March 30, 2006
Reading is taking a brief holiday in the south this weekend, so posting will be non-existent to light. In our absence, enjoy the wit and wisdom (and proclamations for the Mighty Fall) of Henry Rollins in this recent WaPo interview.

And while you're on the WaPo tip, is that newspaper really better than the NYT? I've got some concerns (and a post) brewing, but Jay Rosen seems to think so (link courtesy AZ - yes, we really do discuss these things at breakfast)

Posted by esinclai at 06:35 AM
March 29, 2006
Boom Chucka; Boom Boomba Chucka + twee

The MC dj remix of Sufjian Steven's Illinois gets a lot of play in our house. It's not always deeply innovative remixing, but consistently enjoyable.

The train ride home from the long day in a long series of days this evening was lightened heartily by the remix of Jackson, "Jacksontown" (mp3, biggish). Take the Levee Breaks breakbeat, rinse, repeat.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:40 PM
March 28, 2006

I've been happily working with the new kGTD 0.83.0. It's still beta, and it broke some old scripts, but the overall improvements (in speed, configurability and styles) are excellent and worth the upgrade. Certainly at the price: free!

Also, this week the presentations from the 2006 Worldwide Newton Conference were posted, including Ronnie Simon's Getting Things Done (GTD) Using the Newton (pdf). Like so often, the non-verbal version loses something, but there's some bits and pieces to be gleaned.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:49 PM
March 27, 2006
Bar/Wiki Camp

Because the lazyweb works, I'm pleased to note that someone else has registered the BarCampChicago domain and begun thinking about the process. There's been some discussion on various lists about this further, and with YAPC and RailsConf, maybe this will be Chicago's year!

Of course, we still need a WikiWednesday. That would be easier to organize - less infrastructure....

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Posted by esinclai at 06:46 AM
March 25, 2006
Musical Timing

I discovered on Friday that the distance to walk from my workplace to the Fox & Obel for a sandwich is exactly 8 tracks of the Clash's London Calling.

The astute observer should now grab the vinyl off the shelf to see where this puts us...

That's right.

To twist the FFFB, 'the Clash will get you through times of work frustration, better than work will get you through times of no clash'

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Posted by esinclai at 09:57 PM
March 24, 2006
Perfect Gift

For your favorite Chicago L geek:

Historic CTA Signs for Sale

Unfortunately, nothing from our beloved Rockwell area - yet!

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Posted by esinclai at 06:34 AM
March 23, 2006
The Badger

...a work in progress.

In our household, we find that sometimes when an inanimate object is recalcitrant in some way, a certain technique is called for. This is called 'badgering', as the first sightings were of chip bags and other packaging shredded as if by sharp claws and teeth. But it occurs in other circumstances.

I've begun to genericise this process - though not to the point that I can check it into an ITIL language. To wit:


More news as observations and documentation warrants.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:50 PM
March 21, 2006
We're Not a Portal...

Google long touted itself as not a portal, but the array of services continues to belie that (though the by leaving some of them curiously disaggregated, they retain the letter of their statement).

Today's case is Google Finance, which has a very nice grouping of available data from Google (and other) sources. The feature added which I've long wanted is a linkage between stock charting of market activity and registered events. They've added it.

Mmmm. Delicious data.

Posted by esinclai at 06:32 AM
March 20, 2006

Those from a certain set in Bloomington will understand what I say when I say:

Go watch this Smedbergian video.


Also, the Why the Lucky Stiff performance @ SXSWi has been posted (MP3, MP4) as part of the Ruby on Rails podcast. Entertaining and odd, though minus visuals of course.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:20 PM
March 19, 2006
A (cynical) Metaphor

AZ and I take a lot of walks. Sometimes, if she catches me after I've been reading the news, these walks are punctuated by cynical rants (she is a patient partner, for which I am thankful).

"So this Iraq policy, I think I figured it out! It's like the government decided to make a nice meringue, but instead of looking at the recipe, they just cracked open some eggs on the counter....

"'Oh! Dang, it looks like I needed to separate the whites from the yolks here. Well, I'll just lift these yolks out'

"'Oops! I broke the yolk!'

"'Oh, great! Now the eggs have slid off the countertop onto the floor! Now what should I do?"

AZ was also subjected to a rant about how we really don't want to know how the sausage is made in our capitol, based on this article about the new pension reform plan doing more harm than good after the lobbyists got hold of it...

Posted by esinclai at 09:45 PM
March 18, 2006
wine dark seas

What if you worked for a roving seafaring warrior. And had a net connection.

Under Odysseus

Oh. And it was a long time ago.


Posted by esinclai at 04:33 PM

Will Shipley goes off on his Microsoft derived PVR. As a Tivo loyalist (albeit still sitting at Series 1 until the next big upgrade, since mine is working just fine thankyouverymuch), I'm amazed so many misfeatures can make it into a single weblog post...

Call Me Fishmeal.: This Post is Microsoft Enhanced (TM).:
this recorder has so many idiotic annoyances and glitches that I wonder, "What do you guys think enhanced means?" and "WHY would you WANT your name associated with this?" (To both Comcast _and_ Microsoft, I think that.)

Note - not entirely family friendly.

Posted by esinclai at 09:24 AM
March 17, 2006
Augment Screencast

I can count the number of people I know who have seen an Augment system in action on one hand; more like part of one hand... maybe 3 fingers tops.

Now that can end. Brad Neuberg has created a screencast of an Augment system through Augterm:

The screencast uses a Java terminal emulator to sign into Douglas Engelbart's last-existing copy of Augment, running on an emulated PDP-10. It shows the following features:

* An Introduction to Augment and it's user-interface
* Advanced hypertext features, viewing and browsing documents, and transforming documents using Augment's "ViewSpecs"
* Creating Augment documents and outlines and inserting links
* Using Augment email, conferencing, and more

The full screencast is about 15 minutes long; there is a user-interface to jump right to particular sections if you are interested in just some features.

'tis very cool, and well worth checking out. The audio tends on the quiet side, but without much strain you can begin to see the future creep past.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:58 PM
March 15, 2006
This Just In

Per the April 2006 Mojo:

[Julian] Temple has just finished his long awaited Glastonbury film and is currently working on a Joe Strummer documentary. "We want to shed light on his human side," he says. "I've got nine hours of unseen footage of The Clash from 1976, but if anyone's got any interesting film, we'd love to hear about it."

Provided is an address:

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Posted by esinclai at 06:13 AM
March 14, 2006

I hadn't heard of this Chris Bliss fellow before, but apparently the video has been going round for a while (it came across a music list I'm on)... Combine juggling and McCartney/Lennon, and you get some...

Well, see for yourself.

Particularly recommended for az (music) and dz (juggling!).

Posted by esinclai at 06:17 AM
March 13, 2006

I've had a too-long languishing project (as opposed to my less long but still languishing project to prune my ambition for projects) to try and analyze the lazyweb phenomenon from a data perspective - how useful has it been, does it work well enough (it is lazy after all) to, as we say in the US, work for the government?

Watching the feed over the last few weeks, I've been concerned, however, that lazyweb has gone fallow. Daily there are numerous spam hits muddying the data and free-riding off the lazyweb's august reputation.

Oh, the humanity, the tragedy. The need for a blacklist.

We've been fighting the spam wars here at, ourselves. MT 3.2 does a nicer job than the 2.6 by far, but the battle is ongoing. A pity, of course, one should even need such a battle.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:58 PM
March 12, 2006

Mike's already cited it, so I'm covering old ground here, but if you care at all about Indiana punk rock history, you should read Spence's treatise, which could be an 18th Century masterpiece "On receiving a DVD..."

Seriously, with this and the Musical Family Tree, these are good times to be an aficionado of the midwest sounds.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:33 PM
March 11, 2006

There's lots of problems with podcasts, not least of which is the mixed demand on attention/promotion of distraction they can engender, and the time-commitment they impose. So I've been a bit more mercenary about pruning the podcasts I listen to to those I find entertainment and value in.

One that has survived the ongoing subscription and culling is J Scott Johnston's startup diary. I've only met Scott once, where we shared tales of divine Interventures and its precursors. He's been deep in startups for a while, and in his podcast he's been sharing what's happening with his current startup, Ookles (whatever it is - he's kept that close to his chest). But in his brief and intermittent postings he's shared everything from ideas on how to work remotely well, to iHop coffee, to data center wiring tips.

Part of the appeal is that this is distinctly old school podcasting - open up the mike and discuss your thoughts from an outline. It's raw, sometimes weakly level-balanced, but often entertaining. And they're always brief - 20 minutes or less, perfect for a commuter's "L" trip.

It may not be for everyone - Scott's got an entrepeneur's head, with the positive self-image to match. But it's worth a drop in to sample at least.

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Posted by esinclai at 10:40 PM
March 10, 2006
More on email management

Mark "Good Experience, GEL Conference" Hurst has published an iteration to his ongoing 'bit literacy' campaign, much of which surrounds proper email management. Most of his methodology will be familiar to those who have thought along the general GTD/43f lines - get the inbox to zero, move from the context of processing and organizing and 2 minute actions to the realm of organizing and then doing. It's hard boundaries in action.

Mark's using this in part to springboard promotion of his online task manager, Gootodo, but it worth recalling that he's had some longer expertise in the area - his pdf on Managing Email was last revised in 2003. He's put some thought and practice into this. Thus, though I may think he should devote more discussion on what a read/review vs an FYI is, this is a nitpick - the report remains, these years later, a worthy element in the conversation.

Posted by esinclai at 10:36 PM
March 09, 2006
where did you come from

When the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the AHA line up to question you, what should you think?

The current HR4437 making its way through committee in the house is a real piece of work, if I understand the coverage correctly, giving into paranoia and alarmism to again overextend the government's work. Yes, it may be true that immigration is a topic that should be discussed and debated, especially as a nation of immigrants and workers, legitimate (as my family was) and illegitimate we are dependent upon in the immigrant experience.

But to take draconian action against those who would treat their fellow human as human beings... is not the government's best business.

A fine pullquote from the AHA letter:

There is no need for such overreaching language to assure the prosecution of those who intentionally engage in smuggling activities.

This situation makes for a comparative to the gun or wiretapping laws (do we need more laws, or just better understanding and enforcement of the laws which presently exist?) that continue to inspire discussion. It's been four years for any broad opposition to arise to the ongoing culture of fear; it's optimistic to think this is a tipping point we're in now (what is the Dubai reaction if not misplaced fear), but one tries to lean toward the optimistic.

The bill itself (browseable from Thomas here) makes for somewhat numbing reading - but we're planning on building over 600 miles of fencing (hello government contracts!) along our southern border, and looking at the feasibility of fencing along our northern border, per sections 1002/1003. And many other biometric and technological palliatives to social problems.

Posted by esinclai at 07:11 AM
March 08, 2006
cdent on effective reading

Chris has some good thoughts on effective reading (in his case, of the multiple input sources from wiki and mailing venues) which warrant further shared thinking.

A few thoughts from the foggy morning...

First, I've observed Chris in his data gather and reply mode, and it is an impressive state - it looks, from the outside, rather zen, focused on brain and finger movement. This is in no small part due to Chris' familliarity with his tools, their configuration, and the context of the data they present.

Second, Chris' system ties back into the generally good practice of gather, process and organize prior to action. This allows the scaffolding of full context to inform your work proceeding from that point, rather than a constant diffing of actions based on new input that hasn't concretized itself into idea.

Chris' system depends on accurate archival (and implicitly, retrieval) of information. This may be one of the hardest tools to build into such systems for shared knowledge work given our current toolset; I've participated in some of the spaces I believe Chris is referring to, and it does work there - with the appropriate upfront knowledge.

One question that does arise (and which would be most difficult for me to achieve) - Chris proposes that this processing at least (and perhaps work as well - but this may be a structural niggle in his piece) happens in absence of textual RTC (in his or my case, IRC, but in other's worlds IM or other interruptive RTC tools). I suspect there are similar best practices to be developed there, such as:

  • silence alerting in all but notable cases
  • if your tool supports it, implement keyword filtering
  • prune your attention list regularly
  • learn to lurk,
  • learn when to shut down

In the past Chris has been a text-based MUA user (pine, iirc). I've been working on revising my system for personal infoflow (vs work) of late to support more streamlined approaches to info management, most recently by developing more rules to apply via Mail Act-On to improve the keyboardable nature of as I process (including automating handoff to kGTD for followup). Future goals may include tagging for archivablility, but I'm trying to move the system slowly.

Now if only I could get the same for Outlook 2003....

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Posted by esinclai at 06:56 AM
More on Hyperscope and the NSF

I got curious about the NSF backing of the Hyperscope project. Thanks to some searching, the abstract for the NSF Award presented itself.

This is only the abstract for the grant, but it provides a brief yet inspiring read. From the front, the work is all about bootstrapping existing information for the scientific community to better access, manipulate, and use. At the relatively low grant price (some organizations probably spend more on 2 advertisements in a newspaper), its a bargain for the scientific community, especially as the code becomes unlocked and available to the broader communities as well.

Particularly inspirational is that the Primary Investigator considers this still a beginning of research, some 40+ years since the clock started on his own beginning of the journey.

Some further information on the project goals has been posted in the Hyperscope blog.

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Posted by esinclai at 06:36 AM
March 07, 2006
Imperfection is an end; perfection is only an aim -- Ivor Cutler

Mr Cutler died this week, leaving behind art and aphorisms. This Guardian obit is a nice writeup.

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Posted by esinclai at 06:40 AM
March 06, 2006
You know... for kids!

In conversation with a friend Saturday evening, more discussion about local Bloomington and Indiana foods was a matter of the table. According to them, the Stromboli cited previously is not in fact unique to Bloomington. The Pizza King chain, in Muncie, has it on their menu as well, as a review of their website will reveal.

A road trip may be in order to Muncie to check this out. Maybe on a lazy day.

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Posted by esinclai at 08:39 PM
March 05, 2006
Ruby Crashing RSS Party 

A few weeks ago I installed Kevin Ballard's keen little crashreports to rss extension, showcrashreports.rb. I was pleased at the time just to know I could track any application crashes in my preferred RSS Aggregator.

This week I had occasion to really appreciate a subtle fit-and-finish of what Kevin did. The URL provided for each RSS entry is a TextMate URL, with an embedded line number. So when you open the crash report in an external browser, presto!, you're at the exact place you want to be for investigation.

Very slick, very nice.

Posted by esinclai at 06:03 PM
March 04, 2006
Hyperscope Renewed

Brad Neuberg writes:

Today I start a new project with Douglas Engelbart, Eugene Kim, and Johnathan Cheyer, named Hyperscope; I'm deeply honored and humbled to be a member of this team. Hyperscope is a National Science Foundation funded project to rebuild portions of Douglas Engelbart's groundbreaking NLS system on the web.

In short, an open sourced rewrite of the Augment system inside a web framework

In this first six months, we will be creating the shell of the Augment UI, described above, including the hyperlink, jumping, and viewspec functionality. We will probably be doing this using AJAX and DHTML, possibly using the Dojo Toolkit, so you can run Augment right within your browser without downloading anything. In addition, there will be a server-side component, written in Java or Ruby, that the AJAX/DHTML component will interact with.


This entire project will be open source, released under the GPL, and will be done in the public.

Very cool. There's a wiki and mailing lists to follow, and Eugene Eric Kim is expecting to post audio of the weekly meetings with Engelbart and colleagues.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:28 AM
March 03, 2006
Bloomington Feedbag

AZ and I spent some time today compiling a list of foods special to our memory in Bloomington IN.

  • The Arafat Chicken from Michael's Uptown Cafe. Roasted chicken with sauce in a wrap is nothing special in itself, but this is always very tasty indeed.
  • Biscuits and Gravy - from the Uptown, Ladyman's or Gib 'n Denzils (which, according to a Horrible-Terrible article shrouded behind the paywall, closed in Feb 2005!). It's like a southern thing, but in Indiana.
  • The Hoosier Scramble from the Village Deli. It's like an advanced B&G: English muffin, cheese, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy. Delicious, but eat in moderation.
  • The little breads one gets at le Petit Cafe. Small loafs of bread, or rolls, or something in between. Add some creamy butter and you're all set for the rest of your meal.
  • Brie wrapped in phyllo dough, also from le Petit Cafe. This is an appetizer's appetizer. Creamy warm brie in crispy phyllo.
  • The Stromboli (from Nick's English Hut or Cafe Pizzeria). This isn't the classic ham and cheese calzone from the Stromboli area in Italy. Instead this is a submarine roll with ground italian sausage and cheese, toasted, with pizza or barbecue sauce to your liking. I've encountered this nowhere else, and I get a jonesing for it on a regular basis. Perfect with crispy and salty fries.
  • A hamburger from Hinkle's. Ed (is it Ed?) Hinkle has been cooking these west side favorites for decades. Fresh ground beef, a hot grill, crowded tables. Delicious.
  • The Blarney Puffball from the Irish Lion. Fried and fluffy potatoes. Is this a diasporic food?
  • The funky hands-on wraps from Siam House. Take a spinach leaf, add a preserved shrimp, a bit of lime, some toasted coconut, some ginger, some pepper, and some sauce. Wrap it up and pop it in your mouth. Each bite becomes a new flavor sense.

This doesn't really pay proper tribute to the panoply of ethnic restaurants Bloomington has to offer, just the foods that stick in our mind as things we miss. Thankfully, we're in town this weekend, so we can cut a swath across some of these favorites.

Posted by esinclai at 05:31 PM

Just uncovered - Bloomingpedia, a collaborative directory and history site for Bloomington Indiana.

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Posted by esinclai at 05:21 PM
March 02, 2006
What, no Rush?

A scene from the road...

ES: OK, that was a good mix. What playlist from your iPod do you want next?
AZ: Oh, there are lots of fun ones in there.
ES: OK <scrolls>
AZ: Oooh! That one, Nerd Pop, is a good one!
ES: Nerd Pop?
AZ: Yes. Music by, for and about nerds.

[aside: it was a good mix indeed]

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Posted by esinclai at 10:38 PM
March 01, 2006
Biscuit Art Retrospective

I previously noted his death, but now in Austin TX there'll be a gallery retrospective of Randy "Biscuit" Turner's work. I shan't be able to make it, but perhaps some of my colleagues and friends down thataways can make it over to appreciate it.

An indie-rock crossed-arms head nod to Jon Lebkowsky for the pointer.

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Posted by esinclai at 09:34 PM

Again, courtesy of eVerse...

I write entirely to find out what I'm thinking, what I'm looking at, what I see and what it means. What I want and what I fear." - Joan Didion

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Posted by esinclai at 08:38 PM