27 July 2007

nothing to report sir

not much going on around here, except that approx 50% of our blogging audience will be or has already visited in the weeks plus and minus this post. and so it seems pointless to blog in this situation.

or entirely pointy.

Finished HP7 (reading)
Saw HP5 (film)

Review: mixed. See FFB's point regarding the references in the film to WWII and various 1940s (and earlier) era films that incorporate the media-as-character/narration/exposition. Well done here. Effects kinda sucked--esp. in the last quarter. What happened there? I mean--it seemed like they just decided not to really 'do' the last quarter of the book, am I remembering right? Hm. It just seemed a lot more engaging/complex/interesting in the book. I suppose this is almost always the case. But I remember it being more visually interesting in the book.

I'm not a Harold Bloom like snob (okay maybe a wee bit snobby, but not Bloom-like) so I found book 7 satisfying in its genre. But it's not a well-written series. I yearn for well-crafted, well-written fantasy/anglophile work, and book 7 only made me cringe about 10 times, which is pretty good. Rowling can't do transitions (hence the 'endless series of previews' effect of the movies from the books) and she doesn't really foreshadow--she has the characters notice things that obviously will become important later--it's: Harry notices X, can't quite remember why it's important, shakes it off. reader: note to self. remember X. will be important.

These sorts of things can be done with more skill. But the books are worth the few hours they take to read. Still. yearning for quality fantasy stuff. and not in the Azimov vein. In the Marion Zimmer Bradley/Phillip Pullman/Neil Gaiman vein. Suggestions?

15 July 2007

new feature! Boot Sale Update™

'Reading the Tarot of the Boot since June 1923'

This week it was, as we expected, all hamsters. Initial sightings of the top seller I Am Your Pet Hamster (I Am Your Pet) ominously presaged an entire bootsale's worth of Hamster-related paraphernalia, primarily in the form of cages, runs and what came to be referred to as 'hamster kit'.

Golf faded a bit this week in relation to earlier weeks, with only two boot-salers offering an assortment of rusted clubs and a selection of discarded, yet well-meaning golf gifts, including the knock-off nalgene bottle stuffed with cheap plastic tees. A sign of the impending apocalypse? perhaps.

We await confirmation in next week's boot sale reading, when we anticipate a turn to the mundane echoing of broader consumer culture with 'Potter mania'.

06 July 2007


The amazing thing about this speech from Olbermann is that his level of anger and the depth of his utter indignance are both perfectly reasonable and rational in light of the facts – yet no one else sounds like this. That is, the amazing thing is that most Americans' response to the news this week was to see it as business as usual. Every analyst noted the brilliant tactics of Bush in the first debates in 2000: he lowered expectations to such a depth, that even though he looked like a moron compared to Gore, people thought he'd done well. He seems now to have reworked that chapter of the playbook: he has normalised the subversion of the rule of law to such an extent that nothing he does is surprising. I think the normalisation is more frightening than the basic facts themselves.

Here's to Olbermann for maintaining his indignation.

03 July 2007

Of Course it's the UI!

The Fly makes a quick mention of his first live iPhone experience, and he comments as follows:

I got my hands on an actual iPhone over the weekend, and I'm now buying into the hype. It's not so much the phone itself that deserves the hype as the UI.

My response: of course, of course, of course. Most of the critics and some of the fans miss the point: the iPhone doesn't really perform all that many functions not already performed by other phones. That's not why it's important - indeed, revolutionary.

Remember, it's not as if the original Macintosh was so amazing because it ran applications or performed functions that no computer had ever performed. It did pretty much the same stuff as an IBM machine running early DOS did. It's how it did it. And the how effects the who and the future what. (I'm thinking of Trademarking the 'future what'.) Because of the way the Mac did what it did (because of the mouse and the GUI) the personal computer revolution was possible. Now almost everyone uses computers, and they use them to do things almost unimaginable 25 years ago.

With the iPhone all this means that so-called smartphones that were once the preserve of geeks and Business-Types (different kind of geeks), will go mainstream (but please let us hope we stop calling them 'smartphones'). The device is revolutionary because at a certain point down the road everyone will think it is normal and necessary to check your email, surf the web, and watch a movie on your 'phone'. And we will do all sorts of other things on our 'phone' that I can't really think up right now, but with the iPhone UI in place I'm confident that lots of other clever people will think up.

I also wonder if we can't speculate about the iPhone and its followers in their capacity to eventually encroach on the laptop market. For people that don't write a ton of text, there will no longer be any reason to have the laptop with them when they go places. It's thus conceivable that the iPhone will replace the personal computer for many people for many tasks.

Much of this gets lost in the hype, because the hype focuses so much on marketing, sales, and money, on the one hand, and on the personal consumer choice to buy an iPhone, on the other. But the revolution that the iPhone is launching will go ahead whether or not Apple makes billions of dollars on it, and it will go ahead whether or not your or I buy an iPhone. Most importantly, these three dimensions (1. Apple sales 2. consumer choice 3. revolutionary status) must be separated when judging the iPhone. I can only speculate wildly about the first as I don't know the ins and outs of the phone market, of Apple's business model, etc. I'm sure Ryan could give us a guess that is much better educated. My guess is that they will make tons of money, but there are a million ways that they might not. And I want them to make money simply so that Steve Jobs can invest it in the next great thing he's dreaming up. As for the second, I doubt I'll buy an iPhone within the next 8 months, as I don't want to pay the price premium, and as I remarked earlier, my current uses for such a device are extremely limited. I know that the fly won't buy one within the year, and I'm sure that many people's parents will never buy one.

But I'm confident about number 3. One day in the future folks will wonder how all of us ever got on with life without the ability to tap and pinch and drag our fingers on our 'phones'. (Also be sure to check out Dan's great iPhone-related entries, here, and here. It's probably not my place to out the guy, but I have to tell you: 12 months ago he'd never even owned a Mac.)

02 July 2007

what I've been waiting for

FFB has posted about running a few times over the past week or so--they are much more serious about the running than I, but I am very excited about the gmaps pedometer they have linked to today. While it doesn't work so well if you run on an un-mapped trail (as I do, which is awesome), it does give a sense of length *and* allows you to map out routes in new cities/areas you might be visiting. Well, that is if you are in the US, Japan, China, or the UK. Still--very cool.

This pic is our running route when we lived in London for a month or so ages ago. pre-9/11, if you can believe that. I know! I thought nothing happened before then too!!

And a route I ran with a friend in SF last time I was there...

technology is cool.

01 July 2007


not the best week to be in Britain, this past week. what with car bombing attempts in the west end (er, not too far from a flat I'm attempting to rent for a week or two mid-August, er, may indeed have to rethink that one), floods up north, and then oh yeah the whole flaming gasoline/kerosene filled vehicle airport bombing attempt at Glasgow.

I am oddly and utterly fictionally calmed by having watched the entirety of series 5 of spooks over the last few weeks. I know Adam Carter can save us. I know he's on the job. despite the fact that he's utterly having the breakdown because of his wife's death and being tortured by his best childhood friend that one time in Serbia and all the rest...I know he can save us. oh yes, and despite the fact that he's, well, a television character. works for folks in the US with Jack Bauer, right? (only Adam is so cuter and hotter and smarter. y'all must see spooks. all y'all.)

In the US it's called MI-5, runs on A&E, available on DVD under that name as well....