Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Masjid Al-Noor

We’ve done a cool $50 million of R & D on the Apple Human Interface. We discovered, among other things, two pertinent facts:

* Test subjects consistently report that keyboarding is faster than mousing.
* The stopwatch consistently proves mousing is faster than keyboarding.

This contradiction between user-experience and reality apparently forms the basis for many user/developers’ belief that the keyboard is faster.

People new to the mouse find the process of acquiring it every time they want to do anything other than type to be incredibly time-wasting. And therein lies the very advantage of the mouse: it is boring to find it because the two-second search does not require high-level cognitive engagement.

It takes two seconds to decide upon which special-function key to press. Deciding among abstract symbols is a high-level cognitive function. Not only is this decision not boring, the user actually experiences amnesia! Real amnesia! The time-slice spent making the decision simply ceases to exist.

While the keyboard users in this case feels as though they have gained two seconds over the mouse users, the opposite is really the case. Because while the keyboard users have been engaged in a process so fascinating that they have experienced amnesia, the mouse users have been so disengaged that they have been able to continue thinking about the task they are trying to accomplish. They have not had to set their task aside to think about or remember abstract symbols.

Hence, users achieve a significant productivity increase with the mouse in spite of their subjective experience.
My friend Eli does an excellent liveblog of last night's debate, which is worth reading here.
Why They Called It the Manhattan Project - New York Times:

By nature, code names and cover stories are meant to give no indication of the secrets concealed. “Magic” was the name for intelligence gleaned from Japanese ciphers in World War II, and “Overlord” stood for the Allied plan to invade Europe.

Many people assume that the same holds true for the Manhattan Project, in which thousands of experts gathered in the mountains of New Mexico to make the world’s first atom bomb.

Robert S. Norris, a historian of the atomic age, wants to shatter that myth.

In “The Manhattan Project” (Black Dog & Leventhal), published last month, Dr. Norris writes about the Manhattan Project’s Manhattan locations. He says the borough had at least 10 sites, all but one still standing. They include warehouses that held uranium, laboratories that split the atom, and the project’s first headquarters — a skyscraper hidden in plain sight right across from City Hall.
Violent Media is Good for Kids:

We send the message to our children in a hundred ways that their craving for imaginary gun battles and symbolic killings is wrong, or at least dangerous. Even when we don't call for censorship or forbid "Mortal Kombat," we moan to other parents within our kids' earshot about the "awful violence" in the entertainment they love. We tell our kids that it isn't nice to play-fight, or we steer them from some monstrous action figure to a pro-social doll. Even in the most progressive households, where we make such a point of letting children feel what they feel, we rush to substitute an enlightened discussion for the raw material of rageful fantasy. In the process, we risk confusing them about their natural aggression in the same way the Victorians confused their children about their sexuality. When we try to protect our children from their own feelings and fantasies, we shelter them not against violence but against power and selfhood.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Monkey Disaster: "I'm On To You,...":

I was at a Starbucks a few days ago and they were playing that kind of music they always play. This time it was Joss Stone. I'm sure she's a lovely person and of course many people like her music. But I said to myself, "I'm on to you, Joss Stone". I felt like she was putting one over on people and I wanted her to know that I was not fooled. What was her deceit? Being a young English woman trying to sing with more soul than her life experiences could have possibly afforded her? Maybe. But it was broader than that. I just felt like, "you're not pulling the wool over my eyes, Joss Stone. You can't hoodwink me, Joss Stone. I've done the MATH, Joss Stone."
Have you been interested in traditional Japanese storytelling mixed with pillow fighting?

Then click here.

More information here.
Scissor spiders made from TSA confiscata - Boing Boing:

Christopher Locke makes spider-sculptures out of confiscated scissors bought at TSA auctions ("The larger ones are made from barber scissors, and the smaller ones are made from cuticle scissors.")

Monday, October 29, 2007

Fall 038
PC World - In Pictures: The Most Notable Notebooks of 2007:

Fastest: Apple MacBook Pro

The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year is a Mac. Try that again: The fastest Windows Vista notebook we've tested this year--or for that matter, ever--is a Mac. Not a Dell, not a Toshiba, not even an Alienware. The $2419 (plus the price of a copy of Windows Vista, of course) MacBook Pro's PC WorldBench 6 Beta 2 score of 88 beats Gateway's E-265M by a single point, but the MacBook's score is far more impressive simply because Apple couldn't care less whether you run Windows.
A quite place in my dreams?
Sexoteric Blog: Indecent?:

Really, it is just a picture of a couple of young girls playing and dancing innocently, and one of them just happens to have taken her clothes of. But in the U.S. if you had taken such a picture of your kids, and left it at your local photomat store, you might well be locked away for years as a child pornographer. For people in many other parts of the world, it is simply an ordinary picture of two kids having fun. Of course, the moment you put it up on the wall in an art gallery, it starts becoming something else. I must admit, I don't see anything that justifies calling it art. It is just a snapshot in the kitchen for the family album, which the kids can be slightly embarrassed about when they grow up.
I Work Retail: Working At American Apparel Is All It's Coked Up To Be:

I thought cocaine was kind of scandalous when I started working at American Apparel. And so I naturally found it kind of scandalous that a major coke dealer actually served as a kind of informal HR chief for many of the American Apparel stores in New York. He happened to be this guy I knew from a completely different set of circumstances in a completely different city, and he had gotten into the business at, like, 13, so unlike your coke dealer or your best cokehead friend's coke dealer this was a guy who actually knew, like, how to use weapons. He had what I thought at the time was an ingenious setup: he lived down the street from the American Apparel store in the Lower East Side and would find hipster cokehead girls jobs at the chain's various outlets and then, in turn, find clients among the other employees, which worked really well until everyone got so coked-out they had to blow it up their asses and a girl stole $14,000 from the till and everyone sort of left town after that.
ThinkMac Software - Blog:

In the accessibility control panel Apple thoughtfully made all the text huge and bold to help people with visual disabilities. In the Time Machine preference pane they randomly decided your sight might be going a bit so they stuck in a giant on/off button. I'm kind of disappointed you don't have to flip up a little protective cover over the button and turn a key to activate it though. There should be flashing lights and sirens too, you know, just so you're sure it's on.
jumping in
"Nucular" Meltdown
Gothamist: Young Frankenstein Limps This Way:

Status-conscious tourists coughing up over $450 a ticket are bound to feel a little burned if they get stuck with an understudy in the lead role. Adam Feldman at Time Out NY recently performed a colonoscopy of sorts on Young Frankie’s record-setting ticket prices and pointed out that producers are only giving ammo to the stagehands’ union as they prepare to strike. TONY also got funny testimonials from three audience members who paid a premium to see the show in previews. Filthy rich Mel Brooks enthusiast/sucker Michael Platt snorted, “You just gotta bite the bullet and get great seats – it’s worth it. I paid $800 a seat for ten seats, through a broker, so it was either that or pay for my son’s bar mitzvah.” (Platt was kidding about that last bit – of course he also paid for the bar mitzvah, which we imagine taking place at Bungalow 8 with the New York Knicks dancers performing water ballet in a fountain of Veuve Clicquot, to a live performance by Maroon 5.)
Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard: the Ars Technica review:

At the end of my Mac OS X 10.4 Tiger review, I wrote this.

Overall, Tiger is impressive. If this is what Apple can do with 18 months of development time instead of 12, I tremble to think what they could do with a full two years.

That was exactly two and a half years ago, to the day. It seems that I've gotten my wish and then some. Mac OS X 10.5 Leopard has gestated longer than any release of Mac OS X (other than 10.0, that is). If I had high expectations for 10.5 back in 2005, they've only grown as the months and years have passed. Apple's tantalizingly explicit withholding of information about Leopard just fanned the flames. My state of mind leading up to the release of Leopard probably matches that of a lot of Mac enthusiasts: this better be good.
Wed by the sea
nytheatrecast » Blog Archive » Episode # 169 - Mike Daisey:

This episode of the nytheatrecast features playwright, monologist, and solo performer Mike Daisey, whose new show, Great Men of Genius - which is actually four separate solo pieces about P.T. Barnum, Bertolt Brecht, Nikola Tesla, and L. Ron Hubbard - opens at Joe’s Pub in early November. Mike talks to contributor Michael Criscuolo about his new show, his fascination with these four men, and the ties that bind them all together.

Mike also talks at length (and with great insight) about his process of developing a piece and working on it with his director and collaborator, Jean-Michele Gregory. He and Jean-Michele are also married to each other, and Mike shares some tidbits about how that influences both their professional and personal lives.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sorry for the absence--a hard drive failure at the hosting company, followed by serious errors on the backups led to 72 hours of craziness, but we appear to be back up and online now.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Humans not evolved for IT security - Security -

Human beings aren't evolved for security in the modern world, and particularly the IT security world, according to security guru Bruce Schneier.

He told delegates at the 2007 RSA Conference that there is a gap between the reality of security and the emotional feel of security due to the way our brains have evolved. This leads to people making bad choices.

"As a species we got really good at estimating risk in an East African village 100,000 years ago. But in 2007 London? Modern times are harder."
Bus stop
Parabasis: A Story We Should All Be Paying Attention To:

The FBI forced a man to confess (Falsely it turned out) to terrorist activities when they threatened to torture his family.  Once the man was proven innocent, the section about how the FBI forced a false confession out of him was redacted for national security reasons.  Read all about it here. If this doesn't get your blood boiling, what will?

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Respectful Insolence: Homeopathy debate at the University of Connecticut: Is it ever wise for scientists to debate pseudoscientists?:

While I admire salute Steve Novella for no doubt answering the call of the organizers of this event and being willing to step on the same stage, along with Donald Marcus, to go toe-to-toe homeopaths like Iris Bell, Andre Saine, not to mention water über-woomeister Rustum Roy, I hope they're ready for the sheer number of logical fallacies, cherry-picked studies, and examples of science twisted beyond recognition that are likely to be thrown at them during the two hours that they're on the stage. As much as I understand the impetus that sometimes makes scientists agree to them, I've said before that in general, like Phil Plait, Eugenie Scott, P. Z. Myers, Richard Dawkins, and Lawrence Krauss, I consider such debates between pseudoscientists and scientists to be usually a bad idea, even though I realize that, all reservations taken into account, it's sometimes very difficult to abstain from them.

As someone who detests seeing pseudoscientific quackery like homeopathy go unanswered and with enough pride to be stung by criticism of "cowardice" over refusals to debate, over time I've come to the conclusion that such staged events inherently favor the pseudoscientist so much that it's rarely worth it to try to overcome this.
I have a few events coming up over the next two weeks that folks may want to be aware of, before launching GREAT MEN OF GENIUS at Joe's Pub.

First off, this Friday I'll be hosting Tekserve's LEOPARD RELEASE PARTY at Tekserve, your old reliable Mac shop--they'll be raffling off iPods all evening, playing live jazz, food and drink, contests and more. Full details are here.

Tekserve's Leopard Release Party
Friday, October 26th at 6pm
119 W. 23rd Street

On November 3rd I'll be performing at the Liar Show, Andy Christie's fabulous show about truth, lying and their consequences.

4 storytellers. 3 true stories. 1 pack of lies.

Saturday, November 3th @ 6:00 pm
29 Cornelia Street (bet W 4th & Bleeker)
$12 - includes one drink.

Mike Daisey ("The master storyteller." - New York Times)
Mark Katz (Former Bill Clinton speechwriter)
Ophira Eisenberg (Comedy Central; US Magazine's Fashion Police)
James Braly (NPR; 2007 Edinburgh Fringe)

Fontana di Trevi 19 ottobre 2007
Russia's Space City Frozen in Time:

Rockets still pierce the heavens in a halo of smoke during launches, and engineers and military men still crack open bottles of vodka to celebrate a successful launch. What has changed are the passengers. Nowadays Baikonur embraces the world, from wealthy space tourists to the world's first Malaysian cosmonaut, Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor, who blasted off for the international space station on Oct. 10.

The city itself is a rusting relic of the golden age of Russian rocketry, yet if anything, its place in the space industry is heading toward expansion. For at least four years after the space shuttle program ends in 2010, the U.S. will completely depend on Russia - and Baikonur - to send its crews to the international space station.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Trucks are Naughty - and we love it!
Enough Already: Media Loses Their Minds; Colbert's Cult Out Of Control:

Okay, so we love ourselves some Stephen Colbert, we're only human. However! There's something seriously amiss when NBC' s major Sunday news show get is the Comedy Central performer, who is "running" for President in character. "Meet the Press" anchor Tim Russert devoted nearly half of his broadcast this weekend to a fake back-and-forth with a fake candidate.

NBC isn't the only one buying into the Colbert Craze; The New York Times lent Maureen Dowd's spot last week to Colbert, and the Atlantic's Josh Green spent 1,772 words (we know—so close!) trying to impress Colbert's "people" in South Carolina (three P.A.s and an exiled intern living it up on the College of Charleston's palm-trimmed quad, come on people) into yet more stunt-topping by hiring him as his campaign manager.

Now, we don't want to sound all imperious and shit, and we get the idea, add a little levity to the race, distract the cranky reporters, take everyone down a peg or two. It's good clean fun. But there's a $46 billion war on, we hear. And! Wildfires! Drought! Our mayor is under attack! Britney has once again taken two children hostage! Chuck Norris is voting!
The Nazis invented the sex doll:

The Nazis invented the worst thing ever: the assembly-line death factory. But they also invented something else, perhaps the only legacy of theirs that endures to this very day. During World War II, Hitler's war machine created the world's first sex doll: Borghild.

The "field-hygienic project" was an initiative of Himmler, who regarded the doll as a "counterbalance" for the sexual drive of his stormtroopers. In one of his letters, he mentions the "unnessessary losses" the Wehrmacht had suffered in France, inflicted by street prostitutes. "The greatest danger in Paris are the wide-spread and uncontrolled whores, picking up clients in bars, dancehalls and other places. It is our duty to prevent soldiers from risking their health, just for the sake of a quick adventure." One assumes Himmler also wanted to stop any racial dilution of the great German army.
Summer night in Reykjavík ...
TidBITS Blog Post: The Best (and Worst) of Leopard:

Now, I'm still under a non-disclosure agreement that says I can't talk about anything Apple hasn't told you. But since Apple has told you about the 300 features, I can talk about them. I can't add any new information, of course; but I can tell you how I feel about them (Apple doesn't own my feelings, as far as I can tell). Here, then, are my favorite (and least favorite) new Leopard features.

Let me start with the bad news - what I don't like. There is just one thing, really, but it's quite a big thing, namely: the Desktop's new look.

It's like the emperor's new clothes. A menu bar that's hard to read because what's behind it shows through? Why is that a good idea? And stacks in the Dock are a solution in search of a non-existent problem; the way folders behave in the Dock now (just click and the folder opens, click and hold to see a hierarchical menu of the folder's contents) is great and doesn't deserve to change. Not to mention the whole distracting silly way the Dock is now being drawn. I already dislike the Dock and do all I can to keep it hidden all the time; in Leopard, I'll have twice as much reason to do so. The new Finder window sidebar is awful too; you can see in Apple's own screen shot that the icons and text are tiny and all the colors are converging on basic gray.

Monday, October 22, 2007

A little preview of things to come: this is for a new show which we'll be creating in early 2008:


I'm hoping that by next Halloween it will be ready for a theater near everybody.
The House Next Door: Close-Up Blog-a-thon: Khaaaaan!:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan contains my favorite Star Trek moment and my favorite close-up of all time, when a seemingly shell-shocked Admiral Kirk listens to his nemesis, Khan Noonian Singh (Ricardo Montalban), describe how much he will enjoy abandoning Kirk and his crew in the center of a dead planet, then screams “Khaaaan!” into his communicator.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Ouch! Hillary Clinton's softer image is clawed over dumped cat - Times Online:

AS THE “first pet” of the Clinton era, Socks, the White House cat, allowed “chilly” Hillary Clinton to show a caring, maternal side as well as bringing joy to her daughter Chelsea. So where is Socks today?

Once the presidency was over, there was no room for Socks any more. After years of loyal service at the White House, the black and white cat was dumped on Betty Currie, Bill Clinton’s personal secretary, who also had an embarrassing clean-up role in the saga of his relationship with the intern Monica Lewinsky.

Some believe the abandoned pet could now come between Hillary Clinton and her ambition to return to the White House as America’s first woman president.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Friday, October 19, 2007

The Marathon
N-word, please |

Here's a new twist in our continuing crusade against banning offensive words from newspapers.

Nas confirms album title will be epithet

The rapper told MTV News that he would indeed be naming his new album after the N-word. And he denied earlier reports that the album's title would be spelled "N---a," considered in some circles a less inflammatory epithet.

What I want to address is not whether Nas or anyone else ought to use the word nigger in the first place. The issue is, once the word nigger becomes part of a news story, should the media avoid using it in its reporting?

One could argue that the AP doesn't really need to use the word for readers to know what it's talking about. But at the same time, it's hard to see how the media can conduct a serious, adult conversation about an album title when it can't even bring itself to say what the title is. I'm not all that familiar with the Nas, so I'm only taking his word for it that he has a serious intent here, but if that is indeed the case, it seems to me that the press needs to deal with this intellectual provocation in the form in which it actually exists, not in some sanitized form in which Jesse Jackson would prefer that it exist. To put it terms the baby boomers who run the media can understand, imagine trying to discuss John Lennon's "Woman is the N-Word of the World" or Sly Stone's "Don't Call Me N-Word, Whitey." It's simply not the discussion the artist wants to have. The power of the word is the whole damn point.
MacNN | Comcast caught throttling BitTorrent traffic:

Comcast has been deliberately slowing down traffic for customers using file sharing apps on its network, the Associated Press confirmed today. Beginning an investigation after speaking with a Broadband Reports user who discovered the practice shortly after Comcast began testing the platform in August, the journalist group has learned that Comcast is using technology from Sandvine that interjects itself between users running specific peer-to-peer software, including BitTorrent clients as well as programs accessing the Gnutella file sharing network. The Sandvine software can detect when complete files are being traded and breaks the connection between peers, forcing a downloading user to look for an alternative.

The service does not completely eliminate such traffic but is enough to substantially hinder download speeds on a standard connection; users can partially avoid the issue by encrypting the data packets to prevent a Sandvine scan but are rarely able to regain full speed for those files, according to the report. Comcast has officially denied implementing any performance-altering software beyond optimizations but has been unable to account for the contradictory results.
want more France
village voice > people > Pucker Up: Tristan Taormino Runs a Sex Camp and Lives To Tell About It by Tristan Taormino:

I had 37 presenters, 78 classes, and 17 events to keep track of. Every morning, while participants woke up with hard-ons, I'd rise with thoughts like: "Where the fuck did I pack the dental dams for the safe-sex supply stations? What size gloves does Felice need for her vaginal-fisting class? Will the barn be warm enough for the people in the Fucking Machines Show tonight? God knows it would suck to be cold while getting rammed with a Sawz-All dildo." There's a lot to do at sex camp! That sling you fucked your brains out in? Someone assembled it and made sure it was sturdy enough to withstand the ride you gave it. When you strolled into the orgy room, you saw fresh sheets and clean floors. That's because someone did the laundry, someone else made the beds, and I personally picked up used condoms from off the floor so you wouldn't have to step on them.

Let me tell you a secret about people at sex camp: They are vibrant, alive, immersed in the unique experience, and have very high expectations. Not all of them, but enough to keep us staffers busy. Sometimes, they have needs that are petty ("I don't like my cabin, why can't I be closer to the dungeon?") and minor ("The food for vegetarians sucks!"). Other times, their needs are serious or complicated. It is an intense, emotionally-charged event for many people, and the environment is a double-edged sword: It can be thrilling and life-changing for some and overwhelming and button-pushing for others (or, in some cases, both for the same person). There are complaints and crises, a lot of them come my way, and some of them stress me out.
Heiße Ecke 3
Big, Small Media Create Colluding Copyright Cartel on Threat Level:

Some of the biggest and smallest media names announced Thursday the formation of what best can be described as a copyright cartel.

Disney, CBS, Microsoft, Fox, NBC, Viacom, Dailymotion, MySpace and Veoh Networks announced so-called User Generated Content Principles that appear aimed at stifling fair use. The announcement calls for the "implementation of state of the art filtering technology with the goal to eliminate infringing content on (user-generated content services), including blocking infringing uploads before they are made available to the public."

While the plan calls for "implementation" of filtering technology, it suggests "cooperating to ensure that the technology is implemented in a manner that effectively balances legitimate interests, including fair use."

THREAT LEVEL points out that Google, the owner of YouTube, is conspicuously absent from the cabal.
HOWTO Find out why your flight is REALLY delayed - Boing Boing:

Here's a great tip from Consumerist: airlines' cargo-tracking websites often give the real explanation for flight delays on their passenger jets. The next time your flight gets delayed, try looking up the story on the airline's cargo site and see if the problem is the airline's fault (mechanical failures and so on), and then use that as evidence to get refunds/miles/tickets out of the airline.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Making Birds Fly
How to board a plane without ID -- be a pageant queen - Boing Boing:

New York airports are now making security exceptions for graceful girls with big smiles. A tipster who saw the first episode (airing tonight) of MTV’s new reality show, “Pageant Place,” told us that when Miss Universe Riyo Mori forgot her ID while trying to board a flight from JFK to Bloomington, Ind., she convinced a TSA agent to let her through - by flashing her sash. “First she showed her head shot, but it didn’t work . . . so then she just pulls out her sash and the agent sent her through to security,” gasped the snitch.
fall   en
Pink Ribbon Rose
Slashdot | White House Wins On Spying, Telecom Immunity:

EllisDees sends in a Washington Post report that Senate Republicans have outmaneuvered Democrats, who withdrew a more stringent version of legislation to control the government's domestic surveillance program. The legislation that will go forward includes a grant of legal immunity to telecommunications companies that have assisted the program.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007