Archive for December, 2008

Drink the water

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

I’m in Vienna for the next few days over Christmas. Boarding the train leaving the airport, I was reminded of one of my favorite Vienna facts by the info screens. In the late 1800s, the city constructed two aqueducts to bring in water from the alps. That’s right, in Vienna unadulterated mountain spring water comes straight out of the tap and it’s delicious.

Invert-Z

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Vulnerable iPhone

First person shooter video games often have the option to “invert Z axis” as part of the controller scheme. Normally when you press down, the character’s gun points down. When inverted, the camera will look up when you press down. Inverted Z movement was actually the traditional behavior in games. Players using joysticks with flight simulators would naturally pull back on the stick to bring the nose of the plane up. It was when gamepads became more abundant that regular Z movement became standard. The stick/pad is much shorter and you just point where you want to shoot. That doesn’t mean inverted Z is “wrong” in newer games. The game is showing you the perspective of the player. If you think of the view being generated by a camera on a tripod you would push down on the tripod’s handle to make the camera look up. I used to play with Z inverted, but I’ve learned to play normally with recent console generations.

Right now I’m typing this on a MacBook. I use two fingers on the trackpad to scroll. As I sweep down, the text on the page goes up. Sweep up, and the page text moves down. When I switch to the iPhone or the ADP1, my fingers and the text move in the same direction. On these devices, the direct interaction with the text “makes sense”, but going back to standard scrolling on a computer just seems odd.

I wonder if we’ll start inverting Z again.

Berlin 2007

Sunday, December 21st, 2008

Laser tagging Berlin

I looked back to see if I had done any blogging last year over the course of my six week trip. Much to my delight: I had (I also found IM IN UR MANGER KILLING UR SAVIOR). Never avoid blogging because it feels narcissistic; you will write things that you’d otherwise forget and you’ll appreciate seeing it again. Reposting it, like I’m about to do, definitely is narcissism. Most of the trip was brought to you by my missing N95-3.

Things I found: I made a video while procrastinating packing which talks about my elaborate GrandCentral forwarding. I wrote about learning German by context and my love of a 24hr city. The trip actually started in Vienna where we made cocktails in cement mixers, hunted for vegetarian food, and Flo gave me the only haircut I’ve had all year. I provided a rather concise review of Prague. It doesn’t come up in my closing post, but I remember being ready to come home by the end of the trip.

B-b-b-back in Berlin

Saturday, December 20th, 2008

LAX

(Yes, that’s LAX)

I arrived in Berlin three days ago. I’m here for the Chaos Communication Congress just like last year. When I booked my roundtrip, I chose dates that were three weeks apart (I return on January 6th) under the auspices of saving money by avoiding the holiday. Prices have since dropped, but I’m glad I’m here for the extended period. I’m not really in a position to take a vacation, so any change of locale is beneficial.

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Open letter

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Dear Charles de Gaulle,

You suck at designing airports. Upon landing, you taxi forever, presumably getting closer to the airport, just to be dumped onto the tarmac in the freezing cold. You’re then loaded onto buses and driven to the terminal. The exposure to the elements is actually teaching you to wear your jacket, since you’ll need the warmth no matter where you are in the terminal. You then navigate a maze and are rewarded with passport control. Play close attention to all announcements, “The deaf dumb women in the terminal is a scam”; you’ll find them above the TGV station. Cross the terminal, clear the helpful security, and you’re ready to wait for your flight. The quantity of seats in the terminal is based on the average number of travelers at any time, not the capacity of a plane at a particular gate, meaning everyone is under-served most of the time. I felt that I had won the battle and charge triumphantly down the jet-way… only to find another bus. It drove us off into the middle of nowhere to board. I certainly hope you’re better at aircraft carrier design. France cannot be France without an awful airport.

Cheers,
Eliot

Good times

Thursday, December 18th, 2008

Properly stickered

Things have been going pretty well:

I ended up eating with three different friends of mine over the course of the weekend. I don’t see any of them nearly enough; it was good to catch up.

Hack a Day’s owner, Mahalo, launched their new Mahalo Answers product. It’s similar to other answer services, but allows you to offer real money tips and embed content. I’ve really enjoyed participating in the service. I’m actually #1 for tips received… and most of those were legitimate. I hung out Sunday night at the office to catch the launch.

My Android Dev Phone 1 arrived Monday morning. I lost my precious N95 a week earlier during SantaCon LA. This phone was announced the following day. Scott also loaned me a first-gen iPhone to play with.

The joints on my Sony MDR-V500DJ headphones have given out. I was considering purchasing some high-quality in-ear headphones and after reading Ryan Block’s review of the new ones from Apple, I decided that was the way to go. They are in very short supply though. I ended up calling the Apple store every morning for three days in a row to see if they had any in-stock. The headphones showed up Tuesday morning so I picked them up as a final errand before heading to the airport. I also picked up my power converters from the Tosche Station Mahalo office. The most important piece of electronics and the only one I overlooked.

I found $40.

Just do it

Friday, December 5th, 2008

EPIC GRAIL

Merlin Mann has an excellent/painful post on real advice; it’s not necessarily what you want to hear.

It made me think of some of my favorite distilled advice: Just do it. Many people ask Ze Frank how he is so creative. It’s because he tries to execute on an idea as soon as possible. He puts it into working form instead of mulling about and shaping it into the perfect idea in his head. This is same reason he never really talked about what camera he used or his editing process; he didn’t want people to get hung up equipment when all they should be concerned about is the content of their videos.

I’m still working on pushing out ideas. That’s actually why I use Skitch so much. It’s me shoving a joke out the door instead of just pondering “well that could be funny”. I could get hung up on trying to learn Photoshop and making a perfectly rendered image. Deviating from the original goal: yak shaving (only now realizing I learned that from another Mann column). Instead, I put in the appropriate amount of energy and move on. I get the satisfaction of creating something and hopefully someone gets a chuckle out of it. I may have purchased a domain or two with similar motivation. The majority of these images are hosted in private on Skitch because I never intended them to have the general audience of Flickr.

I hope this gives a little insight into what makes me tick. Apologies if it doesn’t quite make sense; I kinda wanted to get it out there.

Selected Skitch stupidity: CK the broker, Maker Faire Arrakis, arm transplant, twitter bird failure, the Stones, crypto humor, the cup, another word for pirate treasure.

[Thanks to Chris Miller for the original link.]