Archive for December, 2006

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Which Supherhero Are You?

December 30, 2006

You are Superman: mild-mannered, good, strong and you love to help others.


Click here to take the Superhero Personality Test

Sigh. Superman is kind of boring. Batman, I could do.

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Five Years Of Blogging

December 30, 2006

I still remember it vividly. I was IM-ing with .sara and complaining about my web site. I was telling her that I wanted a template-driven site that was easy to update. She wrote “it sounds like you want a blog.” What’s a blog? That’s how it started. That was five years ago.

It wouldn’t at all be accurate to say that I was a blog pioneer. After all, they’d been around in one form or another for a few years prior to the above conversation. But I think it’s safe to say that I got into it at the beginning of the explosion in blog popularity. How many blogs were there in January of 2001? It’s hard to say. Genuine blogging pioneer Rebecca Blood wrote in her essay Weblogs: A History And Perspective that there were “thousands of weblogs” in September of 2000, just four months prior to my start. It’s hard to get an exact count, but I figure today there are well over 60 million blogs. My friend and flickr buddy Eszter Hargittai (who happens to be a researcher in the area of internet communication) offers this helpful graph, which shows the number of newspaper articles using the word “blog” or “weblog” over time: in the year I started blogging, these words were used fewer than 200 times; by 2004 that number had skyrocketed to 2,790 times.

So what? What’s the big deal? Everyone has their own idea about Why Blogs Matter (or even if they do). I won’t bore you with my take on what the rise of global self-publishing means to everyone on the planet; I won’t wax philosophic about what it means for commerce, journalism, politics, culture, art and language. The world is full of really smart people who can tell you those things better than I can. What I can tell you is what the ride has been like for me, personally.

I count my blog among a short list of things that I did in my early-to-mid thirties that together constituted a huge positive change in my life: I quit smoking; I finished my masters degree; I started doing martial arts and getting regular exercise; I lost weight; I started pursuing photography as a hobby; and I started blogging. What specifically did blogging do for me? Rebecca Blood again:

As he enunciates his opinions daily, this new awareness of his inner life may develop into a trust in his own perspective. His own reactions–to a poem, to other people, and, yes, to the media–will carry more weight with him. Accustomed to expressing his thoughts on his website, he will be able to more fully articulate his opinions to himself and others. He will become impatient with waiting to see what others think before he decides, and will begin to act in accordance with his inner voice instead. Ideally, he will become less reflexive and more reflective, and find his own opinions and ideas worthy of serious consideration.

There’s not much more to say other than thank you. Thanks to .sara for steering me toward the brand new Blogger service, thanks to Pyra Labs for making Blogger, thanks to Six Apart for making MovableType, thanks to the open source community for making WordPress.

And of course my biggest thanks go to the readers and writers of blogs whose words have intersected with my own over the last five years.

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‘Ats-a Nice!

December 29, 2006

I have been allowed to secure music for a New Year’s Eve party. It’s the kind where everyone will dress up and drink cosmopolitans made with good vodka. The invitees will be a mix of 40- and 50-somethings from a Yiddish choir, 30-somethings from a large software company, scientists from a zoology lab, and, well, me. What music is going to go over with these folks?

I consulted the iTunes store and looked for New Year’s Eve playlists. I found some, but they were totally inapropriate and mostly had bad references to the holiday that are only amusing when you’re drunk (and perhaps not even then: Prince’s 1999, anyone?). I searched around a bit more and eventually pieced together something that I thought might work. There are probably as many ways to solve this problem as there are music lovers, but here’s how I did it.

The 4.5-hour playlist is comprised of 1 oz Swingin’ Martini Mix, a splash of early Michael Jackson and 1 oz bumpin’ classy stuff from my own collection including N’Dea Davenport, BT, Fatboy Slim, MIA and Kaskade.

I put the playlist on my iPod, plugged it into my car stereo, and drove over to the coffee shop. I knew I was onto something when I heard Rosemary Clooney’s Mambo Italiano segue into Spoon by Cibo Matto. Whoa.

This party is going to be a hit, and the music will be fabulous. But it’s not too late to make recommendations! If you have suggestions, just shout ’em out.

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2006 Retrospective

December 28, 2006

As I usually do, here is a top 10 list of the closing year’s blog entries, as hastily chosen by me.

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Bread

December 27, 2006

I baked this bread using this recipe from the New York Times. I didn’t use a dutch oven like some people did; I just threw it on a heated pizza stone and put a few ice cubes in a pie pan underneath it. (Thanks, Nina.)

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More Apple Phone Musings

December 27, 2006

Key to the success of any Apple phone would be how it markets them. John Hodulik, a wireless analyst for UBS, last week said he expects Apple to introduce the phone for use with an Apple-branded wireless service by purchasing wholesale network service from Cingular, the nation’s largest wireless carrier and a joint venture of AT&T Inc. and BellSouth Corp. Cingular declined to comment.

Forming such a relationship with Cingular or another carrier — in which Apple would become a so-called mobile virtual network operator, or MVNO — is expensive and risky. Some MVNOs have struggled. Walt Disney Co.’s ESPN phone service was abandoned after less than a year when consumers failed to show interest in cellphones packed with sports content.

Apple also would have to take on the responsibilities of a phone company, including billing and customer service. Its historical model of turning a profit mostly on sales of hardware would be difficult to replicate in an industry where cellphone carriers lure customers in by discounting handsets and earn most of their profit from selling the service.

Waiting on Apple cellphone call : Moneyweb

I’m trying so hard not to be an Apple fan boy, but I can’t hide the fact that I’m literally on the edge of my seat to see what develops in January. There’s the abstract fact that what Apple does could fundamentally change the nature of wireless in the United States, but there’s also the more personal side: I would really like for them to Apple-ize my cell phone experience.

As we all collectively wait for the January 9th Macworld Expo keynote speech where this product/service will almost certainly be unveiled, I can’t help but picture the scenes in the 1971 version of Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory in which the people of the world go crazy looking for the last golden ticket.

While we wait, here’s ten pictures of what Apple’s phone will not look like.

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Merry Christmas

December 24, 2006