scene with me painting as Jean walks up. Then we go inside and have a 'lil fun.

2 Pac was a friend of mine and here he's free styling during an interview I did with him for YO! in '95.

Wu Tang Clans TV debut on YO! MTV Raps before the world would embrace there raw and clever version of hip hop music.

An encounter I had with George Bush senior a couple of years ago. The fact that he discussed our brief chat with Larry King was impressive.

Here's a scene from the first film/documentary to showcase New York Subway graffiti. "Stations Of The Elevated" released or finished in 1981. Back then I'm sure this film was not seen by to many. I don't recall it ever airing on TV. But these days thanks to digital tech and sites like this, we can see what it was like when nearly
every New York City subway car was touched by graffiti. I love this film!

"One Love" for Nas, off of his first album. Most of my favorite video's had a narrative storyline. This lyrical masterpiece from Nas was like a great script and I shot this entire video in the Queens Bridge housing project where he grew up.

"Talking All That Jazz" is a clip I directed for Stetsasonic which is the first video to deal with the soon to be large issue of sampling. Also, because I grew up in a jaz loving house hold and drummer Max Roach was my godfather, I knew I'd be able to do a good job with this one.

Kool G Rap & Polo, "Road To The Riches", one of the first video's to illustrate the rise & fall of New York City drug dealer.
of 1988.

BLONDIE'S video for the song Rapture was like my coming out party in 1981 and introduced me to a world that really wouldn't know me well until several years later in 1988 when YO! MTV Raps would air weekly coast to coast and in many countries around the world. Click here to view.

The smoke monster hasn't affected trains yet.

April 16, 2010

James Marshall Bookhouse Boy Patch On eBay!

Check it out HERE!!
Also, check out his crew jacket from FWWM HERE!!

Eyjafjallajökull fail

OK, how do YOU pronounce Eyjafjallajökull?

Andy Newman and Bao Ong, "Iceland Volcano Spews Consonants and Vowels", NYT 4/16/2010, offer a selection of attempts by people they asked in the Times Square subway station. For example:

They end with "the lowdown from a native speaker at the Icelandic consulate, who would give only her first name, spelling unknown but pronounced Becca":

Becca's final, hyper-carefully-articulated performance is presented separately here:

Jóhann Heiðar Árnason has contributed a more fluent Ogg Vorbis pronunciation file to Wikipedia. A transcoded .mp3 version is here:

A youtube clip leads with Jóhann's version, and then offers a cavalcade of broadcast news presenters, whose attempts are, well, somewhat more confident than those of the Times Square passers-by:

The Icelanders are having a good laugh about it all:

Mark Memmot, "Can You Say 'Eyjafjallajokull'? Icelandic Volcano's Name Is A Tongue-Twister", NPR 4/16/2010, offer an "AP audio clip of Rognvaldur Olafsson, chief inspector of Iceland's Civil Protection Agency, saying "the Eyjafjallajokull volcano" rather rapidly:

I've attempted to cut out just the volcano name itself in this clip:

(And apparently his name, with the proper diacritics, should be Rögnvaldur Ólafsson.)

The BBC's pronunciation guide entry (AY-uh-fyat-luh-YOE-kuutl (-uh)), and the IPA given in the Wikipedia article ([ˈɛɪjaˌfjatlaˌjœːkʏtl̥]), both seem a bit more enthusiastic about the last vowel than Jóhann and Rögnvaldur were. And I'm skeptical of some of the other vowel transcriptions as well.

Another (apparently native) hyperarticulated (and clipped in recording) pronunciation is here:

(This last one has a distinctly different (backer) third vowel than the others.)

Those of you with IPA skillz, how would you render the native pronunciations given in this post?

And another question. In English, we don't generally try to imitate exactly the native pronunciation of foreign proper names, any more than speakers of other languages do for their own borrowings. But especially for unfamiliar names, where there isn't a traditional anglicization, we generally make a sort of half-way attempt. What should the attempt be for Eyjafjallajökull?

[See here for some further (and more serious) discussion by David Shaw, who gives this account of the morphological decomposition:

Eyja is the genitive of ey - meaning 'island'. It's actually the same word as the 'is' in our word island, which explains why the 's' is silent (it comes an erroneous spelling modification in the 15th century). But ey=island is very familiar to us from the names of many an island, like Anglesey (Englishman's island), Sheppey (sheep's island) or Islay (island's island!), also the famous 'new-born' island of Surtsey, just off the south coast of Iceland.

fjalla is the genitive of 'fjöll' (they love their umlauts, those Icelanders) - meaning mountain - and is closely related to the Yorkshire word for mountain/hill - fell. Non-Yorkshire souls (do people from outside 'God's own county' have souls?) might have heard of the outdoor pursuits of 'fell walking' and 'fell running' (insofar as they've heard of anything from Yorkshire that isn't pudding or terriers).

jökull - meaing glacier - is the diminutive (!) form of an Old Norse word meaning 'piece of ice', but, etymologically speaking, it is the same as the 'icle' part of our word icicle, which it still sounds a bit like.

David's suggested anglicization: Eh-ya-fyat-la-yuh-cuttle.

Erlendur in the comments offers this correction: "Eyja is in fact the genitive of eyjar - the plural of ey, so it means islands. Fjalla is indeed the genitive of fjöll, however it means mountains as fjöll is the plural form of fjall." So I guess Eyjafjallajökull means "glacier of the island mountains"? ]

[For some Eyjafjallajökull volcano science,follow the link.]

[As to where those pre-stopped laterals come from, see Pétur Helgason, "Phonetic Variation as a Source of Historical Sound Change: Examples From a Data Base":

In analysing spontaneous speech data from a female speaker of Central Standard Swedish, I have encountered two phonetic processes that are reminiscent of historical sound change in Icelandic. First, this informant frequently preaspirates her unvoiced stops, which in Icelandic is phonologically obligatory. Second, in her speech there are frequent occurrences of emergent [d] between vowels and laterals (i.e. pre-stopped laterals), a fact which bears a striking resemblance to the historical change ll > dl in 16th century Icelandic (the timing is debatable, though). These facts strongly suggest that sound changes where preaspiration arises and [d] emerges between a vowel and a lateral have their roots in the detailed phonetic variation of online speech.

But these variations must be tendencies that are somehow in the cultural DNA of Scandinavian languages, since I've never seen such things in English or any of the other languages I've worked on. ]

New look for Haughey.com

I never know what to do with my vanity domain haughey.com ever since I moved my blog to this address in 2001. This week I scraped the old list of links to my work and updated it as a portfolio of the projects that currently take up my time. 

This was another quick project I sent over to HTML Rockstars, and kudos to them for turning my mockup into HTML reality in just a few days. I suppose the only thing lacking is bio or contact info, but I guess you can easily find that online elsewhere.

Very Recent History: Moved MOVE Story Moves Story

These things happenOh, thank God. Poor Wilson Goode almost had the world's worst flashback.

Say it ain't so!

Research conducted by Dr. Gwen Robbins, an assistant professor of biological anthropology at Appalachian State University, finds there is no evidence of cannibalism among the 84 members of the Donner Party who were trapped by a snowstorm in the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the mid-1840s.

via www.news.appstate.edu

They did, however, eat their dog.

1993 Steve Jobs inverview about Paul Rand

Rand designed the NeXT logo for Jobs.

Tags: design   interviews   NeXT   Paul Rand   Steve Jobs   video

How to Order Wine Without Looking Like an Idiot

"The goal is to aerate the wine a bit—not to slosh it around and show off."

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[Flickr: krakatoa]

No one likes to feel like a dope when staring down a wine list. So here's a cheat sheet on how to avoid embarrassment, culled from the collective wisdom of sommeliers and other wine professionals.

Before the Restaurant

1. If you're really worried about looking like an idiot, plan ahead. Most restaurants post their menus and wine lists online, and even if they don't, you can call the day before and ask for advice. If you're really concerned about screwing up, pre-order right then and there on the phone. Very few people know this is even an option.

When Ordering

2. It's OK to mention a price range. Really. You don't have to be a big shot and demand the priciest thing on the wine list. (This particular wisdom is courtesy of Derek Todd, owner of artisanal shop Wine Geeks in Armonk, New York, and former wine director at Blue Hills at Stone Barns—which has some pretty pricey bottles of vino). It's perfectly acceptable to say, "I'd like to spend $75 and I'd like a Cabernet." If you're shy, just point to a bottle on the menu and say you'd like something similar. The server will get the message.

3. Bring it all back to the food "Context is all," Evan Spingarn, the fabulously opinionated wine director at New York's Tangled Vine, warned me. "The $100 Cabernet that was life-affirming on Tuesday night at the steakhouse may be appallingly bad at the beach with clam rolls on Saturday. Therefore, ordering wine by price, scores, or familiar names is never as successful as selecting by what you plan to eat with it."

4. And be specific. "Never, EVER, walk into a wine store or restaurant and ask for '...a nice, dry red wine,'" Spingarn scolds. "It's the same as walking into a grocery store and saying: 'Excuse me, do you have any FOOD?'" In other words, it's too general, too open-ended. Be as specific as you can. The more info you can provide a sommelier or wine merchant, the better that person can help you find something great to drink.

Once the Wine Arrives

5. Don't sniff the cork It won't tell you much, and you'll look like a pretentious jerk. However, if you've ordered an older vintage, it's acceptable to pick up and look at the cork for possible signs of damage that might impact the wine's quality.

6. Swirl the wine a couple of seconds. Not longer. The goal is to aerate the wine a bit—not to slosh it around and show off. Didn't anyone tell you not to play with your food?

7. You can't send back a wine just because you don't like it. It's only OK to return wine if you're certain it's spoiled. (If you don't know how to tell, Wine.com has a good, straightforward guide to spotting wine that has gone bad.

8. Don't be afraid to order more than one wine. That can mean a couple of bottles for the table, or a couple of glasses for yourself. "Particularly in restaurants that have substantial by-the-glass programs," says Spingarn, "it's fun and cost-effective to order a glass of sparkling wine or white to start a meal, split a bottle of red (or whatever you prefer with the food) for your entree, and finish off with a little something sweet or fortified for dessert."

Do you agree/disagree with these tips? Have a tip of your own or a great resource to share? Please share your pearls of wisdom

About the author: Kara Newman has written about wine and spirits for such publications as Wine Enthusiast and Sommelier Journal magazines, and is the author of Spice & Ice, which explores 60 tongue-tingling cocktails.

Old New York photographed in color

Culled primarily from the Charles W. Cushman collection, a selection of color photographs of NYC taken in the 40s, 50s, and 60s: Downtown 1941, Downtown 1960, Lower East Side, and Miscellaneous. Here's a shot of Canal St in 1942 (with cobblestones!):

Canal St 1942

Does anyone know which corner this is? (Here's another view.) I poked around on Google Maps for a bit trying to find it, but I fear that building is long gone...Canal St, particularly the western part, is much changed since the 1940s.

Tags: NYC   photography

Eyjafjallajökull

There are satellite images of the ash clouds thrown up by the eruption of the volcano under Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull glacier; the one above, captured by NASA's Terra satellite on Wednesday, shows the ash plume following a straight line from the glacier to the Faroe and Shetland Islands. Here's an...

The Food Lab: What's the Point of a Vinaigrette?

It's time for another round of The Food Lab. Got a suggestion for an upcoming topic? Email Kenji here, and he'll do his best to answer your queries in a future post. Become a fan of The Food Lab on Facebook for play-by-plays on future kitchen tests and recipe experiments.

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A salad, well-dressed. [Photographs: J. Kenji Lopez-Alt]

Three Great Vinaigrettes

Tired of seeing your salad naked?
Here're some recipes to dress it up! »

Without even realizing it, "The Food Lab," has really started to become "The Meat Lab," which is unfortunate, because I love vegetables (particularly spring vegetables—hello ramps!) even more than I love meat.

This week, we're going to remedy that by taking a look at the lowly salad, if only for the sake of my poor wife's waistline (I still love you dear).

For me, the big question about vinaigrettes has never really been "how?" but "why?"

Is emulsifying the oil and acid really necessary? Does adding the olive oil and the vinegar to the salad bowl individually really make for an inferior salad? Could every red-sauce Italian joint that serves salad with a side of oil and vinegar be wrong?

Well, stranger things have been true. I decided that a bit of hard-core kitchen work was in order.

Vinaigrette: Defined

My semi-busted edition of Larousse Gastronomique defines "vinaigrette" as:

a cold sauce or dressing made from a mixture of vinegar, oil, pepper, and salt, to which various flavorings may be added.

That's a starting point, but I think for most practical definitions, a vinaigrette must also be wholly or at least partially emulsified.

What exactly is an emulsion? At its most basic, it's what you get when you force two things that don't easily mix to form a homogeneous mixture. In cooking, this most often occurs with oil and water (and for all intents and purposes, vinegar or lemon juice can be considered water, as it behaves in the same way). Put them in a container together, stir them up, and eventually, like cats and dogs, they will separate and stick with their own kind.

There are a couple of ways around this.

The first is to disperse one of the two—the oil, say—into fine enough droplets that water can completely surround it. Kind of like putting a single cat inside a ring of dogs—there's no way for it to escape and rejoin its fellow feline friends. A common example of this kind of emulsion is homogenized milk, in which whole milk is forced at high pressure through a fine screen, breaking up its fat molecules into individual droplets that are suspended in the watery whey.

An easier way to form an emulsion is to add an emulsifying agent known as a surfactant.

Remember that cartoon CatDog? The one with the head of a cat on one side and the head of a dog on the other? Well, CatDog was kind of like a surfactant: he's got something that's attractive to both cats and dogs, which makes him a kind of feline-canine ambassador, allowing them to mix together a little more easily.

Culinary surfactants are molecules that contain one end that is attractive to water (hydrophilic), and one that is attractive to oil (hydrophobic). Common kitchen surfactants include egg yolks, mustard, and honey.

It's easy to see the work of a surfactant in action.

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The container on the left contains oil and balsamic vinegar mixed in a ratio of 3:1. The container on the right has the same ingredients, with the addition of a small amount of dijon mustard. Both containers were sealed and shaken vigorously until they looked homogeneous. I then allowed them to rest at room temperature for 5 minutes. As you can see, the container without the mustard separated much more rapidly than the container with mustard.

At this point, you're probably thinking what I'm thinking: this is all very neat, but what difference does it make to my salad?

Good question.

Oil Slicks

My next order of business was to examine what happens when vinegar and oil are added to greens. I'd always been under the impression (and I'm not the only one) that a dressed salad eventually wilts because the acid in the vinegar attacks the leaves.

To test this theory, I dressed half an ounce of fresh salad greens with 1 teaspoon of distilled white vinegar (5% acetic acid), another half ounce with plain water (as a control), and a third half ounce of leaves with olive oil, then let them sit at room temperature for ten minutes.

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Surprise! Turns out that vinegar is not the culprit at all.

The greens dressed with plain oil wilted significantly faster than those dressed in vinegar. In fact, the vinegar-coated greens fared pretty much just as well as those dressed in water!

20100416-vinaigrettes-07.jpgThe truth is that salad greens, like any leaf, spend their time exposed to the elements, and as such, need to protect themselves from the rain. They do this via a thin, waxy cuticle. It's like a little built-in raincoat for the leaf. On the other hand, this oily cuticle makes it very easy for the olive oil to penetrate the spaces between cells (dogs and dogs stick together, remember), causing damage to the leaf.

As a further test, I then dressed another batch of salad greens in a vinaigrette that I constructed without any surfactant (i.e. oil and vinegar, mixed as well as I could manage). I took an up-close-and-personal look at the results, and what I saw was this (above, right): drops of vinegar suspended above the surface of the leaf by larger drops of oil, like little blobs sitting in bean bag chairs. Lifting the leaf up between my fingers prompted a cascade of vinegar to tumble back into the bowl, while the oil continued to cling tenaciously to its surface.

A ha, I thought. This must be the key.

20100416-vinaigrettes-06.jpgI set up one last experiment, this time dressing two 1-ounce portions of salad side-by-side. The first was dressed with a homogenized mixture of 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon dijon mustard. The second was dressed with the same mixture, minus the mustard. After tossing the greens, I immediately placed them inside funnels, which I set over a couple of small glasses in order to catch any drippings.

Almost immediately, the non-mustardy batch on the right started dripping a steady trickle of vinegar into the cup, while the well-emulsified dressing on the left staid firmly in place.

After only ten minutes, the right cup had nearly a full teaspoon of vinegar collected in its bottom—almost the entire amount that I had put on the salad in the first place—and was starting to drip a few drops of oil as well. The cup on the left had shed at most a dozen drops.

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Moral? Unless you emulsify your vinaigrette, you end up with a pile of leaves dressed in oil, and a pool of vinegar at the bottom of the salad bowl, completely destroying the flavor of the sauce. An emulsified vinaigrette however, uses the power of surfactants to help both oil and vinegar cling tightly to the leaves. Balanced flavor in every mouthful.

Looking at the greens themselves was even more revealing.

The salad dressed in the badly emulsified vinaigrette showed definite signs of wilting, while the salad dressed in the proper vinaigrette was still crisp and fresh-tasting. Apparently, straight-up oil is much more damaging to leaves than an oil-vinegar mixture.

Obsessive-Emulsive

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The last few questions that still needed answering: ratio, the best surfactant for the job, and mixing method.

For ratio, the classic proved to be best: two to three parts oil to one part vinegar. It forms the strongest emulsion. If you'd like your vinaigrette less acidic, you can replace part of the vinegar with straight water and get equally stable results.

Mustard is the most common surfactant, and it works best when you have at least 1 teaspoon per tablespoon of vinegar (you can add more if you'd like). Mayonnaise works even better, easily forming a creamy sauce, though it lacks the pleasant tang of mustard. For a sweeter dressing (say, on a beet salad or an asparagus salad), honey also works very well. Try adding honey and toasted crushed nuts to a basic vinaigrette. It rocks in more ways than one.

As for mixing? Some advocate slowly whisking in the oil. Others shake it up in a jam jar. Still others insist on the blender.

Well, after testing, I found that not surprisingly, a blender will give you the tightest emulsion (I made a blended vinaigrettes that stayed emulsified for a whole week), while the shake-it-in-a-jar version will be the weakest, lasting around 30 minutes or so.

But the truth of the matter is: your vinaigrette only needs to stay stable for the length of time it takes you to eat a salad. So if it takes you a week to eat a salad,* then by all means, whip out the blender.

*The only situation I can imagine this happening is if my mom had served us more salads when we were kids. She had a no-leaving-the-table-until-you've-finished-and-I-don't-care-how-long-it-takes-or-even-if-you-vomit policy.

Personally, I put the ingredients for my vinaigrette into a 1-pint squeeze bottle in the fridge and shake it up right before I use it. Or, as is more often the case, take it out of the fridge, realize that once again my wife has finished off all but the last drop and replaced the bottle, hoping I'd notice and make more. Of course, I always do, but one of these days, I'm going to leave out the mustard, just out of spite.

We'll see how much you like your soggy salad then, dear...

Continue here for Three Great Vinaigrettes »

About the author: After graduating from MIT, J. Kenji Lopez-Alt spent many years as a chef, recipe developer, writer, and editor in Boston. He now lives in New York with his wife, where he runs a private chef business, KA Cuisine, and co-writes the blog GoodEater.org about sustainable food enjoyment.

Gastro Chic's DIY Breakfast Pizza

From Slice

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[Photograph: Gastro Chic]

It's not like it's that difficult to do, but don't the results look great? Gastro Chic posts a photo of and recipe for turning your leftover slice of wood-fired pizza into "breakfast pizza."

Now, are you sure you just wanna eat it cold the next day?

Pound the Pavement #11

Josh MacPhee Pound the Pavement #11 $16 Here's issue #11 of Pound the Pavement. I've been working on this one for ten years, and just now have pulled all the pieces together. It's a FULL COLOR BOOK of graffiti on box trucks. 100 photos I've taken of mobile graffiti from 10 different cities between 1997 and 2007 (the bulk from NYC and SF). Finally done after all these years, this thing was expensive to print, but it's great to get it out of my system and into the world. Enjoy. 102 full color pages hand cut out cover 6.75"x3.5" stamped edition of 75 04ptp11_400.jpg

April 15, 2010

On the Double Encore acquisition of Massively Overrated

Better Elevation: “So how did I go about deciding I wanted to make iPhone apps, getting acquired, and becoming an executive at an award-winning iPhone development company?”

I admit to loving this story. Includes an Important Life Lesson.

blog all kindle-clipped locations part I

Matt Jones took my old "blog all dog-eared pages" habit and adapted it for the Amazon Kindle, resulting in the less-than-satisfying name "blog all Kindle-clipped locations" after the Kindle's internal position marker. Even this is a problematic name, since much of my reading on the device is mediated through Instapaper, whose new delivery mechanism augments a single document collection with new reading material. position is discarded as new material arrives.

Still, I continue to be happy with the Kindle's place in my life, in a way that the iPad seemingly hasn't captured. Amazon's device is calm, thin, and light where Apple's is bright, fat, and heavy. It actually surprised me what a slug it was, even though I still remember seeing a 16 pound "Macintosh Portable" from the pre-Powerbook days of high school. I like its passive role as a simple reading tablet, and the way that not having a touch screen means not having a touched screen. Although Instapaper is probably available for iPad, I like that it's not a proper application for the Kindle, but rather just a way of shooting bookmarked articles to myself when I occasionally switch on the network for more articles to read.

The thing is that there have been a lot of articles - the clippings here are selections from almost four months of reading. That's too much to collect without archiving somehow, so what follows is a bit of a slag heap. I'm breaking it up into three separate blog posts (parts II and III).

The Sources Of Soviet Conduct

First up are a few excerpts from George Kennan's 1946 The Sources Of Soviet Conduct, an adaptation of his famous Long Telegram. This essay was an influential, seminal work in the Cold War.

On aggressive intransigence:

It is an undeniable privilege of every man to prove himself right in the thesis that the world is his enemy; for if he reiterates it frequently enough and makes it the background of his conduct he is bound eventually to be right.

On the core concept of antagonism and mistrust in Soviet ideology:

The first of these concepts is that of the innate antagonism between capitalism and Socialism. We have seen how deeply that concept has become imbedded in foundations of Soviet power. It has profound implications for Russia's conduct as a member of international society. It means that there can never be on Moscow's side an sincere assumption of a community of aims between the Soviet Union and powers which are regarded as capitalist. It must inevitably be assumed in Moscow that the aims of the capitalist world are antagonistic to the Soviet regime, and therefore to the interests of the peoples it controls. If the Soviet government occasionally sets it signature to documents which would indicate the contrary, this is to regarded as a tactical maneuver permissible in dealing with the enemy (who is without honor) and should be taken in the spirit of caveat emptor. Basically, the antagonism remains. It is postulated. And from it flow many of the phenomena which we find disturbing in the Kremlin's conduct of foreign policy: the secretiveness, the lack of frankness, the duplicity, the wary suspiciousness, and the basic unfriendliness of purpose. These phenomena are there to stay, for the foreseeable future.

On the unending patience in Soviet tactics:

Its political action is a fluid stream which moves constantly, wherever it is permitted to move, toward a given goal. Its main concern is to make sure that it has filled every nook and cranny available to it in the basin of world power. But if it finds unassailable barriers in its path, it accepts these philosophically and accommodates itself to them. The main thing is that there should always be pressure, unceasing constant pressure, toward the desired goal. There is no trace of any feeling in Soviet psychology that that goal must be reached at any given time.

Questioning Capitalist Realism

I've linked to the writings of K-Punk, a.k.a. Mark Fisher, many times in the past, mostly his writings on music and the "hardcore continuum". Mark is where I first heard of Zomby, who made it to my 2009 oft-played tracks (I'm not sure what it says that I get my cutting edge music from an academic). In an interview with Fisher about his book, Matthew Fuller asks about the division of responsibility between the state and the individual. I like Mark's idea of the "privatization of stress", which seems doubly relevant in the aftermath of a nationwide healthcare debate:

The privatization of stress is central to capitalist realism. If they are "stressed", workers in overloaded institutions are encouraged, not to complain about their workload, but to engage in the kind of performance auditing activities which contributed to their distress in the first place. The question is no longer, "how did work cause you to be unwell?", but "what about you made you unable to do your job properly?" An individual-therapeutic model of stress deflects any structural account of how the stress arose.

Multicultural Critical Theory. At B-School?

Just this sentence, really:

Mr. Saloner says Stanford wants its business students to develop "a lens that brings some kind of principled set of scales to the problem." In other words, he says, students need to learn to ask themselves, "In whose interest am I making the decision?"

The Art of War

Eyal Weizman's 2006 article about IDF urban warfare tactics turned on my full range of Greenfield/Slavin receptors. Mostly, though, it made me incredibly angry. On the one hand, the application of critical theory to warfare is superficially interesting. On the other, it's repulsive in its excuse-making for the forcible takedown of the public/private boundary, and insulting in its implication that an understanding of decostruction is necessary to hammer through walls. A lot of this is just basic reaction to facts-on-the-ground and convenient forgetting of the Geneva Conventions.

To begin with, soldiers assemble behind the wall and then, using explosives, drills or hammers, they break a hole large enough to pass through. Stun grenades are then sometimes thrown, or a few random shots fired into what is usually a private living-room occupied by unsuspecting civilians. When the soldiers have passed through the wall, the occupants are locked inside one of the rooms, where they are made to remain - sometimes for several days - until the operation is concluded, often without water, toilet, food or medicine. Civilians in Palestine, as in Iraq, have experienced the unexpected penetration of war into the private domain of the home as the most profound form of trauma and humiliation.

I still struggle a bit with this article. I'm fascinated by the idea that different professions see reality as a different set of affordances, but at some point this just devolves into a game of dressing up destruction and abuse.

I then asked him, why not Derrida and Deconstruction? He answered, "Derrida may be a little too opaque for our crowd. We share more with architects; we combine theory and practice. We can read, but we know as well how to build and destroy, and sometimes kill."

The conscription of Gordon Matta-Clark here is a bridge too far. "Un-walling", really?

Future military attacks on urban terrain will increasingly be dedicated to the use of technologies developed for the purpose of "un-walling the wall", to borrow a term from Gordon Matta-Clark. This is the new soldier/architect's response to the logic of "smart bombs". The latter have paradoxically resulted in higher numbers of civilian casualties simply because the illusion of precision gives the military-political complex the necessary justification to use explosives in civilian environments.

A sort of justification:

When the military talks theory to itself, it seems to be about changing its organizational structure and hierarchies. When it invokes theory in communications with the public - in lectures, broadcasts and publications - it seems to be about projecting an image of a civilized and sophisticated military. And when the military "talks" (as every military does) to the enemy, theory could be understood as a particularly intimidating weapon of "shock and awe", the message being: "You will never even understand that which kills you."

Continued in part II...

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Topspin @ Coachella ella ella

Coachella by Mick O
[Coachella photo by Mick O]

Going to Coachella this weekend? A few of us are, too. If you’d like to meet up, hit us with an @reply on Twitter: @iancr, @stnic, @bradbarrish, @jantopspin, and @missdubs.

See you out there!

ian c rogers
Topspin

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My first (and probably last) post about a designer

Wow, Amazon failed twice on this page.

 Breakdown

This is what the cover really looks like.

Eyeballs Still Don’t Pay the Bills

David Heinemeier Hansson on Ning’s layoffs:

Are you kidding me? The company has blown through $120M of VC funding over six years, built up massive traffic, yet just had to slash and burn, and you’re saying that “traffic growth is no longer good enough”. How the hell was it ever good enough?

Reminds me of First Citiwide Change Bank’s business model.

Tonight, volcanic sunsets over Europe

Ash sky.

Volcanic Ash Sunset

Volcanic sunset    Sunset 1

Sunset with volcanic dust

IMG_3693

To see more photos from the amazing sunsets over Europe because of the ash in the air, try an advanced search for volcanic sunset and limit the date to ‘Posted after April 14′.

Photos from Paul Sproat, Patrick Hoff, HoBo1921, jelmerdam, BraCom, Mark Brocklehurst, and Liesje.


Fidel Castro playing baseball

False: Fidel Castro was recruited to play professional baseball in the United States. True: after taking over Cuba in 1959, Castro played in a few exhibition games with his fellow revolutionaries.

Cubans know that Fidel Castro was no ballplayer, though he dressed himself in the uniform of a spurious, tongue-in-cheek team called Barbudos (Bearded Ones) after he came to power in 1959 and played a few exhibition games. There was no doubt then about his making any team in Cuba. Given a whole country to toy with, Fidel Castro realized the dream of most middle-aged Cuban men by pulling on a uniform and "playing" a few innings.

Here's Fidel pitching in one of those games:

Fidel Castro pitching

Here's more information about Fidel's baseball career. (via slate)

Tags: baseball   Fidel Castro   sports

Why Every Nursing Mother Should Have an iPad

iPad NursingI have tweeted about it and proclaimed to many friends, “Every nursing Mother should have an iPad.” I said this before I even touched one, but confirmed my theory when I played with a friend’s iPad for 2 hours and then purchased my own yesterday.

I had a beautiful baby boy 6 weeks ago, and as much as I adore him, nursing him every couple of hours for up to an hour can be damn boring when I don’t have something to keep me occupied. I am a full on computer geek and when I’m sitting on the couch I keep thinking of all the things I want to do: reply to emails, research on various projects, work on my script for ScriptFrenzy, read the news! I have tried to balance my laptop on my knee or beside me when feeding my little man child, but typing on a keyboard with one hand is very challenging – even scrolling with the track pad is hard. I try to read books but keeping them open and turning the page with one hand is awkward and I usually give up.

iPadAbout a week ago my friend Xeni asked if I wanted to check out the iPad and I said “Hellz Yes!” As soon as I held it in my hands I knew it was going to bring me great joy and reduce my frustration and boredom. I played with it for a couple of hours and without a doubt knew I had to have one. It took me until yesterday to make a purchase because I was considering the 3G, but opted for the 64GB wifi.

The iPad (or ScyFyPad as I like to call it) has already improved my outlook on life which admittedly was full of frustration. When I was feeding Ripley last night, Sean wanted to watch Spartacus which I already saw and I wanted to watch Lost. I opened up the ABC app and watched the show. It was so easy to just put the iPad on a pillow beside me and move it when I had to change boobs.

At about 4AM when I was feeding, I reached for my lovely iPad gizmo from the nightstand where it was easily placed on top of my books, and I read some tweets and my RSS feeds. It also served as a sort of nightlight so I could see what I was doing.

iPad Cat In the HatThis morning when it was time to read to Ripley, I opened up the Dr. Seuss “Cat In The Hat” app and I read the story to him and played with the interactive elements. He’s going to know how to say and spell “fish” and “house” in no time!

I absolutely love the iPad, I truly believe it’s going to help me feel connected to the world. My only complaints are that it didn’t come with a cleaning cloth as it definitely needs a good wipe already and no case. I feel a tad uncomfortable without some protection for it – I hope that it’s puke proof!

iPad Ripley

Kitties Make the Best iPad Stands

In keeping with the feline theme we currently have going here at Maclife.com, we thought we'd share this little tidbit from OS X Daily. Earlier this week, a few readers sent the popular Mac tips and tricks blog their own renditions of clever iPad stands.



Veronica Belmont and her kitty.



Yes, they're cats. And since kitties tend to love to snuggle up on our laps, they do make the very best iPad stands.

Via OS X Daily


More iPhone PL lockdown... Goodbye Scratch!

If the general idea wasn't enough to make you mad, or if you wrote it off as being purely an Apple/Adobe spat, this ought to cut a bit closer to LtU's heart...

Apple removes Scratch from iPad/iPhone/iTouch.

My wife has taught a couple of classes using Scratch with young kids, and to see the pride they feel at their creations is a marvelous thing. I think restricting their ability to share that feeling is really reprehensible. And the damage done to the programmers of tomorrow? Hard to say...

(Apologies for this being on the front page twice now, but I think this really deserves a post of its own...)

Time Traveler Caught in Museum Photo?

Viajante do tempo?

“Reopening of the South Fork Bridge after flood in Nov. 1940. 1941 (?)”

It’s the short description for the photograph shown at the virtual Bralorne Pioneer Museum, from British Columbia, Canada. The image can be seen specifically on this page (scroll down to the middle), among other items of the online exhibit. Did you notice anything out of place? Or perhaps, out of time?

The man with what appears to be very modern sunglasses seems to be wearing a stamped T-shirt with a nice sweater, all the while holding a portable compact camera!

Internet people reached to the obvious conclusion: it’s a time traveller caught on camera on 1940! Finally, we have proof!

If the story seems straight out of a movie and the photo is in itself a great funny find, the most amusing thing i came up with while looking into this – as an Internet person, on the Internet – was the reply for a skeptical, or perhaps somewhat cynical comment on how spurious it would seem the idea that a time traveler would want to visit the reopening of a bridge in some small town in Canada.

Read this on Doc Brown’s voice: “Of course, because we know nothing happened there right? But if we are considering time travel, how can we know if in some other timeline something historical happened right there?”

Indeed! Once you consider time travel, everything changes. But before writing Hollywood scripts, let’s get back to reality and ask again: is the photo evidence of a time traveller?

The source

As noted, the image is indeed available through the official website for Canada’s museums. It was part of the exhibit “Their Past Lives Here” from Bralorne-Pioneer, available to the public since 2004. It was put online since February this year, perhaps before that. And the peculiar “time traveller” image was only noted as such in the end of March, when it was linked on main websites such as Above Top Secret and FARK.

Given the source, we would assume the photo is authentic, and correctly dated to c.1940. Indeed, an Error Level Analysis suggests the image was not digitally tampered with, or at least that if it was, the author was smart enough to normalize the error across the whole thing.  It’s a good job, if it was a job. And again, given the source, we would assume it was not a job.

So, how do we explain the man out of time?

viajantes 

Not quite out of time

As members of the ATS, like “Outkast Searcher”, diligently noted, despite looking very modern the man’s outfit and even glasses and camera could be found in the 1940s. Below, similar sunglasses used by actress Barbara Stanwyck on the movie “Double Indemnity” (1944):

annex-stanwyck-barbara-double-indemnity_02

The outfit could also be found 70 years ago. Being used as we are to our contemporary fashion, we look at the man and assume he’s wearing a stamped T-shirt, something that would be indeed out of place (or time). But if you look carefully, you can see that he’s actually wearing (or could as well be wearing) a sweatshirt. And sweatshirts with bordered emblems were not uncommon in the 1940s – in fact you can find those in other photos from the same exhibit.

11189

The sweater he also uses seems to be hand knitted, with buttons on the front. Something that was definitely available at the time, if he had some kind grandma perhaps.

Finally, despite some comments about the camera lens being too big for the time, too compact, it looks like a Kodak Folding Pocket model, available since the beginning of the 20th century.

kodak folding

That is: even taking this photo for granted, as depicting an authentic scene, a real man with his curious glasses and outfit in Canada 70 years ago, there’s nothing that can be seen that is actually out of place or time. He looks different from other people, but it has already been suggested that he’s using welding goggles and a glove.

This is not much of a proof of time travel, and more like evidence of the cyclic nature of fashion. These days, even a beggar can be mistaken for a trendy fashion model. Keep reading for more into this and other time travel stories.


Read on: Time Traveler Caught in Museum Photo? (717 words)


© forgetomori 2010. | Permalink


How I Did It: Jerry Murrell, Five Guys Burgers and Fries

From Inc:

The magic to our hamburgers is quality control. We toast our buns on a grill — a bun toaster is faster, cheaper, and toasts more evenly, but it doesn’t give you that caramelized taste. Our beef is 80 percent lean, never frozen, and our plants are so clean, you could eat off the floor. The burgers are made to order — you can choose from 17 toppings. That’s why we can’t do drive-throughs — it takes too long. We had a sign: “If you’re in a hurry, there are a lot of really good hamburger places within a short distance from here.” People thought I was nuts. But the customers appreciated it.



You scratch my back...

Re: the news that new director Jeffrey Deitch's first MOCA show will be a Julian Schnabel-curated Dennis Hopper retrospective, Man Bartlett suggests you view this. Go ahead and fast-forward to 1:47 or so. (That's a first-show that may tell us a lot about the MOCA we can expect under Deitch, eh?)

Tim Wendelboe’s Recommended Coffee Bars Around the World


Vis Recommended coffee bars around the world i et større kart
Tim Wendelboe has created a curated list of cafes around the world that he recommends. If you do a lot of traveling, I recommend bookmarking this map.

Related posts:

  1. His mission is to visit all Starbucks shops in the world
  2. Coffee Chronicles: Coffee's History In America, A Short Primer | Serious Eats : New York
  3. New York's best coffee and cafes: baristas worth every bean

Errol Morris on Stupidity

Errol Morris:

My definition of a stupid person. A stupid person is a person who treats a smart person as though they’re stupid.

See also: the Dunning-Kruger Effect.

The New England Chowder Compendium

Chowder

Image: Beatrice McIntosh Cookery Collection

As if you needed yet another reason that libraries are the best: the library at the University of Massachusetts has created the world's only New England Chowder Compendium. The online collection consists of chowder recipes, pictures and ads from the 1870s to the 1970s, and exists to "to investigate the hows and whys of chowder's rise to its place as an essential part of New England regional cuisine."

The most interesting part of the collection is ogling all of the old recipes; the best we saw is for a "diet" chowder — from the 70s, of course — that consists of clams, skim milk, onion powder, Oleo, and most likely a microwave. Who wants chowder?

Rachael Oehring

Iceland's disruptive volcano

Today, British civil aviation authorities ordered the country's airspace closed as of noon, due to a cloud of ash drifting from the erupting Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland. The volcano has erupted for the second time in less than a month, melting ice, shooting smoke and steam into the air and forcing hundreds of people to flee rising floodwaters. The volcanic ash has forced the cancellation of many flights and disrupted air traffic across northern Europe, stranding thousands of passengers. Collected here are photos of the most recent eruption, and of last month's eruptions, which were from the same volcano, just several miles further east. (18 photos total)

Smoke billows from an erupting volcano which seems to be close to the top of the Eyjafjalla glacier on April 14, 2010 near Reykjavik. All London flights, including those from Heathrow, will be suspended from noon (1100 GMT) today due to volcanic ash from Iceland that has already caused almost 300 cancellations here, officials said. (AFP/Getty Images)


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Site Specific_New York City 07

by Roman Espejo

OlivoNYC-1.jpg

Olivo Barbieri's arial photographs trick the eyes by scaling skyscrapers, historic sites, and famed destinations down to model-size minutiae. For his latest exhibition, "Site Specific_New York City O7," the Italian photographer turned his camera on the Flatiron District, Central Park's Sheep Meadow, Coney Island, and other urban locations. The pictures' tiny, finely rendered features are worthy of blue ribbon-winning dioramas, where real-life automobiles and sunbathers shrink to toy-like objects.

OlivoNYC-2.jpg OlivoNYC-3.jpg

Using a tilt-shift lens with a large-format camera, Barbieri skews the scale and perspective of landscapes with a shallow depth of field. This technique, called selected focus, deliberately blurs some areas of the photograph, producing a macro effect. Barbieri launched his "Site Specific" series of still images and films in 2003, shooting Rome, Shanghai, and Las Vegas. He also photographed some of the world's largest waterfalls the same way for "The Waterfall Project."

OlivoNYC-4.jpg

The series reveals Barbieri's talents for distorting and recreating familiar landscapes. "Site Specific_New York City 07" runs 15 April-28 May, 2010 at the Yancey Richardson Gallery.

Barneys Co-Op Totally Hosed by Hippies

FOR THE WIN!It is so spectacularly wonderful, and so legally beautiful, that the Park Slope Food Coop might actually be right when they say they have grounds to make the case against fancy-pants fashion purveyor spinoff Barneys Co-op's usage of the phrase "coop" and/or "co-op." Because? "The term 'cooperative,' 'cooperation' or any abbreviation, variation or similitude thereof, shall not be used as or in a name except by a corporation defined in this chapter." This is hilarious! These two things could not be more unalike, except that both are extreme reactions to capitalism. I would totally work a shift at Barneys though for some pants. (via)

A Line Where You Find It

Thumbs_kenneth_josephson

The Kenneth Josephson show at Gitterman closes this week.

From top to bottom:

  • Chicago, 1963
  • Chicago, 1964
  • New York State, 1970

See more work here.

Icelandic Volcano Making Northern Europe Even More Annoyed At Iceland

boomYesterday's explosion of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in southern Iceland has resulted in a giant cloud of ash making its way across northern Europe's higher altitudes and closing down the airspace over the UK until tomorrow morning at the earliest; Belgium, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, and Sweden have followed suit. Hoity-toity economists across the pond are idly wondering if this disruption is actually some sort of cosmic revenge for the UK's trade embargo against the financially strapped nation! Which conveniently ignores the ruinous floods that can occur as a result of the volcano melting glacial ice.

The Guardian is live-blogging the situation as it unfolds, and is taking the time to explain exactly why volcanic ash is even worse for planes than errant birds. (The combination of its fine grain and the high altitudes at which it floats across the sky is not only hell on engines, it "creates an extra problem [around airports] because takeoffs and landings will throw it into the air again".) Meanwhile, the Hooters-loving strandees at one Scottish airport are taking this opportunity to engage in a little nation-baiting of their own:

As all the stranded passengers get drunker, these on the scene reports should become even more entertaining. Perhaps we'll all learn how to say "Baba Booey" in other countries by the time this is all done!

[Via / Video via / Pic via]

My Subtle Subconscious


Eating Time!, originally uploaded by mishimiao.

Last night I dreamed about a pile of chow chow puppies abandoned in the middle of the street, free for the taking. I didn't take one home. I suck at dreaming.

Options for porting Objective-C/Cocoa apps to Windows

There are a few different options for porting Objective-C/Cocoa applications to Windows. Each option has different advantages and offers different capabilities. In this post, I'll give an overview of some of these options, their advantages and disadvantages.

Introduction

In this post, I'll look at the options available for porting Objective-C/Cocoa applications to Windows. There are other ways of writing compiled programs that are designed to be portable across multiple platforms (Qt, WxWidgets, Java, pure command-line C, etc) and numerous virtualized environments that are inherently platform independent (Java, Mono, etc) but this is a Cocoa blog so I'm going to ignore all of these.

A warning: porting software from the Mac to Windows is tricky and this post is not intended to solve those tricky situations. If you decide to port an Objective-C program to another platform, expect to build a lot of software via the command-line, track down bugs in libraries you didn't write and handle weird and cryptic error messages at every stage. Keeping a common codebase across multiple platforms is good in the long-run but can actually be slower than a complete re-write to set up in the first place.

Recreating POSIX on Windows

Before I actually get to discussing porting Objective-C/Cocoa programs to Windows, I need to discuss the target environment. Specifically, the difficulty of getting the POSIX layer from the Mac to run on Windows.

Much of what is considered to be "standard C" on the Mac actually falls outside the minimalist standard C library and is part of the BSD system on the Mac. TCP/IP sockets, many file I/O calls, getting information about the current user; these are all traits of the BSD-derived POSIX layer on the Mac.

The first issue to solve when porting to Windows often involves looking at how to replace this BSD derived functionality. The short answer is that you normally need an API that will offer you POSIX-like behavior on Windows.

Generally, this involves one of two approaches: Cygwin or MinGW.

Cygwin

Cygwin is the better known of the two because it is intended as a user-environment. It aims to recreate a full POSIX system, with full POSIX compatibility on top of Windows. Many ports of X-Windows applications from *nix systems (Linux, UNIX, etc) to Windows run on top of Cygwin because it comes the closest to offering source-level compatibility with *nix systems.

However, Cygwin comes with a disadvantage: if you write your project using Cygwin, then your user must also have Cygwin installed. Cygwin is not really a way to write native Windows applications, it is a way to write native Cygwin applications (and Cygwin runs on top of Windows).

MinGW

The alternative to Cygwin is normally MinGW. MinGW is not a user environment like Cygwin. Although MSYS — a light terminal and user system — can be run on MinGW, generally the MSYS environment is only used by developers for building and testing applications, not by end users.

MinGW uses a different philosophy to Cygwin when it comes to implementing the POSIX subsystem: MinGW attempts to implement those parts of a POSIX system that can be easily mapped onto calls within the native WIN32 API on Windows. This has the huge advantage that your target users do not need to have anything except Windows installed. Unfortunately, it also means that some features (like sockets) will behave slightly differently because they will obey the native Windows behaviors, rather than the standard POSIX behaviors.

Where Cygwin programs are normally compiled on Windows, MinGW includes significant support for cross-compiling so that you can build Windows applications from different platforms.

CoreFoundation

The minimalist approach to compiling an Objective-C program for Windows is to use Apple's own CoreFoundation APIs and Objective-C runtime and compile them for Windows.

CoreFoundation and the Objective-C runtime are both open source under Apple's APSL license:

This solution is not real "Cocoa" (it is only the very simple subset of CoreFoundation and a few supporting frameworks) but it does have the major advantage of being efficient, thoroughly tested and maintained by Apple.

In fact, Apple themselves have a guide on how to use these files to compile on Linux and Windows under Cygwin. You can also look at an alternate setup process on CFLite.

Advantages

CoreFoundation is thoroughly tested and efficiently written. It also offers a high degree of compatibility between Mac to Windows.

Disadvantages

Not really Cocoa; only CoreFoundation (no Foundation or AppKit). Old version of CFNetwork.

Historically, many people have had objections to the specific terms of the APSL. The Free Software Foundation have withdrawn their objections following version 2.0 of the APSL (although they still wish it was a copy-left license, that's an issue for the licensors, not the users of the license).

GNUstep

GNUstep is the oldest open source implementation of OpenStep, which became Cocoa. It is well established and fairly stable. You can build GNUstep applications on Linux, Windows under Cygwin or Visual Studio or on the Mac.

The easiest way to get started with GNUstep on Windows is to use the GNUstep Windows Installer. You will need to install the System, Core and Devel components to begin coding. The advantage is that this will install all the MSYS/MinGW components required. For help with the installation process, there's a futher guide to Installation on Windows.

Advantages

GNUstep is a complete application framework and has been in regular development for over a decade. It will integrate with most development environments and can be built in its entirety on Windows, Linux and many other *nix systems.

GNUstep also has a (relatively) large development community and a huge amount of developer documentation (a real rarity in the world of OpenSource).

Disadvantages

Any application written for GNUstep must be distributed with the GNUstep installer (since the whole GNUstep system must exist to allow functionality).

GNUstep is more like its own operating system (or at least its own windowing system) than a toolkit within an existing operating system. GNUstep does not use native window drawing commands on any platform.

The Cocotron

The Cocotron had its first release in 2006. Its primary goal is to enable cross-compiling from Xcode on the Mac to other platforms (primarily Windows).

This cross-compiling from Xcode is The Cocotron's key defining feature: you must build all your projects in Xcode running on a Mac, even if the deployment targets are Windows or Linux. However, this means that The Cocotron's main pipeline concentrates exactly on the task of porting Mac programs to Windows.

The installation for The Cocotron is a multi-step process but is relatively straightforward.

By default, The Cocotron encourages you to debug your Windows products under Windows using Insight-GDB (a reasonably user-friendly wrapper around GDB running under MinGW) directly on Windows.

An alternative approach for debugging is to use XCXDB (download the XCXDB Installation here). This allows you to remotely debug from Xcode on the Mac to your Windows machine, so you can handle all building and debugging from Xcode (there is a compilation error in the current version when trying to install XCXDB on Snow Leopard — I've posted fix instructions here). XCXDB has the added advantage that it adds project templates to Xcode to make cross-compiling projects easier to create.

Advantages

Build and potentially debug everything from the original project in Xcode. The framework was designed with porting from the Mac to Windows in mind.

Natively builds for WIN32, meaning that final products look and feel like native Windows applications and the installation is not dependant on installing another large project (AppKit, Foundation and other .DLLs must be included with the executable but they are very small).

Simple, in-built support for NIB files, CoreData, fast enumeration, Objective-C 2.0 properties and other features that are either missing from GNUstep, external packages or still in-progress.

Aims for source level compatibility with Mac OS X, something which is not necessarily a goal of GNUstep.

Disadvantages

The least mature of the options listed so far. It is possible to encounter bugs at low levels that you may need to fix for yourself.

While a huge amount is implemented, you won't have to go far to encounter APIs that are not. Significant portions of some classes are not implemented at all. While the interfaces exist, they will lead to a runtime exception as the program runs over a NSUnimplementedMethod().

The current state of XCXDB remote debugging and Insight debugging are inferior to native debugging in an IDE.

Conclusion

If you're only porting a command-line program to Windows, then you're spoiled for choice — all of the options I've listed will handle that (although CoreFoundation does not offer a full Foundation API).

I chose to implement the current public beta of ServeToMe for Windows using The Cocotron as I think The Cocotron offers the best experience for porting a graphical user-interface Mac application to Windows. The ability to build and debug the entire project from the original Xcode project was the key feature I sought. However, it was not without issues. I'll discuss how I got ServeToMe running in The Cocotron with XCXDB next week, the issues I had and their solutions.

Despite The Cocotron's immaturity relative to GNUstep and many missing APIs, enabling a Cocoa project to be built from the Mac and deployed and debugged on Windows in a single step is a huge advantage. Further, native WIN32 at the back end (as annoying as WIN32 is to write) is better for your end-users than a system that requires Cygwin underneath.

Of course, if you needed to target Linux with an Objective-C application or you need to build on platforms other than the Mac, you'd want to use GNUstep instead. While Cocotron has Linux/X11 support underway, it is not really ready for mainstream adoption at this time.

April 14, 2010

Why Apple's 3.3.1 is great for hackers and (smart) founders.

Disclaimer: treat this as a thought experiment

Claim: Apple’s new 3.3.1 clause is the best thing Apple could have done for hackers and startups.

Axiom A: any hacker worth his salt will recognize that a well designed language which compiles to X will be superior to X. Hell, that’s precisely how Objective-C started: as macros on top of C.

Axiom B: Apple doesn’t really care about higher-level languages, they care about eliminating powerful cross-device platforms from their devices. Even if they did care, they don’t have the technical resources to tell whether an executable has been compiled from human-written C code or compile-target C code.

(deduce-from A B): there are three kinds of people who will comply with 3.3.1: (i) those who think writing your own compiler is “too hard”, (ii) those who will follow rules blindly (having been given a large brain by mistake, when a spinal cord would have surely sufficed), and (iii) those who will have to defend “the risk of ignoring 3.3.1” against (i), (ii), or both at an “architecture meeting” in front of a non-technical manager.

(elimination:deduce-from A B): this leaves two groups of developers who can ignore rule 3.3.1: hackers and founders.

I. Hackers

You really think the college kids who download gigs of illegal music/movies/software daily at the very public threat of being sued give half a shit about a developer EULA? Give me a break.

II. Founders

Technically competent founders will recognize this as a (hopefully permanent) competitive advantage Apple has provided them against (first) companies which make decisions by-meeting, (second) companies staffed by blub programmers [1], and (thirdly, and most painfully) otherwise brilliant ideologues who think unenforceable rules actually mean something are now developing for Android. Thankfully for any iPhone developer, this is absolutely the vast majority of the competition in just about any software market.

So frankly, between the business advantage 3.3.1 gives Apple’s platform, and the competitive advantage it gives smart founders, I’m only seeing more reason to move to iP(hone|ad) development.

  1. I’ll define “blub programmers” as those who think in terms of the immediate features the language they’re program in provides, not in terms of what computers, as a whole, can do.

Jackie Robinson Day (Updated)

Jackie Robinson could really get on base. You might not hear much about that, even today on Jackie Robinson Day because, um, it seems to me that he accomplished something other than getting on base that was fairly important. Even when people talk about Jackie Robinson, the player, they will likely concentrate on Robinson’s audacious nature as a base runner — how he would purposely get caught in rundowns, how he would steal home and so on — or his pure and naked hunger to win.

I sometimes think about a passage in Roger Kahn’s illustrious “The Boys of Summer,” this comes from May April of 1955 when Sal Maglie was overwhelming the Dodgers. Brooklyn shortstop Pee Wee Reese told Robinson he had to do something.

The bat boy overheard the whispered conversation, and just before Jack stepped in to hit, he said in a voice of anxiety, ‘Don’t you do it. Let one of the others do it. You do enough.’

Robinson took his stance, bat high. He felt a certain relief. Let someone else do it, for a change.

“Come on Jack,” Reese’s voice carried from the dugout. “We’re counting on you.”

Robinson took a deep breath. Somebody else? What somebody else? Hodges? Snider? Damn, there wasn’t anybody else.

The bunt carried accurately toward first baseman Whitey Lockman, who scooped the ball and looked to throw. That is the play. Bunt and make the pitcher cover first. Then run him down. But Maglie lingered in the safety of the mound. He would not move, and a second baseman named Davey Williams took his place. Lockman’s throw reached Williams at first base. Then Robinson struck. A knee crashed into Williams’ lower spine and Williams spun into the air, twisting grotesquely, and when he fell he lay in an awkward sprawl, as people do when they are seriously injured. He was carried from the field.

According to Kahn, two innings later Alvin Dark sought the Giants’ revenge by hitting a double to left and then refusing to stop, going to third where he could take on Robinson — and according to the story Robinson’s dropped the ball trying to smash a tag into Dark’s head. (UPDATE: Originally I wrote that this story does not match the game report — but this was my mistake, I was looking at the wrong game. Williams was not carried from the field, and the game was in April and not May. But according to the newspaper report of the game, this is how it happened).

I remember the passage and re-read it every so often not for the history but for the emotion — it reminds me of just how ferociously Robinson played. I have this theory — one that I used to talk about sometimes with my old friend Buck O’Neil — that Jackie Robinson was the type of player and the type of man who needed a purpose to bring out his greatness. We often hear about the opposite — players who drive in meaningless runs or only seem to pitch well when the game is out of hand. People will talk all the time about how there are certain baseball players who can handle the pressure of playing in New York (even have that pressure lift their game) and certain players who cannot handle it all. I don’t know how much I buy into it; I’ve always thought there is a worthwhile study to be done on the subject.

But I do believe that Jackie Robinson was a man who needed the intensity, the clarity of a cause, the fury of the bigots, the deep understanding that he was a player in American history — needed all of it to crystalize his goals and become the player he became. Remember, Jackie Robinson was more athlete than baseball player when the Dodgers signed him. He was known in the black newspapers — like the Kansas City Call and Chicago Defender — as “UCLA football ace Jackie Robinson” or “famous track star Jackie Robinson.” Baseball was famously his worst sport at UCLA (he hit about .100 in his one year) and he only played one year for the Kansas City Monarchs in the Negro Leagues. He made the East-West All Star game (he went zero-for-five) but the general perception at the time was that Robinson was not the best big league prospect on the Monarchs — not with Satchel Paige and Hilton Smith on the team and Willard Brown coming back from the war and so on.

Also, Robinson was a bit older — he was 28 when he made it to the big leagues.

Also, you will remember Bob Feller’s scouting report on Robinson after seeing him play — too tight in the shoulders, cannot hit an inside pitch, isn’t skilled enough.

“If he were a white man,” Feller said, “I doubt they would consider him big league material.” And whatever this may say to you about Feller, remember, he had seen Robinson play, something few others could say in 1946. If Robinson was clearly a great player at the time, I doubt Feller would have said that.

The simple truth seems to be that Robinson was no sure thing as a baseball player. But he had some fame as an athlete. He had played with white players before and earned their respect. He was smart and focused. He had refused to go to the back of the bus while in the army, a bold step that led to his court-martial, where he was acquitted. As Buck O’Neil would often say, Jackie Robinson wasn’t the BEST player. But he was the RIGHT player.

But what does this mean — the RIGHT player? It seems to me that what has made Jackie Robinson perhaps the most important player in baseball history is not that he was the first African American to play in the big leagues. Somebody was going to be first. And it was not that he blended dignity and ferocity in equal measure, a hard balance that made him both the underdog and the favorite and the same time.

No, to me, his greatest contribution was simply that he was a GREAT player. He understood that he could not fail — Robinson took a deep breath. Somebody else? What somebody else? Damn, there wasn’t anybody else. — that he was carrying the weight of the world and the moon and the stars on his shoulder, and that failure was too awful and too calamitous to even think about. If he failed, the bigots were right. If he failed, the cause was stalled. If he failed … well, he could not fair.

He did not fail. He scored a run in his first game, got two hits and a home run in his third, got three hits in his fourth. He scored 21 runs through his first 21 games. His batting average dropped to .263 in early June, and he promptly hit in 27 of his next 28 games, raising his batting average to .315 and leaving absolutely no doubt in anybody’s mind that hate him or love him, Jackie Robinson was here to stay.

And I believe that it was a perfect intersection of man and moment; we will never know what kind of baseball player Jackie Robinson would have been had he come up in 1993, when, true, he would not have heard all the slurs and received all the death threats, but he also may not have had a great objective to drive him and the powerful conviction of being right.

That gets us back to Robinson’s remarkable ability to get on base. That was at the core of his greatness as a player, I think. His career .409 on-base percentage ranks 23rd among non-active players with 5,000 or more plate appearances. What’s more, over a six-year period — from 1949-54 — Robinson’s on-base percentage was a staggeringly good .428. Only a small group of players (Ruth, Gehrig, Hornsby, Cobb, Williams and others from a distant age … Williams, Musial, Mantle and other from the middle ages … McGwire, Bonds, Edgar, Walker, Pujols of more recent vintage) have ever gotten on base like Jackie Robinson did in his prime. It was getting on base so much that allowed Robinson to score all those runs (99 or more his first seven years) and steal all those bases (twice led the league) and lead the Brooklyn Dodgers to six World Series.

Robinson got on base through sheer force. He almost never struck out. He walked a lot. He was hit by a lot of pitches for his era — finished first, second or third in HBP seven times in his 10-year career. He bunted a lot (led the league in sacrifice hits twice). He hit the ball hard a lot (hit double digit home runs every year but one; was among league leaders in doubles and triples several times). He never stopped playing with fury … as one writer called him, he was a shooting star burning across the sky.

“He was a hard out,” was the way Yogi Berra said it.

“I don’t know any other ballplayer who could have done what he did,” Pee Wee Reese told Roger Kahn.

“The greatest competitor I’ve ever seen,” Duke Snider said at his Hall of Fame induction.

A hundred million words have been spilled trying to explain Jackie Robinson and his impact on the game and on America. But I have always liked this bit from the poet Langston Hughes. He used to write a column in the Chicago Defender revolving around a conversation with a character called SImple. In one especially memorable column, headlined “Matter for a Book,” Simple announced that he went to see Jackie Robinson play ball the day before.

“But to get back to Jackie — I did not mean to holler so loud when he stole them two bases yesterday, but I just could not help myself. I were so proud he were black, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. And as long as Jackie stays colored, I am going to holler when he’s up to bat.”

“Well, holler. Nobody’s stopping you,” I said. “But if Jackie were not good you would stop hollering, I bet you that.”

Smokey the Bear's Emphatic 403 Error

This is likely a case of good intentions gone awry - a template designed to create helpful error messages falling slightly off the tracks in real-life usage (click to see full-sized image):

Smokey_error 

The result, as one colleague put it, is at once both harsh and hilarious. But it also points to a risk in over-engineering content templates. It would have been enough to suggest how best to craft a helpful error message rather than forcing content under overly prescriptive (and wordy) headings.

Things are good


Tulip farm!, originally uploaded by mathowie.

I got to spend the morning watching the Twitter conference live online, for free, and the afternoon I hit the Woodburn Tulip farm with my daughter to take some photos.

Not a day goes by that I don't thank the stars for this lucky life I get to live.

MLB radio: Sound salvation

Last week Night Owl sang the praises of the free preview of MLB Extra Innings, and for the past few years, I too have tried to use it to sneak a peak at a few Reds games I wouldn’t normally get to see.  Here’s what usually happens for me, though:  I remember the free preview thing about mid-week, check the listings and see that on my days off the Reds aren’t offered as an option, then make a mental note to myself to do a better job of remembering next year.  This year that cycle was broken.

I didn’t look at a single game.

I understand Night Owl’s plight.  I, too, am a displaced fan, only I root for the Reds while I live in Southern California.  I can actually watch all of the games the Owl wants to, but I care as much for them as he does for the Yankees.  Charley Steiner drives me crazy with his style, a pseudo Vin Scully drawl that comes across to me somewhat smug and pompous and eventually bores me to tears.  Steve Lyons is mediocre in my mind as well (I think that’s his voice I hear on occasion).

Vin Scully, on the other hand, is perhaps the gold standard of broadcasters.   I could listen to as he read a cereal box, and would be in awe as he related a story about pyridoxine hydrochloride and Matt Kemp.  Yesterday I learned from him that Andy LaRoche has a ranch somewhere in Colorado and his cattle are branded E3.  I can still hear the story in my mind, inflection and all.  He is about as good as it gets.

When I was a kid, I felt honored to get the team of Marty Brennaman and Joe Nuxhall calling the action at Riverfront Stadium, and while Marty is still around and still very good at what he does, his supporting cast (Jeff Brantley and Bernnaman’s son Thom) is lacking, and it drags down the experience somewhat.  The contracts of both Thom and Brantley expire at the end of this season, and while I can see keeping Thom around for his family connection, here’s hoping “the Cowboy” is retired to LaRoche’s ranch come fall.

While watching your hometown team on TV has its moments, there is nothing better than a good radio announcer to bring the game alive.  They are responsible for telling you everything since you cannot see it.  They tell you about the dying quails and the on deck circles.  They tell you if it’s raining and if so how hard.  They relate stories from their past and how they relate to the action that plays out in front of them.  While TV announcers can take a break and let the picture speak for them, radio announcers have no such luck.  They are your eyes.  You just need your ears.

And because of this, rather than watch the Extra Innings free previews this year, I’ve been enjoying the MLB At Bat app on my phone and the radio feeds that it brings.  As I mentioned, yesterday I listened to Vin Scully and parts of the Diamondbacks/Dodgers duel in Los Angeles.  I listened to Bob Uecker broadcast a game for the first time outside of the movie Major League and even found myself chuckling and cheering on the Brewers as a result.  Today I’ve been enjoying the Twins/Red Sox match up, featuring John Gordon and Dan Gladden in the booth.  While John would forget an occasional base runner (noting the bases empty when Dustin Pedoria was on 2nd, for example), overall the two were a good combination that called an enjoyable game.

So I’ve made a goal for myself this year:  30 teams, one full radio game for each of them, and more if time permits.  The only rule so far is that I won’t listen to a Reds game broadcast by the opposing team.  I’m pretty sure that would tarnish my viewpoint, and I’m already dreading the Padres game I choose based on my memory of them from my trip down there to catch the Reds  in 2008.  Listening to them call the Reds-Padres series was awful.  Like living 3000 miles from the home of your favorite team.

Why is this a challenge at all?  Well, for one it has to be day games.  Nights are tied up with dinners and bedtimes for the kids, while my days off generally give me an afternoon to get stuff done.  It’s another advantage of radio baseball.  You go to the store, and it goes with you.

I’ll even rank them as I see fit (Reds games excluded), and I’m hopeful to hear stories of your favorite baseball memories as well.

So far, the ranking’s pretty easy:

1) 4/14 – Boston Red Sox vs. Minnesota Twins, John Gordon and Dan Gladden.

Next week the Royals and the Blue Jays play the only day game I might have a chance at, a 9:37 start on Wednesday.  After that, I’m open to your suggestions.


Tasting Tour: A Guide to Paris Baked Goods

This post is part of our Tasting Tour series, which is brought to you by Continental Airlines.

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Any food lover traveling to Paris could easily spend weeks, months, or years gobbling up all the serious eats the City of Lights has to offer. From the brasseries, boulangeries, the bistros, and beyond, it's almost too much to take in. So we decided to turn to our friend David Lebovitz to get a handle on a manageable bite of the France's capital city — its baked goods.

David spent almost 13 years in the pastry department of Chez Panisse, the legendary Berkeley, California, restaurant founded by Alice Waters, and then wrote a number of books covering dessert, chocolate, and life in Paris, where he has been living since 2002. We couldn't imagine a better source to lead us on a virtual tour, particularly since he leads actual gastronomic tours of the city.

"Most people visiting Paris have a checklist of things they want to try," David says, and among the must-eats are croissants, macarons, and madeleines, and the various breads found in the city's boulangeries.

But First, Some Basic Protocol

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[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Before we start, though, it's worth noting a couple bits of advice gleaned from David's website:

It's taken me a few years to get used to the fact that I can't run to the corner bakery for bread wearing sweatpants and flipflops, nor can I wolf down pastries on the métro without getting disapproving stares. So don't be afraid to dress a bit better than you would at home and to practice a few words of your high-school French. Believe me, even the feeblest attempt at a little French will take you much further than you can imagine in Paris.

But before you even buy the croissant that you are not going to eat on the subway, you should keep in mind that it's the custom in France "to say 'Bonjour Madame/Monsieur' when entering a shop or restaurant, and 'Merci Madame/Monsieur' when leaving," David says. "It's like being invited into someone's home and stepping inside without saying hello."

Macarons

macarons-perfect.jpg

[Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Parisian-style macarons have been enjoying an upswing in popularity in the U.S., but if you're not familiar, they're different from the coconut macaroons you've likely encountered. Parisian macarons consist of two light, airy cookies (made of ground almonds, egg whites, and sugar) sandwiching some type of cream filling. And there's a reason you'll find the best ones in Paris: "Macarons are Parisian; they're not French," David says.

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The original Ladurée location. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

The two macaron strongholds that you must visit are Ladurée and Pierre Hermé.

"The macarons at Ladurée are really good," David says, "They've got it down. Between all four Ladurée shops in Paris, they make 12,000 a day."

In fact, Ladurée is credited with inventing the Parisian macaron as we know it. As Serious Eats's macaron expert Robyn Lee points out, prior to 1930, macarons were simply stuck together without filling. But then the patisserie's Pierre Desfontaines came up with the idea of sandwiching a cream filling with the cookies.

Ladurée,21 Rue Bonaparte 75006 Paris, France

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A foie gras and fig macaron from Pierre Hermé. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

These days, David says, there's a bit of a battle raging, with shops all trying to one-up each other with wild fillings. But, he says, "there's nothing better than the Ladurée classics: chocolat amer (bittersweet chocolate), dark café, and my absolute favorite, caramel-beurre-salé," with its filling of caramel enriched with salted butter.

In the out-there department, there's Pierre Hermé. "They have a lot of fllings," David says, "and they're really rich. They may not be everyone's taste—you have to like things like passionfruit, truffle, and even foie gras and chocolate."

If those are up your alley, though, a bit of insider advice from David: "Go to the Pierre Hermé shop on the rue Vaugirard rather than the one on the rue Bonaparte." The original rue Bonaparte shop is in a great area to visit, "but it's the size of a New York kitchen. You pretty much have to get in, order, and leave; there's no room to linger."

Pierre Hermé, 185 Rue Vaugirard (15th Arrondissement)

Boulangeries and Baguettes

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[Photographs: Des Gâteaux et du Pain]

If you're already visiting Pierre Hermé on the rue Vaugirard, David says, you should head over to Des Gâteaux et du Pain for any one of their amazing breads. Any favorites there, David? "All of them."

For his favorite out-of-the-ordinary bakery experience, he recommends La Boulangerie par Veronique Mauclerc. Mauclerc's boulangerie specializes in organic, whole-grain, breads baked in a wood-fired oven that holds up to 100 loaves at a time. Don't miss the German and Austrian pastries while you're there.

"It's kinda funky for Americans," he says "But it's a great place."

We like funky, so we'll take that as a challenge—one sure to have a delicious reward.

La Boulangerie par Veronique Mauclerc, 83 rue de Crimée (19th Arrondissement) and 11 rue Poncelet (17th Arrondissement)

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A baguette from Maison Kayser, which also comes highly recommended from Lebovitz. [Photograph: Robyn Lee]

Of course, no visit to Paris would be complete without getting a hold of a great baguette, and David recommends Boulangerie au 140 for this iconic French loaf. "It's one of the handful of bakeries here that I'll happily scamper across the city to visit," he says.

It has real local character, he says, and be prepared to wait in a crushing line for a warm, crisp loaf.

Boulangerie 140, 140 Rue de Belleville (20th Arrondissement)

Croissants

Again, David recommends Boulangerie au 140 for this other iconic French baked good. But if there's one thing to know about croissants in Paris, it's this:

Whatever pâtisserie you visit, be sure to only ingest a true croissant au beurre, which has that unmistakable smell of deeply-toasted, caramelized-crunchy French beurre. Stay away from croissants ordinaires, which are made with margarine and are, oddly enough, usually crescent-shaped, but to the extreme.

Boulangerie 140, 140 Rue de Belleville (20th Arrondissement)

Souvenirs

While you may wish to bring back souvenirs for yourself or the bakers in your life, David recommends staying away from kitchenware. You might think you'd be able to get a deal on Le Creuset and Staub enamelware cookery, he says, but, "you can get those in the U.S.— and they're cheaper there."

Plus, they're heavy and bulky. Use your luggage space for something a little more practical and hard-to-get.

"Passionfruit mango caramels from Jacques Genin," he says, or just go to a market and buy some Fleur de Sel De Guerande. "It's so expensive in the States, but you can get it here fairly inexpensively."

Jacques Genin, 133 rue de Turenne, 3rd Arrondissement

The Progress of the Platform

I largely agree with this thoughtful take on the Apple-vs.-Adobe Flash-for-iPhone situation by Ian Samuel:

Stop trying to get out of writing real iPhone apps, Apple seems to be saying.

These Are the Plates I'm Looking For

You know the feeling when something comes into your life and changes it so drastically that you can't fathom how you even LIVED before?

Early man surely felt this way about the wheel. I have previously felt this way about System of a Down's first album (high school), the eyelash curler (college), and now, these altered antique plates featuring Star Wars characters:




I did not know happiness before I knew these existed. Amazing.

About $35 each, here.

and to think, i was having such a lovely morning before i...



and to think, i was having such a lovely morning before i encountered public expectoration a mere two blocks from the “homestead”

[ by way of ]

Why You Hate Cilantro

Someday I will share my fajita marinade recipe, which is heavy on the cilantro, but only when I'm sure you're urbane enough to handle itI absolutely love cilantro, but then again I have a marvelously sophisticated palate and a gustatory open-mindedness that allows me to enjoy most flavors, even those from societies I am not genetically or culturally predisposed to be fond of. Those of who you dislike cilantro and feel perhaps a bit ashamed of that fact are in luck: Science says there may be a hereditary reason for your aversion.

The senses of smell and taste evolved to evoke strong emotions… because they were critical to finding food and mates and avoiding poisons and predators. When we taste a food, the brain searches its memory to find a pattern from past experience that the flavor belongs to. Then it uses that pattern to create a perception of flavor, including an evaluation of its desirability.

If the flavor doesn’t fit a familiar food experience, and instead fits into a pattern that involves chemical cleaning agents and dirt, or crawly insects, then the brain highlights the mismatch and the potential threat to our safety. We react strongly and throw the offending ingredient on the floor where it belongs.

So, really, it's not that you're an unrefined hick, it's more that your genes are lacking in culture. The article suggests several options by which you can allow yourself to appreciate the subtle majesty of cilantro, but it seems like a lot of work and we know you'd be much happier sticking to regular parsley, right? I wouldn't trouble yourself too much about it, you boorish culinary xenophobe.

Release: Cassandra 0.60 aka The Best Evar

Accompanied by an ASF press release[1], Cassandra has announced its first new version after graduating as a top Apache project. The code name of this release, as per the ☞ announcement, is The Best Evar and it features some cool new additions[2]:

Last, but not least, according to Jonathan Ellis ():

Apache Cassandra 0.6 is 30% faster across the board, building on our already-impressive speed

Enjoy Cassandra 0.6.0 even if you’ll need to restart your cluster to upgrade to the new version:

0.6 network traffic is not compatible with earlier versions. You will need to shut down all your nodes at once, upgrade, then restart.

April 13, 2010

Starman 0.2000, delayed and --preload-app

I just shipped Starman 0.2000 to CPAN. This release contains bug fixes from Graham Barr and Patrick Donelan on rare 100% cpu spin loops and a bug in Keep-alive handling on HTTP/1.0, but also has a major incompatible feature: preloading apps.

Preloading applications

plackup and all of its handlers, by default loads your application before running it on the server. So if you say:

  plackup -s Starlet myapp.psgi

the myapp.psgi file is compiled in the master (parent) process and then the Starlet server preforks off children to run the compiled application. This saves a lot of memory in copy-on-write friendly environment, but might cause problems, if you want to initialize resources in the myapp.psgi compilation time, such as opening sockets or doing database connections.

Delayed loader

To solve this problem and make Starman's default safer, I introduced a new loader for Plack: Delayed. This is close to the Shotgun loader but it delays the compilation of the application until the first request time. It also passes the callback web servers can call to initialize the application earlier than the runtime, which Starman 0.2000's starman exeuctable now makes use of by default.

All plackup handlers still use the default loader by default, so if you want to use this loader with Starlet, you should say:

  plackup -L Delayed -s Starlet myapp.psgi

but Starman's starman command automatically adds -L Delayed by default, so you don't need to. To continue preloading the app in the master to save memory (and you're sure that loading your app doesn't cause any shared resource issues), you can say:

  starman --preload-app myapp.psgi

to keep the behavior pre 0.2000. Alternatively you can also say:

  starman -MCatalyst -MDBIx::Class myapp.psgi

to load modules in the master, but delays the compilation of application until the per-children init hook.

BTW with this change the default behavior of Starman becomes the same with Rack's Unicorn. Read more about this in starman -h.

Thich Nhat Hanh on Harmonious Community Building

I have long had an interest in the extraordinary sustainability and harmony of monastic communities, particularly contemporary ones that don't rely on coercion or a relationship with the state (or a great lord) for its membership. Unlike large scale cults that may recruit entire families and encourage them to breed, monastic communities rely entire on bonds of practice and ritual. As we consider the notion of community building in an era dominated by loose ties, I think we may have a lot to learn from such communities. Because my own predilections lean toward the more compassionate and less authoritarian models of community, I decided to read Thich Nhat Hahn's Joyfully Together: The Art of Harmonious Community Building. I highly recommend it. Read it first once all the way through, to get oriented to the ideas. Then read it through with a notebook out and explore specific ways to adapt the ideas to the communities of which you are a part. There are clear and useful practices for small and large communities, for elders and young people, for established leaders and people learning to lead.

Photo: Me, Shea Stadium and 1988

This is photo of my feet, watching a game in 1988, always cracks me up.

1) Who I do think I am with my feet up like that, 2) yes, those pants have elastic at the bottom, and 3) I wish I still owned those sneakers.

KORG iElectribe iPad Virtual Analog Beatbox

Shared by Bru
ok, it's official, I need an iPad.

KOEG iElectribe

KORG has released the iElectribe, their “Virtual Analog Beatbox” for the iPad.

For over a decade, Korg’s Electribe•R has been go-to gear for creative musicians from around the world and across multiple electronic and dance music genres. Now, you can take the power of the Electribe•R with you thanks to iElectribe, Korg’s first dedicated app; bringing the fun of analog-synth style beat making to your iPad. Best of all, the iElectribe takes full advantage of iPad’s 9.7 inch multi touch display to deliver a new style of musical instrument.

This is a blog post from Laughing Squid, subscribe via RSS, Email, Twitter & Facebook.

Here are a few other possibly related posts you might enjoy:

Analog Retirement T-Shirt by BustedTees

Beardyman Beatbox Cooking

Scrabble iPad App Uses iPhones As Tile Racks

Analog To Digital TV Conversion, So Easy Even Grandma Can Do It

A 2.5 Year-Old Uses an iPad for the First Time

Don’t Mistake Your CMS for a Development Platform

The Washington Post was an early pioneer in building interactive journalism applications, hiring luminaries no less bright than Adrian Holovaty and Derek Willis, among others. But they admit they’ve fallen behind in recent years.

Post managing editor Raju Narisetti recently sounded an all-too-common refrain to explain the paper’s slump, blaming their antiquated content management system. It “can’t really handle a lot of the databases and open-access information,” he said in a piece by Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander.

While the Post is far from the only news organization decrying an old, inflexible content management system, CMSes shouldn’t be an obstacle to building news applications. Even the best CMS was designed to do a different job and — good or bad — shouldn’t be mistaken for an expressive, open development platform.

CMSes are good at mapping complex editorial processes onto a repeatable digital workflow. They store and retrieve complex data, for the most part very reliably. They trade flexibility for ease-of-use. Creating new stories or photos is usually simple, thanks ironically to the system’s rigidity. Learn how to add a byline once and you should be able to do it anywhere.

This tradeoff is common to many systems: the more flexible, the harder it is to use, and vice-versa. Compare a professional SLR camera with a point-and-shoot, or a manual transmission car and an automatic. Customizability comes at the cost of ease-of-use.

My advice to news organizations trying to build applications: You’ll be quicker and have happier programmers if you leave the CMS to what it’s really good at, and let newsroom developers use what makes things easy for them.

So you don’t have to tell your CMS what a headline is in order to write one, and chances are excellent that the vagaries of your editorial process are pretty well handled by your CMS, even if it doesn’t always seem that way.

Interactive news applications, on the other hand, require maximum flexibility. Developers building news applications need a true tabula rasa, and the tools they use shouldn’t come with assumptions about the final result. They may create a Flash application mapping Olympic medals or a huge database of stimulus contracts. They may end up not building a Web page at all, but an API consumed only by other computer programs.

In fact, while there have long been interesting interactive applications on news websites, the heyday of complex journalism done using software — which I suspect we’re in now — couldn’t have started before the advent of the free, open-source rapid software development frameworks Django and Ruby on Rails.

Django (2005), Ruby on Rails (2004) and MVC frameworks like them enabled a whole new kind of development: what I call “deadline software.” Putting 100,000 records from a Freedom of Information Act request online and making them searchable no longer took a team of developers weeks, but could be done by one or two developers in days or even hours. News organizations could take a perishable, competitive set of data, and get something sophisticated online quickly enough to match — and beat — the story a traditional reporter could write.

These frameworks were born to serve the needs of a fast-turnaround news cycle. Django was developed by Adrian Holovaty and others at a newspaper — the Lawrence (Kansas) Journal-World.

Developing outside your CMS doesn’t mean news applications won’t match the rest of your site. At ProPublica, our news applications — which run under subdomains like “projects.propublica.org” — fetch core files from our main website using plain http requests to keep headers, footers and other styles consistent.

The Chicago Tribune’s news apps team also takes this approach. “Almost all of our applications look like they live inside the mother website,” says Brian Boyer, Tribune’s editor of news applications. “But we either cheap out and just reproduce the header and footer or get tricky and pull the header and footer as fragments from the CMS — the latter technique lets us keep navigation, etc., current.”

News applications can pull stories using RSS or APIs, and readers can navigate between content and news application pages totally unaware that they’re traversing systems, platforms, and even geographic server locations. Your site search engine and ad servers should also happily support this.

Developing outside your CMS also doesn’t mean your IT department has to purchase and support new servers. Another technology enabling deadline software is reliable cloud infrastructure products like Amazon’s Elastic Computing Cloud (EC2), which is enormously scalable and, inexpensive relative to dedicated hosting. Most news applications managers I’ve spoken with use services like EC2 to deploy applications quickly with a minimum of long-term commitment.

So my advice to news organizations trying to build applications: You’ll be quicker and have happier programmers if you leave the CMS to what it’s really good at, and let newsroom developers use what makes things easy for them.

Incidentally, the Post is hard at work upgrading their technology and already thinking along these lines. Their chief digital officer, Vijay Ravindran, told me “just as plain HTML has gone the way of the dinosaur, so has using the CMS to do everything.”

Are you creating news applications in your newsroom? Please share your setups and stories in the comments.

Scott Klein is the Editor of News Applications at ProPublica, directing news application development and production. He also moonlights as co-founder of DocumentCloud, an independent non-profit organization that helps newsrooms organize and publish their source documents online.

Strategery 3.1

Strategery is a great Risk-like strategy game for the iPhone, and now, iPad. I’ve linked to it before, but the recent 3.0 update was a step backward in several regards. The just-released version 3.1 puts it back on my list of favorite iPhone OS games. $2 gets you a universal binary that’s native for both iPhone and iPad.

(The only downside: it requires iPhone OS 3.1, so you can’t use it on an iPhone that’s running OS 3.0.1 for use with samizdat AT&T tethering.)

Long-Awaited Update to Apple II Laptops

Now with Intel Core i5 and i7 processors.

Correction: Apparently these are Macintoshes, not Apple II’s. I conflate these legacy Apple platforms, sorry.

Charlie Haeger Considered


Dodgers' right-hander Charlie Haeger had himself quite the ballgame on Sunday.  Fella struck out twelve Marlins hitters in only six innings of work. Not bad for a guy with only five career starts. Oh, and he did it while throwing a knuckleball. It took Tim Wakefield thirteen years to reach twelve strikeouts, and that number marks his career high in a game. Needless to say, if Haeger is anything close to what he was on Sunday, the Dodgers may have a very formidable weapon at the back of their rotation. Hooray for poignant analysis!

Anyway, the real reason this post is here is to show you this. It's the typical spin direction (horizontal axis) vs. velocity chart that you've come to hate know and love of late. Out of sheer curiosity I looked up Haeger's for his recent performance just to see what a knuckleball would look like and umm...


Wow, no wonder that thing is so hard to handle for all parties involved. (Insert mom joke).

April 12, 2010

psgi_plugin.c – uWSGI

/plugins/psgi/psgi_plugin.c – uWSGI

As they promised, uWSGI plugin for PSGI is now open sourced. This plugin embeds the perl interpreter to the uWSGI server. There is also 'uwsgi' (lower case) Plack handler that speaks the uwsgi wire protocol (like SCGI) which is also available on their repository.

promoted tweets and platform reach

I'm sure Claire Cain Miller's piece in the New York Times about Twitter's ad program will be combed over by, well, thousands and thousands of experts with fine-toothed combs. I'll just comb over this particular paragraph.

Once Twitter figures out how to measure the number of people who read posts other than on Twitter.com, it will also allow third-party developers to show ads and share revenue.

I bet we hear more about this piece of the puzzle this week at Chirp. The strength of Twitter is in its reach as a platform...but from an advertiser's perspective the weakness of Twitter is in the (current) inability to measure the actual reach (vs. potential reach) of a message. So if I'm reading Miller's paragraph correctly (and she's transmitting correctly), the bargain for third-party developers is pretty clear: you share stats about who's seeing what tweets when and where, and we'll share ad revenue with you.

And you know what? This is just like every other online ad network. And this is a good thing; it's a value exchange that's easy to understand. Take AdSense, for instance. Every microsecond of every day publishers give Google real estate on their sites. Google gets to learn all sorts of things about their traffic patterns -- who reads what pages when and from where; in return the publisher gets a cut of the advertising revenue that Google generates in that real estate. Data for revenue.

I also think this puts the Blackberry and iPhone client moves last week in context. Now that they have Twitter-branded clients on two large mobile platforms, they have healthy chunk of owned & operated mobile inventory. Which means they don't need to negotiate the revenue cut with any third party developers for the initial launch, and they can take a while to learn -- gather data, observe the user experience, gauge advertiser reaction, etc. And it will give them an opportunity to develop a set of best practices for clients about how to report this kind of data back to Twitter.

They're doing this right. The tweet's a natural ad unit, and they're finding the right ways to introduce them into the user experience. Search first, tweet stream on their own O&O properties next, then out through third party clients. Evolve the right way to make it a net positive for the ecosystem. Evolve the "resonance" algorithm. Get a handle on the reach of the platform. And all the while encourage new types of applications.

Here we go.

The Thinning of Amanda Waller

Rachel Edidin described Amanda Waller:

There is no one–no one–in the D.C. Universe more badass than Amanda Waller. She is smarter than Batman. She is tougher than Darkseid. And she is one of the most morally and humanly complex characters in fiction. She embodies a combination of deep compassion, profound ideals, and utter ruthlessness that female characters rarely get to touch–and she will fuck up your binaries and paradigms better than any other character in mainstream comics.

That was in a post about “Characters Who Break the Paradigm of Feminine Beauty in Comics.” As another person put it: “Batman wishes he was as hardcore as Amanda Waller.”

So — awesome character. And to make things even better, here’s what Amanda Waller looks like:

(Amanda Waller is the one on the right.)

Most fat characters in mainstream comic books are villains (The Kingpin, The Blob) or jokes (Bouncing Boy) or at best sidekicks of the protagonist (Franklin in Daredevil). There are very few positive fat characters in mainstream comics, and none I can think of who are as positive, as complex, as powerful, and as central to multiple storylines as Amanda Waller.

So it’s no surprise that a thin actress — Angela Bassett — has been cast to play Waller in the upcoming Green Lantern movie. Rumor is that she’ll reprise the role in at least one or two other upcoming DC-universe movies, if things go as planned.

And if the movie’s a hit, then there will probably be some pressure on the comic book to redesign their Amanda Waller to look more like Angela Bassett.

Really, I’m relieved they didn’t make the character white.

DavidJ's Heritage Blaster Team

I'm trying to catch up on all this stuff tonight so I can post an updated list tomorrow. Anyone who wants in the league but does not have a blog, post a comment or e-mail me and I'll do one of these posts for you too. Here's DavidJ's team originally posted in the comments.

My team name is "Pepper" (per my captcha)

Team card: Los Angeles Dodgers
Manager: Joe Torre
Stadium: The Berlin Wall (Card NF8)

C: Brandon Inge, Ramon Hernandex
**Inge is listed as a 3B. If he is not eligible at C anymore, then Varitek is my second catcher.
1B: Adrian Gonzalez
2B: Aki
3B: Beckham (Chrome card)
SS: Rollins
CI: Garret Jones (two Pirates in my lineup??)
SS: Yunel Escobar (I'm a Mets fan, and Rollins & Esco are my SSes...)
OF: Nelson Cruz, Adam Jones, Raul Ibanez, Jeff Francoeur
U: Ichiro ("All Star Card" - #487 - I am allowed one of these, right?)

My rotation:
Scott Kazmir
Cole Hamels
Dan Haren
Josh Johnson
Jon Niese
Adam Wainwright
Ricky Nolasco

My video will be here soon: http://vimeo.com/10647003 (right now it is encoding)


One note for David: You can use Inge as your catcher as long as you scribble out Third Base and write in Catcher per my 1981 Topps rule. Otherwise you'll have to make due with Lobster

Getting started with Perl development on your new mac.

This is basically how I get started myself nowadays:

- I install Xcode (from the dvd or from ADC)
- I install MacPorts using the dmg http://www.macports.org/install.php
- I install perl5.10 (first thing after install MacPorts) This will nicely override System's Perl without altering it: (see also my other post)
 sudo port install perl5 +perl5_10

- I install local::lib (which keeps all my installed Perl modules local, in my home directory): Basically I run the bootstrapping steps provided by http://search.cpan.org/perldoc?local::lib
- I install git:
sudo port install git-core +bash_completion+doc+svn

- Then I install my dotfiles (I basically clone http://github.com/yannk/dotfiles-yann and run make) (which has settings for local::lib, git etc...). I mention it here because I find it convenient for me, but it's totally optional of course.
- Then I install CPAN Minus...
git clone git://github.com/miyagawa/cpanminus.git
cd cpanminus
perl Makefile.PL
make install

and voila!

Then each time I need a module from the cpan it resolves around a simple:

cpanm Module

in most cases, thanks to the elegance of CPAN minus. For a bit more complex cases (when there is an external dependency, like a C library), I first install the missing libs from macports).

Apple's wager

The changes to section 3.3.1 of Apple's iPhone SDK license agreement have been extensively covered on the web. Apple's position is well expressed by a pair of articles. John Gruber gives a high-level view in his Jobs-approved piece, while Louis Gerbarg provides a more technical perspective. As usual, I'm thinking meta.

The "section 3.3.1" issue is just another in a long line of events that have the same basic shape: actions taken by Apple in what it believes to be the best interest of its platform (and, by extension, itself) that run afoul of the interests and opinions of developers. Any Apple follower can surely list others: the lack of Flash on the iPhone, the App Store as the sole gateway for iPhone applications, deprecating Carbon, and on and on.

Read the rest of this article...

Read the comments on this post

"HBO's 'Treme' creator David Simon explains it all for you"

If we are true to ourselves as dramatists,  we will cheat and lie and pile one fraud upon the next,  given that with every scene,  we make fictional characters say and do things that were never said and done. And yet,  if we are respectful of the historical reality of post-Katrina New Orleans,  there are facts that must be referenced accurately as well. Some things,  you just don't make up. Admittedly,  it's delicate. And we are likely to be at our best in those instances in which we are entirely aware of our deceits,  just as we are likely to fail when we proceed in ignorance of the facts. Technically speaking,  when we cheat and know it,  we are "taking creative liberties, " and when we cheat and don't know it,  we are "screwing up." But "Treme" is drama,  and therefore artifice. It is not journalism. It is not documentary. It is a fictional representation set in a real time and place,  replete with moments of inside humor,  local celebrity and galloping,  unrestrained meta. At moments,  if we do our jobs correctly,  it may feel real. via www.nola.com via sippey.

Yesterday’s Dancing Knuckleball

Yesterday, knuckleballer Charlie Haeger had a pretty amazing game. He struck out 12 batters while walking four in six innings. He also threw three wild pitches, two of which were on third strikes and got far enough from A.J. Ellis for the batter to reach.

Obviously, based on the 12 strikeouts, Ellis wasn’t the only one having a tough time with Haeger’s knuckler. By my count he threw 94 knuckleballs (along with 22 fastballs) with 43 swings and 13 whiffs. That works out to a 70% contact rate and a 13.8% swinging strike percentage. Both those rates are very good. That contact rate was about where Huston Street and Andrew Bailey were all of last year (not to say that Haeger will maintain such a rate, but just to put it in context). Haeger’s knuckleball was dancing like crazy.

I have talked about the knuckleball before, but here’s a quick refresher. While all other pitch types have consistent movement — fastballs rise and move towards the glove-side, curves drop and move away from the glove-side — and cluster out cleanly in horizontal movement versus vertical movement space, the knuckleball has no clear movement and instead forms a diffuse cloud when plotted in horizontal movement versus vertical movement space. Some move up-and-in, others up-and-away, others down-and-in, and others don’t move much at all. Not surprisingly, the success of a knuckleball is directly tied to this amount of movement. Those which move little are rarely whiffed and hit hard. Those that move far result in whiffs and weak contact. Tim Wakefield is successful because his knuckles have a large spread in movement.

With that in mind I wanted to see whether Haeger’s knuckleballs yesterday had more movement than they did in his previous appearances. Here are the fraction of Haeger’s knuckleballs whose movement fell in one of three categories (movement measured as the square root of the sum of the square horizontal movement and square of vertical movement). I included the value from yesterday, his career and the value for Wakefield’s knuckleballs.

                   Haeger          Wakefield
               Career  Yesterday    Career
0-5  inches      0.35      0.32      0.32
5-10 inches      0.53      0.50      0.48
10+  inches      0.12      0.18      0.20

Haeger’s knuckleball was moving a lot more than previously in his career, though still not as much as Wakefield has averaged through his career. Obviously this one value does not tell you everything, but I think it is a nice metric to show us that his knuckleballs were really moving yesterday — that is if the 12 strikeouts wasn’t enough.

What's A Megaflop?

avd guest stars on folklore.org.

(via snarkout)

Robot autonomously folding a pile of 5 previously-unseen towels

There is so much here. The "previously-unseen towel" part of the title, the slightly-femmy movements of the robot, the way the 50X speed-up makes it look like a Svankmajer film, the diligent care with which it smooths out each towel when it's done, and the palpable shock when it returns to the towel table and there aren't any left to fold.

9 41 9 42: The secret of Apple's recurring numbers

Filed under:


Calling John Locke! If you aren't too busy on the Island, perhaps you can help us out with a little number mystery in Cupertino. John? Hello? You there?

For years, Apple has featured a recurring number in all of its iPhone ads and screen shots. The time in the status bar always reads 9:42. What's more, since the debut of the iPad, the time in every iPad ad and screen shot always reads 9:41.

9:42 or 9:41. Every single time.

What can those specific times mean? Well since Locke isn't answering my pleas for help (you'd think he was dead or something), I'll just have to turn to another Jon. Apple's iPhone number question has bugged Jon Manning, lead developer of Secret Lab, for years. Did the numbers have some sort of cosmic significance or were they just randomly selected by an Apple graphic designer with a thing for the 9:40ish time slot?

Jon dug around for answers, but after the search led nowhere, he eventually all but gave up on finding out what the numbers meant. Then, this past January, he began noticing the iPad's reoccurring numbers and knew it couldn't be random chance -- these numbers did mean something. How would he find out what that something was, though?

TUAW9 41 9 42: The secret of Apple's recurring numbers originally appeared on The Unofficial Apple Weblog (TUAW) on Mon, 12 Apr 2010 12:00:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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Neftali Feliz, Closer

It didn’t take Texas long to come to the conclusion that Frank Francisco was no longer their best relief pitcher. After two blown saves by Francisco, Neftali Feliz is in as the new ninth inning relief ace for the Rangers.

Over the years, we’ve talked a lot about the relative value of starters and relievers. Even the best relief pitchers in the game are only worth about as much as an average starting pitcher, due to the drastic quantity difference in innings pitched. So, in general, we usually feel like a pitcher should be given as many chances as possible to stick in the rotation before he gets pigeonholed as a full time reliever.

However, there are situations where it makes sense to take a high quality arm and stick him in the bullpen, and I think this is one of those situations.

As Jeremy Greenhouse just showed, not every pitcher responds the same way when shifted to the bullpen. There are pitchers whose stuff plays up in relief more than the average, and they get a significant velocity (and performance) boost when throwing shorter outings.

For this class of pitcher, the relative difference between what they can be as a starter and a reliever is significant enough to overcome the drop in innings pitched. Joe Nathan is the classic example, as he went from a middling back of the rotation prospect to one of the best relievers in baseball after the move.

There are quite a few reasons to think Feliz may be one of these guys. He’s had trouble sustaining his velocity before, and his questionable command of strikeout stuff make it unlikely that he’d be able to work more than five or six innings in most starts before he ran his pitch count up. In his entire professional career, he’s pitched into the seventh inning just once in 53 starts (though, to be fair, Atlanta and Texas were both actively keeping his workload down).

If Feliz is one of these pitchers whose stuff is significantly better in relief than as a starter, then Texas made the right move. They’re a contender in 2010, and the value of a marginal win to them this year is extremely high. Meanwhile, they actually have significant rotation depth, with Derek Holland hanging out in Triple-A waiting for an opening among their starting five. Given his current state of development, Feliz wouldn’t be a significant improvement over what the Rangers already have in the rotation, but there’s a very good chance that he’s their best reliever right now.

The present value of using Feliz as a reliever is quite high. Given that the other option is to have him in Triple-A attempting to develop into a long term starting pitcher, a proposition that is questionable to begin with, I think the Rangers are properly weighing present and future value here. Feliz is a big time talent, but there were good reasons to think his future was in the bullpen regardless of where he pitched this year, and he’ll most help the Rangers try to win the AL West by closing games in 2010.

Your Vacation Open Thread

IMG_6365, originally uploaded by kldobkin.See you next week.

Introducing Dribbble

Let the games begin! Rich Thornett and I have been building Dribbble for what seems like years (oh wait, it has been that long). About a week ago, we quietly rolled back the curtain so the public could finally see what’s been happening in private beta. I’m pretty damned excited about this.

Firstly, what is Dribbble? From the FAQ:

Dribbble is show and tell for designers, developers and other creatives. Members share sneak peeks of their work as “shots” — small screenshots of the designs and applications they are working on. It’s also a place to talk design, give and receive feedback and iterate toward better work.

By posing the question, “What are you working on?“, Dribbble creates a 400 × 300 pixel window into the creative process that didn’t exist previously (many of you may remember Cameron Moll’s Screengrab Confab back in 2004, an early inspiration). A place to peek over the shoulder of those creating beautiful things, leaking works-in-progress or teasing with glimpses of unreleased projects. A place to discover new designers, illustrators, developers and other creatively-minded folks to give and receive feedback. And a place to iterate and play off the shots of others. What Rich and I have been actually creating is a community.

We’ve bootstrapped Dribbble 100%, working on it in our free time. I’ve been continuing the writing, speaking, client work, etc. that happens here at SimpleBits, while Rich is a full-time Ruby on Rails Developer at Cambridge-based PatientsLikeMe. I’m proud of what we’ve been able to create between the two of us, while juggling other responsibilities. Working on this with Rich has been one of the most exciting, challenging and enjoyable projects I’ve worked on to date, and I’m feeling very fortunate to have been able to collaborate with him right here in Salem (truly the next big web hub, yeah?)

I also couldn’t be happier with the path we’ve taken with developing Dribbble: a slow one. Building the community one member at time. Worrying about details. Iterating constantly. Listening to feedback. We’ve never been in a rush.

Quality has been one of our main priorities since opening up the beta some 9 months ago. It’s the reason Dribbble is still invitation only. Not because it’s an elite hangout, but that having the community draft new talent keeps the cat photos out (almost) and helps us scale the app as needed.

Much much more to write and talk about going forward. But for now, it’s great to have the court opened up to the public, and we’re looking forward to making the experience even better and growing the community. For now, get in there and check out some of the amazing things that people are working on. It’s truly inspiring.

Dave Pasternack Cheats on Mets, with Rays!?!

RaysPoBoy
 I can't believe this news, mostly because it means I may have to stop criticizing Tropicana Field. Sheesh. Chef Dave Pasternack has partnered up with concessionaire Centerplate to offer two new food stands to Rays fans, which means to relocated New Yorkers who go to Yankees games. Hee hee. I can't give the Rays a break.

Moving on, Fresco Fish Taco and Ti Dave’s Po’ Boys stands will serve signature menu items Pasternack created especially for Rays fans.

Fresco Fish Taco - soft-shell tacos stuffed with seasoned and grilled fresh mahi-mahi topped with a tangy cabbage slaw, warm tortilla chips, and a choice of tropical pineapple salsa or salsa fresca creamy queso dip; plus a selection of drinks including Presidente beer.
Ti Dave’s Po’ Boys - grilled fresh shrimp or artisanal andouille po boys both smothered with crunchy slaw, sweet peppers and a zesty Creole mustard in a baguette; plus Chef Pasternack’s Cajun Fries; and, Louisiana’s Abita beer (SG loves this beer).

From the Press Release:

The new marquee concessions are a key feature of Centerplate’s commitment to increasing value menu options for the customer, enhancing the overall fan experience and raising the level of hospitality at Tropicana Field. “Chef Pasternack’s signature items will give Rays fans one more reason to cheer at Tropicana Field this year,” says Brian Auld, Senior Vice President of Business Operations for the Rays. “The fish tacos and po’ boys are great additions to the wide variety of quality and affordable food options offered at the stadium.”
And...
Pasternack says: “As a life-long lover of the game, this was a tremendous personal opportunity to improve on the dining options we offer ballpark guests. It’s time for sports and entertainment venues to serve the highest quality food at affordable prices, and we’re excited to help the Tampa Bay Rays lead the charge.’’
The Rays are home again Friday, April 23rd v the Blue Jays at 7:10pm. Am I making a summer Florida trip? Wow. I did tell my grandma I'd be down soon.

Marc on Colby Lewis

I thought I was pretty smart. This past Friday, I noticed that Colby Lewis was making his triumphant return to the Majors. As many of you know, our very own Carson Cistulli has a Texas-sized Man Crush on Mr. Lewis. I suggested to Carson that we should both watch the game and post a duel article on Monday (today) commenting on Lewis’ start. I should have realized that my “bright ideas” always backfire.

Instead of getting to publicly laugh in Carson’s face, I have to eat crow: Lewis actually pitched well. Prior to his self-imposed banishment to Japan, Lewis had appeared in parts of five MLB seasons and posted a 5.79 FIP, 5.14 BB/9 and 6.34 K/9. Hardly exciting stuff.

But then something happened to Lewis in Japan… He apparently learned how to be a pitcher. This past Friday night, he held the Mariners lineup (albeit not a scary collection of hitters) to just one run in seven innings. He allowed five hits and four walks in the game, while also striking out three.

I am a little worried about Lewis going forward because he allowed a lot of fly ball outs (10) and Texas is known for being a pretty good place to hit for power. As well, his control was clearly better than his command – but both are significantly improved from what he previous MLB numbers would suggest. He’s also going to have to find a reliable third pitch (either his curve or change-up) because his fastball-slider combo is not going to be enough once a scouting report on Lewis starts to circulate.

I’m willing to admit that Lewis may not be quite as bad as I thought he was going to be this season, but I still predict a modest WAR this season in the 1.5 to 2.5 range. I think he’ll give Texas some much-needed innings, but he’s going to have some bad games when his fastball command is off and his pitches catch too much of the plate.

MY NY: Rock Kim Gordon's 5 Fave NYC Spots

kim-gordon-my-ny-post-edit.jpg

Kim Gordon has certainly made a lot of noise in her life—first as a Toronto college student experimenting in heavy metal, later as a forming member of '90s alt-rock legend Sonic Youth, then producing records for Hole and co-directing music videos with Spike Jonze. Which is why we weren't surprised that the singer with more labels than J-Lo (vocalist, muse, actress, producer), has an art exhibition that opened here on Thursday called "The Noise Paintings" that shows off her more than considerable talents as a visual artist. With pieces emblazoned with the words "Slow Listener" and "16 Bitch Pile Up," scrawled in dripping ink, the canvasses are more like personalized graffiti homages to noise bands than anything else. In celebration of her NYC show, this stylin' rock chick shares her fave places to grab buttered radishes or cheap reads when she's not on stage or behind the easel. Now that's a "Kool Thing."

Here are the five NYC spots she rocks weekly:

1. John McWhinnie at Glen Horowitz Bookseller: "I like atypical galleries. It's in a brownstone, it's part book store, and I'm having a show there." 50 1/2 East 64th Street (between Park and Madison avenues); 212-754-5626

2. Penine Hart: "They have interesting ceramics and paintings as well as French-flavored antiques." 100 Kenmare Street (at Mulberry Street); 212-226-2602

3. Prune: "I love their deviled eggs and the fact that they serve radishes with butter. The fish and bone marrow are amazing. It's small and personable!" 54 East 1st Street (between First and Second avenues); 212-677-6221

4. Housing Works: "It's great for deals on books and I love that it's in my neighborhood. You can go there for coffee, too." 126 Crosby Street (at Jersey Street); 212-334-3324

5. Acne: "I love their clothes. You can get something special but it's still casual and flattering, tomboyish and sexy. The stuff has a lot of breadth to it." 10 Greene Street (between Canal and Grand streets); 212-625-2828

Kim Gordon: The Noise Paintings
Exhibition open April 8 - May 8, 2010
John McWhinnie at Glen Horowitz Bookseller, 50 1/2 East 64th Street (between Park and Madison avenues); 212-754-5626.

cpanminus 1.0 is coming

I'm now in Vienna, Austria to join the Perl QA Hackathon 2010.

The hackathon is sponsored by Vienna perl mongers and 123people, and all the accommodation and flights are paid by them. I appreciate their help to make CPAN QA/Testing toolchain better.

On day 1 and 2 i've been working on fixing bugs and wishlists for cpanminus supposedly, and just now i shipped cpanminus 0.999_01, the first release candidate for cpanminus 1.0. I'll tell you what's new for this release.

Less Features

The name cpan "minus" has just started as a counter joke for the CPANPLUS client, and adding features to what's supposed to be config-free and deps-free and tiny/light/whatever just doesn't sound right. So i deleted all the developers-oriented features from cpanminus, such as:

  • plugins support
  • --recent command
Some of you, like only 8-10 people on the planet who enjoyed the early adaptation of the plugin system might be disappointed that the plugins are not supported anymore. No worries, i'm starting to write another CPAN client (temporary codenamed "jam" :)), that works on top of cpanminus and supports all of the plugins we developed for cpanminus, just as they are. 

Until that happens, you can continue using the cpanminus 0.9934, which is the last version of the cpanm that supports plugins.

More metadata retrieval

I refactored the code base so cpanm always resolves the package name to distribution using CPAN Meta DB and then use search.cpan.org's metadata index service before downloading the tarball. This makes lots of command run faster, especially the --skip-installed option.

Prompts on failures

One of the thing that annoys you when installing CPAN modules is the test failures. I mean, testing is a great culture of Perl and CPAN but when the test fails, CPAN clients refuses to install without the 'force' mode, and it's so annoying.

cpanminus default behavior is consistent to other clients as CPAN.pm or CPANPLUS: the module is not installed when the test fails (unless --force is specified). 

In 1.0 we add --prompt option, which gives you the chance to fix the failures. When you run cpanm with --prompt option (which you can set by default if you set it in PERL_CPANM_OPT environment variable), and the test fails, it asks you:

  Testing CPAN-Test-Dummy-Perl5-Build-Fails-1.03 failed.
  You can s)kip, r)etry, f)orce install or l)ook ? [s] 

It might be obvious, but "skip", the default choice is to skip installing the module and proceed with other dependencies. "retry" re-runs the test again to see if it was a temporary failure. "force" would, obviously, force install the module, which is very handy if you're really sure that it's just a bad test failure that doesn't matter.

Also, the "look" command is pretty nice. It allows you to open the working directory with the shell, pretty much like CPAN.pm's 'look' command, to see if there's any missing configuration in your system, and you can fix there. And you exit the sub shell and type 'r' to retry installing the module.

Of course you can hit Control-c in the prompt to bail out the entire installation process.

Bailing out when dependencies fail

This is related to the previous section, but cpanminus 1.0 changed the behavior when one ore more dependencies failed to install.

Say, you're trying to install Plack and all of its dependencies. Imagine one of its dependencies, like HTTP::Body, failed the test and hence not installed.

Previously, cpanminus still continues the build process of Plack itself, and if Plack doesn't define an unit test that uses HTTP::Body, the test accidentally passes and cpanminus succeeds to install Plack. The end result is that Plack is installed to your system, however when you're trying to use Plack::Request, you'll get a runtime error like "Can't locate HTTP/Body.pm in @INC ...".

This is a broken installation and should be avoided.

cpanminus 1.0 will bail out the build process when one or more dependencies failed to install, by default. With --prompt option enabled, cpanminus will ask you:

  Installing the following dependencies failed:
  ==> HTTP::Body
  Do you want to continue building Plack-0.9928 anyway? [n] 

So if you're really sure that the dependency failure doesn't matter, you can still continue installing the module by hitting 'y'. Of course you can also use the --force option to force install anything, like you've always been able to.

(Note that Plack thing is just an example, and since Plack has tests that uses HTTP::Body, it won't happen :D)

Minor improvements

These are the major improvements and changes in cpanminus 1.0 but there are more minor improvements. Such as setting a proper exit code, better error messages, uninstalling shadows by default and being able to specify your favorite mirror with --mirror. See the Changes file or the newly added `man cpanm` to see all the details.

I'll start working on a new CPAN client, as well as specifying cpanminus API so that the new client can make use of it. Stay tuned :) 

The Arcade Fire covers archive :: 18 covers and counting!

Now that it’s official that the Arcade Fire will be making their return to the stage, I figured it’d be fun to add them to the long list of covers archives I’ve put together. So sure, everyone knows the Arcade Fire used to do a mean cover of the Talking Heads, but did you know [...]

Highline

Chris Stain Highline $25 screen print 19" x 12.5" signed/numbered/archival paper edition of 23 Chris Stain Highline screen print/spray paint $25 08highline_400.jpg

April 11, 2010

You know I love you guys, Tubefilter, but this is...



You know I love you guys, Tubefilter, but this is chuckleworthy.

(via bradkim)

An Android Side Project

I want to be able to write apps for my phone in in something other than the Java language; for example Ruby or Python. This isn’t one of the things my group at Google has asked me to look at, but I think it’s worth doing and worth some of my time. I’m writing this today because I’m amused by the contrast with the current hubbub over Apple having tightened the developer thumbscrews.

Why?

I like the libraries, but I have to confess that these days, I’ve slipped into the camp of those who find the Java language verbose and rigid and overly ceremonious. It bothers me less on Android than on general-purpose computers, because Android apps tend to have a pretty thin layer of application code between calls out to the network and GPS and accelerometer and so on.

But having said that, I’m pretty sure that in, for example, Ruby, I could write less than half the number of lines of code to get any particular job done. Also, I entirely loathe Java generics.

What Google Thinks

As usual, I’m not speaking officially for Google here, but my impression is that if there were an official reaction, it’d be along the lines of “Uh, whatever, we’re focused on shipping this next release.” Which is likely appropriate; The Androiders are so zoned-in on building a great SDK and runtime and Market that my wild-eyed screw-the-semicolon ideas are not exactly likely to become front-of-mind. Well, unless I can show that they work.

It may come as a surprise to regular readers here, but there are vast expanses of our profession, including some of the best and brightest, who haven’t got the dynlang bug yet.

And the Official Policy?

That’s a non-issue. An Android app has to be an APK file, and if you generate/sign one of those and are in the developer program, and it’s not illegal or porn or something, you can drop it into the Android Market. (If falls afoul of Market rules, you can post it on your own website or some other market, and people can still install it, no jailbreaking required.) How you build the APK is up to you.

In practical terms, if you want it to look-and-feel like an Android app, you have to use the Android SDK; but what language you generate those bytecodes and method calls with, and how you compile it, well, why should anyone care? I’m using Eclipse, and while it Just Works with the library and emulators and other tools, it’s failed to win my heart. I’m seriously thinking of going to Emacs and seeing if I could replace Ant with Rake. And, of course, every piece of the toolchain is open-source and thus in principle can be forked and improved and replaced.

If what you produce sucks, the word will get around quick; having used the official Android toolchain won’t save you. And if it doesn’t suck, not having used it won’t get in the way.

I’m actually a little puzzled by the Apple policy; the technical side I mean, not the business issues, which Gruber explains with ruthless clarity. I can see Apple wanting to enforce the use of their APIs, but the compulsory linkage to the Objective C programming language makes me feel like I’m missing something; where is it carved in stone that it provides the optimal, impossible-to-improve, way to use the iPhone APIs? And if nobody’s allowed to try anything else, how will we find out?

Anyhow, the market will decide; the big small-m market, not the iPhone nor Android Markets. But in the meantime, I’d say we’ve got more scope for fun over here on the Android side.

Candidates

Right at the moment the Rubyists seem to be in the lead in this race, what with Ruboto and Duby. I can’t think of any architectural reasons why Jython shouldn’t be a candidate, except for Sun let Frank Wierzbicki go and I’m not sure anyone’s working on it much, these days.

Also, in theory you ought to be able to use the Android NDK to get the native C versions of Ruby and/or Python going. It’d be a slog, but the idea doesn’t seem insane.

There are lots of other languages, and maybe one of them is a better bet; My focus on Python and Ruby reflects my own prejudices, but my mind is open. And of course JavaScript is already a first-class citizen pretty well everywhere.

In Conclusion

Got any good ideas for how to let me write serious, shippable Android code without ever having to do this again?
HashMap<String, List<Person>> buf = new HashMap<String, List<Person>>();

If you do, get in touch. I might be able to help you help me.

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