« October 2007 | Main | December 2007 »

November 2007 Archives

November 3, 2007

Spare Me

The Times reports on insta-sympathy and baring all to the world and there's plenty of examples like this one, from Vimeo founder Jakob Lodwick:

“For example, if I get in a fight with Julia, I’ll take a picture of her with my iPhone and send it to my Tumblr with the caption, ‘She is mad at me,’” he wrote in an e-mail message. “This saves me from catching up one-on-one with my friends and family. They just know we had a fight. So next time I talk to them directly, they are already caught up with me, and the conversation picks up from there.”
Puh-freaking-leeze. Here's an idea: keep your drama to yourself Azrael. Have your little spat, take your licks in private (like a real man) and show a lying, tear-choked brave face to your friends and family. Works for the rest of us.

November 8, 2007

The Danger Architect

A couple years back, I blogged about the Frank Gehry-designed Lewis building at Case Western (and posted a buncha pictures, too.) And today, on Valleywag I see that MIT is going after Gehry for similarly negligent design flaws (yes, yes—all of this is alleged at this point) in their Strata Center. I have no comment on this development. I just think it's worth noting.

Update, 11/26: Sounds like working inside the Strata Center is a real dream, too.

November 9, 2007

Cool in Columbus: The Strake

Friend and fellow Columbus techie (and potential Coworker?) Jason Long has a new tumblelog up called The Strake. I've been after Jason for a while now to start a blog, cause he's an interesting guy with a great perspective—an independent programmer and designer, active in the local Rails community, and a father as well. He's really managed to carve out a cool space for himself. I think his blog already reflects that sensibility. Color me subscribed!

The Edison Bump

Columbus Mayor Mike Coleman was re-elected this week in a landslide victory. Mere weeks after his very public appearance with our son Edison.

Coincidence? I think not.

Coleman has been the first recipient (there will be many more, I am convinced—our kid's a lucky charm) of what I am calling 'The Edison Bump.' Watch yourself Colbert!

On a related note… didn't a buncha local bloggers interview Coleman and a handful of City Council members a while back? I half-heartedly waited for some substantive updates to trickle out of that session but.. um.. nothing. And now the election's come and gone. (One wonders if Coleman will set a 'freshness date' on his next round of blogger interviews?)

C'mon Columbusing! You just got scooped by a 6-month old!

November 12, 2007

Of Asymmetrical Warfare and a Sticky Grenade to the Face

Fun article on Wired that touches on some things that've been on my mind lately (specifically, Leaderboards, Rankings and the motivational/strategic impact they can have on a community's partisans.) Clive Thompson has adopted a 'take no prisoners' suicide strategy in Halo 3 and—suddenly—the motivation behind real-life suicide bombers makes some kinda sense to him:

I, however, have a completely different psychology. I know I'm the underdog; I know I'm probably going to get killed anyway. I am never going to advance up the Halo 3 rankings, because in the political economy of Halo, I'm poor.

Specifically, I'm poor in time. The best players have dozens of free hours a week to hone their talents, and I don't have that luxury. This changes the relative meaning of death for the two of us. For me, dying will not penalize me in the way it penalizes them, because I have almost no chance of improving my state. I might as well take people down with me.

Lately I've been wondering what the effect on gameplay would be on Xbox Live if all Reputation indicators (numerical, statistical, comparative and the like) were to go away altogether.

Also, worth noting: I am in roughly the same set of circumstances as Thompson (time-deprived, new kid, full-time job, etc.) Yet I somehow manage to derive great pleasure from my once-or-twice a week H3 sessions, beyond just adopting a lame 'die with teeth' strategy. I daresay, when the magic strikes, that I can be pretty damn good at the game. Even against a buncha hair-trigger 14-year-olds.

It certainly helps that I never feel as if I'm competing with "the top players" in the game. I'm just tryin' to hold my own. With H3, the addition of a richer per-game incentive system helps a lot here. It's nice to be acknowledged as a game VIP, even if half your team in Big-team Battle quit 3 minutes into the first round.

You hear this argument alot on Halo ~ that good players "have nothing but time on their hands" while my lack of skill? Harrumph… well… "I have a LIFE, loser!" I suppose it's a natural impulse to believe that, but I don't think it entirely holds water. Sometimes, people just suck at things.

November 15, 2007

Two Ruggy Years

Boy, I really muffed that—I had thought that yesterday was our 2-year anniversary with Kirby. Turns out that it was last week, on November 7. Well, he's still a wonderful dog, either way. Here's to you Kirby—may we have many more happy years with you and your toxic fart clouds.

Eric Bachmann at Andyman's Treehouse

I saw an amazing show last night at Andyman's Treehouse (I feel compelled to explain to those readers not from Columbus: it's a bar with a tiny back room. The tiny back room has an enormous tree growing up through the floor and out the ceiling. Music acts play there. Watching from behind the tree is not recommended.)

I have no energy left tonight to describe the show, so I point you to this excellent Interview With Eric Bachmann over on donewaiting.com. (By the incomparable Stephen 'Slayballs' Slaybaugh.)

November 19, 2007

Notes from the first Columbus Coworking Meetup

On Wednesday night, a group of us met at Crimson Cup coffee in Clintonville (or Beechwold. Or both, depending on who you ask) to discuss the idea of starting a coworking space in Columbus. (This is something I've written about before.) James Bentley and I coordinated the meeting (we found each other several weeks ago on the Columbus Coworking wiki page and have had a handful of phone calls and a couple working lunches since then) and we were both very pleasantly surprised at the turnout: 12 in attendance, including James and myself. And this from a fairly limited amount of promotion (just a couple Columbus message boards and one mailing list for local ruby developers.)

But even more encouraging? The professionalism and legitimacy of those in attendance. (You know, sometimes you throw these ideas out to the public, and you're never quite sure what you're gonna get: some goth kid that wants a place to write his 'fan-fics' and an insect-collector with a twitchy eye and mother issues..) No, these folks were as handsome and respectable a cross-section of Columbus' creative class as one could hope for: we had everyone from remote workers for companies in other states to independent contractors to local entrepreneurs (Alex Hutton's company employs folks from their homes in all 4 corners of Columbus!) Michelle Crandall was a welcome addition to the mix—she's Director of Administrative Services for the City of Dublin and had some great insight into how to make our coworking efforts appeal to Columbus city administrators.

We had a great discussion—I've posted some meeting notes over on the coworking wiki if you're really interested. Also, following the meeting, I set up a Google Group for Columbus Coworking which I encourage you to join, whether you'd like to become involved or would merely like to monitor our progress in the weeks and months ahead.

A couple of us (Alex, Jason Long, James and myself) grabbed dinner after the meeting and bounced around a couple more ideas—one that I'm really liking is the thought of having weekly or bi-weekly informal coworking sessions: basically, taking over a different area Panera for 6 hours on a Friday, or something like that. (See Jelly or Ann Arbor's Microcoworking.) I especially like that this is something we can do almost immediately, with no overhead, until an actual physical location becomes a reality. We'll probably be discussing this over at the new group. Join us, won't you?

Ah, Sony Metreon we hardly knew ye

My friend Erik points out the latest ugly incident at San Francisco's Sony Metreon. In a way, this makes me sad.

As Eric points out, the urban mall was indeed lauded at the time it opened for being high-concept, high-rent and family friendly. They used to have cool exhibits (a Maurice Sendak "Where the Wild Things Are" one that literally spilled out all over the second-floor, and a cool "How Things Work" one as well. I never saw that one.)

The second-floor arcade was designed by Moebius, fer chrissakes. Add in retail stores from Microsoft (this was shortly after the first few Apple Stores had opened, and I think M$ was maybe under the delusion that they could buy a couple-thousand square feet of cool, too) and Sony. On paper, it was truly a great mall. (Yes, just a mall, still — the emphasis was undeniably on retail and consumption.) But it was evident, even early on, that something was… off about the place.

The arcade games (which were custom-built games, from what I could tell) were kinda… lame. Yeah, there was that one where you bowled an enormous bowling ball from the top of Pacific Heights and down into the streets of San Francisco. But that was fun for, oh, about 6 minutes.

And it was obvious that the only real reason most folks came down to the Metreon was for the movie theaters. Those were at capacity for just about every show. (My wife and I adopted a strategy—we used to go down there on Saturday mornings around 10am for new releases. Just about the only time of the weekend when you'd have at least a little seat selection.)

And, of course, being an urban mall, the movie theaters overwhelmingly attracted one demographic: smelly, noisy and sometimes-violent teenagers. It wasn't uncommon to see fights down there.

The Microsoft store sank within 6 months, and was replaced by some off-brand 'technology store' (selling most of the same high-tech crap, but w/no MS endorsement or merch.)

To be honest, I'm surprised to hear that the Metreon is still open at all. It's been ~6 years since we moved away, and it was already on a visible down-hill slide by the time we left.

November 22, 2007

Crooksville Needs a Posse

The new Flickr places are cool! But… dang, someone should tell Crooksville that! (My mom was born in Crooksville and it's been years since I've been back. Was kinda hoping to get a glimpse of the ol' place. (Oh, wait… plain ol' geo-less tags come through again.)

Update, 3 mins later: Yes, I am that guy.

November 24, 2007

Questionable Choice

I'll claim ignorance of most of the titles on this year-end list of "Great Graphic Novels for Teens". But… but… Identity Crisis?!

Yeah, it was good, no doubt about it. (Tho, I will point out, written in 2004 which would seem to disqualify it for a 2007 list.) But… for teens? Did I read a different Identity Crisis than this one? Cause I could swear that the one I read featured Dr. Light raping Sue Dibny on the Justice League satellite for cryin' out loud.

Hardly teen fare. (To be honest, I'm more than a little embarrassed to have read it as a 35-year-old man.) Makes me question the ALA's selection process, for sure.

List found on the List of Lists. Which I found via Waxy.

November 26, 2007

More Metreon, and the plight of the urban mall concept

After my reminiscences about the Sony Metreon, fellow Yahoo! Andy Proehl weighed in (via email, posted here with his permission):

It is no longer affiliated with Sony. I worked at Sony for about 10 years in their design group. I was running their San Francisco product and interface design studio when Metreon was being developed (part of Sony Electronics, not associated with Metreon). It was an ill-fated enterprise almost from the start. At some level, it is a good citizen of the city with good connections between the building and the adjoining Yerba Buena Park. But ultimately it suffers from exactly what you mention... the ambitions were that it would not be a mall but some sort of experimental entertainment complex. But in the end, it is basically a mall and not a good one at that. It is a real lesson in concept design... new concepts are great on the drawing board but almost always end up being compared to something that already exists when its launched.

Anyway, only the theaters performed well financially (which ironically generated little revenue for Sony) so they finally sold the complex to a company that owns a bunch of malls across the country. I think they sold it a couple of years ago. The only remnants of Sony are now the SonyStyle store and the Playstation store as tenants. The new owners will probably have the same struggles unless a major renovation is done.
I really appreciate Andy's unique insight. All of this puts me in mind of Columbus' ongoing woes with City Center (pretty good summary on Wikipedia. I know that there are a number of proposals being vetted right not for what to do with City Center.

I'd say, let the Metreon stand as a cautionary tale: even with heavyweight financial backers (hello, Sony?! Microsoft?!) and in the middle of an undeniably first-class American city, the 'urban mall' is a tricky mix to get right.

Update 11/28: Added a link to Andy's blog, which looks excellent. Amen, brother. Amen.

November 27, 2007

New Comment System

Just a quick bit of blog administrivia. I'm trying out a new commenting system, one provided by Disqus. I've had the Movable Type commenting system throttled back (requiring a Typekey sign-in, which many people don't want to bother with) for quite a while now—so long, in fact, that I I fear I've just about completely killed any two-way dialog on the site.

But it was either that or spend hours a week deleting comment-spam. I'm hoping that Disqus makes good on its promise ("Disqus takes care of spam so you don't have to.") I've got it set to accept anonymous comments and I'll be playing with the layout and settings a bit in coming days. (I'll wait to see if anyone starts commenting to decide if it's worth the bother!)

One cool thing about the system is that comments left here will be mirrored in the site's discussion forum (and vice versa.) So… if the mood strikes you… leave a comment, please, and tell me who you are! This site has been a pretty lopsided conversation for long enough.

November 28, 2007

Comics Pet Peeve: Character Designs Based on Actors

Something that I think may be getting out of hand lately: comics artists who design their characters in obvious reference to this-or-that Hollywood actor. I'm thinking specifically of J.G. Jones designs for 'Wesley' and The Fox in Wanted (which, yes, is coming out soon as a major motion picture.) It takes about two panels to identify their real-life inspirations as, respectively Eminem and Halle Berry.

But you can find similar examples sprinkled all around comic-dom. Sometimes, it seems done for more specific artistic purposes (eg. Robert Mitchum's face lending Astro City's Steeljack just the right hint of world-weary, beat-down integrity.) But why, specifically, does Mr. Revise reference David Niven in the Jack of Fables books? (Of course he's intended to look like Niven—Willingham even makes a joke about it in Vol. 2 of the series.)

Particularly in the case of Wanted, it bothers me for a couple of reasons. First, it's distracting, and takes me outside the world of the comic. I spent way too much time speculating "Why the hell does he look like Eminem?" rather than focusing on the story.

Secondly, it's creatively lazy. I suspect that these designs are intended as some kind of shorthanded cultural pastiche: by referencing Eminem, Jones and Millar are imbuing Wesley with a dimensionality and 'mouth feel' that they don't have to fully paint for you. But they're also (conveniently) forgoing the need to fully develop a new design, and think about all the facial and emotional variations that will truly make the character work. I mean really—what does an uncanny resemblance to Halle Berry really tell us about the character of The Fox? She's hot? She's black? She can't act?

Finally, I can't help but wonder how the actors themselves feel about such overt identity-ripping. I wonder—did they receive any compensation for the use of their likenesses? (Do you suppose the producers for the upcoming Wanted film even briefly considered Berry for the Fox role? I bet not. That must sting.)

November 29, 2007

Erin's Back

My old friend and several-times-over boss Erin Malone has started blogging again. Erin's the newly-minted User Experience Director for the Yahoo! Developer Network (and a helluva photographer, IA, dog-and-cat lover, and a buncha other stuff too.) So I'd keep an eye on her blog, if I were you.

Return to Bottle Cube Mountain

This is an oldie but a goody. It was actually the second thing I ever posted to this blog, but the old .Mac location that entry pointed to went bye-bye a loong time ago. So here it is again. Enjoy.

About November 2007

This page contains all entries posted to Soldier Ant in November 2007. They are listed from oldest to newest.

October 2007 is the previous archive.

December 2007 is the next archive.

Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.


Subscribe to feed Subscribe to my feed
Powered by FeedBurner
Creative Commons License
This weblog is licensed under a Creative Commons License.
Powered by
Movable Type 3.33