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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘New York Times Anthrax Scare’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘A 3rd Climber’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Alain Robert, climb­ing the New York Times Build­ing’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘The Island at the Cen­ter of the World’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Google Maps: Boston Street View’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Two essen­tial iPho­to Plu­g­ins’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘TiVo HD and Copy Pro­tec­tion’

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.

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘A New Nedward.org’

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?

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘First Week in Car­roll Gar­dens’

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…

Con­tin­ue read­ing ‘Flori­da Keys and Mia­mi’

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