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29 June, 2003

Katharine Hepburn: 1907-2003

She was a fine actress.

"I'm an atheist, and that's it. I believe there's nothing we can know except that we should be kind to each other and do what we can for people." - Katharine Hepburn

Posted on 29 June, 2003

New Guitar Playing Record Set

From ABC News: Out of tune guitar band sets record.

More than 520 serious and would-be guitar players gathered in Portland, Oregon, in the US to set a record for the Guinness World Records and raise funds for a non-profit organization for the homeless. The massed guitarists strummed Woody and Arlo Guthrie's This Land is Your Land in the key of G for an hour.

I wonder how many of those 3,120 strings were out of tune?

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Get Scobleized and Evangelized

Robert Scoble is a popular blogger, and he was recently hired by Microsoft as an "Evangelist." I put that term in quotes because I happen to think it's a ridiculous term -- not to mention a ridiculous job title.

The problem is, the word evangelist conjures up images of a sweaty, red-faced Southern Baptist preacher spouting off about sin and eternal damnation. But it seems that Microsoft is trying to change that image. To them, an evangelist is someone who attempts to get people to use a particular product -- at least that's what I think a Microsoft evangelist is.

In any case, Scobel has most definitely bought into this evangelism thing. Looking at his last seven days of blogging activity, he uses a variation of the dreaded "E" word no fewer than 17 times: (some of these are quotes from other people):

  • "This represents a real investment of about 15 years of my life, and probably somewhere around half a million dollars of my time, either spent directly on the protocol, or evangelizing it to people and organizations around the world."

  • Alex Lowe has some ideas of how Microsoft could better evangelize its wares to teenagers.

  • Why? Because Microsoft only evangelized it to Disney and other "big companies" and totally forgot about the little guys (like me).

  • Why are we all using RSS today? Easy. One guy evangelized it to the industry

  • Evangelism isn't easy work, and so far you have done NOTHING to convince me that Echo is any better (or different) than RSS.

  • Dave Winer got the industry to adopt RSS through a LOT of hard work, and no one has seen that work except for a few guys who've been over his house while he's been evangelizing the format to others.

  • (and that's if Dave stops evangelizing his format, which I doubt he'll do).

  • Who is gonna be the Dave Winer (er, evangelist) who forces Google to implement Echo the same way that IBM implements it? Or, who is gonna be the Dave Winer (er, evangelist) who forces Microsoft to implement Echo the same way that Sun does it? Or, who is gonna be the Dave Winer(er, evangelist) who forces Moveable Type to implement Echo the same way that Google does it?

  • RSS has a Dave Winer (er evangelist). Does Echo have a Dave Winer (er, evangelist)?

  • Simone exposes the work that evangelists do that usually doesn't get exposed to the public.

  • Funny, I was talking with my boss's boss today. Vic Gundotra (General Manager of Platform Evangelism).

  • "So, Scoble, here's a question for you. When you're evangelizing Longhorn in days to come, will you be just talking about some whizbang new feature or might you mention in passing the eleventy gazillion users in the installed base?"

  • My answer: I'm an evangelist for Longhorn."

  • I wonder, did Guy Kawasaki or Steve Jobs view the tons of Apple II users as an advantage to early Macintosh evangelism efforts?

This usage of the "E" word certainly isn't limited to Microsoft. Many other technology companies now use that word freely. And it never fails to elicit a chuckle from me and probably many others.

Maybe it's just me. If I hear it used often enough outside of a religious context, maybe I'll stop chuckling eventually.

Posted on 29 June, 2003

I'm Going Door-To-Door!

Glenn, at Hi, I'm Black!, writes about his short-lived job as a door-to-door peddler.

For 10 days in April of 2002 I worked as a door-to-door salesman in Sacramento, right after I graduated from college. That experience definitely turned me off to any sales position FOREVER. We sold home alarms. Well not really, because, "We're not selling anything!" (that was part of our pitch). The deal was that we offered home owners free equipment and installation and they entered a two-year service contract.

Reading that reminded of my one and only salesman job. It was a summer job while I was in high school. I went door-to-door selling encyclopedias. Well, we didn't sell them, we placed them.

As I recall, there was a two or three day training period, in which we had to memorize the spiel and learn various sales techniques. And then we were set loose. During my first two days, I sold four sets of encyclopedias -- which was absolutely unheard of for a beginner.

Then it dawned on me. These people couldn't afford to buy encyclopedia. Hell, they didn't even need encyclopedias. I realized that I was learning to be a con artist. I quit after two days, much to the dismay of my manager.

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Sorting People

Can you tell a person's race just by looking at them? Take this test at the PBS web site and find out. Out of 20 images, I got two correct. And that's the point...

Race is one subject where we all think we're experts. Whether or not we believe the stereotypes, we can all name them. And yet, what do we really know? The idea that race isn't biological goes against one of our most fundamental assumptions: that there are meaningful, natural divisions between groups of people. Certainly people look different, but as it turns out, appearances can be deceiving.

But, in all fairness, this is hardly a valid test. The images are not only tiny, but they are also very poor quality, and were taken with inconsistent lighting.

(via The Presurfer)

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Play Records With a Van

Place this little toy VW Microbus on a vinyl record. It drives round and round, and you can hear the music through a built-in speaker.

Product Review: Quite probably the coolest item we've ever sold and is essential for anybody who takes collecting vinyl seriously. 

Yeah, right. A serious record collector is going to want to use this to ruin all of his records!

I especially like this disclaimer: "Not a toy"

(via Muxway)

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Art From a Typewriter

Check out Paul Smith's Typewriter Art -- images created on a typewriter.

As a young adult, Paul moved with his parents to Hollywood, Florida where he lived until they passed away. Besides teaching himself to use a typewriter to make pictures, Paul also learned as a youngster to play chess.

Unfortunately, each of the images is defaced with a text message:

This image is intended only for viewing on a monitor. It is not intended for printing. Prints of Mr. Smith's art can be purchased through the Paul Smith Foundation.

A little paranoid there, Paul? You might consider adding an actual link for people who want to buy your stuff.

Posted on 29 June, 2003

The Hall of Contraception

The things people do to prevent offspring.

Contraception has a long and inventive history. Now there is a museum dedicated to one of humankind's most persistent quests.

(via Plep)

Posted on 29 June, 2003

ACME Products

This is a great idea for a web site: The Illustrated Catalog of ACME Products.

For the first time ever, information and pictures of all ACME products, specialty divisions, and services (from 1935 to 1964) are gathered here, in one convenient catalog. Thanks to Warner Bros. studios and their fine animation department for advertising ACME products in their cartoons!!

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Live Celebrity Phone Calls

For as little as $20, you can have a real celebrity call you! Just contact Hollywood is Calling.


This web site serves double-duty. It's also a concise listing of celebrities who can now be considered "washed up." You will, of course, find Todd Bridges listed here (he's the guy from "Diff'rent Strokes.")

Posted on 29 June, 2003

The Hollywood Sign

You've probably seen the Hollywood Sign dozens of times in movies. Now you can visit the Hollywood Sign web site. It even has the obligatory live web cam.

Posted on 29 June, 2003


Roger Wood makes some unusual clocks.

Here's just one of many examples.

Roger Wood creates with time in mind. Yet even though the clock can be a consistent element of his work, it's often secondary to its creation. Whether it's a curious timepiece or a unique assemblage, Wood thrives on working with an immeasurable array of findings from the tarnished and forgotten to the odd or intriguing.

(via One-Trick CyberPony)

Posted on 29 June, 2003

A Million Rounds Per Minute

Does the world really need a weapon that can fire one million rounds per minute? Apparently so.

Imagine a gun that fires a million rounds a minute -- enough to shred a target in a blink of an eye, or throw up a defensive wall against an incoming missile. This is Metal Storm, a weapons system that forsakes old-style mechanics for the speed of electronics.

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Acoustic Guitar Physics

Ian Billington discusses the Physics of the Acoustic Guitar.

The guitar has been around in one form or another for centuries, but the principals behind how it works can be in use in musical instruments ever since the first cave man pulled the string on his bow and noticed a sound. A guitar is simply an expansion of this idea to create a series of strings tied taught, and placed over a large hollow body to resonate the sounds.

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Hot Air Balloons

Here's Bart's Special Shape Collection -- the biggest database of special shaped hot air balloons.

The example shown here gives a new meaning to the expression "flying the flag."

(via Zellar: Open All Night)

Posted on 29 June, 2003

Ice Cold Beer in Two Minutes

For those who just can't wait for the beer to get cold: The Amazin' Beer Chiller.

The Amazin' Beer Chiller chills 12- and 16-ounce cans of beer from room temperature in TWO MINUTES using just a little ice and water! Featuring PATENTED XTR Technology, this battery-operated invention spins cans in ice cold water. This creates a vortex within the can that exposes all of the beer to the chilled aluminum skin AS FAST AS POSSIBLE!

Best of all, you can open your beer RIGHT AWAY with absolutely NO FOAMING!

I'm glad that someone is finally putting that patented XTR technology to good use.

Posted on 29 June, 2003