Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Yahoo! Free! (updated)

Malware is often defined by, among other things, browser hijacking, and unauthorized installation.

Today, when I got a notice of Yahoo! Messenger's new audio function, I downloaded it, and checked it out. I used to use MS Messenger for IM, but had been looking to eliminate my hotmail account. So I started using Yahoo last summer, and have been fine with it, though suspicious of it. I could tolerate the overuse of Flash, and I used the email for a Friendster profile for Joe Hill.

While installing the update, I noticed a lot more was being installed than I thought I agreed to. Then afterwards, my homepages were changed to Yahoo on both the browsers I used (an unable to change in IE), while also installing the Yahoo toolbar on both.

I didn't ask for this, I don't want it, and it really has nothing to do with instant messaging. In short I felt hijacked. Fortunately, Yahoo being a big public company, I was able to uninstall it all... and I mean it all. I'm not using Yahoo anymore, for anything.

Who have you stopped using?

(Update 9/2/05: Cnet had this article on Yahoo's computer jacking:
Yahoo IM users get more than they bargained for so there you go.)


Monday, August 29, 2005

Pencil Revolution

Cnet of all places, linked to this gem: Pencil Revolution: Pencil Philosophy: wooden wisdom, product reviews, ephemera, etc"

The first piece I read about the Blackwing 602, was so loving that I want to go to an art supply store after work.
"I began using Blackwing 602 pencils as an art student years ago and have never found another pencil to compare with the richness of the lead. They give a deep dark black without being overly smudgy, and all the silvery range of greys are there too. The feeling that comes to mind is 'smooth' and it is a pleasure to put this pencil to paper."
For all the talk about digital futurism, the internet has done wonders to connect folks to kindred geeks obsessed with the non-digital.


In a separate note, I was very interest in how Podcasting has found it's way into museum tours and church sermons. The Times had this on "godcasting" I'm hoping that Clint takes a stab, and maybe I'll start listening to Lutheran sermons again. Then MoMA got in the act two-fold. First there was this spring's emergence of Art Mob's audio tours of MoMA, now MoMA has made their own audio tours available as podcasts. Download it here, or through iTunes before your next visit.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Octopods in Action! , or, Pulpy Pulp!

I'm fond of descriptive phrases such as "foody with goodness"; here quite rightly, this is all pulpy with pulp...

Many of you know my fondness for octopods and squid... so I was also excited that Boing Boing had this link to a gallery of Octopus related pulp magazine covers. Too much fun.

The gallery explains, "The octopus, known as
poulpe in French, polip in Hungarian, and polypous in Classical Greek, is justifiably the essence of pulp."

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If Dynamo needs a shell repair, this might come in handy

This (via Boing Boing, via Fark), tells the tale of a desert tortoise getting a fiberglass shell repair after surgury. "Cactus" had three enormous bladder stones removed. In order to mend the wound, the vet sealed the fiberglass with 5-minute epoxy.

This was particularly interesting towards the end:

The surgery hasn't seemed to faze him.

"He came around within 24 hours. He's a mellow little guy," said Fitting, a fan of all desert tortoises.

"These are really very wonderful animals," he said. "They're very gentle and curious, and orange and red are their favorite colors -- in the wild their best and most succulent food is the red and yellow flowers on cactus."

Desert tortoises are also extremely imperturbable.

"You know the tale of the hare and the tortoise?" Fitting said. "These guys don't consider themselves in the race. They couldn't care less. They've been around 200 million years. They've seen dinosaurs come and go, and they're one of the reptile lines that survived the wipeout 65 million years ago. They're very laid-back."

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Monday, August 22, 2005

Engadget 1985

Summer issues so often suck. But Engadget pulled a rabbit out today. Let's blast back to the cutting edge of 1985, and see what the buzz was about. Among the gems are Apple's $7000 laserwriter, and Windows 1.0.

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The Chumbawamba Factor

Pitchfork has a great feature on BigChampagne and how the music industry tracks file sharing to create marketing strategy.
BigChampange didn't promise to save the industry, but they offered to help the labels look past what they lost in sales and see what they had gained in raw information. By watching what millions of people were sharing, trading, and actively searching for, they collected reams of data that in turn fed artist development and marketing plans.
Also of note is their theory on the decline of music industry profits... today's title:
"Chumbawamba sold a lot of records, and every single one of them ended up in a milkcrate at a yard sale, six months after it was purchased. And what we told [the record labels] is, 'Look, you had a great long run of business essentially built on regrettable impulse buys,'" says Garland. "'That was a great business, make no mistake. You owed much of your success to that. But it engendered a lot of cumulative ill-will with the customer.'"
BigChampagne tracks traded files, artists listed in MYSpace, music libraries , and compiles them with demographic data, to look for possible ty-ins, such a first person shooter game for particular set of rap fans. It's great read to see how the music industry has been learning from the devil as much as fighting it.

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Thursday, August 18, 2005

It's, like, plastic

It pervades every other sentence seemingly, this filler, "like" that one often hears a sentence such as "This is, like, totally a tree" when referring to living breathing tree. How does language develop or devolve so ludicrously?

I've been reading Plastic: the making of a synthetic century by Stephen Fenichell lately, and came across an interesting passage towards the end:

The most depressing thing about this brave new synthetic universe was that every thing in I seemed to set off by quotation marks: trees had become “trees” and leaves “leaves.” Nothing was what it was, but some spiritually impoverished simulacrum of what it was supposed to be. (276)

By this time in commerce, there had been decades of “like silk,” “like wood,” “like glass” It’s no wonder that “like” lost much of it’s real meaning, becoming a filler one’s vocabulary. Because plastic seemingly could be made in to anything, resemblance melted away and all we have is synthetics...

There are many great stories, particularly how the Leo Baekeland first made his forturne with inventing photo developing paper, sold to George Eastman. He then when on to develop bakelite, the first real ubiquitous plastic... from ash trays to telephones.

The chapters on Cellophane and Saran are interesting for any foodie who wonders why we eat such shitty processed food. It's all about the perception of freshness and sanitation.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2005

I'm going home to refold laundry

I needed this tip yesterday. How to fold fitted sheets. Seeing it here, it looks so easy. Thanks Lifehacker.

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Cai Guo-Qiang: Master of explosions

Artkrush a nice brief interview with Cai Guo-Qiang, famous for his fireworks art, and for those in NYC, the "rainbow to queens" and the attempted "Circle" in Central Park. There's a nice litte explaination of his installation at Mass MoCA this winter, from which my profile photo came:
CGQ: The illusion I wanted to create is related to this theme that in modern society, anything can happen at any time. The Inopportune exhibition at MASS MoCA includes Stage One and Stage Two. In Stage One, nine cars appear to be exploding in the gallery space, with neon lights coming out from the car and creating color flashes. Then visitors encounter a video installation of a car exploding, which may look like a suicide bombing, but the spectacular explosion also makes it look like fireworks. Stage Two comes last, which includes nine very true-to-life tiger sculptures that struggle and move with thousands of arrows on their bodies, making these animals seem brave as they fight the pain the arrows inflict on them.

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