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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Graffiti: Urban scrawl of artistic freedom?

That's the title of this panel discussion at the Commonwealth Club that I'm heading downtown to catch in a few minutes here. Should be interesting, esp since one of the panelists is Apex, a local writer whose work I've seen, both on Flickr and in person. Here's a photo of one his works that I took:

20th @ Bryant - 14 July '05

That reads "dream" BTW--a dedication to Mike Dream, as I learned on Flickr from otherthings (click on the photo above). Which is another reason this event should be interesting: I may meet otherthings, the creator of Graffiti Archaeology and a prolific contributor to Flickr. See, for example, his collection of Apex-tagged photos on Flickr.

Monday, August 15, 2005

VOIP: gizmo, skype, messenger

Just d/l'ed and installed Gizmo & Skype. Now I just need someone to call. Anybody out there?

Also, I've just discovered the fun of IM over the last couple weeks. It was only on Friday that I discovered that it's possible to send and receive text messages to and from cell phones within Yahoo Messenger--only on Windows though, AFAI can tell :(

But it appears that Messenger also does voice! And if I can get our dormant iSight working with Messenger...

Friday, August 12, 2005

Audioblogs - breath of life

I've been keeping up with the essential Soul Sides, but I've been sleeping on breath of life in the few weeks since O-dub referred everyone over to them (here). I finally got around to listening to this week's tracks while reading some of the accompanying essays just now (while trying to read about "The challenges of modeling mammalian biocomplexity" for our literature meeting).

I agree with Brady, the UI is a little wack. But it cool to have a player built into the site, and the words are good. Well, at least the ones I just read about "The Girl from Ipanema" Just listened to Archie Shepp's free jazz version...which segued into Goodie Mob's "Soul Food".

OK, back to reading about modeling mammalian biocomplexity.

Monday, August 08, 2005

GoogleMaps & Ajax

I wrote up this post about 10 days ago, but never got around to posting it. So really the post-date should be around July 28--relativize all my time references below to that date:

Another hiatus, this time 2 weeks. Actually I wrote up a post in the middle of last week, but lost it. It was my fault. I was going to use Blogger's handy e-mail-to-post feature, but I lost my draft in my mail program due to a misclick. That will teach me to compose posts offline in a text editor, as I'm doing now, instead of online.

I started out last week's lost post by simply wanting to record the Vietnamese sandwich spot that Josh took me to for lunch: Pho Ha Tien. But that took me into a long tangent about what neighborhood that is. Using the SF Realtors' Map, I found that it was the cusp of 4 (micro-)'hoods: Westwood Park, Mount Davidson Manor, Ingleside Terrace, and Ingleside.

But it also took me into a longer discussion about maps online. And today I found myself
proselytizing to some friends via e-mail for GoogleMaps. So I'll tell you what I told them:

Check out GoogleMaps if you haven't started using it already. It really feels like a new level of information technology for the web compared to the stuff that's been out there. Try it the next time you need directions.

Or go to and click on some of the example searches on the right, and start playing around with the maps. The maps are amazing: great rendering, nearly instantaneous zooming in and out, draggable for panning around, satellite overlays, businesses pinpointed (and conveniently tied to Google search results). Ok, just take their tour.

Coincidentally, just yesterday I read a bit about the technology behind this kind of stuff. It's been termed Ajax, for "Asynchronous JavaScript + XML." Even after skimming through an introductory essay by the folks who coined the term, I don't really get it. But from GoogleMaps, it does look like it's leading to a new kind of web apps--one which really are dynamic and interactive, as Google is advertising their maps.

For further reading on Ajax, go to Indeed, even before I learned what Ajax stands for, I'd been noticing that Ajax-related links kept popping up on the popular list.

Postscript: I could go on and on about all the other cool tools Google has got going. Naturally, there's GoogleEarth, which has gotten some attention in the MSM (mainstream media). I downloaded it and played around with it for a few minutes. It is also amazing, but at this point it seems to be more of a toy than something I'll use regularly. But people are using it; check GoogleEarthHacks.

Beyond that, there's Personalized Google, which I think they have just added more features to; and GoogleSMS, which I haven't yet had the occasion to use.

Related to the last is one additional topic: "continous computing". It's the concept posited in a recent article by a writer for MIT Technology Review, Wade Roush, as well as the focus of this blog of his.