Thursday, 28 October 2010

Quirk Persists

A couple of quotes from Tim Quirk’s 10 year old interview the The Onion’s AVClub that came to mind earlier this week.

I was mis-remembering them, posting them here so that happens less.

“We were always trying to put out slick rock records. Even the crappily recorded stuff on Green Eggs And Crack was our attempt at being slick.”

This one really changed my view of the world. There’s such a significant difference in the sound between Green Eggs… and TMJ’s follow-upthird album Cereal Killers – that to declare that a similar polished intention existed between both made me think. To me, this is like George Lucas saying – the Start Wars prequels are what he was aiming for when he did the original trilogy. Makes you revisit what you liked and didn’t like about the work.

“If it’s so stupid that it becomes transcendent and beautiful, or if you write something and you’re like, ‘Okay, I know I’m gonna hate this the 100th time we play it, but it’s gonna be really good for 99,’ I lean that way.”

This is something that I enjoy about Quirk’s work – knowingly, purposefully, and deliberately, with tongue-firmly-planted-in-cheek exploring a cliched, trite, cheesy realm until you find the tiny bit of beautiful truth that made it a cliche in the first place.

Monday, 25 October 2010

eBook Clubbing – Not eBook Borrowing

The promise of ebooks is their inexpensiveness. Their portability. Their ability to make perfect copies of themselves so, you and your friends can read and enjoy the same text simultaneously. If ebook retailers wanted to develop a technology based on the social aspect of books – they’d make it easy to share the text I’m currently reading with my favorite book club, with all our collective annotations and highlights.

Developing a technology that treats bit like atoms (i.e. can only occupy 1 place at 1 time) is worse than ridiculous – it’s disingenuous and asocial. Assuming an individual has the wherewithall to purchase a Kindle – or other ebook reading gadget (laptop, etc), they can find a couple bucks to purchase their own version, digital or not.


Thursday, 21 October 2010

Mac App Store is a Proper OS X Package Manager?

My Ubuntu machine and my Nokia N900 both have something of an ‘app store’ in them.

If we call an app store – an application that connects to platform-specific software repositories to easily install software, notify me of updates, etc. Though, in the Un*x world, these things are called package managers or application managers.

The Mac has never had one of these. Most updates are handled by the software vendor – Adobe has their updater, Apple theirs, Firefox and other applications handle updating from within the application. Since OS X is BSD-based, there have been attempts to create Un*x-esque package managers for OS X – Fink & MacPorts come to mind. I’ve tried them, and found the unsatisfying.

If we say, the majority of the software will be $0 (and other definitions of free) – then the difference between a Mac App Store and a Unix Package Manager becomes a question of whether or not it’s running within iTunes.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Terms of Services Kinda Like Open Licenses – But Evil

The Combined Arms Research Library has a good post on the upside of the latest version of Twitter’s terms of service (“Twitter can do WHAT with your photos?“) .

The language is very similar to the MIT/X11 License in that the copyright holder is licensing their work to others and the licensees can do as they wish with the work – adapt, distribute, sell, etc. In the case of the MIT/X11 – those freedoms apply to everyone. In the case of Twitter’s Terms of Service – it’s just, um, Twitter Corp.

Yes, Facebook’s, Blogger’s, TypePad’s,’s, Tumblr’s, Posterous’s, and many others‘ terms of service all have similar language.

It’d be far more interesting, innovative, and plain simpler, if the lawyers at these services declared anything published through them was automatically licensed under a more well-known license like the MIT/X11, GPL, or Creative Commons. That license change would also be a boon for the driving creative innovation around that work and become a magnet for people interested in publishing under these open terms. Instead, it feels like these services are trying to get away with stealing.

While music and book publishers are being chastised for crazy low royalty rates – social networks have eliminated them completely and are praised for their innovativeness.

Rightfully so – they’ve attracted millions of creators and eliminated both the advance to create the work and the royalties on its commercial usage.


“We tend to like the primary uses of that data (Amazon book recommendations), it’s the secondary uses we’re not so crazy about (third-party datamines sold to anyone for anything).” – Bruce Schneier, DefCon 15, 2007

“Any smart CEO would kill to have a product like you that doesn’t cost anything and keeps renewing itself indefinitely so it can be sold and resold and resold to many different customers.” – Jacques Vallee

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Fermenting: Abbey Cyser


According to the package, the yeast like it between 70-75°F. To accommodate it, I combined the cider and honey into my boil pot on a low flame just until I got a read of 75°F. Then I siphoned it into the carboy, shook up the yeast package well for good luck, and pitched.

Fermentation started nearly immediately and has been going strong for 20 hours.

Once primary fermentation stops, I’m planning to put it in the secondary until Thanksgiving.

I picked up the honey on a lark visiting Pine Tree Orchard a few weeks back. It wasn’t until I got home that I decided to make a cyser with it. The cider was the only cider I could find (without going back to Pine Tree) lacking preservatives [1]. Whole Food’s price per gallon was less then I was quoted from local orchards – and they gave me a discount for buying so much. The yeast choice was easy. As you may know, I’m a big fan of Belgian beers and the cyser has the potential to get north of 10% ABV, so the yeast designed for Belgian doubles and triples was the only choice.

Unlike beer brewing, putting this cyser together was very relaxing and un-messy (primarily because there’s not 3+ gallons of wort threatening to boil over for an hour). I’m only hoping this is as delicious as Crispin’s The Saint.

Update 25 Oct 2010
By all signs, the fermentation stopped today and I moved the cyser to the secondary. Along the way, I split it in two, and dry hopped one half with ~2oz of Yakima Magnum hops. Midwest Supplies’ says the hops have an aroma of black pepper, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Sounds like they were grown for a cyser.

Update 30 Oct 2010
I bottled both batches today – with priming sugars. At this point, the non-hopped half is quite enjoyable, with the hopped-half being a bit much. Though – both are very drinkable. First bottle gets opened on Thanksgiving.

1. If you have any ideas on how to resurrect yeast in a pool of sodium benzoate-laced cider – I’m all ears. 🙂

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

I HAZ FAIL! – Oct 20, 2010 @ 7pm

epic fail photos - Sign WIN

Next Wednesday – Oct 20th @ 7pm – I’ll be giving a talk on failure to the Lean Startup Circle group.

If you’re interested in how I define success and failure for the projects I so frequently talk about here join me. I’ll be discussing these projects; their opportunity, challenges, brief success, and their ultimate fatal flaw.

RSVP & more info here

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Wednesday, 6 October 2010


“Natural philosophy or the philosophy of nature (from Latin philosophia naturalis), is a term applied to the study of nature and the physical universe that was dominant before the development of modern science. It is considered to be the precursor of natural sciences such as physics.” – Wikipedia

It seems significant that Western culture’s first word for ‘scientist’ was ‘natural philosopher’ – a phrase assuming unknown unknowns exist but doesn’t express the ambition to know them. Whereas ‘scientist’ as a term feels like there are knowns and there are unknowns, and we’re compelled to reduce the unknowns.