Last weekend, I went to see the Cal-Washington basketball game at Berkeley. Before that, I had seen four sporting events: a Yankees game, a Mets game, an A’s game, and Cal at Stanford basketball. In every case, the home team lost, and only in one case did I want the home team to lose. But this time, Cal won at home. Finally! I was starting to think I was cursed…


I just watched Steve Jobs’ Macworld keynote introducing the iPhone. Boy, he is a great speaker. His reality distortion field was in full force — an article in Palm Infocenter argues that iPhone’s phone features aren’t new (but they’re sure slick). In contrast, the CEO of Cingular was stiffly reading off of index cards for five minutes. I think any CEO should be able to talk that long without notes, or at most one index card.

Unfortunately, I read in and Gizmodo that the iPhone will indeed be a closed platform. Boo! Even lousy low-end phones can download Java apps. I hope Daniel is right and that Apple backs down somewhat by next year. I’ll settle for HTML and JavaScript Widgets at this point…

It’s a geek’s dream week: CES and Macworld. There have been two announcements that have caught my attention.

A photo of HP's MediaSmart ServerThe first is Microsoft’s Windows Home Server, which will be sold by HP and other vendors. It makes it easy to share files and stream video, music, and photos to PCs and Xbox 360s at home, access your files remotely, and automatically backup your data onto the server’s hard drives, which you can add or replace while the server is on. It’s aimed at homes who have more than one PC. The server does not have a display, keyboard, or mouse; you administer it on the PCs you already have via a web browser. And you wouldn’t have to do much administering at all — the user interface looks to be quite simple.

Some geeks are already proclaiming that there’s no need for Windows Home Server, since there are already open-source NAS that you can install on top of a Linux box. Give me a break: Windows Home Server is meant for people who don’t know what “NAS” stands for and don’t want to administer a Linux box. I want one.

A photo of Apple's iPhoneThe second announcement is, of course, Apple’s new iPhone. It looks absolutely stunning, and the user interface looks way beyond any other phone or PDA out there. But now I have a few burning questions.

  • Can I write my own programs for the iPhone? It has some version of OS X.
  • How does the iPhone’s OS X compare to Mac’s OS X?
  • Can I upgrade the iPhone’s software like I can upgrade a Mac?
  • Can I get access to the accelerometer, proximity sensor, or ambient light sensor?

If I can write iPhone applications, then the iPhone would make a wonderful research platform for mobile devices. If not… well, it wouldn’t surprise me, since Apple has a history of being closed (see the iPod). I hope they prove me wrong.

First, Aaron McGruder ends The Boondocks. Then Lynn Johnston puts For Better or For Worse on hiatus. And now Bill Amend is converting FoxTrot to a Sunday-only strip. Argh!

Normally I don’t remember my dreams, but this one was intense. I got on a subway car with a few other friends, and the sign that had the route number also said “no conductor.” I wondered why. Then as the subway started, it suddenly plunged down a huge ramp and then did corkscrews. This part of the subway was a roller coaster!

Maybe they should do this in real life. In the San Jose area, public transit is pretty slow, so they should at least make it entertaining…

I’ve struggled with finding the right balance of descriptiveness and privacy in my Flickr photos account. Up to now, I’ve almost completely avoided displaying people’s names, because I think it’s a little creepy to be able to go to someone’s photos, and search for someone else to see what they’ve been doing. On the other hand, I ended up with vague, somewhat tortured names like “Wedding in Palos Verdes” or “Entertaining visitors to the Bay Area.”

So I’m going to start using people’s first names in some circumstances. For example, “Entertaining visitors to the Bay Area” is now “Matt and Laurel’s visit”. It makes more sense to me and to those who know them, and those who don’t know them don’t care anyway. I’m still not using last names, nor am I tagging photos with people’s names.

I’m curious to see how people’s privacy expectations online will evolve. They’re generally willing to put up a lot of information without much thought as to who can see it. For example, at CSCW I saw a talk by Cliff Lampe, a Michigan State professor, who said he announced to his class that he had read all of their Facebook profiles, and that you could see each student mentally going through what they had put in their profiles and their resulting grimaces.

It’s amazing how much time you can sink watching videos online:

Robot Chicken is a satirical stop-motion animation show on Cartoon Network. For example, take a look at how the Emperor reacts when he finds out the Death Star was destroyed. (Thanks to Brian.)

Line Rider is a Flash-based game where a little guy goes sledding down the lines you draw on the screen. There are dozens of Line Rider videos online — some of the drawings get really elaborate. (Thanks to Bill Buxton.)

Here’s a “kinetic art movement” project by Tim Fort. It’s way more than dominos. (Thanks to Clemens.) Reminds me of the Honda “Cog” commercial.

See Sacha Baron Cohen (of Ali G and Borat fame) like you’ve never seen him before: normal.

I was intrigued by the music in the TV commercial for “Gears of War,” an Xbox 360 game. The song is “Mad World,” sung by Gary Jules for the movie Donnie Darko. And it turns out that the song is originally by Tears for Fears.

Another melancholy song: “Missing” by Everything but the Girl is one of my favorite songs from the 90s.