We Feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar attempts to parse statements of emotion out of blog posts and assembles them into interesting interactive presentations. The applet isn’t perfect – a few areas seem kinda buggy – but it’s a very neat concept, and worth playing with a bit.

(Via coolhunting.)

May 132006


ESP – generally a great guy and a friend of the next generation – gave Ben a copy of Crockett Johnson‘s classic children’s book Harold and the Purple Crayon (HATPC) last year.

For those of you who don’t know Ben or haven’t seen him lately, he’s very into his books. We read dozens a day, he pages through dozens more them on his own, he takes them to bed, he has favorite books, books for certain moods, etc. Our house now has overflowing piles of my books, Amy’s books, and Ben’s books, and there is a louder protest from the back seat when we drive past the library without stopping than when we drive by the ice cream shop.

I find Ben’s routine for taking books to bed particularly adorable: while I’m reading him his before-bed books, he’ll grab a chosen book after I’ve finished it and before I manage to put it back in the boxes of books next to the chair in his room, repeat its title, and say “go to bed”. (For example, “Meet the Dinosaurs, go to bed”.)

Confusingly in that way 2-year-olds are often confusing, this does not mean that Ben is necessarily done hearing books and ready for bed (which comes immediately after books in our end of day routine). Rather, it just means that the recently finished book has been selected to come along with him to bed, whenever the time comes. We’ll read a few more while Ben clutches the chosen book, and then he’ll carry it with him as I carry him to bed.

But I digress … I was talking about HATPC. HATPC is a great book, and even kids (or adults) who aren’t particularly interested in books should read it. It was a bit too abstract and long for Ben at the time Eric got it for him, but Harold recently made it into the active book rotation. I picked it up Tuesday night and read it to him for the first time. As Ben’s books go, HATPC is not short – I probably spent 5 minutes reading it, during which time I don’t think Ben moved a muscle. He’s usually attentive to books, but he was completely focused, and paying very close attention to this book.

When the book was done, Ben was quick and decisive.

B: Harold and the Purple Crayon, go to bed.
me: OK. Do you want to read more books, or are you all done?
B: All done. Harold and Purple Crayon, in bed.
me: OK.

I proceeded to carry Ben over to the light switch so he could turn it off, put him in his crib, and say goodnight.

Ben generally wakes up sometime in between when I do and when I wake Amy. The next morning, somewhat strangely, I didn’t hear anything from him until it was late enough that it was time to wake him. I went into his room and was slightly surprised to see him standing in his crib holding Harold on the Purple Crayon. He turned to look at me, but instead of saying “I awake”, or “go downstairs, get milk”, or “go see Mommy”, or “Daddy open the door”, I heard:

B: "I read Harold and the Purple Crayon in the dark"
me: (laughing) Did you? That's great... but, how could you see it? It's pretty dark in here. [Ben sleeps in the dark with the door closed and the shades drawn.]
B: (not missing a beat) "Harold is bright"

Now, the print isn’t particularly “bright” in the book, and I imagine it was in fact quite hard to see in the dark. He was seriously into this book, though, and I think basically able to see it — either in the conventional photon-based manner or via his memory of our time with it the night before — by sheer force of will (somewhat apropos to the book, in a sense). His tone while saying “Harold is bright” was one of patience, as if as a favor to me he would explain the obvious.

I’ve always been interested in ways of thinking that are internally consistent/coherent but foreign or silly-seeming to the dominant rationality. Kids – Harold and Ben included – are an interesting sort of these alternative logics. I was traveling on business a few weeks ago, and during dinner one night Ben turned to Amy and said, hopefully, “Daddy come home”. I happened to be returning late that night, so Amy said “Daddy will come home after you go to sleep”, at which point Ben put his fork down, pushed back from the table, and at 5-something in the evening said “I go to bed now”.

There is a great episode of the always outstanding public radio show This American Life from a few years ago called “Kid Logic”. While unusually poignant and at moments quite sad, it’s definitely worth a listen.

Thanks, Eric – Harold is a big hit!


My friend Mike C from ages and ages ago (with whom I don’t stay in nearly good enough contact) has started blogging his adventures driving a cab in NYC. Mike is one of the most friendly and genuinely nice people I’ve ever encountered, and this view through his lens on humanity is heartwarming, funny, and chock full of advice you’ll use every day, like this:

If you’re a leggy, gorgeous blonde with low self-esteem who just might be spending the rest of the night performing oral sex on a celebrity so you can feel good about yourself and get that little extra inch closer to stardom… your make-up is the last thing you should be worried about.


War Room – Salon.com:

“The letter Rep. Jo Ann Emerson sent to one of her constituents read like any other a 20-year-old legislative correspondent might prepare for a member of Congress: Thank you for writing, your concerns are important to me, blah, blah, blah. Then came the kicker: ‘I think you’re an asshole.'”

Following this rather unpolitic sentiment, the representative signed the letter and added a personalized post-script conveying her regrets for the response’s delay! Bwahahahaha… that letter belongs on ebay, or at least a campaign office’s wall.

Blogthings have been quiet here lately, as A and I get settled back into regular life after our long-delayed honeymoon (almost 5 years late is better than never). We had a great two weeks in Italy, and will have photos, etc. – we’re actually hoping to do a travelogue via google earth – up as soon as we can.


Apocalypse Pooh is a video mash-up of Apocalypse Now and Winnie the Pooh, apparently made in 1987. It is every bit as good as that sounds (and as a fan of Apocalypse Now who has had some adult exposure to kid-oriented video I mean that without sarcasm).

The Pooh-as-Willard in front of the mirror in Saigon scene is incredible, and the “casting” is overall very amusing.

The technical quality is pretty modest by today’s standards, but doing something like this with analog inputs is an impressive achievement nonetheless.

“Oh, bother. Oh, bother.”

(via daddytypes by way of boingboing)


Forget about keyboards, mice, and awkward metaphors obstructing the path between you and your application. This multi-touch user interface was demoed today at O’Reilly‘s Emerging Technology conference in San Diego, and has generated well deserved buzz all day long (more here and here). I will not be able to explain as clearly as the video does, so just watch it.

This is very exciting. I’m a good typist and a big fan of the command line, but this feels like a sea change in user interface technology that could expose entirely new possibilities.



Apple‘s design aesthetic – as manifest in industrial design, software usability, or GUI look and feel – is notably unique and, most would agree, “prettier” than that which otherwise prevails in the computer and consumer electronics industry. Their product packaging is similarly attractive, as evidenced by the new MacBook Pro box.

Personally, I appreciate the pretty, but I’m much more interested in what’s inside the box (mmmm… MacBook Pro…). As such, I’ve never given much thought to specifically what makes the Apple aesthetic feel superior. This video demonstrating the hypothetical treatment of the iPod packaging by the Microsoft marketing group does a great job laying out the differences. A worthwhile view.

(While you’re watching videos, check out the real-life fight club.)


I really have nothing to add to this:

SonicWALL – Comprehensive Internet Security – SonicWALL Press Releases: “SonicWALL Inc. (NASDAQ: SNWL), a leading provider of integrated network security and productivity solutions, today announced the results of a survey of 941 remote and mobile workers worldwide.”


“All respondents were relaxed about their personal habits when working remotely. While about 39% of respondents of both sexes said they wear sweats while working from home, 12% of males and 7% of females wear nothing at all.”



The hackaday / make / street tech world has covered a lot of neat “persistence of vision” things lately. Basically, these involve a microcontroller that controls LEDs to light in a particular pattern such that as the device is waved around (or, in some variatinos, the shoe or bike wheel to which it’s attached moves) a perceptible image – usually text – is created. [Update: some more really cool bike-wheel PoV displays are here.]

New Scientist reports that researchers in Japan have taken this a big step further:

The display utilises an ionisation effect which occurs when a beam of laser light is focused to a point in air. The laser beam itself is invisible to the human eye but, if the intensity of the laser pulse exceeds a threshold, the air breaks down into glowing plasma that emits visible light.

The required intensity can only be achieved by very short, powerful laser pulses – each plasma dot, or “flashpoint”, lasts for only about a nanosecond. But the resulting image appears to last longer due to persistence of vision. As with film and television, the impression of a continuous image is maintained by refreshing the flashpoints.

The neat-o factor here is considerable, and there are certainly some cool human-friendly applications of something like this to be discovered. On the other hand, the article starts: “The night sky could soon be lit up with gigantic three-dimensional adverts…“. Oh, great.

(via smartmobs)

live action simpson intro

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Mar 042006

Simpsons fans, click here now. 🙂

(via digg)

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