We Temporarily Interrupt Our Programming For A Geek Update

Firefox 3.5 and Fast Dial

I've updated to Firefox 3.5, and it is (as advertised) much faster than the previous version. Not a lot of obvious changes, except for a little button in the tab bar to open a new tab. The update went well except for my FastDial Add-on, which I've become quite fond of. Fast Dial, available here, makes a blog page that's a visual depiction of your favorite sites. It's a visualized bookmarks list. Here's a screenshot of my FastDial page:

I typed "firefox 3.5 fast dial" into Google, and ended up at : http://userlogos.org/node/8372?#comment-10495, which had easy advice on fixing it. I was glad to get my FastDial back.

Asteroids : The Movie?

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Universal has won a bidding war over the film rights to the classic Atari video game "Asteroids". In "Asteroids," initially released as an arcade game in 1979, a player controlled a triangular space ship in an asteroid field. The object was to shoot and destroy the hulking masses of rock and the occasional flying saucer while avoiding smashing into both.

There is no story line, defined character, or mythology, so the studio would be creating a plot from scratch. Universal is in the middle of doing just that for several of the Hasbro board game it is translating to the big screen, such as "Battleship" and "Candyland".

CrunchGear has an online poll asking, Would you rather watch this movie for 90 minutes, or play Asteroids for 90 minutes? So far, the game is winning 2:1.

Wired offers a somewhat sarcastic take on the movie.

CrunchPad Debuts Soon

The CrunchPad will be less than a laptop, less than a notebook, and less than a netbook. It's a flat-screen, wireless web browser. The design team's challenge has been, "What if the browser could boot without an OS? How different would the world be?"

This is going to be a browsing device only. No "lite" version of Word. You will be able to do word processing, etc via cloud services. This might be very interesting.

Offline Wikipedia on iPhone

Patrick Collison has written an application that puts an updated version of all Wikipedia text content onto your 8gb iPhone or iTouch. Very cool for when you're going to be off the grid but want access to the knowledge base.

Recently Facebook allowed people to register "vanity plate URLs" as their usernames. If you wanted and nobody else had claimed it, you could be "JennyDeluxe", or whatever struck your fancy.

At midnight Eastern time, Facebook members could pick user names for their profile URL’s that actually make sense, in place of the previous nonsensical numerical ones. (The numerical addresses look like this — http://blog.facebook.com/blog.php?post=90316352130 — which is also the Facebook page explaining the procedure.) To prevent name-squatting, people will not be able to sell or reassign usernames.

To say that it was a circus is to underestimate the land rush. As the registration system slowed down with the onslaught of requests, and as "not available" responses grew after the first easy claims were staked out, wits realized that Facebook Username can be abberviated "FU" and twitters on #FUFacebook become a trend.

As more and more common names were snatched up, frustration grew and blogs about The Facebook Username Debacle multiplied. Anil Dash blogs,
A white guy named David discovers every variation of his name on Facebook is already taken, realizes he will never get a representative username, and finally reconsiders the condescending contempt he's always had for black people who give their kids unique names. This tiny bit of racial reconsideration is the only unequivocally good news to come out of the Facebook Usernames Debacle.
That is one of the funniest things I've read about geeks and race. Admittedly, it's a narrow focus.

Tuesday: Firefox 3.5 available for download. This was originally called 3.1 a long time ago, but so many changes - most notably a much faster Javascript engine - have been packed into this update, they decided to go to 3.5.

Quarterly Google Love and State of the Blog Post

Google LoveWith the end of the quarter rolling around, it's time for my periodic Google Love and State of the Blog entry.

Something new that Google does that I love: When you search on: "metric widget pgh", it interprets "pgh" as "pittsburgh". Very cool.

These are some search terms that seem to drive people to my blog, along with the blog's placement in the Search Engine Report Page (SERP).
2009 steelers penguins pirates 1
2009 trifecta 1
allegheny alzheimers 1
blog pledge week 1
divorce 2.0 1
edwards ensign sanford 1
G-20 airplane 1
geezers gurus google 1
john edwards rehab 1
lamar billboard pittsburgh 1
pittsburgh bicycle politics 1
pittsburgh politics ravenstahl 1
PG-20RP 1
posinoia 1

mark sanford rehab 2
homestead labyrinth 3
cougar zero 5

ensign sanford 6
venn diagram geek 6
economy of trust 6

unenforceable contracts 7
burnout atc 7
pittsburgh g-20 resistance 7

netroots nation 2009 8
retirement messages 8

I find that almost every day, I get one person from Hong Kong searching on "unenforceable contract", and I usually get one person from Belgium or The Netherlands searching on "bike capes".

Also in somewhat-Google-news, on Sunday I got my first visitor who came to the blog using Bing.com, Microsoft's new Search Engine.

Confidence That Hosting G-20 Is A Great Idea : D=90

My compliments to Indexed.

Pittsburgh: POG G20 Resistance Update #1 I liked what they wrote about You’ve Got to Show Respect to Get Respect, and I liked what they said about external fundraisers.

BailOutPeopleMovement:    (website)     (blog)     (call to action)

Protests Set for Pittsburgh (BOPM press release)

UK Wombles: See You In The Rustbelt

G-20 Term of the Day: Kettling (verb) Also known as containment or corralling. Kettling is a police tactic for the management of large crowds during demonstrations or protests. It involves the formation of large cordons of police officers who then move to contain a crowd within a limited area. Protesters are prevented from leaving the area for several hours; as a result, detainees can be denied access to food, water and toilet facilities for a long period. The ostensible aim is to leave would-be violent protesters too tired to do anything but want to go home.

P-G Headline: City could need 4,000 police officers money quote: About 10,000 officers were on duty for the London G-20 meeting in April. What's the difference?

(Wire Sources) The world, stunned Thursday night at the unexpected death of the King of Pop, was mesmerized over the weekend by the wide effect of his death on world events.

Mourning Michael Jackson in Iran

Iran's Ahmadinejad with Michael JacksonIran's president blasted President Obama today for voicing criticism of unrest in the Islamic Republic, saying that Obama should pay more attention to America's tragic loss.

President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad criticized Obama for "ignoring the American people's grief as we see it on our Twitter deep-packet monitors... three days ago it was progaganda and lies about our country, but now all we see in the Twitter stream is the anguish over Michael Jackson's death. I, too, grieve the loss of my friend MJ. He touched my soul and gave me the confidence to represent my people. As MJ himself taught me, "Say it Loud: Who's bad? I'm bad!"

Armistice in Sadr City, Memorials in Baghdad

Pittsburgh Deidre Rutherford mourns Michael JacksonAlthough official sources have not confirmed these reports, there has been no media coverage of any conflict in Iraq since Jackson's death. Pittsburgh downsizing consultant Deidre Rutherford said, "I was traveling on business, and this morning at the airport all the CNN monitors were yada-yada about 85 people killed in a martyrdom operation. But later in the day when I came back, all the networks were talking about was Michael Jackson. It's a miracle how the violence subsided, it shows how widely MJ was loved."

Michael Jackson statue in Baghdad at site of former Saddam Hussein statueMichael Jackson Thriller statue in BaghdadIn Baghdad, on the pedestal in Fardus Square where the statue of Saddam Hussein was toppled as the world watched, a new sculpture has risen - a tribute to Michael Jackson bearing the word NAJEEN (which means "survivor") across its base. In this statue, MJ is presented as he was depicted on his "HIStory" album.

Family: We Should All Just Let Michael Jackson Go

Numerous media critics have spoken out about various factions trying to appropriate MJ's legacy and the mantle of his credibility. In Yorba Linda, California, at the Nixon Memorial Library, photos of Michael Jackson and a man presumed to be former President Nixon were placed in a position of prominence.
Michael Jackson and a person believed to be former President Nixon
Responding to the outcry, LaToya Jackson twittered "we all just need to let go of Michael and get on with our own lives, which BTW I'll be opening at the Sands on Ju". The rest of her message was apparently lost due to a 140-character technical constraint that is now being investigated.


Movie Cameo: Michael Jackson in The Hobbit

Tolkien fans have been rocked at the posthumous announcement that Michael Jackson had begun filming as the Smeagol / Gollum character in the upcoming two-movie series The Hobbit, scheduled to be released in December 2011 and December 2012. MJ's work as Smeagol, a vulnerable hobbit who was corrupted by his addiction to seductive dark forces, and who lost his original identity and nature to become a reshaped, despicable halfling, seemed to come to him naturally. Peter Jackson (not a relative) said, "It was Fran Walsh who pitched MJ for the role, and he stepped into it like he'd been playing it for decades. It was remarkable; you couldn't take your eyes off it." The effect of MJ's demise on the movie projects is unknown.

Hollywood Grieves Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett

Everyman Greg Packer, man in the streetThe American entertainment industry was grieving multiple losses, coming to terms with the loss of icon Farrah Fawcett from anal cancer in addition to MJ's death. At one of several impromptu hybrid tribute sites dedicated to both entertainers, fans enjoyed comparing and contrasting the two performers. "It's simple", said man on the street Greg Packer, an "everyman" observing the discussion. "She was an entertainer who loved kids and died of anal cancer, and the other was an entertainer who was a sick asshole".

Farrah FawcettMichael Jackson, before and after

Great Bicycle News : Pedicabs and Bike Rentals

Green Gears Pedicabs in Pittsburgh

Green Gears Pedicabs opens shop in Pittsburgh. I want to work there! This would be a great job.

Trib Review: Pittsburgh Increasingly Bike Friendly

Today's article carried lots of good info about measures of increased bicycle riding around the city, and also some specific info I was glad to see.

Golden Triangle Bike Rental has opened another location, and that makes me happy. This was a scrappy start-up that invested in Pittsburgh bicycling before the Burgh embraced Bikes, and just as they were about to break through, they faced a major challenge when Coca-Cola spent $65,000 on a marketing program providing a fleet of free daily bicycles for public use.

Is that generally a good thing? Almost always. When is that a bad thing? When you've bet your savings on a bike rental business, and Coke starts giving your product away for free as a gimmick. It seems like the Dasani Blue Bikes campaign was the straw that broke the camel's back, and the business closed. I think Golden Triangle got a tough deal on that, and I'm pleased to see the new owners are expanding.

Hump Day

Also, it must be said: Six Months Till Christmas.

Spitzer : In Before the Haircut

In my recent post, The Unfortunate Rehabiliation of Eliot Spitzer, I speculated as to the timing of Spitzer's rehab campaign. I concluded that the economic crisis was a rich opportunity for Spitzer to demonstrate his expertise, and that he chose to act before (former Senator) John Edwards filled the rehab space and got the works all smarmy.

The Crowded Rehabilitation Space

Spitzer's timing was impeccable. Last week, John Edwards launched the first major salvo of his Trail of Tears Comeback Tour. Edwards went about the whole thing in a more cunning, savvy way than Spitzer. Edwards never did the Confession-With-Wife photo opportunity; those pictures last forever on the internet, and really preclude any return to the game - which is what the whole thing is really about. They're not seeking Rehabiliation or Remission, they're seeking a Return With Benefits (RWB).

Edwards also designed his campaign more like a true battle plan. First he sent his cancer-stricken wife out to soften the opposition with a book tour. Truly a courageous man, he sent her out alone to face questions like, "Do your children have a sister?" (start at time 6:38) It's a shame they're not calling for new chapters for Profiles In Courage.

Let's talk about John Edwards. He denied he had a relationship, he denied they had a child, he denied that he was in the photo. When they announced his affair, they wrapped it in the story of his wife's returned cancer. Happily, her cancer has not affected her book tour. What a move!

After Mrs. Edwards softened up the media and took all the first blows on her own, John Edwards arranged to give an exclusive interview to the Washington post on the condition that they not ask anything about his downfall. What a move!

The article, Hope From a Humbler Perch, portrays Edwards as "post-scandal", "humbler", and "re-purposed" in the sub-headline. That's a powerful sub-head.

Slate's Mickey Kaus writes,
... (Alec) MacGillis also buries a solid lede: The last web page of his piece features an impressive, reported survey of broken Edwards promises to various actual impoverished Americans--scholarship programs cancelled, Katrina foreclosure cases unaided--complete with victim quotes. Who was the editor who decided to call this piece "Hope from a Humbler Perch" instead of, say, "In Defeat, Edwards Left String of Broken Promises"?

Humbler, saintly John offers the Washington Post these self-serving platitudes:
"The two things I'm on the planet for now are to take care of the people I love and to take care of people who cannot take care of themselves."

"If you were to ask people during the campaign who's talking most about poverty, it was me. There's a desperate need in the world for a voice of leadership on this issue. . . . The president's got a lot to do, he's got a lot of people to be responsible for, so I'm not critical of him, but there does need to be an aggressive voice beside the president."

He thinks "every day" about what form his future role in activism or public life could take, but "right now, a lot of that is unanswerable." ... [snip]

If I can help the most by working quietly, that's what I'll do. If as time goes by I can be more helpful with a public role, that's what I will do.

The Washington Post, which used to discover and cover politician's foibles (Watergate) now seems to be craving the rehabilitation niche - they've given positive experiences to both Spitzer and Edwards.

Edwards has taken the field and conducted his first two Rehab Rounds in a relative vacuum. He's probably waiting for a noble opportunity to serve to present itself. He might need to wait until Eliot Spitzer completely redeems himself, which is well underway.

Fortunately, John Edwards completed his second round before Senator John Ensign announced that he'd dallied with a woman subordinate from his office (a high-school classmate of Mrs. Ensign and the wife of another subordinate). He's apologized to - wait for it, wait for it - the Senate for his poor judgement. He may be a victim himself, we're told. John Edward's timing is perfect.

Then, to really reinforce Edwards' lucky timing, South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford returned from hiking the Appalachian Trail enjoying a wilderness adventure visiting his "dear, dear friend" in Argentina. Governor Sanford has forthrightly acknowledged he's "going to be in the recovery process for quite a while", and has resigned from - wait for it, wait for it - a self-help committee of Republican governors.

All Have Sinned and Fall Short....

(link) Lest I seem a moralist, let me attempt to make my point: I really don't care that these married people had affairs. I don't care if they prefer men, women, or combinations. They made mistakes, and that's what people do. Their children, families, and lives will suffer but personally - I truly don't care. There's clearly a lot of these folks on both sides of the aisle, politicians and preachers, and they (and their spouses) would be an interesting study.

I care that they lack the character to withdraw from public life.
I care that they continue to take public money.
I care that they assume that their political redemption is assured.
I care that America is selecting leaders of poor calibre.
I really prefer the way Mr. Profumo handled himself, in a similar situation.

Abraham, Martin, John & Bobby they're not

Obligatory Pittsburgh Sports Metaphor - -
They're not Tinkers to Evers to Chance, either


Venn Diagrams : A Chart Geek's Favorites

I've heard of Multiple Personality Disorder. If there were such a thing, I'd have Multiple Geek Syndrome (MGS). In fact, I do have MGS, but I prefer to think of it as a feature rather than a bug.

I am many kinds of geek. Info Geek. Bike Geek. Airplane Geek. Map Geek. And: Chart Geek. I really love a good chart. Let's talk charts. One of the types of charts that I like, and that translate well to the general population (a euphemism for non-chart-geeks), are Venn Diagrams.

Charts are symbolic representations of the world. They can describe complex things without many words. Charts are awesome. Sometimes, part of the trick is understanding the implications of the chart design - what it implies, what it denies, etc.

One of my favorite charts types is Venn Diagrams. Venn diagrams are exhaustive in that they show all possible intersections of various sets. Because it is difficult to depict these intersections in two dimensions, Venn's own diagrams only described the relationships of up to four sets, which he used ellipses to depict. This report uses Venn's four-ellipse-set to describe the intersection of the insect and human genome.

Subsequent work has extended Venn diagrams into four, five, and six sets. This includes the work mathematician Charles Dodgson, otherwise known as the writer Lewis Carroll, who depicted a Venn diagram of six sets.

A.W.F. Edwards created symmetrical constructions of Venn diagrams with higher numbers of sets. He projected the Venn diagram onto a sphere, depicted the intersections on the surface of the sphere, and then projected the resulting sets back to the plane to give cogwheel diagrams with increasing numbers of teeth.

Call to Action

I have not come across any photos of Venn diagram tattoos. If you've got one, please send it over. Thanks, Vannevar.

A Mathematician's Memorial

A.W.F. Edwards also designed this stained glass window commemorating John Venn, which is placed in the Hall of Gonville and Caius College at Cambridge University, England.

A Euler Diagram is a further development of Venn Diagrams, but Euler Diagrams are not required to be exhaustive; they do not need to show all possible intersections of sets, and they can show non-intersections as well.

Venn diagrams have moved beyond arcane set theory (as enjoyable and satisfying as that can be) into the sphere (sorry) of art. So let me say that understanding Venn diagrams is something to hope for, possibly even something to pray for:

Best Non-Mathematical Venn Diagram I've Ever Seen

Without further ado, I'd like to introduce the Venn diagram that I saw today, which prompted me to write this post. It's the best Venn Diagram I've ever seen. I really appreciate how he uses the nuance of the various intersections to draw out the suggested strategies.
Best Venn Diagram Ever: How To Be Happy In Business

Knowledge is Justified True Belief

Knowledge is Justified True Belief

This Venn diagram depicts Plato's epistomological assertion that "knowledge is justified true belief".

Make Your Own Venn Diagrams

If you'd like to make your own Venn Diagrams, try Venny, an online Venn-Maker.

Venn Small Amusements

(click for originals, links open in new window)