Tuesday, December 1, 2009

End of a short era

I have good news and bad news.

First, the bad. After starting this blog almost four months ago on June 4th as a way to chart my experiences in the all-too-familiar territory of Princeton after graduation, it’s time to move on. This will be the final post to Stuck in the Bubble. I’m unclear of the human-years to blog-years conversion to determine if this blog is still incredibly nascent or adequately developed, but the timing is appropriate and it’s time to move on.

Stuck in the Bubble was never intended to report ground-breaking news, make millions, or help me achieve internet stardom. Instead, it gave me the opportunity to get involved in the blogosphere and test out a new medium for writing. Undoubtedly, the most satisfying—and surprising—part of the experience was the constant feedback from friends and family when someone would tell me they had enjoyed something I wrote. I assumed I had a real audience of three (an occasional friend and my parents), but it was always encouraging to hear that someone had “thought that was really funny,” or “liked that thing” I wrote about. To know that people have been taking the time to read is extremely gratifying, and I could not be more thankful and appreciative.

The underlying theme of Stuck in the Bubble (being stuck in the “Princeton bubble”) no longer has the relevance it had this summer. I’ve moved on, and taken time to consider if it’s worth continuing with Stuck in the Bubble. I wrote about this before, and essentially stated that “life” is about moving from bubble to bubble; getting stuck just demonstrates an awareness of your situation, but isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It goes without saying that being “stuck” in Princeton was one of the best summers of my life. With that in mind, the idea of being “stuck in the bubble” could be expanded, and the idea of the blog could acquire newfound meaning.

One thing is clear: writing has always been something I’ve enjoyed, and since I don’t plan on landing a job that will involve producing massive amounts of text, keeping a blog is the best way to continue writing. Blogging forces one to consider audience and to maintain a high quality of content and subject matter in order to be confident in sharing with others. And because of that, I want to stick with writing and blogging, and that introduces the good news: I will be moving my writing to a new blog at a new site with a new title. It is called “Speech as a Second Language,” and is currently hosted by Tumblr, rather than Blogger. The inaugural (but not the first) post can be found here: Title Search, pt.1.

A emphatic thank you to everyone that has visited this site over the past few months, and I hope that I can continue to provide you with the same ground-breaking content on SaaSL that made SitB such a hit. This site won’t go away, but will join the millions of other inactive blogs on the Blogger network as a happy relic of past inspiration and experiences.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

A Big Day for Lala

Today was a big day for Lala.

The service is now officially serving Facebook's music needs, and Google will be using Lala's platform to stream music with the upcoming music search platform that is slated to be released next week. This will hopefully guarantee lots of new traffic and revenue for Lala, as well as solidifying the service's place as a major music vendor on the web.

On a side note, I was happy to discover that ShortFormBlog uses Lala's player. With more and more sites starting to use Lala's conveniently embeddable player, you might be signing up for Lala much sooner than you think, assuming you want to hear what everyone else is listening to.

More information on how the event unfolded, as well as what else we might expect, can be found at the following sites:

Lala's Big Day

Google to Partner with Lala and iLike for New Music Service

Google Music Service: The Screenshots

Google, MySpace, Facebook singing the same tune

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Wired Magazine upgrades its advertising strategy with Kooaba

The November issue of Wired Magazine came in the mail yesterday. It's always a pleasure to read, incredible layout, typography, graphic design, and excellent features on news, technology and culture. If you've only experienced Wired on the web, it's certainly worth stopping by the newsstand and grabbing a copy.

As print publications continue to struggle to attract advertisers and raise enough revenue to stay alive, it is high time for magazines to rethink their strategy for ads and how to keep users interested. I have always appreciated Wired's candid disclosure of their decline in sales, and of the innovations they're introducing to hopefully keep the print version of the publication financially feasible.

This month, on page 17, "An Announcement from the Publisher" introduces the next evolution in Wired's strategy to keep print advertising relevant:

Each month, the pages of WIRED are jam-packed with what's new and innovative in the world — which is why we jumped at the chance to give our readers a taste of the future of advertising through Kooaba...Their app, which is available for iPhone and Android, lets you unlock digital extras by snapping a picture of select ads in this issue.

That's right; you take a picture of the ads in the magazine. The Kooaba application connects to the server, matches the photo to the images in its online database, and provides you with a list of options specific to that ad. As far as I can tell, every ad in the magazine are Kooaba-enabled. Unfortunately, most reveal nothing more than a link to the company's website, or a link to tweet or digg the item, but I think we can expect more interesting features in future issues.

I had never heard Kooaba before reading this, but they are a Swiss company that specializes in photo-recognition technology. Here is their video:



I'm really excited about this. I have no idea what kind of success it will have in this print advertising application, as Wired is test driving, but the idea couldn't make more sense: give readers an incentive to spend more time with the ads and have access to special deals only available through the ads in the magazine. If Wired works hard to get the word out, this could have huge potential. The biggest problem I can forsee is that if print is eventually replaced by digital readers, these devices will most likely have built in web-browsers to skip the photo step.

For me, I love the potential this technology has for the real-world (as opposed to online) shopping experience. I still buy physical music media, both CD's and vinyl's. Say I'm at a my favorite record store, Princeton Record Exchange in Princeton, NJ. I can browse the stacks, and when I come across something interesting, I can snap a photo, get a link to reviews and listen to song samples. I can test drive the music, and if it hits me the right way, I'll buy.

As the video says, Kooaba recognizes books and movie posters as well. In sum, Kooaba makes it easy for consumers the chance to make educated purchase decisions by simply snapping a photo. Sure, you could do this before with mobile search engines, but this is infinitely easier.

Let us know what you think if you've tried it.

MORE INFORMATION

NYTimes: For Wired, a Revival Lacks Ads

Chris Anderson, Wired's Editor in Chief, being given a hard time on Colbert:
The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Chris Anderson
www.colbertnation.com
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorMichael Moore

Friday, October 16, 2009

A great band changes it's name

I had the pleasure of discovering the band Starfucker this summer, and have really been digging their stuff ever since. It's got some serious groove-ability, but has plently of room for relistening and learning along the way. They've got two albums out, "Starfucker" and "Jupiter," and each offers something slightly different. Don't let the (former) name throw you off, it's pretty misleading if you're expecting offensive lyrics and harsh sounds; it's actually some straight ahead synth-pop, with a hint of disco (especially on the second album).

Well, turns out the band just changed their name from Starfucker to PYRAMID. I really liked the name Starfucker, but let's be honest. You can't sell something that has the work "fuck" in it. Maybe this is a sign of bigger things to come for these guys. Here's the article. And their website. And an interview with the band.

And their first album. First track is killer:

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Another playlist with another service

This time with 8tracks.com. Lots of similar songs here.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Current jamz

I threw together a playlist of everything's that's been frequenting my ear of late. Enjoy.

Lala iPhone app: beta version released

It's here. Everyone on the list to test drive the beta version of Lala's new iPhone app got the email this morning announcing that it was available for download. Let's just say this: if Apple ever allows this thing to be available for download on iTunes, the online music world is in for a change. Big time.

Expect lots of buzz, hype, speculation, joy, outrage, disappointment, appreciation and genuine  happiness as everyone enjoys streaming their entire music collection from their iPhone/iPod Touch, adding new songs for only $0.10 a pop.

And for those of you just jumping on the bandwagon: www.lala.com. Best thing to happen to music since the invention of the ear. Ok, slight exaggeration, but you get the idea.


Previously:
- Lala iPhone app even closer to official release?

- Top 5 Reasons why Lala beats Spotify and iTunes

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Top 5 Favorite Quotes from "High Fidelity"

Riverhead Books edition, © 1995 Nick Hornsy

1) Page 36, second paragraph.

2) Page 75.

3) Page 96, first paragraph.

4) Page 163, last paragraph.

5) Page 264, first line.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A brief thought on tweeting and retweeting those points of interest

Twitter skeptics would argue that most people have no "real audience" for their tweets. Users who don't have thousands, hundreds, or even tens of followers must just be shouting into an echo chamber when they're tweeting and retweeting links they find interesting, right?

Not necessarily. Over the past few months, Twitter has become a way to gauge mass popularity and interest in certain topics, highlighted especially by the big search box on Twitter's redesigned homepage.

If you feel as if your single little tweet about some funny thing you saw in the news will go unheard in the short-term, think of yourself part of a bigger picture. Real-time news aggregators like OneRiot and Delicious keep track of mentions, and if enough people feel compelled to tweet something, it shoots to the top of these lists, getting even more people to see it. Sure, maybe only a handful of your followers will get to read your tweet, but you sharing it demonstrates that yet another person found it worthy of sharing.

That's a driving force behind the idea of the "social web," because it's the users and readers, not the editors and executives—who are constantly deciding which content "really matters" and is "worth reading." Most news sites, like the New York Times, for example, show their "most popular" and "most emailed" stories, so readers can see what's hot at a glance.

This kind of model, where popular links get the most attention, means that we're trusting the taste of lots and lots and lots of other people. Often times, that really funny link isn't so funny, or just really annoying. But you can't deny that a lot of the time, you can StumbleUpon (get it?) some very cool stuff.

So do not tweet and retweet in vain. But for the sake of finding what's relevant and popular and worthy of my click, try talking about yourself less, and what's happening around you more.

Monday, October 5, 2009

A healthy musical mantra for our world today

Since graduation, the future seems scary. No longer does fall mean the beginning of a new school semester, and no longer does summer mean a short internship that you can brag about later on. This is the real deal.

And while it's scary, it's exciting. Maybe that's why this song has held a special place in my ear for the past few months. It's the first track called "The Rain" off Calvin Harris' new album "Ready for the Weekend." Undoubtedly, it's got one of the healthiest musical mantras you could ever hear, especially for someone like myself who's in the process of making "big decisions."

You just get this line:
These are the good times in your life
So put on a smile, it'll be alright

over and over. And if that doesn't make you happy, then there's nothing else I can do for you. Listen and get all jazzed up.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

January's going to be a good month: New RJD2 and Vampire Weekend albums

If you're wondering why RJD2's standout track "Ghostwriter" lots of RJD2 tracks are resurfacing on Hype Machine, it's because news recently broke that he's got a new album coming out in January.

If you're familiar with RJD2's work, you know that his third album, called "The Third Hand," was a tangential departure for the sample-heavy work that made "Deadringer" and "Since We Last Spoke" so incredible. Looks as if "The Collosus" is a return to that scratching vinyl vibe, something we were all hoping for when we heard "The Third Hand." For the latest interweb blogosphere news, check this.

And don't forget that Vampire Weekend's second album, entitled "Contra," is slated for release in January as well. Check out this interview with Pitchfork to hear Ezra's take on it.

Lots to look forward to.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

MagCloud and HP: Fantastic customer support

I recently ordered some additional copies of my Penn Station MagCloud I put together this summer.

When the package arrived in the mail, I was frustrated to find that the two copies were creased, bent and unpresentable. They had been shipped in a soft bubble-mailer, seen below, and as you can tell from the picture, the package seems to have been crushed and run over by numerous vehicles before arriving at my house.



I emailed MagCloud and told them what happened. They responded the same day and told me they would be resending the magazines, but this time with the new "velvet glove" shipping option they are beta-testing. I received two follow-up emails asking if I had received the new copies yet, asking for feedback on the condition. The package just arrived today, and MagCloud has completely redeemed themselves for what happened before.

The new copies were shrink-wrapped inside two pieces of cardboard inside a cardboard box with packaging peanuts. A shoddy reenactment of packages opening unfolds below:


1) The package arrived via UPS in a cardboard box.

 
2) The box was filled with packing peanuts.


3) Buried within was this shrink-wrapped piece with cardboard on both sides.


4) Inside the cardboard, inside a paper sleeve were the two magazines, in perfect condition.

I couldn't be happier with the way MagCloud handled this. Thanks to their team for caring so much about making sure I got copies of the magazine without any issues.

Previously: Another MagCloud zine: Passing Through Penn Station, 123 John: A Graphic Memoir

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

More Miike Snow remixes!

Uber techno but still a cool take on the original.

http://fancysounds.blogspot.com/2009/09/black-blue.html

Side note: The remix is by Tiga, who is also also responsible for this outstanding, bizarre and memserizing video music experience:



Via Fancy Sounds via Hype Machine

Lala iPhone app even closer to official release?

On September 23, the following message was posted on Lala's Beta Feedback discussion forum:
If you would be interested in beta testing a Lala iPhone app, please post back and let us know.  We're keeping a waiting list of interested members.

Thanks!
Carole
This is an official Lala employee (we are able to tell by the blue "Lala" badge next to her name), and the post *hopefully* confirms that the Lala iPhone app is getting even closer to an official release. This comes months after TechCruch released this video of the app in it's earlier stages.

Access to the Beta Feedback discussion forum, which allows users to comment, receive feedback and suggest new features, is available to registered Lala members who have requested to be a Lala Beta tester. Being a Beta tester works a lot like Gmail Labs: you get access to a special tab in your profile settings that allow you activate features that haven't been implemented globally. Right now, this includes features like Last.fm scrobbling and keyboard shortcuts for playback.

What do you think? Is this a major selling point for Lala's service? Will it help them bring in lots of new business? Would it be overshadowed by a US release of Spotify, or—hypothetically—if Apple was savvy enough to release an "Lala-esque" version of their iTunes software?

Previously: Top 5 Reasons Why Lala Beats Spotify and iTunes

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Miike Snow — Glad we're all on the same page

FLASHBACK: It's the third week in July 2009 and I've got a Last.fm station playing. A song by "Miike Snow" plays, I like what I hear, and I start listening to the group's self-titled album. Actually, I start listening to it a lot, as I tend to do when some new music is good enough to keep my attention.

I do some research and find that Miike Snow's song "Animal" is oft-remixed track and there are already tons of versions floating around. And their own remix of Vampire Weekend's "Kids Don't Stand a Chance" is super-slick.

Good for me, I find an artist that I like, and get over the fact that everyone else isn't as into them as I am.

FLASH-FORWARD: It's the third week in September 2009. I get the weekly Hype Machine email in my inbox, and what's the "most popular" track? Miike Snow's "Silvia." Over 550 people "loved the track" on Hype Machine, and the linked blog post even has a video of their song "Black and Blue."

Glad to see they're getting some attention, their album is awesome. I dig the mix of acoustic and electronic instruments, and there's lots of complexity in every song. Check them out if you haven't already.

RELEVENT LINKS
- "Silvia" on Hype Machine
- "Animal" remixes on Hype Machine
- "Kids Don't Stand a Chance" remix on Hype Machine

VIDEOS

Miike Snow - "Animal" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.


MIIKE SNOW - Black & Blue from vincent haycock on Vimeo.


Miike Snow "Burial" from Downtown Music on Vimeo.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cheese or Font?

An important test we should all be required to take.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

"Sex" is now an adjective

I missed where this happened. According to Comment #4 from this post on Pretty Much Amazing's blog, "sex" is a verb that explains extreme joy and approval.

Once upon a time, to express extreme excitement, satisfaction or pleasure, it was appropriate to use descriptions like "bad, filthy, disgusting, or dirty" (or sometimes "duuurty"). It could almost be deemed insulting to say something "was super," and everyone knows you're underwhelmed when you say "yeah, it was great."

But there's something at work here bigger than my obliviousness to a linguistic development. With this change, the Adjective Superlative Circle, which measures how words will accurately express the desired level of excitement, has experienced a complete inversion. Where it was once better to "insult" something to express approval, now giving superlative praise demonstrates legitimate enthusiasm. The graphic below demonstrates this phenomenon visually.

Adjective Superlative Circle

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

How to see all the songs no wants to be caught having listened to

Last.fm is an awesome online internet radio and internet music community. They've been around for a while now and are a great resource for getting info on bands, artists, tracks, album, etc. Last.fm provides a service to keep track of what you've listened to, which they call "scrobbling." When a track is "scrobbled," it gets added to your list of plays in their database. You can add scrobbling functionality to iTunes (and iPod), Lala, Hype Machine, and lots of other music services so you can keep track of your listening habits and trends from whatever you use to listen to music.

Scrobbled tracks are added to your online library, but get this: you can delete any record that you've listened to a track. That means that if you snuck a listen to Lady Gaga's new release or got your secret fix of Coldplay's Viva la Vida, no one has no know. But surprise! That deletion will get recorded by Last.fm and contribute to their list of most unwanted, "unscrobbled" tracks.

What does this mean? We get a record of all of the tracks people heard but didn't want to get judged for having listened to. The results are exactly what you'd expect:

http://playground.last.fm/unwanted

And get this: armed with a Last.fm username, you can see anyone's list of life-time scrobbled tracks. The cool thing is that there are tons of web-apps to get stats on your listening habits, as well as getting recommendations for new music, and all you need to do is put in the user name. That means you should either guard your username safely, or just not give a shit who sees what you listen to. See the different things you can do here:

http://lastfm.emoportal.de/

My Last.fm username available by request only.

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Closer Look: Piles of random crap

As I've mentioned previously, I have a ton of stuff in my room. Apparently, all this "stuff" can check in any time it likes, but it can never, ever leave.

The breaking point came when unpacking from this summer. After the car was unloaded and everything was upstairs, I paused and looked around. The situation was more dire than I had thought: everywhere I looked, there were piles and groups and messes of random crap. Thankfully, my camera was in my pocket so I documented the experience, and have annotated the pictures to communicate the severity of the situation. I identified many problem areas, but here are four in particular.

Friday, September 11, 2009

The internet claims its victims, too

It's unfortunate that this project didn't get the funding it needed to be completed, but shows how the internet is not always an immediate recipe for success. Makes me wonder, was the problem with the idea, or little bit of execution that we see here?

Check it out: Health Reform: A Visual Explanation

via Information Aesthetics

Moment of silence for remembrence






































Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trying to get rid of any evidence of a former self

In seventh grade, we had these things called Reading Logs that were used to keep track of how many books we read each quarter. Our grade was based on the total number of pages we read, so it was kind of like a little competition among the three people in the class who actually liked to read.

Here's is my reading log. I know what you're thinking: "You could only fill up ONE page? What about that girl who filled three separate logs and needed six pages to list her books?!" I guess I was just spent a lot more time being wild and crazy back then than she did.



Now, upon returning home, it was confirmed that I, indeed, have too much stuff. I have since embarked on a quest to rid my room myself of the useless crap lying around that I never use. It is a daunting task, friends.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Really small tomatoes

My parents like plants, and would probably consider themselves to be "hobbyist" gardeners. We have lots of flowers, but also a tomato plant in our backyard. My mother is convinced that in order for the tomatoes to grow, you need to speak to them everyday. I have heard people say that the air we breathe onto the plants actually does help them grow, but I'm less sure about the effects of leaning out the kitchen window and shouting "Hello, little tomatoooes!"

What follows is photographic proof that our tomato plant is indeed functioning, but not exactly on the scale we might have hoped for.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Top 5 Five Reasons Why Lala Beats Spotify and iTunes

The Spotify iPhone app was recently released in Europe. Spotify, originally a desktop app, gives users access to music on demand. Think iTunes but streaming only, no download. The Spotify iPhone app is being dubbed an "iTunes killer"; people are shocked that Apple allowed the app to be released at all, since it seems to directly undermine Apple's own iMusic universe. If people can always stream all the music they want from their iPhone or iPod, why bother buying the songs with iTunes? Now there's serious competition in the marketplace.

BREAKING NEWS: No longer "stuck in the bubble"

I lied; this isn't actually breaking news, it happened last week!

At times it felt like it would never come: the official end of four years in Princeton, closing a whirlwind education/work experience that began in September 2005. But despite my fears and anxieties that I might not make it out alive, or at least with my sanity, I have safely returned home to Connecticut. I've got some new roommates, and they're great because they cook, clean, mow the lawn, even pay the mortgage. They also bear a frightening resemblance to my parents...

Saturday, September 5, 2009

They wanted to demolish Grand Central too?!

After a particularly frustrating experience traveling through Penn Station, I captured the experience in a little "graphic memoir" (Passing Through Penn Station). The trip also prompted me to revisit the history of the original Penn Station, demolished in the 1960's to make way for Madison Square Garden.

Ed Driscoll has a great article on the Pajamas Media site discussing the train station's history in light of recent episodes of the television series Mad Men. The Mad Men references are small, and the article is another nice piece of writing on the station's history.

Check it out here: Lead Us Not Into Penn Station

One of the commentors shares how Grand Central Station was slated for the same fate as Penn Station, to be demolished and then replaced with a skyscraper. Glad that didn't happen.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

How losing my checking card made me $10

The other night I'm talking with my bro and realize that my Bank of America checking card isn't in my wallet. Like my driver's license, if my checking card isn't in my wallet, I don't know where it is.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Ikea—Maybe it's time to rethink Verdana

In design communities everywhere, Ikea’s decision to adopt a new typeface is big news. Really big news. And to beg the question that everyone seems to ask when the topic of typography comes up: Why should I care? No, this isn’t a global issue. The survival of humanity does not hinge upon the decisions of a Swedish furniture brand. But it’s exactly the kind of news story that has great relevance in certain areas of work, but maybe just not yours. Knowing about this kind of thing gives you a glimpse into the world of graphic design, where things you never thought about can matter a lot.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

How to get found by the Sartorialist


Via Flowing Data

VolvoTunes

I found a CD on the sidewalk last week:

















I spent time Googling lyrics for the tracks I wasn't sure of names for and came up with the following playlist

Saturday, August 29, 2009

I guess it's Microsoft's fault for "inventing" Verdana

But seriously, you don't "invent" typefaces. And it was done my Matthew Carter. Here's a great article on Ikea's recent switch from its custom version of Futura, which definitely felt right for them:


http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1919127,00.html

(Thanks to Cameron for the link.)

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Another MagCloud zine: Passing Through Penn Station

I completed and have made my next MagCloud zine, entitled Passing Through Penn Station, available online.

It's a brief look at what happens in Penn Station when you're traveling on NJTransit, especially when there a TON of people trying to get somewhere different.

Check it out here: http://magcloud.com/browse/Issue/29118

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

It's in the trees


Looking out my bedroom window, the leaves are changing. Summer is winding down, and the leaves are there to prove it.

Monday, August 24, 2009

The New York Moon

Just came across a fantastic site worth checking out. There is tons of material to explore, including the new "Tweet Radio" that supplies a dictated feed of random tweets from everyone. Intriguing, mesmerizing, strange, exciting, and fascinating!

www.nymoon.com

Thursday, August 13, 2009

123 John: A Graphic Memoir

To forever cherish the memories and experiences of 123 John this summer, I created a little "graphic memoir" for my roommates and I to commemorate the months of June and July. It's a short MagCloud [maga]zine that presents a goofy architectural/graphic analysis of our house and surrounding environment, describing how we used the rooms and what we did there.

Check it out here: http://magcloud.com/browse/Issue/27253

I would also like to mention that a friend of mine who was seriously involved in the Princeton University Band in college has been working on a new MagCloud zine of his own, charting the history of the group with lots of material from the university archives.

R.W. writes:
The idea with the MagCloud was that it's a way to publish preview and draft versions of the book before it's finished. It's an easy and professional-looking way to keep other band members, the Princetoniana Committee, the Athletics Department, and other interested parties informed about the content and progress of the book; later, it will be useful for shopping the finished product around to various publishers when looking for a printing & distribution deal; and, perhaps most importantly, it's a new way for the band's friends and alumni organization to get alumni more involved with the band.

Rather than just sending out quarterly mailings asking for money, the Friends of Tiger Band can send these small historical MagClouds to attract the attention of some alumni who may have grown apart from the group since their days as an undergraduate. It doesn't directly solicit money, so it's not subject to Alumni Giving's fundraising black-out periods, but may lead to increased alumni activity and donations with the band as a fortuitous side-effect, and may get alumni excited to purchase the full book once it is completed.

This is just the sort of thing that MagCloud—or any other self-publishing and printing service—wants people to be doing. The client just makes the updates and figures out what content to provide. The printing and distribution is handled for them. Awesome.

Check out the preview version of the zine here: http://magcloud.com/browse/Issue/17124

"The Spaceship Next Door"

It's funny seeing this story in the New York Times today. Guilford is the neighboring town to where I grew in Branford, Connecticut, and this "spaceship" was always a site of wonder, amazement confusion to me growing up. The house is right on the road that my family took to a restaurant we frequented.

Here's an image of the building using—GASP!—BING MAPS! They've got a great feature called "Bird's Eye View" that gives a very different look that Google's Street View (which isn't available for this location). [Update: This map view is old news, it's a feature that Microsoft has had for a while, and I just got excited when someone showed me recently, assuming it was new with Bing (thanks, R.W.!)

Click here for a view from the air (rotate to get more views of it, too...then use this to find your house and see if you can see your cars in the driveway).

Very funky building, and very cool to see it getting attention from the NYTimes.

Who Lives There - Wilfred Armster Structure Moves Guilford, Conn., Beyond the Colonial Period - NYTimes.com

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Look here for New York City nostalgia

Came across this collection of vintage NYC photos this evening. Incredible collection of images, the ones of the old Penn Station are incredible and tragic at the same time. The perspective of the photo where B-25 plane hit the Empire State Building is also amazing.

http://www.nyc-architecture.com/SPEC/GAL-BW.htm


Penn Station (demolished)


From the outside:


Terrifying view


Ultimate skyline silhouette:


All photos found here: http://www.nyc-architecture.com/SPEC/GAL-BW.htm

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Happy Birthday Adam!



Even though you're across the world, Egypt doesn't feel so far away when we're all thinking of you. Make it count, alright?

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

This new Flock browser

I've got no reason to talk about this other than I think it's pretty cool.

A friend recently turned me onto a new web browser called Flock. It's based on Firefox, so it supports all of the regular Firefox extensions. But it's Firefox and a whole lot more.

The idea is to create a browser that brings your "digital lifestyle" into once place, and it does a darn good job. The side toolbar (think bookmarks bar) now hosts a whole bunch of integrated features like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and lots of other apps and services that I'm not yet familiar with. At a single click, you can pop open your news feeds and "check out what's happening," and then just click and hide and get back to work, doing what you really SHOULD be doing.

The mini-blogging platform (which I'm using now) and media clipboard are perfectly integrated and are much nicer to write with than Blogger's interface (and provides you with more screenspace). This web clipboard allows you to drop and drop videos, pics, text, link, whatever and then just drag it into an email or post later on. So cool. So easy.

There's ALSO a media browser that sucks the pics and vids from a site and shows them in a scrollable bar across the top of the browser.

There are a few things missing that are VERY frustrating. Three main gripes:

1) Best thing about Firefox is that you can type regular words in the Awesome Bar (address bar)—something like "basset hounds wiki" or "pillars of the earth amazon"—and it will skip the search site and take you where you want to go. It guesses (usually correctly) at what you're looking for and saves you the hassle of that "www" and ".com" crap. Flock doesn't do this, and takes a lot of getting used to. I'm sure there's just some config setting to change that I don't know about yet.

2) You can't use the MacBook's fancy trackpad features like the 3-finger scroll to change pages, or go to top and bottom of the page. Slows down navigation and takes some relearning, if you've got the Firefox habits.

3) No Twitter groups. If you still don't "get" Twitter, then this probably doesn't mean much to you. But I've got a whole bunch of interesting people that I follow, in addition to close friends, and groups allow you to filter the tweets in your feed to you can read what you want when. Without groups, it becomes difficult to follow with everything coming into the same place (desktop apps like TweetDeck do this...Flock developers, don't make me go back to TweetDeck, please).

Despite these shortcomings, the overall feeling and success of Flock is overwhelmingly positive. I've got some other thoughts regarding the idea of having EVERYTHING in the same place that I'll save for later, but this works, and I recommend that anyone with at least a Facebook or Twitter account check it out, and start exploring the extra features.

Let us know what you think: http://www.flock.com/

Thursday, August 6, 2009

You really can't steal this song

Radiohead's new song, "Harry Patch," pays tribute to last survivor of World War I who passed away recently on July 25, 2009. All proceeds from the song to the Royal British Legion.

Looks like you should think twice before your conscience allows you to run over to MediaFire or Hype Machine, huh?

via Boing Boing

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Teaching Young Dogs New Tricks: The past, present and future of collective experiences

It's becoming more and more difficult to say what it means when someone actually "tweets." There are so many different kinds of Twitter users that a single tweet could fall under one of many, many, many categories. Waaaay back in the day—like, a few months ago—it was pretty common to just broadcast stuff about yourself, things along the line of "just got back from a great jog!" or announce to everyone what kind of mustard you just used on your sandwich that day for lunch. Now we've expanded to business promotion, sharing ideas and links, posting photos, broadcasting news and gossip, and telling stories. The best part is that digital resources are now reaching more and more people, and interesting articles, videos, pictures and everything else that people are finding worth talking about are reaching a wider audience. After all, the internet is about connecting users as a single community, not simply connecting each of us to these resources independently of each other.

At one point, sharing links and saving links used to be two different things, but the line is starting to blur. Sharing links entails emailing, IMing and talking about cool or interesting stuff that you find. Saving links is about bookmarking and keeping stuff for later so you can go back to it when you need it. "Social bookmarking" was the first step in blurring this share-save divide. Services like Delicious (www.delicious.com) emerged as way to keep track of how many people bookmark certain links, and the more people that bookmark it, the more popular it becomes, making it easier to find for more people: sharing and saving. It's now totally integrated with Firefox, so saving a bookmark to Delicious is just as easy as saving one to Firefox (and more powerful, since you can get to your links anywhere from the Delicious website).

Then Twitter came along. I knew lots of people who scoffed at the idea of sharing every small, minute detail of their lives with the world. But that was Twitter 1.0, and so much has changed since then. Twitter 1.0 was about what was happening now, in the present. With their redesigned homepage, Twitter has established itself not only as a way to talk about the present, but also what happened in the past and the future. The search feature encourages people to see what others are saying about [insert topic here], but it shows you what's other have already said about [insert topic here].

Fundamentally, Twitter is about the present, and Delicious is about saving stuff for future use. But change is afoot. Delicious—used for saving and discovering links that were bookmarked in the past—just recently rolled out some big changes to their site that use Twitter as a way to show what's popular and being discussed in the present. Since popular links might take a while to bubble to the surface before Delicious users get a chance to bookmark them, Delicious is using tweets to find out "what's hot," hoping that its users will see those popular links and then bookmark them.

That was the beginning of Twitter 2.0. It was a decisive moment because it established Twitter not just as something to keep track of the "right now," but also as a way to find out what we might want to look a later. The fact that Delicious is now using Twitter as way to track "save-worthy" links readjusts the responsibilities of Twitter users and what they're tweeting about: instead of just using Twitter as way to broadast what's happening in the moment, Twitter is becoming a way to save and search moments passed.

So maybe you've finally gotten into the habit of tweeting, you have followers and you're sending updates—whatever they might be—reguarly throughout your day. Good for you, but now's time for that dog to learn some new tricks. You've got to start thinking about what you're saying not just as a way to share what's going on now, but to save what happened for later. There are many services popping up—most notably OneRiot (http://www.oneriot.com/)—that keep track of what's being said on Twitter, and your tweets are providing others with valuable information about where to look for x, y and z, as well as the who-said-what when and the why-this-happened-there.

But why Twitter? Because everyone's doing it?

Yes, but there's more to it. It's always good to have a go-to service, something everyone understands and relies on. Somehow, Twitter has emerged as an accessible tool that lots of people love to use. The beauty of the 140-character limit is that, arguably, it makes sure that you only say what's necessary. The power isn't in the individual tweets themselves, but in the message of them as a single united voice of opinion. By readjusting our perspective on what a single tweet really means, we are helping to build a foundation of information knowledge about culture and experience, about news and people, and lives and lifestyles.

Fine, you can go ahead and protect your updates so no one can see them. But then who really cares what you have to say if you're not contributing to the conversation?

This video needs to be shared

I missed this whenever it was on TV, and wanted to make sure no one else has to go on living without it. It is nuts, and it is also about nuts.

It's an inverse relationship

The number of interesting things I do in the RW (or "are-dubs", as in "real world", duh) seem to be directly proportional to the number of interesting things I do in the blogosphere. It's been a busy few days, and the biggest piece of news was the move. Our lease at our house was up after two months, and it was time for me to move across the street. We're all going to miss that house, it really grew on us, and it's even more sad to not have that place to go back to everyday. Now I get to see another family in the front yard when I'm walking by on my way home, not us straight chillin', playing music and cookin' up a good time.

As for this past weekend, it was a whirlwind tour of 4 different music concerts: Bad Boy Bill @Pacha, Soulive and John Scofield@Prospect Park, Bad Plus minus their drummer plus Paul Motian@Village Vanguard and Dan Deacon/Deerhunter/No Age@Brooklyn Bowl. It was both seriously awesome and seriously exhausting. Key photographs to come, as well as key moments that can't, shouldn't and won't be forgotten.

Also, I'm considering moving this blog over to Tumblr...thoughts, anyone?

Friday, July 31, 2009

Then it came to me...

So I've heard this track at a few clubs now, and this past weekend I asked the DJ what the name and artist were. The guy told me it was "Get Out Of Here" by Gramophone. Wrong.

Inspired by a sudden memory surge, I remembered a few more of the lyrics:

Get out of here
Get me some money too

So I plugged it into Google and found out that the original artist is Peggy Lee, and the sampled track was recorded in 1942. Turns out the artist is Gramophonedzie (the DJ was close).

I immediately IM'ed a friend the lyrics, and within minutes we had the song and were rocking out. Check it out (listen at least until 2:18):

Gramophonedzie – Why Don't You

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Breadth vs. Depth: What is the internet DOING to us?

During a recent conversation about online news with my roommate, he commented that he "didn't like what the internet had done to him." In his eyes, our attention spans are getting shorter and shorter as more and more information becomes readily available for our consumption. I agree. With so much going on, you can't necessarily afford to read everything thoroughly to cultivate informed opinions and reasoning. It becomes a slippery slope to developing habits of skimming headlines, or using things like the "Quick Read" feature offered by the Huffington Post.

My roommate's comment struck me because it made it sound as if he had been victimized, as if the internet had some ubiquitous influence over his habits that he couldn't escape. And suddenly, I was forced to consider my own information-gathering habits. I have a long list of blogs and news feeds plugged into my Google Reader account, and am constantly adding new interesting or relevant sites. I only check out a few on a daily basis, but I figure I'd rather have these resources available for future reference than to lose them forever.

Despite my attempts to check all of these sites regularly, I have yet to find a healthy balance of breadth and depth. With so many topics (illustration, advertisting, news, gadgetry, photography, humor, friend's blogs), it becomes difficult to decide what to read and when. A quick solution might be to just go through all of it really quickly. Sure, you'll get an idea of what's happening, but you won't really learn anything; ranted, I assume this is how most people digest newspapers and magazines, both in print and online. If your intention is too just get an overview of what's happening, then skimming gets the job done. But then aren't we just growing accustomed to shallow reporting? And if you've got the ability to have hundreds of feeds in your feed-reader, isn't that just getting you to learn less about more?

I see two possible solutions:

[1] Make a short list of sites that you intend to thoroughly read and investigate. Spend time researching lots of different ones and choose based on what seems to be source, rather than a regurgitator/commentator. Come to terms with the fact that you can only spot check others.

[2] Make a schedule. Sounds super OCD, but it could work beautifully. Imagine structuring your week by category so that you don't need to worry about covering everything in a single sitting. Make a list for each day of the week and stick to it. This requires a commitment to regular reading, but would keep you ├╝ber-informed. In conjunction with [1], you'd learn a hell of a lot.

There's an obvious caveat to this reasoning: the problem is self-inflicted. I've got a broad range of interests that I want to cover, and want to keep up with current trends and news on lots of fronts. It's just something I personally feel compelled to do. Others might not care about breadth, and are satisfied with depth in a select few topics. That's fine..

But with SO MUCH STUFF out there, with SO MANY OPINIONS discussing different angles on SO MANY ISSUES, decisions have to be made. There are so many hours in a day, and only so much time you should be able to sit in front of your computer. As our breadth of knowledge increases, it becomes a challenging—but not impossible—task to see it all with the kind of depth that will help us learn. It's like that epic quote from Spiderman, am I right?!

Choice MagClouds that I would love to get

MagCloud is a pretty cool service. For a flat-rate of $0.20 a page, you can upload a PDF up to 60 pages 100 pages long [they just upgraded their service!]. The company will print out as many copies as you need on glossy, magazine quality paper with sadle-stitch binding and send it back to you. Other people can subscribe and order as many copies as they want, and MagCloud will ship it wherever it has to go (you can mark-up the price and the author keeps the difference after shipping and printing costs). It's another step in the wave of self-publishing, a perfect solution to get a photo-memoir of your vacation or local publication printed and delivered for cheap.

I spent some time browsing through some of the showcased 'zines and found a few gems. I recommend perusing the site yourself, and maybe even take advantage of the idea but getting some stuff printed.

PROCESS

Fotoblur

mf magazine

Drink the Ring

Underground Art School

Wally's Dog Tale

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

New Twitter homepage

Twitter's got a new homepage today. It's been talked about for a while, but nice to see some change to the site. See Mashable and their related links:

http://mashable.com/2009/07/28/twitter-homepage/

Interesting side note: I came across the blog of one of the ex-lead designers at Google who made this post about leaving Google:

http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/20/goodbye-google.html

and then this post about starting at Twitter:

http://stopdesign.com/archive/2009/03/31/hello-twitter.html.


Fascinating to hear the inside scoop on what happens behinds the scenes. The decision over the color blue that he mentions in the Google post is slightly disturbing.

Regarding the productivity of friendship

I cranked out a post a little while back that discussed the importance of "Carpe Evening," or seizing the immense chunk of time that most of us have after we get back from work. I mentioned how it is easy to get over-involved in college, but once you leave, it's much more difficult to find new activities with fun people.

My brain is wired in a way— like most people, I'm assuming—that requires there's always something to be to work on, little side projects to keep occupied. At the beginning of the summer, I assumed I would keep myself busy with lots of these side projects, looking into some vague ideas that had been percolating over the past few months before graduation.

Bottom line: it hasn't been productive two months, since since I hadn't anticipated how lucky I would be with my housemates and living situation. The story of me getting into this internship and getting into this house with these people involves mostly uninteresting details, but it has turned out to be better than expected, even if I got nothing done outside of work.

Essentially, the past two months have presented me with a very real struggle that I'm sure many others have also dealt with: Does spending time with friends and family qualify as a "productive" or "justifiable" use of your time when you're not getting anything done? Or another way of putting it: is it okay to just enjoy yourself when there's so much else to do?

Yes.

Realistically, there's nothing I need to do when I leave the office, no responsibilities to anyone but myself. There are jobs to search for, portfolio's to bolster, books to read, workouts that need working out, and chores to be done. And yet when you have the chance to go grocery shopping, return two hours later, and then spend another 2.5 hours cooking and eating, it feels okay. It's relaxing, good for the mind (it also tastes delicious).

Again, like many of my other friends, my "summer vacation" was 4 days at home after graduation to, pretty much to unpack and then repack for moving down to Princeton again. Luckily, this summer has actually felt like a summer, even though it includes a five-day work week. Change is afoot as we're about to move out of our house, my roommates have been signing off to other adventures, and I'll be moving across the street for the month of August. Undoubtedly, August will be 354% more productive since I won't have anyone to distract me with all of this "hanging out" and "just chilling" and "listening to our favorite music together while we eat a delicious home-cooked meal."

So to my roommates, thanks for getting in the way of my dreams. Don't think this whole "friendship" thing will make me forget about how much I didn't get done when we were enjoying the sunshine on our patio furniture set or cooking spicy food or hanging out in the parking lot of T.I. (what?). I think I'd rather go live by myself without all of the "excitement," thanks very much.

By the way...will you guys be around for the month of August?

Monday, July 27, 2009

A Weekend of NYC Urbanism

I visited the Highline with a fellow architecture friend, Julia, a few weekends back. After talking the walk, we checked out the exhibit "The Future Beneath Us" at the Public Library and Grand Central Terminal.

For those of you that aren't familiar, The Highline is a new urban park in NYC built on the elevated train tracks on the west side of the city. There was intense debate over its construction, and New York Magazine ran a great article spelling out the story. This is the first completed section, but two more sections are to come.

As an architecture major, I've found that people expect me to have insightful critiques prepared merits, successes and failures of the Highline project as it stands now. While I can't offer anything earth-shattering that hasn't been already said, I will say this: right now, the Highline is novelty. You have to wait in line to see it because everyone is making it their weekend activity, and you're going to hear a myriad of different complaints, compliments, and reactions from all of those people. When asked what I think, I just say "Come back in 10 years, see what has happened then." This is a public park, not a thrill ride, and eventually, I'm assuming that the glimmer will wear off and the Highline will melt into the fabric of NYC, a familiar constant rather than an unfamiliar outlier. When that has happened, we can take another look and see how the Highline is being used, and try to better understand what credentials we can use to best judge it.

Here's what we saw.



First building you encounter is the Standard Hotel. (see this article here about this place!)






Benches.



Nope, don't know these guys, but the seats are very cool.



10th Avenue Square: The street becomes the stage.




View looking out the windows of the 10th Avenue Square.



Back at the audience.



Architecture renderings of the 10th Avenue Square. (via thehighline.org)



Check out the clever drainage on these water fountains!



Looking back at the end.



Two more sections to come in this direction.

Then we moved onto the "The Future Beneath Us":





Drilling samples.



If you've taken a train ride into NYC with me recently, you probably sat there, rolling your eyes as I told you about "how insane this is." When the tunnel under the Hudson River was first constructed in the early 19th century, it had two tracks: one going into the city, and one going out. Guess what? There is STILL only a single track in either direction. The new rail project is going to fix this problem buy constructing new track and tunnels, but until that's built, every person that leaves or enters New York on a commuter train has to go through this tunnel (where your ears pop). How insane is that?




This drilling machine is awesome. 'Nuff said.

I didn't take as many photos of the exhibit as I should have, but it was very interesting to check out. It's always amazing to see what goes on underground and behind the scenes to keep the city going. The history and future of this kind of infrastructure is incredible.

More info and links:

-There is a also great post over at sub-studio design blog that I would recommend reading as well. Their photos have that "I know what I'm doing quality" that mine still tend to lack: The Highline@sub-studio.
-New York Magazine article: read here
-Offical Highline site: thehighline.org.
-Website for The Future Beneath Us exhibit

Thursday, July 23, 2009

A recent music Discovery

A few Saturdays back, I was perusing the new releases rack at Princeton Record Exchange (PREX) and found an album with some beautiful artwork that had “Vampire Weekend” scribbled across the price tag (VW isn’t due for a new album for a while). I was excited, but resisted the impulse buy and went home empty-handed. With some research, I found that I'd just seen the debut album entitled LP from the group Discovery, made up of dynamic duo Rostam Batmanglij from Vampire Weekend and Wes Miles from Ra Ra Riot. I got my hands on the music, and the tracks kept me coming back for more as I tried to figure out what was going on in my headphones: pop, synths, electronic, catchy, groovy, and colorful; that’s what I heard. My roommate came back from work with the mp3’s on his iPod, and we rocked out to it for the next three days. For serious.

Call me crazy (people have) but I enjoy buying music. It’s the physicality of a real CD, popping it into a really loud stereo for the whole album experience. Or just putting it on a shelf and looking at it. The music’s is half the package, and the CD and artwork seal the deal. If the artist can convince me it’s worth paying for their music, I will, like a “thank you, I’m really digging this.”

A week of listening to Discovery convinced me it was time to buy. I called PREX and asked, “Do you have any copies of Discovery’s album left?”

“Do you want on vinyl or CD?”

I was startled. “Um, either.”

“Ya, we’ve got a bunch of copies here,” he answered.

Vinyl? They had it on vinyl? As in a record? When was I?

Then I’m standing in PREX, CD in my left hand and vinyl in my right. Why would I even consider buying an album if I don’t have a record player? But why would I buy the CD if I have the mp3’s already? Why am I even considering paying for this music if it's already on my iPod?

I bought LP on a vinyl LP, and I couldn’t be happier.



* * *

This music purchase was different than most. I stumbled across the album while browsing at a music store on the day before it was supposed to be officially released, had it on my iPod that night without paying for it, and grew to love it with friends. But after I had listened and decided it was worth buying, I had to consider what I would be spending my money on. It’s definitely not the music, because I’ve already got that. Maybe it was the visuals; records are big, and record sleeves have lots of visual real estate; 144 square inches, to be exact. They're also beautiful, and in the case of Discovery’s LP, records are really big and beautiful. The album artwork is amazing, and the backside plays right into my [not-so] secret love for colorful transit maps.

I opened the record when I got home to find a foldout wall poster with lyrics and visuals, as well as a piece of paper with a link to download the album in mp3 format. It was suddenly clear this piece of vinyl wasn’t supposed to replace the music on my iPod or compete with the CD sales, but exist completely independently. The album looks gorgeous, and the fold-out poster unravels the music’s lyrical conundrums. The whole package releases the musical experience from the virtual, intangible world of the iPod, Hype Machine and YouTube, and adds physical legitimacy that you can see and touch, show off and admire.

I’m being over-romantic, but I can’t help but smile when I look over and see that Discovery album on my wall. Sure, I’ll spin it and listen a precious few times, but it will mostly stand as a friendly reminder of a musical discovery that helped me remember why music isn’t just for the ears. Music is something we can see and share with others, pumping us up, making us dance, slowing us down, or letting us unwind. Bands and artists better realize that while people love to listen, people also love if you've got more to offer than just a bunch of mp3's. Since getting music for free is officially “no big deal,” bands have a new responsibility, something that maybe existed in some stint of glory days in the past. If they want to survive—financially, artistically, however—they’ve got to expand their act. It's no secret that it's the concerts that pull in the big bucks, not the CD and vinyl sales. But if you give people a reason to buy some CD's or vinyl’s or something else...well, then I’m interested.

The direction of the music industry is a hot topic right now, and it wouldn’t be out of line to say that the future of music depends on how the music industry deals with change. For incredibly insightful further reading, check out Bob Lefsetz’s blog, The Lefsetz Letter. It’s all good, but maybe start with these posts: Michael Jackson Turning Points, Keith Urban at Staples, and Social Networking.

And be sure to keep listening.
_____________________

Links:

Smiles Captured: A new photo album

My digital camera is very real proof that Japanese engineers are a very crafty bunch. There is a shooting mode called "Smile Detector." Here's what happens: you click the shutter button, and it goes into what I like to call "Smile Capturing Mode." When the camera's face detector detects a face with a little box, it waits until the person is smiling and SNAP! it automatically takes a picture. The "Smile Counter" on the screen increases by one, giving you an exact count of how many smiles you've captured. The amazing thing is that you don't take the picture, it just waits until it seems a smile and captures the moment.

When people hear about this, a short smile/no-smile photo session undoubtedly ensues. A large number of my digital photos are of people with a big, exaggerated, excited, toothy grins on their faces, sometimes with thumbs up, sometimes with eyes closed as they strain to smile, and sometimes with an unenthusiastic look across the rest of their face as they wonder the eff I was talking about when I said my camera could tell they were smiling.

In the camera's settings, you can adjust the "Smile Detection Level" to low, medium or high. I just think of this as setting the "Judgmental Camera Mode" to "open-minded, relatively picky, and severely harsh critic." In all honesty, the Smile Detector is pretty much a gag. Sometimes you don't want people smiling, or you're getting them from the side. For that, you really can't rely on the smile detector.

I have been reorganizing my digital photos on my new computer, and have discovered whole treasure trove of these smile detector photos. To commemorate this discovery, I'll be making a photo album just for these moments of fabricated joy.

Please don't judge the people in the photos too harshly; that's the camera's job.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

HAPPY BIRTHDAY ERIC!

Today's a big day in our nation's history: ERIC IS 23!

Happy Birthday big guy, hope you can blow out all the candles!

Monday, July 20, 2009

Dumpster Diving 2.0 and "What is New York City?"

Today, the NYTimes came out with an article talking about something I came across last week. It re-sparked some thoughts.

First written about here at Ready Made, some designers have started turning old dumpsters into pools, hidden away in the cracks of the city for a small, select group of people.

The New York Times ran the story today, citing Ready Made's original story about the dumpsters. I love this part:

After Mr. Weyland gave an interview to ReadyMade, the D.I.Y. design magazine, two weeks ago, breathless coverage and links began appearing all over the blogosphere. Soon the location was decoded. One post led to people standing on the roofs of cars in a nearby lot, snapping photos, Mr. Weyland said with an eye roll.

Who wouldn't want to get in on the action?!

Living in Princeton, I've been able to spend a bunch of my weekends in the city with friends. I've never lived in the city, but NYC's glamour as tourist destination wore off years ago, and now I go in for a more "legit" thrill. In my mind, New York is very much two different cities: one for the tourists who can see the sites, eat at the restaurants, drink at the bars, sit in the parks. The other is for people that live there. Life in the city when you're visiting friends exists off the streets and in the air, in apartment buildings, behind the scenes, getting buzzed-in or greeting a doorman.

It's the second kind of city that I prefer, where you fade into the woodwork and rely on each other for entertainment, rather than searching for a shallow thrill in the city-scene. Bars and restaurants become a backdrop for gatherings of friends and family, rather than a novel experience of fun seats and fancy drinks.

When the night is over, you don't head back to a sterile hotel or squeeze into an outgoing train. You go back home, back up into the city where the night continues in the privacy of your own place in the skyline.

These dumpster pools are neat because they're tucked away for a few people to enjoy. It's exclusive, but that's not really the draw for me. It's the private, personal space; it's an urban oasis off above the streets.

But seriously, how can I get in on the action?

Everyone is probably kicking themselves over this one.

This little invention has been floating around for a bit I've seen it mentioned on a bunch of different places already, but I think it's certainly worth a shout-out. In an act of brilliance, someone has come up with a key/ring combo:



I know, why didn't *I* think of that?!

I'm amazed at how much attention this little guy has gotten. Just goes to show how simple a solution can be, and how excited people can get about it once they've seen it.

via Wired and Thrillist

Their site: Amron Exptl.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Two photos on a sunny day




If you don't believe we landed on the moon, you'll love this.

...for the rest of us that don't think it was a huge cover-up, this is just devastating. Apparently all of the original video footage of the first moon landing was accidentally erased to use the tapes for later satellite missions. Irresponsible, frustrating, and a great loss? Yes, yes and yes. Hopefully they'll be able to recover footage from older TV broadcasts, as they propose to do.

Check out the story here: Houston, We Erased the Apoll 11 Tapes

Via NPR

New NYC Subway iPhone app let's you streamline your trip

To keep myself interested during my 1.5 hour commute into NYC last summer, I started trying to figure out how to streamline the trip. I realized that waiting at the front of the train as it arrived in Grand Central but me closer to the station, standing by the 3rd door of the second car in the S-train would give me the fastest exit, and then the 6th car on the downtown 1-line put me right next to the turnstiles to get up to the street.

Turns out I'm not the only person that was thinking like this. A new iPhone app, Exit Strategy, gives you the information in the palm of your hand so there's no trial and error involved. Apparently, people like the idea but are disappointed that there are so many subway lines and stops missing. Hopefully future versions will provide more complete coverage.

Check it out here: Exit Strategy

via Thrillist

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Three interesting points on Princeton architecture

The bumps and shapes on top of the free-standing arcade outside of Frist Campus Center are not just random pieces of architectural flair, but are actually the tops of the letters of the words "FRIST CAMPUS CENTER." Due to disputes between the town, university and the architects, the signage was reduced to what we see now.






Frist Campus Center


Revealing the Letters


(Images courtesy of me.)
__________________________________________________________________

In theoretical computer science, "P=NP" is an unverified identity that has kept computer scientists scratching their heads for a number of years. To make up for my severe lack of expertise in this field, my friend Dan O'Shea did a quick write up of the significance of P=NP:

Dan explains: "P=NP is widely considered the most important, unsolved question in computer science today. The question essentially asks whether a large class of problems labeled NP currently considered mathematically intractable are indeed tractable. The labels P and NP essentially describe how quickly the amount of time and memory required to solve a particular problem (say, sorting a list of N numbers) grows with the size of the problem (here, N). While P problems aren't necessarily easy, they tend to be significantly more manageable than NP problems. Many fields and applications, including the encryption that protects your personal information on the internet, rely on how impossibly time-consuming some NP problems are to solve. If P indeed equals NP, then many problems currently considered intractable could be solved efficiently. Consequently, the question has enormous real-world significance, and the Clay Mathematics Institute has offered a $1 million Millennium Prize to anyone who answers the question with proof."


To honor this seemingly insurmountable, theoretical obstacle, the Computer Science Building has a pattern of bricks on the side that reads "P=NP?" in 7-bit ASCII values:


x 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 x
x 0 1 1 1 1 0 1 x
x 1 0 0 1 1 1 0 x
x 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 x
x 0 1 1 1 1 1 1 x

Here are the images:

Computer Science Building


Close up of the brick pattern


Apparently, if the question is ever answered, the question mark can be removed.

Thanks to Dan O'Shea over at djoshea.com for filling the blanks with his computer science expertise.

This information courtesy of Princeton's Department of Computer Science, photos courtesy of me.

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(Note: looks like some of these images aren't available if you're not on the Princeton network. I'll look into it and hopefully have the links fixed soon.

When it was constructed in 1951, Corwin Hall stood near the corner of Washington Road and Prospect Ave. To make way for the construction of Roberston Hall, which would be the new Woodrow Wilson School, Corwin Hall was moved to its current location at the back of Skudder Plaza, behind the fountain. Mudd Manuscript Library's blog has an interesting post with the following video of the move in action:



From the air


From the side (that's Frick Lab in the background)


These photos and facts can be found in links on this page: Corwin Hall Buildling Highlights

(part of An Interactive Campus History)