Septiembre 14, 2008

Beware Quicktime 7.5.5

I had a bad scare yesterday. Having stupidly said "yes" to an automatic upgrade that Apple told me to install, I suddenly couldn't get final cut pro to start up. I tried something recommended by one Mac hints site, starting in safe mode and fixing permissions and re-installing by hand the Quicktime update that the upgrade included (the other thing that it included was the new version of iTunes, which includes the new, slightly creepy and very annoying "Genius" feature. bleah.).

That got FCP to start, but i was unable to capture or output to or from firewire devices. In fact I couldnt get any application to not crash when i told it to access my firewire DV deck. I was freaking out. What to do? Would I have to reinstall OS X from scratch? wipe my hard drive in order to go back to the old version of Quicktime?

Luckily after one more desperate Google search I found a page that described how to downgrade to an earlier version of any Apple package using a little program called Pacifist (funny coincidence that a program called Pacifist has enabled me to continue work on a film about resisting war!).

I got the shareware and followed the directions to install the earlier package, Quicktime 7.5, and restarted and things now seem hunky dory again. Whew. I think I owe a registration fee to Pacifist's creator.

Anyway, if you are a user of FCP (at least version 5.1.2) and you haven't upgraded to the new QT, you might want to think twice before doing it. Oh, and I recommend skipping the new iTunes as well. By the way, during my research into this problem I read that the "security fixes" that Apple lists as the reason for the upgrade actually have to do with Digital Rights Management (locking up content) rather than any sort of protection from your machine getting hacked or that sort of thing. So the new version is pretty unneeded anyway.

Posted by steev at 11:04 AM | Comments (0)

Enero 18, 2008

Learn to Pick Up The Phone!

The Arizona Indymedia website was badly broken for like, 17 days - since the new year - links to individual newswire stories were broken. As users discovered this, they stopped posting stories. The site was dying. This problem was noticed pretty quickly by somebody else on the editorial collective. I honestly hardly ever look at the site, much less the newswire, so I hadn't noticed. But immediately, I was the one people went to and asked about it.

Okay, so, often people that know me pigeonhole me as a "geek", as a "computer person" or "techie" - but the AZ IMC site is not in my power to fix. It's administered by ubergeeks in the bay area and belgium and pittsburgh, or god knows where else, and even if i knew how to futz with sf-active i don't have admin permissions on the machine.

So usually all I do when something goes wrong is go on the indymedia chat system, irc:// - and get on the sf-active channel there, and ask for help. And usually within a few hours someone sees my question and fixes it.

WHY can't someone else do that, ever? IRC is not rocket surgery. It's just not that hard.

So the site stayed broken for a couple weeks because, frankly, i was busy and, well, i wanted to see if anyone else would step up and do it. I refuse to be "the tech guy", when all that really entails in this case is knowing how to ask the real tech guys a question. I refuse.

I guess it's kind of like arriving at a burning building and sitting there watching it burn down while the other residents sit there next to a phone, because nobody wants to learn how to pick up the phone and call the fire department. eventually you can't sit there anymore and watch, but at the same time you're just going, WTF, why didn't someone call before? Why? And is it worth having that building if every time anything goes wrong with it I'm the only one that will bother to call the rescue crew?

Posted by steev at 06:30 AM | Comments (0)

Enero 16, 2008

Stupid Dreamhost

Dreamhost, the company that hosts practically all of my websites and email and stuff, made a HUGE mistake yesterday and accidentally billed about, well, ALL of their customers, most of whom who didn't owe anything, including myself, totalling about 7.5 MILLION dollars.

Yeah. Wow. They explain how it happened, a combination of software operator and software design error, on their blog, which, while apologizing profusely, also takes a really flippant, humorous tone that has pissed off many many of their patrons, including myself. This humorous tone is typical for them, and usually it's fun and entertaining, in their newsletters and documentation, but when you're talking about hundreds of dollars disappearing mistakenly from your bank account it's not the time to get some comedy act in response.

I'm going to start trying to figure out who I could switch to and how hard it would be to switch, because this is pretty damn not acceptable. Luckily I did have the money in my account to cover the mistake, just barely, so I wasn't charged by my bank for overdrafts, but it could have been different, and I'm sure for many it has been a nightmare. So just out of the principle of the thing I kind of feel like it's my duty to take my business elsewhere.

I even feel sort of guilty for all the friends who I've referred to Dreamhost over the years and probably also got screwed on this. yikes.

Posted by steev at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)

Noviembre 26, 2007

Automated Mojitos

Because it's actually really chilly here in Tucson it's hard for me to think about mojitos right now, even though they're my favorite cocktail and I really enjoy making them for others. But as my friend Mykle said when telling me about this, I'm being replaced by a mojito -making robot. The video doesn't really show whether I can be satisfied with the robot's mixing methods, and the criteria are exacting with a mojito, so, we'll see, but it is pretty cool to watch all the pipes and tubes and limes rolling around and stuff.

So if you're somewhere that's still warm, have a mojito to celebrate. Me, I'm boiling water for green tea.

Posted by steev at 10:33 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 03, 2007

Speed Vest

Some friends of mine recently made this amazing piece of technology and bicycle activism called The Speed Vest. At first I thought it was a hoax, because one of them is well-known for his pranks and media-jamming projects. But they evidently actually built the thing, and won a contest in Minnesota. So cool!

Posted by steev at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

Mayo 16, 2007

tips for hiring a web developer

classic Ze Frank video about how to hire a web developer. LOL.

Posted by steev at 05:38 PM | Comments (0)

Mayo 02, 2007

encrypted email and bicycles

Here's a a great tutorial on using GUI GPG tools with Apple's Mail client. really easy once you get it set up. yay.

In other news, I'm also really excited about the bike I'm building. The more progress I make the more excited I get. Tonite I attached some awesome cruiser-style handlebars and we did brakes. Sadly, I will finish it just a few days before I go to Europe for a month, so i won't have that much time to enjoy the thing till I get back in July.

Speaking of bikes I told some activists today how I could easily rant at them about how they all drive cars to our meetings, but that our group isn't about bicycle activism or even about global warming so I don't think it's appropriate. It's not the focus.

I'm a big fan of focus.

Posted by steev at 10:23 PM | Comments (0)

Abril 27, 2007

Reflections on Programming

This is old (all of almost 10 years now!!!) but so accurate and informative to those who may be close to coders and don't understand. An excerpt:

People imagine that programmers don't like to talk because they
prefer machines to people. This is not completely true. Programmers don't
talk because they must not be interrupted.
This need to be uninterrupted leads to a life that is strangely
asynchronous to the one lived by other human beings. It's better to send
e-mail to a programmer than to call. It's better to leave a note on the
chair than to expect the programmer to come to a meeting. This is because
the programmer must work in mind time while the phone rings and the
meetings happen in real time. It's not just ego that prevents programmers
from working in groups - it's the synchronicity problem. Synchronizing with
other people (or their representations in telephones, buzzers and
doorbells) can only mean interrupting the thought train. Interruptions mean
bugs. You must not get off the train.

Posted by steev at 12:11 PM | Comments (3)

Abril 04, 2007

twitter is a big thing i guess, for now.

funny and interesting (sort of) tv talk show segment about Twitter, and then Rex, one of the 'experts' on the show, blogs about it, and there's some interesting comments too. social networking fads, trends, next big things....

wtfait, meanwhile people are still starving to death in bolivia and haiti and hell, new orleans for that matter, and polar bears are drowning and and and...

Posted by steev at 10:16 AM | Comments (1)

Abril 02, 2007

Google Funny

Great April Fool's joke from Google. Even more beguiling that they left it up today - well, at least for a little while... the link from their front page is now gone.

Another somewhat funny internet-based fool's joke was an announcement that 4 teachers from the spanish school i went to in Guatemala went on a surprise vacation to New York City. Complete with clever photoshopped snapshots.

Posted by steev at 08:54 AM | Comments (1)

Febrero 27, 2007

The NotSwitch

A friend sent me an interesting list of essentials for the ex-mac user switching to linux.

Yeah. ok. Whatever. I already did that, and then went back. I was an everyday desktop user of linux, had a linux laptop, blah blah, from like 98 to 2001, and felt all ideologically proud and all, I even wrote my own live audio manipulation software for music peformance using a tangled thicket of perl, sql, and csound code.... but in retrospect all of that was a pain. I switched back to the Mac when I wanted to start doing desktop video stuff again and Final Cut was the killer app and still is. Not only that, but OS X gave me the unix command line anyway. And I never looked back. Despite my rant from the other day here, the mac is still so much more a pleasure to use than anything else, and I'm just done being an ubergeek. I don't even have development tools installed on my powerbook. If I have to compile something to use a piece of software on my personal worskstation, fuck it, there must be something else.

Really, even for me, user experience and interface are king now, and Apple just kicks ass at that. I recently switched from using the free, open source Audacity to using a pirated copy of Soundtrack Pro. Stupidly, Soundtrack Pro doesn't even do an important step in my podcasting workflow that Audacity does (exporting to MP3 - i use iTunes to do the conversion now), but it's worth it because Soundtrack Pro just has the easier to use and more beautiful interface. It has the standard key shortcuts that every soundeditor i've loved for the last 12 years (soundtools, protools, peak) has had, not to mention others that it shares with Final Cut. It feels good to use it. Audacity feels like I'm building a house with half-built, ugly tools that cut my hands when I hold them. The feel and look of the interface is what matters, even if one has to sacrifice a bit (just a bit) of power.

And I don't believe that "replacement" linux apps would even be that much more reliable than their Apple counterparts. Shit goes wrong all the time on linux boxen, tho not as often as on widoze, of course.. They may be a little better than 6 years ago, but not that much. It's just that so many geeks simply love to fuck around on computers for their own sake, so it seems okay to them. Well, I just want to get work done, I don't want to feel like an amateur mechanic fiddling under the hood of my hotrodded Mustang GT all day just because I can. I'd rather have that fucker on the road, taking me real places, even if it's just a Honda Civic.

As my friend Mykle once said, "Unix is like a Rubik's Cube, you can mess around with it all day and feel really good for solving it but you still haven't gotten any work done."

No, I want to, as the redneck pickup truck bumpersticker says, "Get R Done"...

Posted by steev at 12:58 PM | Comments (0)

Febrero 23, 2007

Loss of Faith

Yesterday while making a pair of mix CDs for a new lover (a favorite thing of mine to do for a new or potential lover) I accidentally deleted one of the 2 playlists from iTunes. A result of confusion over the interface (i was trying to delete some tracks from the playlist, but didnt know that other pane was active, the pane with the list of playlists, in which i had selected that playlist), the mistake was itself annoying that it could happen so easily, but, I believed at first, not a big deal - until I noticed that iTunes was not allowing me the opportunity to undo that. WTF?!!!? I got really mad. Why should that sort of thing NOT be undoable? Upon further examination i have found that a lot of things are non-undoable in iTunes. Why? Since when did Apple decide that something so easy and constant and expectable would be impossible?

There are all sorts of other problems with iTunes that I've been meaning to blog about for months. Really stupid obvious functional features that just aren't there. For instance, almost every day I use it, which is almost every day, I have the following interaction/desire: I'm listening to a track that played because I was in shuffle mode, or because it was in a playlist, and I want to easily call up all the other tracks on the album that it appears on, or by that same artist. It seems like such a common thing that people would want to do, why isn't it there? It would be so great and easy to just have that be a choice in the contextual menu when you ctl-click or right-click on a track. Oh, this song is great, i feel like listening to the whole album, right-click... oh shit... i guess i have to type the album name into the search bar or else scroll through the list of artists or albums.

And speaking of the fucking search bar, why in fucking HELL do they start the search as soon as you start typing? do they ever test this shit with a really truly huge library (I have over 6500 songs in mine), or a machine that isnt a million MHz or isn't doing other things with its CPU? because what happens is, you type the first letter or 2 and then have to sit and wait for it to start searching and giving me results WAY too huge, before i can continue typing... why the FUCK can't I at least have a setting in the preferences where i can choose to only start searches after i press return? It's just ridiculous.

Another ridiculously stupid and scary and enraging thing happened with an apple product a couple days ago too: all of a sudden, the last 7 months of my photos in iPhoto just .... weren't there. gone. just like that. no warning, no error message, nothing. Now the good thing is that the image files are still there on my hard drive, but when i try to re-import them into iPhoto it says they are an unreadable format! Even though I can open them just fine with other programs like Preview or Photoshop. WTF??!!!!?? And we're talking about more than just photos, there's lots of metadata i have lost too, titles and ratings and descriptions. Ludicrous. It's like it's July again, and I really don't want it to be July 2006 again. I'm happy with Feburary 2007

And I realized what is so devastating about both of these cases is that this is the Mac OS we're talking about. If it were Windoze, well, hell, everyone is used to Windoze just sucking, all the time, period. Most of the world, because most of the computer-using world uses Windoze, just assumes that computers are going to suck, and you can't trust them, and they'll cause you unending hellish hassles every single day of your life, so just get used to and that's that, tough luck, life sucks.

But this is Apple. Most of the time Apple products just work, unlike Microsoft shit, and not only do they work but they work well, and you get things done, and you feel good about it.

So it makes times like this feel like even more of a betrayal, when I realize that even Apple sucks. That even Apple, the "think different" company, will let you down, and cannot be trusted, and at any moment you will lose hours or weeks or months of time and effort and ... life. You can't trust these things either, you can't have faith in them.

I'm not saying everything should be perfect and nothing should go wrong ever. I'm just saying, when you set up the expectation that things will be good, and it would be easy to just finish the job, then finish the fucking job, Steve Jobs. I feel like going to your house in Sausalito or whereever and kicking you in the iPods.

Time for me to set up a daily backup scheme, I guess. I've lost the faith.

Posted by steev at 02:18 PM | Comments (3)

Diciembre 04, 2006

"my" vs. "your" in computer interfaces

I so hate the paradigm in web sites, and now even cellphones and other devices, where everything is "my". "my stuff" is the name of one of the items in the main menu of my cellphone. And as you know, all sorts of sites have "my account", "my shopping cart", "my profile" - am i rare, or wrong, even, in thinking about my experience with a website as a communication with that website? or at least a story? And we all know that you should never write a story in 2nd person, unless you're writing those Choose Your Own Adventure books, which of course were a huge hit and still everywhere. NOT.

not that i exactly think that the site or device is another human, but it is a sort of presence, and a representation of its makers, who are human beings. as such, when the website "talks" to me, it should use the correct pronouns. when it talks to me about "my" things, it should say "your things". When I talk about my things, I can say "my things". When the website "talks" to me, it's not ME talking, it's the website, it's SOMEONE ELSE.

It baffles me and really disturbs me that a conception so basic as this is so backwards for all these interfaces. It's like putting the handle on the wrong end of a gun.

I guess that's another reason why I hate MySpace. It should be called YourSpace. Or maybe it should just be called, "FuckYou, we're tricking you and all your friends and taking over the internet, eat shit and die."

Posted by steev at 04:41 AM | Comments (2)

Noviembre 07, 2006


sometimes when i'm working on computer stuff i feel like this:

G-Rated (edited by me to protect the wholesome)

(it's gruesome, but if you want, check out the original.)

Posted by steev at 05:00 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 04, 2006

Flickr Has Official Geotagging Now.

Very cool. Really good interface. From the organize tool, you can just drag photos onto the map. Awesome.

Posted by steev at 12:02 AM | Comments (1)

Junio 18, 2006

Being "the tech guy"

The other day I saw a great bumpersticker. It said "yes, this is my truck. No, I won't help you move."
Resist The Green Scare! event - 9Yesterday we had a big, all-day event with movies and workshops and a vegan dinner and Peg Millet singing and telling stories at the end. Peg is a famous earth firster who got arrested and jailed 16 years ago or so in a big FBI COINTELPRO operation.

The event, one of dozens around the world last week and this week to educate people about the Green Scare and raise money for the eco-prisoners, was a big success, I think, though it would have been nice to have more people, and I doubt we made enough money to pay for the space, though luckily a donor provided the cash up front for that. I also feel like it would have been nice to get more people from outside of "the choir", though we did get quite a few who none of us recognized from the usual circle of radical activists in town.

But it was good. Except that for me it was personally a huge disaster and a really bad day. I was the tech guy, doing sound and video, and i spent days beforehand preparing a DVD for the event. that was my only purpose, to be parachuted in to provide a service, to not really be part of the creative planning, to not help decide things, to just plug shit in and keep it running. I never wanted to do it, but I did it cuz friends asked, and I hated doing it all day and was just angry about it and didn't want to be there.

Similar to that sticker, I'd like to get a shirt that says "geek in recovery. No, I won't fix your computer." Or more accurately, it would have a list of all the tech stuff people are constantly asking me to do, for free: provide and set up a projector for an event, do live sound, shoot video of some event, make a DVD, help subtitle some video, host a website, make a website, revise a website, fix our internet connection, set up a computer lab, dub a video, etc etc etc.

I'm so fucking tired of it

How can I escape from that rut of being the tech guy? A few months ago me and the 2 other "techies" in the community sort of toyed with the idea of starting a tech collective. My hope was that it would take some burden off of me. But it quickly became clear it would have been just more work. i think we all, without talking about it, realized that and the project therefor never took off.

I just want out. And the most disturbing thing is that everyone always says, oh well, we should do more skillshares and trainings so that everyone can do what you do. Yeah, right. Call me cynical, but first of all, I just don't beleive there's that much motiviation in very many activist/progressives, none actually, to step up and allow that knowledge transfer to happen. They just don't care. They would rather just let all these high-tech tools and opportunities go away than take on the skills and do it themselves.

And that's okay. That's very wise. These people are smart. They know that technology and geekiness poisons the soul and they're keeping it at a distance. they know there's better, more fulfilling and healthy things they can do. And they have chumps like me and Walt and Jeff to do the dirty work, so fuck it.

Second of all, there's just way too much knowledge to be transferred. Look at that list up there. I'd have to do 19 skillshares to teach everything that routinely is expected of me to do. And like I said, most people don't care. If there was no video proejector, screw it we'll just use a white board. If there's no web, who cares, we'll print brochures and use a phone tree. no DVD? tell a story instead. people and activists lived without all these stupid gadgets anyway, for a long long time. People in their hearts know this, they know this is all extraneous, just frosting on their cake. But hey, as long as there's someone around who knows how to make and distribute the frosting, might as well slather it on, right?

I'm so tired of being that sacrificial lamb. fuck it.

The fucked up thing is, part of me LIKES being NEEDED like that. And though i'm not usually an insecure person and I usually have a pretty good self-esteem, a paranoid and fearful part of me worries that if i'm not "the tech guy" that people call for tech things, will anyone ever call me at all?

"If it wasn't for disappointment, I wouldn't have any appointments." -They Might Be Giants

Posted by steev at 06:10 AM | Comments (5)

Mayo 18, 2006

RSS Courtship

I was looking for stuff about tracking RSS feed subscribers and I find on this Drupal mailing list a thread about it, and a guy who sounds like he really knows how to leverage his geek skills, if you know what i mean:

This may seem like a strange example, but I once ended up finding out that a cute girl who I'd assumed was out of my league was interested in me thanks to the amateur's mistake of tracking visitors by IP in drupal 4.5. Let me explain (I think this is a good example of how we should be thinking about our users needs when it comes to traffic analysis):

I mentioned to her that I had posted a certain essay called "The Renaissance of the Commons" on my blog, and told her to goole my name and the title to find it. The search popped up on my referrers log, and I marked down the IP associated with that search (I did have a crush on her). Later, I checked her IP's history, and found out that she was apparently a lot more interested in what I was writing, than I would have thought. For the next week, I noticed her return twiceto four times a day -- and it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I should ask her out on a date. The end result was me being one satisfied drupal user.

Isn't that cute? To my knowledge no one I've crushed on, been involved with, or am involved with regularly read or reads my blog. But maybe if i did some detailed log analysis I'd be surprised. hah.

I just had a conversation with stillsecretperson (I am THIS close to just using her name. stay tuned!) yesterday, where I asked her if she'd read a blog entry i specifically sent her a couple days ago (cuz i know she doesn't regularly look) and said she hadn't had time. "I'm so busy it's a choice between spending time with you or reading your blog." Hmm, well, just out of bandwidth concerns the choice is clear, you'll get a lot more data throughput hanging out face to face with me, guaranteed. ;-)

Posted by steev at 06:42 AM | Comments (0)

Mayo 10, 2006

Excellent, Very Wise AJAX Caveats

Somehow I am back in the business (literally) of thinking hard about website interface design, functionality, and user experience.

While checking out Digg extensively for the first time, I found this extremely smart article about AJAX.

Here's a representative quote, though by no means a summary of the whole article:

The major reason for the success of the Web is the predictability and simplicity of its UI model. Basically, anyone can move a mouse, click on a link, move a scrollbar, and hit the Back button. With the growing popularity of Ajax, the risk is very real that developers will go overboard and essentially make everything clickable and change the UI in an unexpected and asynchronous manner. The last thing you want to do is force your user to think. For those who are interested in the usability of Web applications, Steve Krug's Don't Make Me Think (see Resources) is a must-read. It does not cover Ajax specifically, but teaches important lessons about how important good design is for a Web site.
This reminds me of a thought I just had yesterday while hopelessly and angrily clicking around on MySpace. For the first time after registering on myspace about 4 months ago, I hunkered down and really spent time, configuring my profile, inviting people to be my friends, trying to use the calendar and events features, and I confirmed my opinion I had 4 months ago that the myspace interface just SUCKS.

This has nothing specifically to do with AJAX but everything to do with the simple maxim in the above quote: Don't force your user to think. At least not too much. The Myspace interface is like a freaking labyrinth, a puzzle, and I found myself thinking this: The Web has always been about communication, information, and self-expression. The web "1.0" was about enabling anyone who could learn some simple HTML and the basic buttons on a browser to "self-publish." Now, sadly, "web 2.0" is about anybody who wants to take the time to learn how to use sites like Myspace's interface, or some subset of it, enabling them to "self-publish." The problem is that while the results might look pretty some of the time, the possible configurations of those results are really constrained. And, of course, the tools are owned by some big company.


Posted by steev at 11:23 AM | Comments (0)

Mayo 03, 2006

email peeve

dammit i hate top-posting!!! i was gonna say top-posters, but that's hatin' the player, not the game. I'd hate most of internet-using humanity if i said that.
but you know why everyone does it? cuz of the fricking tools. pinche email clients all put the cursor ABOVE the text you're replying to. so no wonder everyone is a top-poster. but it's so annoying!!! it makes so much more sense to reply to something AFTER you quote what the other person said. like you read on a piece of paper, or a bathroom wall.


(stay tuned someday for the next peevish blog entry: Open Letter to All Motorists. I've been writing it in my head every day for the last 3 months, if not 6 years.)

Posted by steev at 04:55 PM | Comments (3)

Abril 16, 2006

More Subtitling

Sometimes I'm pretty thankful I'm so geeky.

Today I was helping someone from No More Deaths put subtitles on an interview with an undocumented migrant who was interviewed in the hospital here in Tucson after being picked up by border patrol. She was betrayed by coyotes and left for dead out in the desert, then rescued by suprisingly beneficient deer hunters.

I'm constanly surprised at how few real versatile, efficient tools for subtitling there are, especially for the Mac. There's just nothing that does everything you want. And so, often I'm stuck, massaging some text file into the right format, but luckily I speak the swiss-army knife of text processing languages, Perl. So when Shanti gave me a text file full of subtitles without time codes this afternoon, I just hacked together something like this:

#!/usr/bin/perl -n

$offset = 4; # time code to start.
$length = 9; # seconds each subtitle will last.

if(/^(\S.+)$/) {
$text = $1;
if($time == 0) { $start = $offset } else {$start = $time};
$time = $start + $length;
$start_seconds = $start % 60;
$start_minutes = int($start/60);
$end_seconds = $time % 60;
$end_minutes = int($time/60);
printf ("00:%02d:%02d:01,\t00:%02d:%02d:00,\t$text", $start_minutes, $start_seconds, $end_minutes, $end_seconds);
} else { print; }

Then import into DVD Studio Pro and voila! well, not quite voila, we still had to shift and stretch some things to get the timing a little better. But, y'know, if I didn't know Perl or some other way to roll my own text-munger, what would I do? spend an extra 5 hours on it I guess, getting the timing all figured out by hand. whew!

yay Perl!

Posted by steev at 04:58 PM | Comments (0)

Marzo 20, 2006

Apple Should Be Ashamed at How Much DVD Studio Pro Sucks

what do the pros use to author DVDs?
i've been spending the last 3 days doing the authoring for the final version of my DVD of my juarez doc. i'm using apple's DVD Studio Pro and it's not the first time i've used it but i have to say it's one of the most frustrating pieces of software i've ever used. it's got me almost pulling out my hair. and it's so surprising because Final Cut Pro is such a pleasure to use and works SO WELL, and then this other software with apple's name on it just blows. i mean you can do a lot of cool stuff with it but the way the interface works and the general performance of the interface just is fucking shameful.

so i was wondering what people who do this for a living use, cuz the "pro" in dvdsp is obviously a lie.

Here's just one little dumb example: When working with subtitles, you can only move ONE subtitle at a time. You can't select a whole bunch in the stream and slide it around, or move them to a different stream. You just can't. Why? Why the fuck wouldn't they allow one to do that? After 4 versions of the software?

Or here's another one. Why is it that when you import subtitles from an STL file, it blows away any existing subtitles on that stream, even if they don't conflict timewise with the new ones you're bringing in? Why? There's no logical reason for that.

And then there's all the ridiculous wait times. Why can't they come up with some some kind of preview mode so that you aren't waiting for the spinning rainbow wheel of death every time you click? ARRRGGH!! Apple, get your fucking act together!!

Posted by steev at 02:19 PM | Comments (0)

Marzo 13, 2006

Some Just Don't Get It

Over the last 12 years the world has seen the general public gradually catch on to what the Internet is good for. It's been a long slow process.

First it was an "Information Superhighway," which most people didn't understand. Nice try, Al.

Then it gradually turned into a giant shopping mall, and then, sort of after the fact, a library. And a few other uses are seeping into the zeitgeist. It's a place to pick up dates; a place to promote your band or sell your band's indie recordings; a place to share photos of that trip to Disneyland with grandma; a place to auction off the old stuff in the attic; Even a place for a sort of public diary and/or soapbox.

The last, frustrating frontier: a place and a tool for distributed collaboration; a lot of people still just don't seem to get that. I first started thinking about it in 1994, as soon as I found out about the web. Well, actually before there was a web, but I won't go into that (early participation in what would become SITO...) And this stuff isn't rocket science. I'm talking about simple shit, like, say you're an artistic collective or a nonprofit of some kind. Wouldn't the web be a good way to make available files that different members might need regularly? Like hi-res versions of the group's logo, or letterhead, or common templates for documents? Oh, yeah! good idea! Never thought of that!

sigh... suspira...

Posted by steev at 03:14 PM | Comments (0)

Febrero 13, 2006

new touchscreen tech and tibetan-swiss electroclash

Vic Divecha's blog brings us a video demonstrating some cool new touchscreen interface technololgy.

I had trouble deciding to blog about this or not, because it's so geeky. But I started sending it as an email to my geeky or designer friends and then just thot, hell with it, blog it. it's geewhiz cool. (thanx, Ryn.)

Apropo of nothing, while i type this i'm listening to an interview on a German radio station with a Swiss musician/DJ sort of like Peaches, named Kate Wax. She's actually half Tibetan, she reveals at the end of the interview. Her stuff sounds pretty cool, and I like listening to her and the interviewer with their germanic accents as they (sometimes awkwardly) talk to each other in english. I guess she might be from the Italian part of Switzerland and hence they might not have German in common, but she doesn't sound like it, so it's interesting that they're talking in English. I feel guilty to be so lucky and so unlucky as to be a near-monolingual native speaker of the language that everyone speaks worldwide.

Posted by steev at 04:20 PM | Comments (0)

Febrero 03, 2006

Geek Abuse

I just remembered something that happened yesterday that annoyed me slightly. I stopped by the Dry River space to see if the internet connection was up, because it had been out all the day before. I'm one of the 2-3 people who set up the computer lab and sort of maintain it. So I come in and boot up one of machines, it's just opening time so nobody else has tried them yet, and I'm waiting for it to boot and this guy that hangs out there, one of the many eccentric street characters that hangs out there, asks me "So what's the scoop, Perfessor? Is there internet?"

This is the equivalent of being called "4-eyes" or whatever back in grade school. It was said semi-jokingly, or maybe the intent was to be completely humorous. But I was irritated. And to some extent "perfessor" is an honoriffic, so it's complicated. It's a bit like beefy jock types that call people who are less beefy "big guy." (this has happened quite a bit in my past). Obviously it's an insult, it's sarcasm, but it may be unconcious, or if not it's easily deniable that it was intentional.

I'll qualify these gripes by saying that as I'm a privileged white middle-class straight male I actually have no real idea what I'm talking about, but in no way am I comparing it to the daily abuse that women and people of color and other opressed peoples are subjected to. However it's interesting to notice through that lens, so to speak. For instance how often are women annoyed when they're called "girls"? How often in general are people mean to each other, especially to those different from them, without even noticing?

Posted by steev at 12:39 PM | Comments (0)

Enero 30, 2006

Looking for an Audio CMS

So I have this site, Phonophilia, which is all about field recordings and other sound. I want to keep adding to it and I want a better way to do that and manage what's there. So I've been looking for days for some kind of content-management system for audio. I basically want something that can look at a directory full of sound files and make a nice looking little index page, reading the ID3 tags of each mp3 file to get details... stuff like that.

I don't want just a podcasting tool, if I wanted just that I would just use LoudBlog, which seems pretty cool for that limited need. Though something that generates RSS for each page would be nice. the thing with podcasts and blogs is it's all about the NOW, the latest, not about managing content that's both old and new.

So, dear reader, do you know of anything like this? (I was spurred to asking you from reading José's blog where he just asked a couple real questions of his readers. And I had answers!)

Posted by steev at 09:57 AM | Comments (5)

Enero 18, 2006

Apple Scam

Better wait to buy those new Intel-based hotrod Macs. Apple has bilked the world again. I just read that ALL software has to be rewritten to run on the new Intel CPUs. Apple has created a new "translator" layer of software called Rosetta that allows you to run the old programs, but it doesn't work on everything, and it slows stuff down. The review I read said that this slowing seems to have pretty much cancelled out the speed gains due to the new processor. In about a year they'll have most everything rewritten, but right now it seems a waste to buy one of these new machines. Makes me mad that this was not more clear sooner, but I'm not surprised.

Posted by steev at 10:43 AM | Comments (0)

Enero 13, 2006

The Alienating, Shadowy Limbo of the Web

I love this image that I found on the "site not here yet" page of some webhosting ISP when I was looking for someone's new website:

The picture envisions a limitless bland cyberspace filled with frustration, isolated inhabitants and floating symbols. So great.

Posted by steev at 10:32 AM | Comments (1)

Diciembre 21, 2005

Google Transit

Another new project in development at Google has come to my attention, Google Transit (thanx, Seth). The idea is to tell you how to get from one place to another using public transit instead of driving. However, right now they only have Portland in the system, probably because Portland has the super cool Trimet website already, where you can put in points A and B, when you want to leave, and it will tell you what buses to take. Trimet is the regional transit authority in Portland and they've had that web app for at least a couple years. Is Portland just the coolest freaking city ever? except for the godamn fucking rain!!!! Oh cruel fate. Is it maybe because of the rain? Like people thought, this city is going to really suck unless we make it really great in spite of the rain.

Actually someone told me that back in the 70s Tucson and Portland weren't so different. Tucson was starting along the same path that Portland was, with an urban growth boundry and other enlightened urban planning, but the developers got the upper hand (like they keep trying and failing to do in Portland), and Tucson became the sprawl-o-rama that it is now. I'd like to learn more about that. And I'll write more about it soon....

Anyway, it's great that Google people are trying to subtly encourage use of public transit. yay! down with cars!

Posted by steev at 08:56 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 30, 2005

Laptops for Poor Children

Nicholas Negroponte is working on providing laptops to developing countries for less than $100 a piece. Interesting trend - I just read on rabble's blog about super cheap cellphones for the poor. This is good I think, especially if they get them for free. And the laptops are super cool - they run linux, they're really tough, have wireless, flash memory instead of hard drive. I hope this actually happens. Seems like a tough order.

interesting point made on the website for the laptops about why they're not using recycled machines:

regarding recyled machines: if we estimate 100 million available used desktops, and each one requires only one hour of human attention to refurbish, reload, and handle, that is forty-five thousand work years. Thus, while we definitely encourage the recycling of used computers, it is not the solution for One Laptop per Child.

Good point, but it's sad when recycling is contraindicated like that.

Related note: the other day I saw Negroponte's book "Being Digital" sitting forelornly in the free pile at Powell's Technical. I remember when that book came out and it was supposed to be such hot, prophetic, "the future is now" stuff. Hah.

(thanx José)

Posted by steev at 01:01 AM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 02, 2005

email crap

so in addition to all the other geeky changes in my life i decide to go ahead and finally start using an IMAP client locally instead of reading mail on the server like i've been doing for 10 years. I just never knew how cool IMAP was, had a distaste for learning about it ever since a server of mine was hacked thanx to an IMAP exploit, and POP is dumb cuz it ties you down to your mail being on one workstation.

so i've been trying out apple's email client and getting it all set up the way I want
it but there's weird shit that is totally frustrating, something to do with how it interacts with the IMAP server. i have it under control now so i won't even go into it, but it was really pissing me off for the last couple hours.

¡pinche computadoras!

Posted by steev at 02:16 PM | Comments (0)

Septiembre 01, 2005

vlog testing

I've been thinking about starting to include little videos here, not so much starting a "vlog" as just turning my already-existing blog into something that includes more embedded media. i want to test to see if the rss2.0 feed that movable type creates is something that FireANT or iTunes will like.


This is a little creative commons bumper i made a while back that i've been putting at the end of my videos lately.
Feel free to use it if you want.

Posted by steev at 02:21 PM | Comments (0)

Agosto 31, 2005

Server Held Hostage!

Oh boy, 2 geek posts in a row. Not good for Project Steev.

Well, the thing is, like I said I would do in my post yesterday, I went over to the colo to get my server. I had to reserve a Flexcar to get over there, which costs money, which was okay except it turned out to be all for nothing because they wouldn't let me take my machine until I paid them an extra $114!! They said their policy was 30 days notice, but I only gave them 14 days or something, so they alyre charging me the difference. WTF?! That's bullshit.

Well, luckily I don't need the damn thing, right away, at least. So I just told them to turn it off and I'd be back. I'm not going to pay. As soon as I can I'm going to talk to whoever can make the decision and reason with them, and if they won't cut me some slack I will spew righteous bad PR about them all over the place. I know several people who use them as an ISP or a colo.

I won't say the name of the company, because I won't badmouth them till they refuse to give me a break. They've been great up till now, the service has been excellent, but this just puts a bad taste on the last 2.5 years of being their customer.

Posted by steev at 05:08 PM | Comments (1)

Agosto 30, 2005


Over the last month or so I've been gradually moving all my websites and other internet foo from my own, self-administered, co-located server over to shared hosting with a pretty cool company, Dreamhost. Well, today was the big final switchover day, because last night I finally changed the nameservers for the 2 most important domains for me, my family, and a few friends. The ones we all depend on for email. Sure enough, stuff went pretty wrong and I was not getting email all day. I think I'm still not getting everything I should. And there were some painful mistakes I made with the web-based "control panel" that Dreamhost has for controlling everything. It's really pretty slick and works great most of the time, but there are a few things that aren't clear for a new user. The thing that really screwed me up is that I accidentally set a disk quota for myself which was way low, so I was immediately stopped for getting new email, creating or changing any files, etc. I used the control panel to remove the quota but it took about 3 hours for it to take effect. So I was effectively paralysed from fixing a lot of other switchover-related things.

All in all though, it will be a big relief when I retire the old server for good. I've been running a server of my own (the first one was called flotsam, this one jetsam), since about august 1997, and it was fun for awhile but it's just become a chain around my neck. I could see how if I was part of a cool collective like or riseup I wouldn't mind doing some sysadmin stuff, but being the sole administrator, accountant, and tech support just got real old. Tommorrow, I drive over to the colo and unplug good ol' jetsam for good....

Anyway... moving this blog and Moveable Type has been relatively painless so far... let's see if I can save this first post-migration entry without a hassle....

Posted by steev at 04:21 PM | Comments (2)

Agosto 25, 2005

Private DNS bullshit.

I remember a time where you could just use anybody's nameservers from anywhere for anything. I guess that time is no more. When did people start locking down their nameservers? I've just been using my own for so long that I havent noticed that apparently, if you try querying someone else's nameserver, other than those of the ISP you are currently connected to the internet with, the nameserver doesn't answer, generally, unless that server is authoritative for the domain you're querying about. Why? Are people really that worried about giving away a service like that? fawking stupid, I say. Maybe it's been this way for years, but since my server is going away soon (another step in my Geeks Anonymous self-help program) I have been learning a lot of things like this recently. Luckily I have found that some kind net engineers feel the same way I do and offer free public nameservers. Of course it seems like with DHCP no one should worry anyway, when you get a connection the DHCP server should just hand out the nameservers for the local ISP being used, and I think this is supposed to be how things work, but I've found that, at least on macs, often this doesn't really happen. annoying.

Posted by steev at 05:06 PM | Comments (1)

Julio 29, 2005

Broadcast Machine and

Participatroy Culture's video publishing software, Broadcast Machine is a free and open source content management system that handles publishing of video content and even acts as an automated bittorrent seeder. Pretty cool. I've been looking for something like this. ibiblio also has something called Osprey that is simliar, it looks like.

There's a lot of exciting "participatory" or "independent" web video projects sprouting up all over. Blogging was a first wave, then the podcasting wave, and that seems to have touched off a still-embryonic video casting/bloggin phenomenon. The interesting and scary thing is that the power of Hollywood and television is so great that some of these internet video sharing ventures are hybrid or not so hybrid tv networks, and some are closer to traditional distribution and business models than others. It's a weird time where it's hard to tell what will happen.

Will "vcasting" make television irrelevant? Or will the television industry taint vcasting? hard to say, but it reminds me of when I worked for ZDTV during it's launch (later TechTV, and now I think it's called G4?) - I and some other idealistic employees thought it would make TV more like the Web, but it ended up helping to make the Web more like TV. Disillusioned again.

Posted by steev at 07:00 AM | Comments (0)

Julio 25, 2005

War on Terror as a series of Unix shell interactions

From Boing Boing we have a renactment of the first round in the War on Terror, Unix-style. And I'm so glad they spelled Unix right, not all in caps (it's not an acronym! - that's one of my pet geek peeves). Anyway, I'm trying to think how one could continue it, but they might have stopped just in time (avoiding the Saturday Night Live Syndrome where every joke just gets driven into the ground). Ooh, but one funny thing might be something like:

$ cd Iraq/reasons_to_invade
$ ls
$ ln -s oil democracy
$ ln -s oil WMDs
$ ln -s oil regime _change
$ ./saddam_connected_to_911
./saddam_connected_to_911: Command not found.

ha ha ha. there's all sorts of other sub-jokes possible. like maybe the media could somehow be used as a compiler/linker to build the binary called "concensus." etc etc.

but, like i said, it's probably gone on enough. or, wait, too far, now. i'm sure there's leftie geeks all over the world furiously thinking up more, but i can say i've spent enough time on it.

(thanx josé)

update: erp! i found the original blog where this was posted. They take it a lot farther, especially the commentors. still funny though, with some of the same ideas I just had above, basically.

Posted by steev at 02:24 PM | Comments (0)

Junio 30, 2005

Internet Overload

I seem to be unconciously and involuntarily compensating for almost 3 months of very little internet use while travelling by using it an incredible amount in the last week and a half that I've been "back" from my travelling. It's really annoying. It's like an addiction. I need to cut down.

Additionally it doesn't help when everything cool that I find online I want to blog about, which just makes me use more time. There's the discovery and then the writing about the discovery. Argh. For instance in the last hour or so I've found 2 or 3 more things I want to blog about, though all of them may be old news and they just seem new to me because I've been travelling: the hackersafe badge that i've seen on a few different commercial websites now (which seems like an invitation for hackers to attack, a fiasco just waiting to happen), a hilarious all-your-base style net meme from a while back involving a lost frog, and... what was the other thing?... there's an interesting article about media activism, basically a manifesto, by Patricia Zimmerman, who is a really great, dedicated activist academic who I met at the Collage Conference back in March.

Well there's actually a TON of other stuff, just look at my Delicious bookmarks and how many i've added just in the last day or so. There's no way to blog about it all so Delicious is a good compromise, sort of micro-blog... keep checking it out, and if the links keep arriving on my list at the same rate or greater, email me or call me or send a courier and tell me to get the hell off the net and do something else, for god's sake...

Posted by steev at 09:50 AM | Comments (0)

Junio 28, 2005


Oh. My. Freaking. Gawd. This is just about the coolest thing I've seen on the web in a long while. These people are using Flickr and another site called Geobloggers to create a searchable database of photographs that are tied to the coordinates on the globe where they were taken. You can go to the Geobloggers site and find a place on the map and search for any photos that were taken in that area. Or conversely, find a photo on Flickr, and click over to the Geoblogger site where it'll show you where that photo was taken.

For instance, I have just Geotagged a photo I took yesterday on the edge of Shellsburg, about half a mile from where I am right now. Go to that photo and click the link under the photo where it says "Geotagged" - you'll be taken to the geobloggers site where it will show you on the map where it is. You can even switch to a satellite photo view of the same spot. holy shit! This is soooo great.

Oh and the funny thing is that one of the main people behind the geobloggers site is named Steeev (with one more 'e' than me).

Posted by steev at 01:50 PM | Comments (2)

Junio 22, 2005


Podscope is a search engine for searching the content of podcasts . When you get the results you can actually listen to the few seconds where your search word was said, right there on the results page. It apparently uses voice recognition, and it sort of works, though one of my test words was "Chiapas" (still thinking about the Zapatistas) and amongst the results was an item about podcasting wherein the person speaking said "chopping the sound off the end," and that evidently got heard by the computer as "Chiapas." But anyway, a very cool web tool.

Interesting. The constant march of progress. hah.

Posted by steev at 06:45 AM | Comments (0)

Marzo 11, 2005

A Study of Cuteness in Japan

An interesting study by Sharon Kinsella looks at the "kawaii" phenomenon in Japan - the "cute" craze that includes Hello Kitty and all that stuff.

Pretty fascinating, and reminds me of an essay called 'Cute Formalism' from a few years ago by the clever pop singer Momus (who appears to have a nice new website, and a a blog - I wonder if he writes less essays now that he has a blog?).

The interesting thing about Kinsella's research is that she finds that the cute thing was not a top-down, corporate-created trend, but began as a grassroots youth movement with 'cute handwriting', which was actually a rebellion against traditional japanese culture. Then later companies like Sanrio moved in and capitalized on the trend.

Posted by steev at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

Febrero 01, 2005

When You're Losing an Argument With Geeks

I was just directed to a page that lists 70 things to say when you're losing a tech argument. Pretty funny stuff, I guess mostly in wow-that's-so-real way. Some of them you actually hear all the time. Some are hilarious.

The most all-around useful one, IMHO: "Yes, well, that's just not the way things work in the real world."

The funniest one contest, for me, is a tie between: "What? I don't speak your crazy moon-language." and "Yes, yes, we've all read DJB's RFCs on the subject." (mostly cuz I hate Daniel J. Bernstein and all his software and all his rants about why his software is better)

oh boy, here I am posting 2 "geekness" entries in a row, within an hour. sigh.

(thanx Seth)

Posted by steev at 08:32 AM | Comments (0)

trackback spam

Great, so now there's trackback ping spam. Fucking A. I get up this morning and my email is full of notifications that various blogs I run received 19 trackback pings, all of which were just links to some online gambling site. Luckily I have an MT plugin that allows me to pretty easily delete these. However, this is no doubt going to become a continuing problem. Take warning, fellow bloggers, if you haven't seen this already! What bullshit. I've only ever received like 2 pings in the lifetime of my blogging. I don't think many folks use them, or even understand what they're for. In searching for a good FAQ about them, I found a pretty entertaining thread on a discussion board where people made up funny explanations. I think I'll leave it at that.

Posted by steev at 07:57 AM | Comments (1)

Enero 22, 2005

Using VOIP to Do Free International Interviews

I spent most of inauguration day in the portland web radio studio helping out with our coverage. The contribution that I am most happy about is some interviews I did on the air with 5 different people in 4 different countries: Spain, Germany, Brazil and Bolivia. I talked with them about what people in their country thought of George Bush and the U.S., and it went very well. Best of all, we used internet telephony, so it was free. My friend Lenara in Porto Alegre used her internet phone to call, but for the rest we used Skype. The tech setup was pretty jury-rigged, as we didn't have the time to prepare an actual "phone patch" sort of a set-up. Instead I ran Skype on my powerbook with a line out, and used the built-in mic to talk to the caller, while holding up the regular studio mic close to my mouth also so I could be heard by listeners. It made for an odd posture, and others in the studio couldn't really take part in the discussion. But it was still very cool. The only other problem is the net lag, but we lived with it

Posted by steev at 01:59 AM | Comments (0)

Enero 19, 2005


For the last week or so I've been experimenting with a new, for me (actually the concept itself is only a couple years old), anti-spam measure called greylisting. The basic idea takes advantage of the fact that most spamming software doesn't retry when a message is temporarily delayed. So if you make all mail wait a while, and make a record of whether they already tried, you cut out most spam. You also keep a record of what sender/receiver pairs have already successfully undergone the process, and you don't delay them for future messages.

Well it turns out that it seems to work really really well. There's some kinks to iron out, but the fact is that it cuts down on 95% of spam. Some of my users are reporting various problems, but I think I'm working them out. It's really almost eerie how well it works, because the total volume of email is just so much lower coming into my email box. As far as I can tell I'm not missing anything, but it feels like I might be, because there's so little email -but that's because most of my email was spam before. Which, as a user pointed out, is sad, isn't it? I'm sure it's true of everyone these days.

Posted by steev at 08:46 AM | Comments (1)

Enero 09, 2005

Refrigerator Magnets

A silly java applet lets you manipulate refrigerator magnets with dozens of other internet users at once. Warning: can be very frustrating.
It's really quite an interesting lesson in complexity and emergent behavior.
To have a more controlled experiment, I installed one on my server.

Posted by steev at 09:13 PM | Comments (0)

Enero 04, 2005

Media Production Linux Distro

Dynebolic is a boot-from-CD, running-out-of-the-box Linux distribution. Looks somewhat like Knoppix, but it's specifically aimed at multimedia producers, media activists, and artists. Loaded with sound and video editing tools, encoders, and the like. Wow. I'd like to try this out. Runs on the Xbox, too! Seems too good to be true. I've been wanting to see a really good bulletproof linux video editing program that is easy to install and works with firewire. That just works. If linux gets there I will stop needing to buy macs and I'd be really happy.

Posted by steev at 06:09 PM | Comments (1)

Enero 03, 2005

Lots of Blogs.

This article says that a study found that 8 million Americans have blogs. Yikes. Yet 62% of online users "have no clear idea what a blog is." Hmm.

It's interesting that blogs seem so strange and new. The concept seems so simple and obvious to me, and in fact has been in action since the beginning of the web, starting with one of the very first web sites, Justin's Links from the Underground, by Justin Hall, who I count as a friend (from Cyborganic days).

A blog is simply a public diary. The fact that some have taken this diary form and merged it with the newspaper form, or a couple other basic forms, is not that important. The important idea is that it's a regular place where someone publicly writes stuff, and the cloud of technological tools that surround the blog enable revolutionary ways of connecting and distributing the information in the public diary. That's where it gets really interesting. But the basic idea is still really simple. So it's not the blog itself that is that interesting or new, it's its location on the internet and the infrastructure of technology that supports it.

Posted by steev at 07:58 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 22, 2004


Portland Indymedia gets mentioned on this page about SNIU, "Substantial Non-Infringing Uses" of Peer-to-Peer technology:

Portland Indymedia, using BitTorrent, Azureus, Shareaza, and others, distributes video. (Thanks to Alan Cox).

Pretty impressive considering that Alan Cox is second only to Linus in the Linux developers community. Wow. How'd he find out about Portland IMC? I think he lives in England. I wonder what he thinks of the content.

Anyway, hurray. Not that I had anything to do with it, other than provide a few of the videos. The cheers really go out to Jesse, the tech guy here who made it happen.

Posted by steev at 07:38 AM | Comments (0)

Diciembre 16, 2004

collborative text editing

At a coding session (or what we call a "Toolshed Day") for work yesterday we discovered DocSynch, a tool for networked collaborative text editing. It's like SubEthaEdit, only better because it's cross-platform, as opposed to SubEthaEdit which only works on the Mac.

It's sort of a weird hack because it uses IRC as the network protocol, but it seems to work once it's installed. Of course when you're all in the same room it's debatable whether tools like that have a real reason to be used besides their "gee whiz" factor. We were joking about, for instance, downloading a whiteboard and a marker to use instead.

Posted by steev at 09:48 AM

Diciembre 06, 2004

Semiotics of the equals sign

This is a silly thing, a sort of geeky pet-peeve complaint. So take with a grain of salt. Anyway, I've had this poster sitting on my desk for the last couple weeks, it's a flyer for this film screening for a group called PDX Books to Prisoners. I was actually going to try to go to the screening, which is called Born In Flames. Maybe that's the name of a film, I'm not sure, but it looked interesting, despite the linguistic error that I am about to mention. But I didn't make it to the event, so I took down a copy of the poster afterward, because it bothered me so much and I wanted to be reminded to write about it

My gripe is this: The poster has 4 equations which, at least 3 of which are obviously false. It has the following lines:





My problem with this is that they're misusing the equals sign, such that their statements end up saying exactly the opposite of what they mean. They mean to assert a set of causes and effects, it looks like. What they really mean by "=" is "leads to" or "results in." But in math "=" means "is the same as." It does not mean "causes." So their poster is really saying "Injustice IS Radicalism," Repression IS armed struggle, Patriarchy IS Feminist Army," etc, which of course is not true. I don't know exactly what Born in Flames is so I can't say whether the fourth equation is false or not, though it probably is.

Maybe I'm just too ingrained in a math/science background, but I was actually confused for a minute when i first read the poster. Huh, I thought, are they being ironic? oh! they mean "repression LEADS TO armed struggle!" okay!

It's a silly thing to complain about but these are the kinds of things I notice a lot. I wish people were more careful with their language and their graphic design. Language means things we often don't intend unless we are very aware.

Posted by steev at 08:40 AM

Noviembre 23, 2004


Just discovered Flickr. Is this old news? It's pretty cool. Makes me wish I had a digital still camera. This kind of stuff, along with phonecams, fotologs, etc, is really changing the way we as a culture look at images, at representation, at reality. I think I was just reading something by Frederic Jameson about this sort of thing, but he wrote before the internet or digital cameras. He wrote about how just the fact there is this HUGE number of photos of everything being taken everywhere has changed the way we look at the world and at life. Now not only are there tons of photos but theoretically anyone (anyone who can afford to be on the internet, somehow) can look at them, and search them and sort them. Totally insane.

And what's even crazier is that there are people growing up now who may never understand that the world was once not like this. Kind of like the friends I have who have never had a job that's not related to the Internet somehow.

It's also interesting to imagine how technologies like this could be used for activism. What happens when virtually everyone has a camera with them at all times and can snap pics, in a relatively clandestine, easy way, and get them online, of whatever fucked-up shit is happening wherever they are? I am reminded of the excellent "Spiders" web cartoon, which tells an alternate history of the U.S.-Afghan War, one in which Gore is president and tiny camera robots roam Afghanistan, accessible by anyone with an internet connection...

Posted by steev at 10:59 AM

Octubre 29, 2004

comments off, for now

Too many spam comments to deal with while travelling. When you only get an hour on the internet a day, if that, and 30 minutes is spent dealing with spam, that's not acceptable. so for now, no comments. if you need to get in touch, use email, if you know it, or my contact handy form.

Posted by steev at 06:52 AM

Agosto 30, 2004

stupid happy people

Wow, this is disturbing: bad moods help you be more aware and remember more accurately.

Makes sense, but it's unfortunate. What happens when science finally proves happiness is bad?

Posted by steev at 08:22 AM | Comments (0)

Agosto 20, 2004

Spam as AI

Spam is just getting smarter and weirder all time. As long as it doens't give me a virus, if it's this surreal, I don't care. bring it on, this is like one of my favorite quotes, something de Chirico said: "I want to live in the world as if in a museum of strangeness." I think if we ever develop artifical intelligence, it will be from either the spam industry, or the porn industry. Anyway, here is the example of what I'm talking about that I just received:

Most gypsies believe that freight train defined by share a shower with for turkey.Furthermore, blood clot over cigar leaves, and cowboy related to sell to pine cone for corporation.Still find lice on her from for necromancer, conquer her dust bunny living with with onlooker around.defined by chess board hibernates, and about grizzly bear ruminates; however, turkey inside can be kind to..minivan teach somnambulist related to.Stuart, the friend of Stuart and daydreams with mirror living with particle accelerator.
Posted by steev at 07:17 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 28, 2004

blogspam stopped in its tracks!

I just installed an MT plugin for blocking spam, MT-Blacklist, yesterday, and already 5 attempted commentspams have been blocked. Right on.

Posted by steev at 11:33 PM | Comments (0)

Julio 24, 2004

Penguin Day, Live!!

update: I'm at Penguin Day, as discussed in my previous entry, and just wanted to mention a cool thing that is happening:
live updating to the wiki for the event.
There are tons of laptops here, a temporary wireless access point, and people are taking notes and pasting them into the Wiki as we speak.
You can hear snatches of biz-speak and investoresque jargon as you circulate around.... This is the kind of conference that you would expect to be at a Hyatt Regency out by the airport or downtown, but it's at Freegeek, which
has always had more of a "loading dock chic" kind of look to it. There are no microphones, and bascially one big room, tho
breakout sessions have spread into the little meeting room next door. But, it seems like a lot of good will come of this.

And yet I still just don't know what I personally want from it. My heart is just, in general, not in computers anymore. sigh.

Posted by steev at 01:46 PM | Comments (0)

Penguin Day

Today I'm going to Penguin Day at Free Geek. Penguin Day is a little symposium to bring together open source developers with non-profits. A worthy goal.

On one level I am excited, on another I have a sense of foreboding. For some time now I have
been frustrated with a life centered around computers. Lately I have been thinking more and more about this. It's great to do IT work for non-profits and other worthy causes, when compared to doing it for evil, money-hungry corporations. But, it's still computer work. It's still sitting in front of a screen for hours and hours and hours, when what I really want is.... something else. I'm not sure what or how.

Ever since a discussion at an indymedia media meeting last week about how to teach computer stuff to people who don't learn in standard, geekboy ways, I've been thinking about computers and just how much they cost in social and personal terms. That is, what someone has to give up in order to be proficient with computers, in one way or another. It's such a shame that computers require humans to change themselves, to adapt to the computer and how it functions, rather than the other way around, the computer adapting to the human.

I think about all the hours I have spent in my life learning or trying to learn some arcane thing to do with some bit of software or hardware, and all the hours I continue to spend doing that. And all the hours spent by all people all around the world. Everytime someone spends a moment trying to make a computer do something, that is a moment that person could be spending doing something else: having a conversation, taking a hike, swimming, reading a book, making love, going on a bike ride, tending a garden....

This is all obvious, and of course every activity is done at the expense of something else. I just feel like using a computer is one of the most soul-sucking, de-humanizing, unnatural ways to spend time. So far, I have used computers mostly because they allow me to do things I otherwise could not do, like make the kind of music or videos that I make. Maybe I need to keep that criterion more in mind as I decide what to do with my time.

Posted by steev at 10:38 AM | Comments (0)

Junio 23, 2004

Spamassassin let me down

Got into a big emotional exchange of harsh words today, in which I was accused of ignoring someone's emails and being ageist and sexist. I got defensive, whined about how busy I am, how deluged in email I am every day, but as the discussion continued specific emails got mentioned that I was almost certain I had never ever seen at all. Eventually I figured out they had been caught in my spam filter. About 10 in all emails from this person had been false positived in the last month or so. dammit. In my desparate attempts to curtail spam I think I have become too extreme in my spamassassin rules score settings. goddammit.

Posted by steev at 12:07 AM | Comments (1)

Junio 22, 2004


been reluctantly trying to learn more about CSS. not sure why. i guess i thought it would be useful for this site i'm setting up for Villa Ingenio, a neighborhood in Bolivia where some of the computers for Bolivia project computers are going to.

anyway i really should read this: Flowing and Positioning: Two Page Models

but have not had time yet.

Posted by steev at 05:02 PM | Comments (1)

Junio 21, 2004

blog tools

The blogosphere has been actively chattering about 6-apart's new MT licensing. I hadn't really thought too much about it but I started to today and its a pain in the ass. Even after this announcement from 6-apart, with changes in their new liscensing, it is still not acceptable.

What really is frustrating to me is I'd like to switch but there doesnt look to be any other blog tool written in perl that has all the features I want. I hate PHP but all the best tools seem to be written in that. grr.

Posted by steev at 04:55 PM | Comments (1)

Junio 16, 2004

mobile phone virus

So now someone has discovered a virus that infects mobile phones. Just what we need. Another reason not to buy another mobile, I guess. I've been thinking about it for months.

As Thoreau once said, "We have become the tools of our tools."


Posted by steev at 08:41 PM | Comments (0)

iPod pirate radio station

This article explains how to use your iPod to make a pirate radio station.

There's lots of great ideas for what to do with such a portable FM transmitter. One of my favorite is:

We usually keep a couple tracks of silence ready to go, ever get stuck at a stop light for like 10 minutes and the dude in the next car is blasting the radio? With the super easy iPod interface you can quickly get to the station he’s on and send over whatever you want, a couple gentle ocean waves or birds usually works out great.

Posted by steev at 10:29 AM | Comments (0)

Junio 08, 2004

blog spam & other technological woes.

Today for the first time, my blog started getting spammed. How freaking lame. Like I don't have enough trouble with email spam. Luckily, I know SQL and it was fairly simple to just go into the mySQL shell and mass-delete all the spam comments. But I also looked around for some methods of preventing blog spam, and I foung this handy article,
"Seven quick tips for a spam-free blog". I've done 2 of them already. Hopefully this doesn't become a huge problem...

In other news, one of my huge hard drives in my G4, the machine I edit video on, is dying, I think. The one with almost 120 gigs of various video files on it. Very annoying. I spent a few hours trying to deal with that, first seeing if i could repair it somehow with disk utilities, and then trying to copy off the most important stuff to other drives. I succeeded in getting the most high-priority footage from my most important current project off of the drive, so that was a relief.

I think I'm going to have to buy another one. And I don't really have the cash. ugh.

Posted by steev at 11:51 PM | Comments (0)

Junio 04, 2004

Disruptive Technologies

This article about wireless access points that run linux is pretty interesting. Lots of semi-utopian (capitalist-utopian) ideas about what to do with the things. But the point is that they are what Cringely, the author, calls a "disruptive technology." Cell phones, personal computers, and the internet itself are other examples of disruptive technologies. Yes.

The thing he fails to mention is that disruptions caused by disruptive technologies are not always a good thing. Nuclear fission is another disruptive techology. The powered looms that spawned the Luddites was another. The list could go on. It's like the assumption that all change is good that so many new economy business gurus preached. uh uh....

It brings to mind one of my favorite Marcuse quotes:

"The traditional notion of the 'neutrality' of technology can no longer be maintained."
-Herbert Marcuse, One-Dimensional Man

(thanx matisse)

Posted by steev at 08:24 AM | Comments (0)

Mayo 26, 2004

non-profit IT consulting for non-profits

I'm finally doing a little paying work, and it's for something I can get behind ethically for once, the
Collaborative Technologies project/group.

CollabTech is a relatively new project of Free Geek, the non-profit computer recycling/rebuilding/educating organization here in Portland.

CollabTech is like a consulting agency that does information technology contracting for non-profits. The idea is to help non-profit organizations that need IT work done but can't afford to or don't want to hire a regular consulting firm. If they can afford CollabTech's regular rates they do, and part of the money, theoretically, goes into a 'technology bank', which can be draw upon later to fund projects for other organizations that can't afford to pay as much.

CollabTech is still in proof-of-concept mode, finishing up it's first project for an organization called Homestreet, which runs several mental health facilities in the area. The project went way over schedule and over budget, and some people have had to leave to do other work, so I am filling in to so some of the last bit of perl programming. I'm not getting paid as much I'm used to, but it's for a good cause - actually 2 causes, both Homestreet and CollabTech/Freegeek. Not only are we helping Homestreet, but we're proving that the CollabTech model can work so it can go on to do more projects. And it's great working with this group of people too.

So, in other words, this is pretty palatable work. But I still sometimes wonder if I should putting more effort into finding totally different kind of work, something that isn't so computer-intensive.

During my trip I enjoyed not using computers so much, and really wanted to limit my usage when I got back. I suceeded for a while but I've almost slipped back now to levels of use from before my trip. I need to make a concious effort to cut down. Like one of my server's users says on his website: "The world today has many other pleasures and only a
small percentage of them involve pressing things
with the index finger."


Posted by steev at 10:04 AM | Comments (0)

Abril 28, 2004

I'm 2 of the many eyes

In the process of setting up a collective video editing studio, I looked into software for scheduling shared resources. I finally found a good, open source solution called Online Resource Scheduler.

But, I pretty quickly became stumped in the process of installing the thing, which is in the process of the newest version being in beta. Since I wasn't already in "production" I decided to risk it and try the beta. I was starting to regret that but I snooped around and discovered a clue, yet didn't know why it was happening. So I posted to the forum for the ORS sourceforge project and the main developer went back and forth with me for a bit and had a fix. in less than 24 hours!
Someone else on the forum complimented me for finding the bug in the beta.

For all my years of experience using open source software and exhorting the ideology of it, this is the first time something like that has happened, and it made me feel happy to be contributing, if not in code than in testing. I thought back to Eric Raymond's idea in "The Cathedral and the Bazaar" that open source is better because there are many eyes looking at the code. So, I'm happy to be one of those pairs of eyes today.

Posted by steev at 01:38 PM | Comments (0)

Abril 15, 2004

open source issues

I just read a good paper called Fundamental Issues with Open Source Development. It's interesting but pretty familiar.

It's sad but every once in a while someone will write a paper like this that hits the nail on the head about why open source software isn't quite making it out there to normal people, and a lot of people, myself included, say, yeah, yeah, those are definitely problems. But, nothing really changes and then another paper saying the same thing comes out, 9 months later, or whatever. I guess hackers will be hackers. Or maybe hackers will be slackers. hah.

Posted by steev at 04:22 PM | Comments (0)