Thursday, August 31, 2006

How to make a light bulb from a pickle

If, for some reason, we end up in a Mad Max-like scenario where light bulbs are in such high demand that they become a new form of currency, take solace in the fact that you now know how to make one from a pickle, two nails and a cord from an old expired lamp, Macgyver.

Oh, and you probably shouldn't try this at home.

Update: Here's a video!

Link (via Digg)

Labels: , , , , ,

Lost in a cave: "This was not good."

Dr. Mike recounts his hair-raising story of a Malaysian cave dive gone horribly wrong. During his two hour decompression stop at the end of his dive, Mike got bored and decided to get some food from a nearby habitat to help pass the time. He got lost due to the low visibility, and things spiraled out of control from there:
I hit my head on something hard.

I figured it was a shallow tree branch or something so I reached up to push myself away from it but what my hands felt sent a jolt of unadulterated fear screaming down my spine. Rock.

Above my head my hands feverously felt across to the left to the right all around. Above me was something that just couldn'’t possible be there and the last thing I expected to encounter during my ascent from 6m in this small head pool.

I was inside a cave.

How can that possibly be??


I assessed the situation.

-No wing inflation.
-Almost no dilutant
-No O2 (it was maybe 10 bar left in a 2L)!
-No bailout (I had staged it as I was decoing on O2)
-Only one fin
-Lost inside a cave with no line and no idea which direction to take
-8 hours on scrubber so no idea if its going to run out any moment
-zero visibility

This was not good.
Not good indeed. Divester points out that Mike appears to be a pretty experienced cave diver, but this story is one of four "screw up stories" that'll put the hair on the back of your neck on end. Here are some more choice quotes:

Lost inside a wreck:
I am in a small room with zero visibility. I am unable so far to locate the way out of this room although I'’m sure I will do so shortly. But even if I find the way out of this room I am obviously some way inside the wreck -– I have no idea how far or which direction[.]
Stuck inside a wreck:
After a lot of scrapping and tank banging I managed to half turn around then I attempted to make my way out of the room. Clunk! I tried again, clunk! Ok this is tight, Ill try moving more to the left....Clunk!..more to the right...clunk! Ok don'’t worry drop down a bit and try again...clunk! a bit higher?..clunk!


[W]oooshhhh! I sh*t myself.
Low PPO2:
I reached the surface and couldnt believe what I saw. Every divers worse nightmare. We were in the middle of a tropical storm.
Link (via Divester)

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

How to defend yourself in a barfight [Video]

Bas Rutten, inventor of the Bas Rutten Mixed Martial Arts system (who else?), offers some tips on how to defend yourself in a barfight.

Update: The original video was removed, so here's another, longer version. This one's a bit more violent (and more thorough), so consider yourself warned.

Link (via Lockergnome)

Labels: , , , , ,

Top 10 cameras used on Flickr

Panasonic DMC-FZ20Photo: Rama's brother
You're probably growing weary of Flickr related posts buy now. I apologize, and I promise to change things up a bit in the next few posts, but...

If you were ever curious about which cameras are favored by the 4.5 million users who have posted nearly 230 million photos to Flickr (TechCrunch), Flagrant Disregard has your answer.

Link (via Digg)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 28, 2006

It's Official: Flickr offers geotagging functionality

Earlier this month, I stumbled upon a feature that Flickr was working on, and wrote about my experience here on this blog. It disappeared shortly after making its appearance, and showed signs that it was still a work in progress (and an impressive one at that). Now it's official. Flickr just rolled out their geotagging components today, and they are wicked impressive.

Start by using the Organizer and selecting the Map tab. You're then presented with a Yahoo! Local Maps Beta-like interface (say that fast three times) on which you can drag and drop your photos to geotag them to your heart's content.

From what I've seen so far, it's pretty slick. They have some interface quirks to work out, to be sure, but I'm sure that we'll see those ironed out in due course. It will be interesting to see how the Flickr community uses these features. I know that geotagging has been around for a while, but in my opinion, it hasn't been available to such a large community with such a compelling interface.

I haven't explored as in depth as Thomas Hawk, so follow the link for his thorough review.

Update: For those of you who geotag your photos using another tool (or just have a really fancy camera), Rev Dan Catt pointed out that Flickr can read GPS information found in a photo's EXIF data when a photo is uploaded. You just need to turn it on.

Update 2: Flickr posted their own very informative post here.

Update 3: Flickr users have geotagged just over 1.2 million photos in just 24 hours!


Labels: , ,

Lowriders in LA

Artist Coop went to a lowrider car show/contest in LA's Elysian Park. He posted a ton of great photos from the day (including the one above).
Artist and hotrodder Robert Williams points to the example of the Indian longrifle as one of many instances of humans’ interaction with, and need to transform, the impersonal products of the Industrial Revolution into something more relatable, more human, something with a soul. Hot rodding and car customization are a part of this long history, too. Perhaps the most perfect example, in fact.


I love these cars, and the culture around them. To me, they represent everything that is beautiful, crazy, and wonderful about L.A.
Follow the link to check them out.


Labels: , , , , ,

Get the blue out of your underwater photos

I've played with underwater photography using a Canon S300 for a little while now. It's been a lot of fun to take the camera on dives, and I've even been lucky enough to get a nice shot every once and a while. One problem with using a point and shoot under water (or any camera for that matter) is that certain colors start to fade at depth because their corresponding wavelengths of light start to disappear. The reds disappear first, followed by yellow, and so on (there's a nice table here). Note the blue tint on the photo above. If I recall correctly, it was taken at a depth of about 40 feet.

To compensate for this, you can use a strobe (flash) to give you the light that you need. They have a limited range though, and have a nasty habit of lighting up particles in the water, creating a cloudy shot. You can limit those reflections, also known as backscatter, with a detached strobe that shines light at your subject an alternate angle, but those are rarely available for point and shoot cameras and are often prohibitively expensive. Believe me, I'd love to put my dSLR in a nice IKELITE housing, but I just don't have the bankroll for that.

You can also try a few post processing methods, one of which is well described at has another.

Apparently, Alex Mustard has created some underwater filters which are reported to solve this problem when snapping pictures between 10 and 40 feet. Originally only available for dSLR cameras, Alex is now giving the point and shoots some love. Here's what Divester has to say:
I'm sure you know about Alex Mustard's Magic Filters, gel filters that help divers produce beautiful underwater images. For those of you who don't know, the reviews of Magic Filters have been glowing. The only problem with the filters has been that they're only for use with dSLR cameras. Until now.
Does anyone have experience with these filters? Are they any good? I think that I'll give them a try. If/when I do, I'll post a photo or two here.


Labels: , , , ,

UV Tats

Damn Funny Pictures has small collection of UV tattoos. What better way to let your inner child out than a tattoo with invisible ink? I checked out Wikipedia's entry on the practice, and it includes this warning:
UV tattoo ink is not commonly known or used, as very few varieties of UV inks are approved for use in the US. This is because some people have had reactions to the ink, ranging from minor itching to dermatitis. Several UV inks are suspected carcinogens and allergens and at this time, no research has been conducted into the possible side effects of long term exposure. Some UV inks are known to yellow or turn slightly brown with sun exposure.
Apparently this is still a work in progress, and will still likely show up under normal light. For my money, I'd stick with the real thing. Even still, it looks pretty damn cool.

Update: has a larger collection of higher resolution photos. (Thanks, Gabriel!)

Link (via Dvorak)

Labels: , ,

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Wheelchair skatepark [Video]

Check out these guys re-writing the definition for "disability." Amazing.

Link (via Digg)

Labels: , ,

Friday, August 25, 2006

8-bit videogame techno remixes

Here are a couple of videos for your Friday. The first is a video by a Japanese group named YMCK, inspired by Tetris:

The second is a live performance by Nullsleep. He doesn't come off as much of a DJ in this clip playing his Gameboy and doing his interpretive dance thing (isn't he just playing the tune off his iPod?), but the mix is worth a listen nonetheless:

Via Joystiq

Labels: , , , ,

Giant praying mantis invades Prague

Check out this QuickTime VR of a giant praying mantis in Prague's Old Town Square. Apparently, the circus is in town.
The humanoid invaders, on extended springy legs, drove their giant insect through the Old Town amid fireballs and deep heavy funk grooves. The police stood by, trying to direct the bug to more peaceful environs, as many of the grumpier tourists nearby were rather put off their expensive goulash and roasted duck.
That building between the mantis and the large fireball is the home of the Prague Orloj, an astronomical clock that I posted about earlier this week.

Link (via Boing Boing)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Slo-Mo Home Depot [Video]

Improv Everywhere, an improvisational acting troupe, invaded a Home Depot with the intent to shop in slow motion. At one point, the roughly 225 person group froze, standing still in the store for five minutes. Eerily enough, Jewel's "Standing Still" came onto the PA just before the group stopped moving:
Amazingly, about thirty seconds before the freezing in place began, the Home Depot PA system started playing Jewel's 2001 hit, "Standing Still." Really. Several agents came up to me after the mission asking how I had gotten that song to play. I wish we were clever enough to sneak into the Home Depot back rooms and insert a CD into their stereo, but it was honestly just a freaky coincidence. I'm sure their music is piped in via some type of corporate satellite radio subscription.
Here are some videos of the action (or inaction, rather):

Here are some employees enthusiastically describing what they just witnessed. Most didn't know what to make of it:

Link (via Digg)

Labels: , , , ,

Don't do this to your cellmate

This is a compelling need for life insurance if I've ever seen one.

Link (via Digg)

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Music is good brain food

Wired News has an interview with rock producer turned neuroscientist Daniel Levitin regarding how the brain reacts to music. Mr. Levitin has been doing this for about 16 years, and is an associate professor at McGill University in Montreal. According to Wired, he's considered one of the worlds leading experts in cognitive music perception. He says:
Through studies of music and the brain, we've learned to map out specific areas involved in emotion, timing and perception -- and production of sequences. [...] What we're learning about the part in the frontal lobe called BA47 is the most exciting. Music suggests that it's a region that helps us predict what comes next in a sequence.
He also goes onto describe that "music activates the same parts of the brain and causes the same neurochemical cocktail as a lot of other pleasurable activities like orgasms or eating chocolate." Sure, that's something that many of us have suspected for a while, but now we have a neuroscientist to back up that notion.

Link (via Boing Boing)

Labels: , ,

The ultimate list of free software from Microsoft

The Road to Know Where has compiled a treasure trove of free Windows software. They have gone through the painstaking process of navigating Microsoft's convoluted website (hey MS, take a tip from your friends in Cupertino!) so that you don't have to. They also throw in a few third party applications for good measure. Here are some highlights (as I see 'em) from the over 150 item list:

  • Tweak UI gives access to system settings not exposed in the default user interface, including mouse settings, Explorer settings, taskbar settings, and more.

  • Desktop Search – Enterprise Edition is optimized to help the enterprise IT manager easily customize, deploy and manage the installation of desktop search across their organization.

  • ISO Recorder Power Toy makes images of CDs & DVDs to create ISO images.

  • Mount ISO Files Virtually - this tool allows ISO image files to be mounted virtually as a CD/DVD device.

  • SyncToy helps copy, move, and synchronize files with digital cameras, e-mail, cell phones, portable media players, camcorders, PDAs, and laptops. (Support: How to . . .) I mentioned this last week. It's worth a second look.

  • Video Decoder Checkup Utility helps determine if an MPEG-2 DVD video decoder is installed, and whether it's compatible with Media Player 10 or Media Center Edition. This is invaluable if you have a Windows MCE box.

Link (via Robert Scoble)

Labels: , , ,

Don't let pop stars drive Ferrari's [Video]

No comment. I've got nothing.


Labels: , , , ,

Board Dots: Prepare to be frustrated

Here's a simple game designed to get you to pull the hair out of your head.


Link (via Digg)

Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Prague Orloj [Zooomr]

Prague OrlojPrague Orloj Hosted on Zooomr

Zooomr Portals are now up. It looks like Kristopher had a long night. Click through to see a portalized Prague Orloj, the astronomical clock in Prague, Czech Republic.

Update: After clicking through, mouse over the image to see the Portals!

Update 2: Bummer. It looks like the Portals don't work correctly for some Internet Explorer users. Try using Firefox for maximum coolness.


Labels: , , , , , ,

Monday, August 21, 2006

Big Band [Flickr]

Zooomr Portals to drop today

Kristopher Tate will be rolling out some new features over at today. Along with some welcome bug fixes, Zooomr will get a cool little feature that he's calling "Portals." It's basically an enhanced version of the Flickr notes tool, but it includes the ability to link photos together via rectangular "portals" that are drawn onto the image.

Here's a video demo of the feature:

I've already got some shots ready to be "portalized," and I'll try to post them shortly after the upgrades show up on the site.

Update: According to this, the upgrades have been slow going. Hopefully we'll see the results soon.

Update 2: It took most of the night, but it's up now!


Labels: , , ,

Safer searching

In light of AOL's recent disclosure of "anonymous" search information, the EFF has issued a simple set of tips to keep your search history private. Some of them are pretty common sense, such as avoiding using personal information in your searches. Others are worth looking into, but require a bit more effort. For instance:

  • Don't accept cookies from your search engine. If you use a service like web-based e-mail that requires you to accept cookies, don't let the personally-identifying information in your e-mail get linked with your searches. For Firefox users, the free CustomizeGoogle extension will allow you to anonymize your search cookie without breaking GMail (see the "Privacy" tab in the CustomizeGoogle options).

  • Use an anonymizing proxy, or proxy network like Tor, to prevent search engines from learning your IP address, especially if your ISP gives you the same IP address each time you use the Internet.

It's short and sweet, but we could all use a reminder every now and again.

Update: If you're uncomfortable installing an extension from a third party website, you can refer to the CustomizeGoogle listing at Mozilla. And of course, always exercise caution when installing software from the 'net.


Labels: , ,

Farecast expands coverage to 55+ cities

Back in June, I mentioned an airfare prediction website called Farecast. It's a service that is designed to save you money by predicting whether airfares will rise or fall, helping you decide when you should buy your plane ticket. Back then, it only monitored airfares between Boston, MA and Seattle, WA. Their coverage has now been expanded to just over 55 cities, including:

Albuquerque, NM
Atlanta, GA
Austin, TX
Baltimore, MD
Boston, MA
Buffalo, NY
Charlotte, NC
Chicago, IL-MDW
Chicago, IL-ORD
Cincinnati, OH
Cleveland, OH
Columbus, OH
Dallas, TX-DFW
Denver, CO
Detroit, MI
Fort Myers, FL
Ft Lauderdale, FL
Hartford, CT
Houston, TX-IAH
Indianapolis, IN
Jacksonville, FL
Kansas City, MO
Las Vegas, NV
Los Angeles, CA
Memphis, TN
Miami, FL
Milwaukee, WI
Minneapolis, MN
Nashville, TN
New Orleans, LA
New York, NY-JFK
New York, NY-LGA
Newark, NJ
Norfold, VA
Oakland, CA
Omaha, NE
Ontario, CA
Orlando, FL
Philadelphia, PA
Phoenix, AZ
Pittsburgh, PA
Portland, OR
Providence, RI
Raleigh/Durham, NC
Sacramento, CA
Salt Lake City, UT
San Antonio, TX
San Diego, CA
San Francisco, CA
San Jose, CA
Santa Ana, CA
Seattle, WA
St. Louis, MO
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC-DCA
Washington, DC-IAD
West Palm Beach, FL

If their fare predictions are accurate, this will be a great tool for saving some money on your next flight. I wonder if Farcast may actually have an impact on the fares that it's trying to predict by messing with supply and demand if it becomes an extremely popular way to buy tickets. If that were to happen, it's likely a long way off, and we'll hopefully enjoy some substantial savings until then.

Link (via Boing Boing)

Labels: ,

Saturday, August 19, 2006

No one cares about your blog

That's funny. Funny because it's true.


Labels: ,

Friday, August 18, 2006

What the blogspace needs now...

I was listening to a podcast of a talk given by Anil Dash of Six Apart (the creators of Movable Type, TypePad and LiveJournal) in which he talks about blogs and social networks (you can listen for yourself here. Check out more at, and something he said really resonated with me. He mentioned that by and large, most bloggers don't consider themselves "citizen journalists," nor do they do what they do to influence people or affect change. He submits (and I assume that he's got the numbers to back this up), that this type of blogger makes up only 10% of the larger community, and that the primary goal of those in the long tail is to have personal conversations with friends and family. He goes on to say that in this context, "real influence is not the sheer number of people that read what you write. Real influence is the people that you're connected to that actually care about what you say; that take what you say as important and meaningful in their lives."

People are using their blogs and social networks like MySpace to keep up with their friends, re-connect with old acquaintances and share with their family. I know, that's an obvious statement but please bear with me. I'm going somewhere with this. They also use them for networking with business contacts, bands and other people who share a mutual interest but for all intents and purposes are complete strangers.

Therein lies the rub. What results is a need to maintain multiple social networks. Due to the limited flexibility of most social networks, they don't do a good job of reflecting our social interactions in real life. Our online networks become segmented. We only have so much time in our day, and we are limited in the number of networks in which we can participate. I don't have any hard numbers to back this up, but I've heard that the average number of networks used by an individual is roughly four to ten. Students tend to participate in more of these networks.

So what now? How do we counterbalance the segmentation of our online lives? We consolidate. We try to kill as many birds with as few stones as possible. We make sure that one of our online social networks includes a MySpace, or MySpace equivalent. If we group most of our contacts on one of these über-networks, we are able to visit with more of our contacts while visiting fewer social networking sites, reducing the overhead and time required to maintain these networks.

This creates a new set of problems, though. In real life, we generally tend to be aware of our audience when it comes to sharing the juicy little details that make up our life. We don't tell the same stories that we tell our close friends to our aunt June or our co-workers. On the flip-side, we don't want to know that our boss gets a rash whenever she uses Tide (this is a fictional example!) This happens on larger social networks like MySpace. Friends, acquaintances, co-workers and family (to a lesser degree) are all put in the same boat. MySpace isn't granular enough to tell the difference. There are quite a few documented cases where MySpace has been the cause (direct and indirect) of firings (1, 2), arrests (1, 2, 3, 4), suspensions (1, 2, 3) and more. Moreover, an increasing number of employers are perusing potential employee MySpace accounts, and using that information in the decision making process ( The same problem exists with blogs as well. Wall Street Journal columnist Jeremy Wagstaff has found that "7.1% of companies have fired an employee for violating blog or message board policies." (the LOOSE wire blog). Blogs, being the one-to-many distribution system that they are, generally do not discriminate their content based on the person viewing it.

Where does this leave us? We either A) risk disseminating far too much personal information in an effort to share with the people that we care about, or B) maintain a segmented social network in multiple venues and limit participation on the larger, more public networks. One could always opt out entirely, but where's the fun in that?

What the blogspace and online social networking sites need now is a more robust way for users to segment their audience, thus filtering their content. As Mr. Dash indicates, "if you want to make an environment where people can really connect, you have to acknowledge how they actually act." No one has 1000 friends on MySpace, but someone may have 30 friends, 20 family members, 50 co-workers, and 900 acquaintances or other contacts (even that might be stretching it, but you get the idea). The idea of "six degrees of separation" is intriguing, but it doesn't bode well for your contact list. By segmenting their friends list, users could then post pictures and content in relative confidence, knowing that the content would be viewed by their target audience. Similarly, bloggers could share the intimate little details of their life with their intimate friends, rather than the world at large.

Flickr, a photo sharing website and community, has the right idea. Although rudimentary, it offers a way to break up your contact list into Contacts, Friends and Family. It allows the user to share personal photos with their friends and/or family while limiting the exposure of those moments with the rest of web. If more social networking and blogging sites followed this example by embedding privacy and permissions data into the content published by the user, it could create a more efficient way for users to participate, while at the same time limiting the exposure to the less desirable consequences of sharing too much with too many. MySpace has introduced the concept of a "Preferred List" of people who are allowed to view certain blog posts, but it has a long way to go.

Mr. Dash believes that his company is about 12 to 18 months away from this. The good news is that there are some players in the "social communication industry" that have identified this problem and are working towards a solution. Doing so would alleviate many of the issues faced by bloggers and social network participants, allowing many to take back their content. It's no silver bullet, but a few choice changes could allow MySpace users to make MySpace their space once again and allow bloggers to share with friends and family in the format that they've grown to know and love without exposing themselves to those they may regret.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Watch and listen to RealMedia without RealPlayer

I cannot stand RealNetwork's RealPlayer and all of the bloatware that comes with it. It is a slow, bulky hog that sinks its roots into your system with a messaging system that seems like it can only be turned off by uninstalling the software. Its installation process not only demands your full attention to keep it from hijacking all of your file associations, but it also requires registration so they can get their grubby hands on my email address.

Apparently some bad press about their software has prompted RealNetworks to clean up their act a bit, but trust is a difficult thing to regain once you've lost it, so I've done without. It was a pain not to be able to view or listen to some content, but I've managed to get along.

Now I can have my cake and eat it too, for now. I recently discovered an application called Real Alternative/Media Player Classic that is capable of listening to both RealMedia audio and video without having to install RealNetwork's software. Apparently, it's been around for a while now. So far, it has worked great, and I highly recommend it. Follow the link below to try it for yourself.


Labels: , , ,

Some useful XP PowerToys

Periodically, Microsoft releases some new PowerToys for Windows XP that either tweak your system, or add some functionality to it. They're shortcuts to little bits of additional functionality that can make life easier. Here are a couple relatively new PowerToys that I've found useful, along with an old one that I can't live without:

  • RAW Image Thumbnailer and Viewer: If you've been reading Neologies lately, you have already noticed my recent interest in photography. This PowerToy lets you view your RAW camera images in Windows Explorer. You can view thumbnails, as well as view those images in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (which can be used for slideshows). It comes in pretty handy when you're trying to manage your RAW images in Explorer, which I generally prefer.

  • SyncToy (version 1.2): This is a pretty robust, yet compact way to synchronize files between a number of different devices and drives. It offers several different methods to do this, including the basic synchronization (both ways), echo (one-way), subscriptions (one-way if files exist), contribution (updates only one-way), and combine (files are updated and copied both ways). If you're not sure which method you'd like to use, it also offers a way to preview what will happen before any changes are made. That said, it would sure be nice if it included a mechanism for scheduling the synchronization of some folders.

  • Image Resizer: This is a tiny utility that embeds itself as a Windows Explorer extension (it's a command added to the right-click menu) for image files. It allows you to resize any number of selected files to a preset resolution. If the presets aren't to your liking, you can plug in your own. I use this all the time when uploading images to the web or sending pictures via email. It's great when sending a full resolution photo isn't appropriate.

There are a couple other PowerToys available that may be worth a look as well, but these are the ones that I can't live without. Enjoy!


Labels: , , ,

Watch pinstriping masters at work [Video]

Watch these steady-handed masters of their craft do their thing:

Link (via Boing Boing)

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Beer goggles [Zooomr]

Beer gogglesBeer goggles Hosted on Zooomr


Labels: , ,

BS Travel Blogs

Gadling, a travel blog, pointed out a story from the International Herald Tribune about the growing preponderance travel blogs run by advertising and marketing firms. Blogging as a medium has picked up a lot of steam, and the mainstream media is starting to get the hint, starting with some of the more nimble advertising agencies. As a result, we're beginning to see a lot more BS out here. It's not so much a problem of getting blasted by ads, but by getting mislead by companies just looking to make a buck by swaying your opinion one way or the other.

The Wall Street Journal ran a story about the ease at which marketers can use blogs "to distribute information over the Internet while disguising its origins." ABC News vouched for their effectiveness as well, indicating that "people have come to so distrust the mainstream media that they're more likely to believe something that seems to come from the horse's mouth." Readers (and viewers) give these websites greater credibility because of the immediacy and authenticity of their message.

That cred will start to dry up if the authenticity of the message comes into question. Hopefully more stories like this, and the self-correcting nature of the 'space will help weed this type of stuff out.

Link (via Gadling)

Labels: ,

Sam Jackson on the Daily Show [Video]

And now for something completely different. Samuel L. Jackson talks with Jon Stewart about his movie Snakes on a [Motherfucking] Plane.

Oh, and sorry about the commercials.

Link (via Digg)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Jill Carroll Story

Jill Carroll is telling her harrowing story in installments on the Christian Science Monitor's website. In the first installment, she recounts her abduction, the disappearance of her driver, and killing of her friend and interpreter Alan Enwiya. She describes her first days in captivity:
That's when we'd watched Oprah. Afterward, Abu Rasha asked me what I liked to eat for breakfast, and what time I had it. It was part of this pattern - they all seemed concerned that I think they were good, or at least that they were treating me well.

It sounds hospitable. But in my mind every second was a test - the choice of food, TV program, everything - and they would kill me if I gave the wrong answer.


At night I'd fall asleep and be free in my dreams. Then I'd wake up and my situation would land on me like a weight. Every morning, it was as if I was kidnapped anew.
Update: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 are now up.


Labels: , ,

Friday, August 11, 2006

MS to give holiday computer buyers coupons for free Vista upgrades?

Some news leaked out regarding an alleged incentive program offered by Microsoft to entice potential holiday PC buyers into sealing the deal. A number of computer manufacturers and retailers were a little peeved at the news that Vista will be missing the 2006 holiday buying season. This would have a major impact on their business since so many consumers would rather wait for Vista before buying a new PC.

Apparently, Microsoft is attempting to alleviate that pain by offering consumers coupons for a free Vista upgrade once it comes out (whenever that is). While Microsoft isn't confirming this, they aren't denying it either. From Ars Technica:
The coupon offer will begin in October, and is a result of a joint effort between Microsoft and a group of leading PC vendors worldwide. According to the anonymous sources, Microsoft actually reached an agreement with these PC companies back in July, but decided not to reveal their plans so as to protect PC sales in the third quarter.
Will this be enough to keep PC sales strong through the holiday season?


Labels: ,

How to open a bottle with a piece of paper [Video]

Here's a tip that you might be able to use this weekend. It shows how to open a bottle of beer by simply folding a piece of paper into a bottle opener (it sounds more complex than it is). I wasn't able to do this my self on my first attempt, but it may be due to the fact that I use cheap recycled printer paper at home. Heavier paper would probably make this much easier.

Link (via Chris Pirillo)

Labels: , ,

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Grand Theft Auto: National Geographic Firetruck Special [Video]

This is a classic bit from a Family Guy episode that originally aired a season or two ago (is that long enough to be considered a "classic?" Oh well.)

Here's the original Family Guy scene:

Link (via Digg)

Three great digital photography posts from O'Reilly

Panasonic DMC-FZ20Photo: Rama's brother
How I stumbled on these is a confusing and convoluted story, but I found some great tips for the burgeoning digital photographer on the O'Reilly Network (the same O'Reilly that publishes technical books). The first, Top Ten Digital Photography Tips, is the best, offering some good tips and tricks such as using the "Cloudy" white balance setting to warm up outdoor shots, using sunglasses as a polarizer, and how to get that soft "slow motion water" effect.

A Random Collection of Photoshop CS Tips provides a number of ways to optimize your experience with Photoshop. The Ideal Digital Photographer's Workflow focuses on increasing efficiency in the "lab." Part three is the best, in my opinion, but here are links to parts one and two if you'd like to start from the beginning.

Links (indirectly via Boing Boing):

Labels: ,

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

I got Dugg, 'Crunched, etc.

It looks like I stumbled upon something interesting last week, judging by the traffic bump Neologies saw over the weekend. Take a look at what that looks like in Shawn Hogan's Geovisitors tracker above. Click the image for a larger view.

I saw an initial bump when TechCrunch picked it up on a tip from Kristopher Tate of Zooomr. It started picking up momentum as a result of a post on Digg. The image you see above is a result of the second wave brought on by the Diggers. It's a 24-hour capture representing most of Saturday's traffic. It wasn't a big Digg as Diggs go, but it brought me quite a few new visitors.

If you're interested in using Shawn's Geovisitors tool on your blog or website, make sure to check it out. It's a pretty slick usage of the Google Maps API that he's offering it for free. The best part is that using it is literally a cut and paste operation. Simply head to Digital Point's website for more information and a code snippet to get you started.


Stop those annoying Firefox script timeout messages

I upload photos to Flickr and Zooomr pretty regularly. Both sites use a script for the upload, and that script understandably runs for a long time while waiting for the upload to finish, especially when uploading multiple photos.

Firefox is impatient when it comes to scripts, and has a built-in timeout designed to protect you from poorly written scripts that may run away with your CPU. Since the scripts that Flickr and Zooomr use spend a lot of time waiting, Firefox thinks that it has timed out. As a result, it pops up an error message for the "Unresponsive script" and asks you if you want to terminate it. If you choose to continue, it will ask again every five seconds until the script has completed. Very annoying.

You can change how long Firefox will wait before it thinks that a script has timed out (from Rob Cottingham):
1. Type about:config in Firefox's address bar.
2. Filter down to the value for dom.max_script_run_time.
3. Change the value to something higher than the default (which is 5.) I set mine to 20.
I don't know about you, but my uploads generally take longer than 20 seconds, so I changed my timeout to 120 (two minutes). It's probably wise not to set it inordinately high, since the timeout may come in handy for what it was intended for: poorly written scripts. If you set that value too high, you'll probably end up having to terminate Firefox before it gets around to stopping the offending script.


Labels: ,

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Vader is a smartass [Video]

Two Star Wars related posts in two weeks. I think I've reached my quota.

Link (via TWiT)

Labels: , , , ,

How to perform a great card trick

Instructables has great tutorial on how to perform a pretty impressive card trick, complete with video. It involves a single feat of sleight of hand known as the "double lift." The move requires some practice, but is apparently pretty easy to do once you get the hang of it.

Link (via Digg)

Monday, August 07, 2006

Here It Goes Again [Video]

Check out this wickedly awesome vid from the band OK Go called Here It Goes Again.

Link (via Zooomr Blog)

Labels: , , , , , ,

Lola [Zooomr]

LolaLola Hosted on Zooomr


Labels: , ,

Friday, August 04, 2006

Divester Photo Contest: Vote for me!

I was just informed that the above picture was selected as a finalist for Divester's (pronounced Dive-ster) first photo contest! From the site:

Recently, Divester excitedly announced its first-ever photo contest. The judges -- Beth and Shaun Tierney, authors of Diving the World -- have just completed the hard work of whittling down the more than 1200 images in Divester's Flickr pool into the Top 10.

The winner will receive a complimentary copy of the book Diving the World. I'm up against some stiff competition, and I'm very flattered to be chosen as one of the finalists. You can vote here:

Divester's First Photo Contest: Vote For Your Favorite Image!

Vote as many times as you can before voting closes at midnight on August 10th!

Thanks for your support.

Link to the contest
Link to the photo

Labels: , , , ,

Xterra Sunset [Zooomr]

Xterra SunsetXterra Sunset Hosted on Zooomr


Labels: , , ,

Flickr working on geotagging functionality?

I noticed something interesting this morning while organizing some of my photos on Flickr. On the Organize page, I spotted an additional tab on the top labeled "ADMIN:DEV". Clicking on it opened a world map (courtesy of Yahoo! Maps/NAVTEQ) and an options panel. That panel prompted me to set my default geotagging permissions for new photos (that is, who can see the geotagging information). After selecting "Everyone", I was presented a map to which I could drag and drop photos, thus tagging them with latitude and longitude information.

The photo selection dropdown list at the bottom of the screen also had additional selection criteria for "Your photos without geotagged information..." or something along those lines. At this point, I decided to cull some coordinates for a few pictures from Google Earth to give the new feature a whirl. When I returned, the tab was gone. Unfortunately, I didn't have the wherewithal to take screenshots, so I have to rely on memory.

The fact that the tab disappeared, along with its title (ADMIN:DEV) indicates that this is something that is obviously not ready for prime time. In my opinion, this would be a welcome feature for Flickr. There are already a number of people doing this, and it would be great to see that integrated with the Flickr experience. I have heard that Zooomr has some great geotagging functionality, but I haven't tried it yet. I'd be happy to see this show up on Flickr since I'm already a paid Pro user, and have spent a good deal of time tagging and organizing my photos there.

It's nice to see that some competition in the photo sharing space is breeding some new features!

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

Bob Ross is a certified head shrinker [Video]

He's not really. He's dead. He really came through in a pinch though, as I was a little discombobulated after viewing/listening to a particular video (don't follow that link if you are easily disturbed). My soul was once again quieted as I watched my benevolent and gentle host create a world of happy little clouds and trees.

Coop sums up Bob's appeal quite well:
It's oddly hypnotic. The quiet tone and gentle cadence of Bob's voice, the rhythmic whakkity-wak of the brush on the easel, that giant palette, and most of all, the 'fro.

Link (via Coop)

Duomo [Flickr]

Tuesday, August 01, 2006


Wikipedia has arrived...

Apparently some have taken Mr. Colbert's recommendations to heart, as Wikipedia's "elephant" entry has been locked:

This page has been temporarily protected from editing to deal with vandalism.


On 31 July 2006 popular celebrity and show host Stephen Colbert prompted viewers to change the Wikipedia page on the Elephant to say that the African Elephant population has tripled in the last 3 months, as part of his The Word segment on The Colbert Report about Wikiality. While this is untrue, several attempts were made to change the page.
Link (via Ars Technica)