Archive for the 'noteworthy' Category

Who Said Print is Dead?

OBAMA
Today’s edition of the New York Times.

I count myself lucky today, for scoring a copy of the paper before they ran out. Apparently, the situation is the same throughout the city, (though I’ve heard rumors of another 50,000 copy run).

In fact, there are a hundred or so people standing on line outside the Times headquarters, waiting for a fresh delivery of news, printed on dead trees.

Print Isn’t Dead

A hundred or so people, waiting on line for today’s paper, in front of the Times headquarters in midtown.

From Gawker:

Everybody wants a souvenir of Obama’s victory, and you know what makes a great souvenir? That’s right, a newspaper. This is a photo of a line outside the NYT building on 40th Street of people waiting—for a newspaper!

I hope that people still come to the Times for more than just a souvenir.

New York Times Anthrax Scare

Who?

Equipment and officials from some government agency that I’ve never heard of, in the lobby of the New York Times Building in midtown.

The lobby of The New York Times Building, where I work, was closed this past Wednesday, after an employee on the 13th floor opened an envelope that contained a powdery substance. (The 13th floor is where the editorial board and some columnists have offices.)

It turned out to be a hoax, but for several hours the building was in near lock-down mode. Unfortunately, I decided to disregard warnings and went out to meet Lisa for lunch. When I returned, I was locked out for almost an hour, as the police had roped off the building’s entrances. Peering through the windows on the 8th Avenue side of the building, I saw a huge curtain stretched across one of the elevator banks. Some firemen went in with a stretcher, and the broadcast news media started converging on the street. (Apologies to the very friendly NY1 camerawoman, for refusing to talk to her on camera.)

All I could do was to take some photos, and wait to be let in. After about an hour, I received word from a colleague inside that they were letting employees back in through the freight elevators in the loading dock down 40th st. That was about all the fun I could handle for one day… back to work.

More Photos below the jump.

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A 3rd Climber

Peel

Workmen remove a flyer left behind by David Malone, who climbed the New York Times Building several hours before.

For the third time in five weeks, someone has scaled the outside of The New York Times Headquarters. This time, however, it was over and done before most of us got out of bed:

Unlike the two previous climbers, this one — identified later as David Malone, a 29-year-old activist from West Hartford, Conn., who studies Al Qaeda — did not attempt to make his way to the roof. Instead, he unfurled a banner around the fifth floor of the 52-story building, before climbing a few more stories.

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Alain Robert, climbing the New York Times Building

Never a dull moment here at the Times… Today, we witnessed Alain Robert climb the New York Times Building on 8th Avenue facing 41st street. I took this with my iPhone on the 21st floor:

Alain Robert

He scaled up the ceramic rods that are affixed to the outside of the building, attracting hundreds of onlookers inside the building, as well as down the street.

City Room has more about Alain and this stunt, including the news that he was arrested by NYPD after reaching the roof – 52 floors up from the street.

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The Island at the Center of the World

The Iowa Caucus results last night got me thinking about the many competing political cultures present throughout American history. Individualist vs. communitarian, rich vs. poor, urban vs. rural… but, at the core of our national psyche is this tension between the lofty ideals set forth by the Founders, and our attempts and failings to live up to them. For every shining example of Lincoln, FDR, and Martin Luther King Jr., there are generations of back-sliders who prey upon fear in order to gain political advantage. Sure, to everything there is a season, but I’m glad to see that the voters in Iowa embraced hope and rejected cynicism, on both sides of the political spectrum.

The Island at the Center of the WorldHistory is written by the winners, which is why Americans tend to think of our colonial past and democratic beginnings as built upon and in reaction to English institutions alone – but the story is a little more complicated. It’s not often that I do book reviews, but I just finished re-reading The Island at the Center of the World, The Epic Story of Dutch Manhattan and the Forgotten Colony that Shaped America [excerpt] by journalist historian Russell Shorto, and wanted to recommend it to anyone looking for some interesting reading on the origins of this country.

The traditional telling of colonial America focuses almost exclusively on the English colonies in Virginia and New England. But, Shorto reminds us that the Dutch were the first Europeans to settle the island of Manhattan, and built some of the most lasting ideals and institutions into the fabric of American political and cultural life.

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Google Maps: Boston Street View

It was announced yesterday that Google Maps’ Street View comes to more cities, including Boston. So naturally, I looked up our previous apartment in Cambridge, MA. The weird thing is that myself, and our friends/upstairs neighbors Tyler and Sarah are pictured!

Creepier!

We’re having our moving sale, and that’s my Saab in the foreground. I can probably peg the date taken to August 11th or 12th, 2007 – the weekend before we moved.

Click the photo to see notes, look at it big, or check it out on Google Maps yourself. I am a little creeped out.

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Two essential iPhoto Plugins

There are two iPhoto plugins that I couldn’t live without – FlickrExport, and Keyword Manager.

FlickrExport

If you like photos, Flickr, and OS X, and don’t know about FlickrExport, then shame on you. It’s a nice little plugin that will let you easily export photos from iPhoto to Flickr. It converts your assigned iPhoto keywords to Flickr tags, enables you to add titles and descriptions, and choose to either add the photos to a new set, an existing set, or none at all – all within the dialog window.

The one rub is that it is made by an independent developer, Fraser Speirs, who has to feed his family – so, he charges about $25. A nominal price for something that has saved me hundreds of hours, and enriched my Flickr experience.

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TiVo HD and Copy Protection

Why do I pay money for this?I am an avid hockey fan, since I was a kid growing up in Buffalo. I love watching the game, and I especially love watching my hometown team, the Sabres. For the past 2 years, I’ve forked over $150 to subscribe to the NHL Center Ice cable package, so that I can watch every game of the season. With our TiVo, I can record each game, and watch it whenever I have time.

That is, I did, until this season started. We recently upgraded our TiVo unit from an old DirecTiVo, to the new Series 3 TiVo HD, which apparently implements unnaturally strict copy protection on premium content. Because the new unit utilizes CableCards, TiVo has different rules for these TiVos as compared to Series 2 units, according to their support page:

Since the Series3 and TiVo HD are DCR devices, in addition to the Macrovision rules for analog content, they must also comply with the content protection policies for Digital Cable content.

What this means is that NHL Center Ice content is copy protected, and will be deleted within hours of the game’s completion. Gone. Irretrievable.

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A New Nedward.org

Today, I’m launching version 6 of nedward.org, a typographical grid-based layout, with heavy use of Helvetica Neue. This site has always used a similar shade of green, so I wanted to maintain that bit of consistency with the past, while introducing something very different. I also wanted to bring together my content from twitter, flickr, del.icio.us, and last.fm, while keeping it distinct from the weblog content – yea, I’ve gone back on my post is a post comments.

The last major revision of this site was launched on May 1 2005, but even that was somewhat of a realignment of the previous design, which dated back to 2001. I’m a big proponent of Cameron Moll’s realign not redesign rule – so I spent the past few years tinkering away, refining the same basic layout.

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First Week in Carroll Gardens

We arrived last Wednesday, and unpacking is an ongoing project. We sold, gave away, or threw out most of our “big stuff”, so this move is not only about a new space, but also a lot of new purchases. A lot of the stuff we got rid of was from our college days, and had also already made it through our fire.

Room & Board sofaI’m most excited about our new sofa, which Lisa bought from Room & Board in SoHo. Thanks to Jason and Liz for tipping us off to this place – we loved everything we saw there. Their furniture manages to be very modern without looking uncomfortable or annoying. (Of course, we realized later that we chose the same sofa as the Yovanoff-De Mase home… but hey, good taste is good taste, right?

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MTA Subway Map for iPhone

Since I bought my iPhone on June 30, I’ve been looking for an easy, high-quality method for viewing the MTA Subway map. The phone’s built-in Photo application “optimizes” all photos and images down to a dimension and resolution that doesn’t work well for images with lots of small text and details.

MTA Map

In search of the optimal iPhone MTA map.

What I wanted, was the ability to view a PDF, or large PNG of the system map – and to be able to zoom in and drag it around easily. Bill at iSubwayMaps.com outlined one such solution, which involved setting up a Yahoo! mail account, since IMAP mail accounts seemed to cache attachments locally on the iPhone. This did work for me, but I found the MTA’s PDF map sluggish when zooming or dragging around. And, I had to drill back through the Mail menus to get to my Yahoo mail account, (as I’m primarily a Gmail user).

But, before I could go out and buy a old-fashioned paper pop-up map, another solution presented itself:

Filemark Maker gets around the limitations outlined above, by writing files to a temp location on the device’s HD, by using Safari bookmarklets. Then, the files are accessible in MobileSafari. And, because the files are written to iPhone’s HD, the bookmarklets work whether you’re online or not – or whether you’re above ground or not.

Here are the MTA Subway Maps that I used to make bookmarklets using this tool:

Outlook 2007 & Gcal

I’m one of those stiffs who loves his Powerbook, but is forced by necessity (and Corporate IT) to work in Windows XP and Outlook all day. Meeting requests come in and tasks are assigned, all using Outlook. However, because I rely so much on Gmail in my personal life, I store personal events online with Google Calendar.

Everything works seamlessly on my mac, as Apple’s iCal software allows subscriptions. But there is no way to get Outlook 2003 to sync or share data in the iCalendar format… in fact, I think that Outlook stores its information in some Microsoft proprietary format, by default. I think you can import/export ICS files, but there is no subscription or publish method.

Gcal Subscribe

Gcal allows subscriptions to iCalendar feeds

I shouldn’t forget to mention the excellent open source project RemoteCalendars, which allows you to subscribe to iCalendar feeds, with a bit of tweaking. But, this wasn’t quite what I craved – I wanted to not only subscribe to my Gcal calendar, but also allow Gcal to pick up my work appointments. That way, I can get reminders of early meetings, etc., when I’m away from my work desk.

Outlook 2007 beta 2

Enter the new Office beta. Not only is this version the Bravest Software Upgrade Ever, it also added a lot of great functionality to Outlook.

Out of the box, you can subscribe to iCalendar feeds, such as those provided by Gcal, 30Boxes, or other online apps. More impressively, you can publish your calendar to either your own WebDAV server, or to Office Online directly. Then, you can subscribe to the published iCalendar feed in any online calendars that support the standard. Outlook will periodically update the published file as you make adjustments or additions to your calendar.

Publish to Internet

Outlook 2007’s Publish to Internet feature

So, now I have access to both my personal and work calendars at all times, no matter where I am. (Hell, if I wanted to pay Cingular for bandwidth, I could use GcalSync to push everything to my RAZR.)

The only real caveat is that you have to publish your Outlook calendar with “Unrestricted Access”—because Microsoft uses their LiveID technology to grant access on a per-user basis, and Gcal (or any other service) won’t be able to authenticate unless it’s public. I’m not sure how secure this is yet, but for the moment I’m too in love with this setup to let that bother me.

Another minor caveat – you’ll have to uninstall Acrobat 6, as it causes Outlook to crash a lot.

Other than that, it’s a pretty stable beta.

Digg This

Asobi Seksu @ Great Scott

Asobi Seksu

Yuki Chikudate and Asobi Seksu performing at Great Scott in Allston.

We went to The Plan at Great Scott on Saturday night to see the Brooklyn band Asobi Seksu – I got some good shots of them and two of the opening bands.

As I wrote earlier, the new record Citrus is an incredible step forward for them, and the live show succeeded in duplicating the wash of guitars and noise, without completely covering up Yuki’s voice. They’re nice people, too.

The other great thing during the set were the lights and smoke effects… so cool. The Plan people are really showing up the old Cambridge clubs, because it was freaking cool.

Tattoo

“Tattoo”, posted by nedward

Presley’s new tattoo, done by Custom Claire, of Fat Ram’s Pumpkin Tattoo, Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts.

Steak Salad

steak saladI watched a bit of FoodTV on Sunday, and suffered through Rachael Ray and her awful accent and mannerisms… I’ve never once wanted to eat anything she cooks, because she annoys me so much.

But after Rachael, a delightful woman came on, who I’ve never seen before: Giada De Laurentiis, and she apparently cooks Italian. Sure, she’s hot, but the production values on this show are a little more modern, (think Nigella), with nice lighting and editing.

The show was so pleasant to watch, I ended up cooking her Steak Salad for Presley and I last night. I went a little overboard on the Gorgonzola, but I really love the creamy taste. And, you can never have too much cheese, right?

M-Beat Theme

mbeat.gifI’ve been looking for a good menu controller for iTunes, and it’s been a difficult search. I tested many apps, including QuickTunes, You Control Tunes, and Synergy. Each has its relative strengths and weaknesses, but I just couldn’t get everything I wanted in one package:

  • Display track info on the menubar

  • Unobtrusive design, that blends with my OS X theme

  • Global keyboard shortcuts

  • Pop-up floater with track info and album art

  • Solid app, that doesn’t crash

In the end, I decided to go with The Little App Factory’s M-Beat, which satisfies all of these requirements, and includes support for skinning themes.

This bit of customization was the clincher, because I wasn’t satisfied with the way the default “look” integrated in my menu. So, I created a theme to match my Milk OS X theme:

mbeat2.gif

HP All-in-Ones with Airport Express

I neglected to mention in my post about installing the Airport Express with a 3rd-Party router, (a Netgear WGR614, in my case), that I still couldn’t print wirelessly with the device. My HP PSC-750 All-in-One isn’t supported… it makes sense that you wouldn’t be able to scan wirelessly, but why couldn’t I print?

Well, after a few more hours of searching, I finally found a solution, courtesy William Boddie in the Apple discussions:

When queried for a printer, I selected “edit printer list” from the scroll down menu, clicked on “add” under the printer setup utility-> went to IP Printer -> Printer type “Rendezvous” -> Printer Address scrolled to “HP PSC 900 series” -> Printer Model “HP” ->model “HP PSC 950 Footmatic” -> press “add.”

It worked, however the AX is easily the most frustrating Apple product I’ve encountered… let’s hope that HP’s partnership with Apple to co-brand an HP iPod, will spurn HP to write better OS X printer drivers. My landlord is an architect, and he’s mad that his $2500 plotter was rendered useless with his upgrade to 10.3…

UPDATE I neglected to mention that I am not using the bloated and shoddy drivers provided by HP.

I would instead recommend the HPIJS Open-source drivers. These drivers allows printing “over any available connection such as USB, AppleTalk, TCP/IP (via LPD and IPP), HP JetDirect, and shared windows printers via SAMBA”. And, you don’t have to install the useless extra HP applications, which are included with the driver package.

Underground Man

After reading Dunstan’s humorous post on British rail, and the silly responses he received from Americans and Germans, I was reminded of an excellent article by William Finnegan in the New Yorker last week, Underground Man: Can the former C.I.A. agent who saved New York’s subway get the Tube back on track?

After scouring the New Yorker web site and Google without luck, I decided it was worth scanning and posting the article. Sorry they’re jpgs… I probably won’t leave it up very long (file size/bandwidth), unless someone can suggest a way to extract the text of the article.

I’m your public library.

UPDATE 9/12/2005: I changed my directory security a while back, so these articles have not been linked. Here ya go:

Florida Keys and Miami

Causeway The Causeway

I enjoyed going through my photos of our Miami and the Florida Keys trip in early January.

These photos, along with my trip journal, will help me to always remember it…

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Day 3: On to Key West

After breakfast as Magrove Mike’s in Islamorada, we started heading west. We stopped briefly at the Bahia Honda State Park Beach for some sun and splash. I read, while Presley napped.

Arriving in Key West, we missed the Sunset celebration because I needed to find an Internet Cafe—my boss called me and told me that I had forgotten to submit my timesheet, and if I would like to get paid, I had better do so. So, after the business was taken care of at the Sippin’ Cafe, we checked in the La Pensione Inn on Truman Ave. near Duvall Street. Apparently Harry S spent some time here.

Heading out onto Duvall Street should be an adventure, but we found most of the restuarants and bars to be lacking in patrons—maybe it’s the time of the year. After walking around for what seemed like hours, we settled on Caroline’s Cafe for dinner, because you could sit outside and drink Margaritas and Coronas while watching revelers on the street. God, there are so many old people here!

After downing a few drinks with dinner, (I had the Mahi-Mahi cooked cajun style, Presley had a whole cooked chicken, I kid you not), we decided to hit a few bars. There was the Irish bar, with the village drunks (and no females), and then there was the Karaoke bar next to Crabby Dicks, with Marie behind the bar, and Karaoke’ers belting our Country songs in the back. At least there were some women at this place… Presley did a rousing rendition of Cheap Trick’s I Want You to Want Me, though I think this crowd didn’t appreciate it as much as I did.

Day 2: Key Largo, Snorkeling & Sailing

What a busy day! We got up this morning, determined to go snorkeling. We’ve learned one thing about Key Largo—there is utterly nothing worth doing in Key Largo besides snorkeling, diving and outdoor activities. We rented a dual kayak, and paddled around the mangroves in the Pennekamp State Park .

And, at 1:30, we took a 38’ Catamaran sailing out to the coral reef, strapped on some fins and masks, and plunged into the 72-degree water to look at fish. Even though 72-degrees sounds like warm water, it’s better to wear a wet-suit, though it will make you look ridiculous. We saw these blue and yellow zebra fish, a foot-long rainbow looking fish, and some gray barracudas who looked unamused. Note for future reference: bring clothes for the sail back to shore, no matter what the cabana boys say in the gray shed.

Following the advice of our Captain (what was his name?), an old former hippie who had been sailing for 22 years, Presley and I headed for Bentley’s, south to MM 83, for dinner. As we arrived, we noticed a man and his daughter that sailed with us earlier in the day—apparently they took the same advice from the Captain. We chatted at the bar with Danielle and Mr. Bernstein from North Carolina. She is a freshman at Virginia Tech, studying chemistry, which was my first major, afterall.

When we were finally seated, we went a little overboard (pun?), and went with 1 dozen steamed clams. Presley ordered a glass of Riesling, and the Grassy Key Lime Yellowtail, and I asked for a glass of Fume Blanc from Sonoma, and the Yellowtail stuffed with crab meat. mmmm… This was definitely the place to eat, though I think Ballyhoo’s has better food, (though, in a much more casual atmosphere).

Day 1, Part I: Boston to Miami Beach

It’s freezing! temperature is in the teens, and we’re late out the door to Logan. Since we live closest to the Green line , we decide to walk over the Charles to the B-line. But, temperature is in the teens! I’m wearing a light jean jacket with a thick wool turtleneck sweater, a knit hat, but no gloves! Pulling my suitcase around the rotary, and onto the bridge—it’s sooo cold. And it’s almost 7am. Our flight leaves at 8:05!

Presley hands me one of her gloves (for the suitcase-carrying hand), and we both bury our bare hand in a pocket. Speed-walking down across the bridge, I start to get nervous on time—we’re living under Orange-alert these days and Logan isn’t the easiest thing to get to without driving…

Desperate measures! We call Boston Cab, and have them meet us on the Boston side of the Charles. 5 minutes later, a cab pulls up, and our driver throws our suitcases in the trunk. I’m glad to be out of the cold.

15 minutes later—7:15—we’re pulling up to Terminal C, having travelled southbound in the new big dig tunnel for the first time. The fare is $22.15, thought the driver says he hit the wrong button and overcharges… I give him $30—far too much, but he got us there quick, and that kind of solace is worth a 50% tip.

Just made it through security to board our Song Airlines flight to Ft. Lauderdale. As cheery and stylish the new Song branding is, the brand doesn’t extend well into the cabin. Sure, the seats are leather, but they’re this odd light blue color, and each seat has a bright accent leather—pink, green, orange. I think that it’s supposed to be stylish, but it comes off looking like an airline for the Romper Room set… very Micky Mouse. Perhaps Kate Spade hasn’t put her final touches on yet.

The limits of Push-button Publishing

Moveable TypeA while back, Jason Kottke began tweaking his site layout, merging his “remainder” links into the daily thread of his weblog, and creating a different look for “Featured” posts such as movie and book reviews.

When I last redesigned (now more than a year ago), I thought a lot about how to use MT categories, and the importance of drawing a visual distinction between featured posts, and shorter daily posts. It was necessary to weigh certain types of posts as more relevant than others.

This not-so-creative solution was to use a styled post title & a unique icon—for music, movies, books, photos, & special posts—and leave non-featured posts unstyled (albeit bolded). Also, I try to use a small photo for each featured post. By using PHP and some MT template code, I was able to hack something together.

Jason’s method of using 5 weblogs for 5 different kinds of posts seems overly complicated and unwieldy for me, because I have other blogs on our domain. But, there is a point where PHP hacks can defeat the purpose of using “push-button publishing”.

I very much like his idea of embedding these remaindered links in the chronological thread of the weblog—Because these are timely links referencing current events or memes, why not?

I always thought Anil’s method of grouping links under a date would be almost meaningless for my site—as I only post 1 or 2 items per day. My Daily Bookmarks have no reference point—they are merely sorted descending by date. Once again, Jason gets me thinking…

Verizon’s UI

Since we’re in the process of moving, I’ve spent a lot of time switching utilities to the new apartment.

For a few months now, I’ve been paying our Verizon phone & DSL bill online, because it’s easy and I don’t need to dig up my checkbook. However, Verizon’s online bill management leaves much to be desired…

Verizon.com welcome screenWhen you log in, the account summary displays the amount you owe, listed under “Payment due” (see screen-shot at left). So, I would periodically log in, note the dollar amount, and after a few clicks, a credit-card payment was submitted.

There is a problem with this system however—the bill summary info is taken directly from your last printed bill, and is in no way reflective of any payments made since the billing date. This resulted in us overpaying month after month.

Generally, it seems to me that a brief account summary should show your up-to-the-minute balance, and clicking “View Bill” should show your last printed bill (which may not show recent payments). This logic, however, seems to have escaped Verizon’s web team.

Verizon.com page shown when you click View BillInstead of the current balance greeting you after logging in, you’re forced to click on “View Bill”, and scroll down the page to a curiously phrased line that reads: Total Current Live Balance as of 9/11/2003 is : $0 (see screen-shot at left).

Total Current Live Balance. Does that sound like an afterthought, or what? Why on earth would this bit of information be found in the middle of a past bill, and not on the billing summary?

I can only surmise that a lot of users like me started complaining about the confusion, so they had one of their back-end developers insert a bit of code, without bothering to hire a UI person and ask them if what they were doing was intuitive.

Though it may seem like a small issue, I think it is embarrassingly bad—because it could create a negative perception that online Verizon payments are a hassle. And, it’s not going to convince users to switch to “Paper-Free Billing”.

Attn: Verizon, I am available for UI consulting.

Buffalo Central Terminal Update

Chuck Maley's Central Terminal picturesA while back, I posted about a piece of architectural wonderment lying vandalized and dormant in Buffalo—the old Central Terminal. It’s a beautiful Deco train station from the 1920s, plopped into an otherwise unexceptional suburban neighborhood.

At the time the station was built, Buffalo was still an industrial and cultural center, with a population over one-half million. It was second only to Chicago for its tangling rail network. However, by the late 1970s, both the city and the station had seen better days. The station was boarded up, and the trains instead stopped at a new, strip-mall like parking-lot station not far away.

Well, there is some good news… it seems that some people do care about preserving the city’s heritage. Despite its vandalized and trashed interior, the building is drawing crowds—including some Canadian urban explorers.

What I love about structures like the Central Terminal is that they were built for the public to use. It’s absolutely unthinkable to imagine private corporations building such public spaces today—I think those years have passed, (as have the years of ridiculously cheap immigrant labor).

Here’s hoping there is a developer out there with deep pockets and a creative will.

The Central Terminal at a glance:

  • The Central Terminal opened four months before the Wall Street crash of 1929
  • Designed to handle an anticipated Buffalo population of 1.5 million, it cost $14 million to build
  • The 17-story office tower stands 271 feet high
  • The station closed in October 1979 after years of dwindling rail passenger service
  • A 1969 study estimated it would cost $54 million to restore it for office use, and $16.3 million to demolish it