bestkungfu weblog

Locating the problem

Filed in: culture, design, quotes, Wed, Jan 10 2007 08:30 PT

“I think there’s almost a belligerence—people are frustrated with their manufactured environment. We tend to assume the problem is with us, and not with the products we’re trying to use.”

Jonathan Ive, chief designer at Apple, in an article in Time magazine, 9 Jan 2007

Quotable quotes

Filed in: personal, quotes, Mon, Dec 6 2004 09:11 PT

Out of a week full of twists, turns and surprises, here are the two interactions I don’t want to get lost in the shuffle.

The first is from a conversation with my beloved colleague, Wendy Chisholm:

Wendy
“I got a great picture of you and Tim (Berners-Lee) at the party.”
Matt
“Really? Cool.”
Wendy
“Yeah. He was looking pretty bored.”

And the other from the often quotable Simon Hernandez, on the topic of the Proust questions each of us answered in our introductions:

“When they were asking the question of ‘What is your greatest fear?’, I was waiting for someone to say, ‘My greatest fear is farting in front of a roomful of people.”

Warning: contains tables

Filed in: quotes, Web, Sat, Apr 3 2004 00:45 PT

Remember the bad old days of the Web? Back when you used to be berated for not having a browser that supports frames, where Netscape and Microsoft threw out their own tags at random? Well, then, you’ll also remember that tables was one of those Netscapisms. But while browsing around today, I saw something that made me crack up while remembering that history. It’s from a page of Indigo Girls guitar tab:

NOTE: This file is made up of Netscape 1.1 tables. If everything below this point shows up as garbage on your machine, click here for a plain text version of the charts.

Campaign promises

Filed in: politics, quotes, Fri, Feb 20 2004 21:02 PT

And you thought “Don’t blame me, I voted for X” was preachy.

“Anyone who fails in the slightest way to fulfill this duty (to vote for the Islamic ruling party) will be answerable (to God) in this life and the next.”

Ayatollah Ali Meshkini, head of the Experts Assembly, in an AP article on the Iranian election, 20 Feb 2004

Dean: a shared hallucination?

Filed in: politics, quotes, Web, Thu, Feb 5 2004 01:07 PT

Howard Dean

The size of the (300-person) MeetUp in NYC was as much a testament to MeetUp as to Dean — it’s a wonderful tool for turning interest into attendance, but it created a false sense of broad enthusiasm. Prior to MeetUp, getting 300 people to turn out would have meant a huge and latent population of Dean supporters, but because MeetUp makes it easier to gather the faithful, it confused us into thinking that we were seeing an increase in Dean support, rather than a decrease in the hassle of organizing groups.

We’ve seen this sort of effect before, as when written correspondence on letterhead stopped being a sign of a solvent company, thanks to the desktop publishing revolution, or with the way email to politicians matters less than telegrams, because email is cheaper and easier to send. As we get the tools to make such gatherings easy, we need to concentrate on the outcome of those gatherings, rather than assuming strength simply by looking at the number of attendees.

Clay Shirky, in an article on the apparent failure of Howard Dean, 3 February 2004

Volvo parking and societal decline

Filed in: culture, quotes, vent, Mon, Jan 19 2004 03:05 PT

I’ve always been interested in people, but I’ve never liked them.

W. Somerset Maugham

There I was, parked a few blocks from Seattle Center. On my walk back to the car, I see a piece of paper on my windshield. Its full text reads (in a woman’s writing):

It takes a real-life ass hole (sic) to park behind a person & block them in!! Hope your bumper turns out ok.

Tx,
Have a great evening.

No contact information, naturally.

I then inspect the bumper of my 1984 Volvo 240DL (“Vo”). Sure enough, the plastic tabs holding the grille in are all broken, minor chrome damage, but nothing structural or worth replacing. I take some solace in knowing that the car that had backed intentionally into mine probably took more damage.

I don’t park too close to anyone. I can’t. I need more room to move around than anyone. To defend my position, I offer physics: if this car had no space to back up, it certainly wouldn’t have had enough kinetic energy to push my bumper in far enough to break my grille. Much more likely is the theory that the perp here doesn’t have a clue how to pull out of a space on a city street.

Which brings me to my biggest beef. What is it about America that everybody blames someone else for their actions, and flatly refuses to take responsibility for themselves? This woman not only knew that she had done damage to my car (and presumably that I don’t have comp and collision, because, well, it’s a 20-year-old Volvo), and instead of leaving contact information, instead of even a simple “I’m sorry, but you were parked too close”, I get insult and injury.

So, fine. A couple of zip ties later, Vo is once again ready to rock. A new grille will probably cost me $25 on eBay. If the other car is less than 10 years old, they’re looking at $500 if it’s a dime. Enjoy those repairs.

Instant karma’s gonna get you
Gonna look you right in the face
Better get yourself together, darling
Join the human race

Opportunity costs in software

Filed in: blogging, quotes, Tue, Jan 6 2004 04:10 PT

Me and Don Box, we’re like this. Okay, we’ve never met, and where he’s thinking Whidbey versus Everett I’m thinking Panther versus Debian, and where he’s thinking InfoPath I’m thinking XForms, and where he’s thinking Outlook 2003 I’m thinking Chandler. But we’re both from Seattle, we’re both working on our second blogging tool, we’re both screwing around with flat files, XML and databases, and we’re both reluctant to use other people’s stuff:

To answer the obvious “why don’t you just use {insert-existing-software-here}” question the answer is easy: leverage. By building my own engine (again), I get to have some experiences (and hopefully insights) I might not otherwise have if I just configured MT, dasBlog, or dotText. I also expect to have a smaller code base and can hopefully morph the engine more rapidly as I go along - I have a lot of ideas I want to try out and I lose that opportunity just installing some software.

Engaging in honest disagreements

Filed in: politics, quotes, Mon, Jan 5 2004 14:47 PT

I need to get back to Wyoming more. I have been too closeted in the company of my cyberghetto, where there is plenty of opportunity to breathe our own pious gasses. We use words like “evil” and “stupid” all too casually. Indeed, we have been behaving every bit as badly than the Republicans were during the Clinton Administration, and I’ve been as smug and supercilious as any of us.

I have to cut that out. We all do. We must engage one another in the kind of honest disagreements on policy that I’ve seen on this blog for the last few days. We must quit calling one another names. We must focus on what is right rather than who is right. We must learn, once more, how to hate the sin and not the sinner.

John Perry Barlow, learning the ropes on his new weblog

Web haiku

Filed in: quotes, Web, Tue, Dec 16 2003 00:22 PT

The World Wide Web is
the Sum of Human Knowledge
Click Here for Free Porn

From the W3C Technical Advisory Group face-to-face minutes, attributed to Gerald Oskoboiny, Wendy Chisholm, and Dan Connolly, 2 December 2003

(Something tells me the ratio of weird Google hits I get is going to increase after this…)

A keen grasp on understatement

Filed in: quotes, tech, Web, Tue, Nov 25 2003 19:13 PT

“Most people agree that RDF is kind of complex.”

Peter Van Dijck, in a article on semantic web themes in response to Clay Shirky’s The Semantic Web, Syllogism and Worldview

Actually, this is not only a good summary of the arguments and refutations of Shirky’s article, it may be the first decent application of Comic Sans I’ve seen since Comic Chat.

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