Thursday, June 24, 2010

iPhone 4 line at Stanford shopping center

The iPhone 4 was released today (unless you had it mailed, and then it may have come yesterday). I walked by the Apple store at the Stanford shopping center, and saw this line.

line for iPhone 4

Actually, this is the line beside the Apple store, and the "secondary" line. There was another, Disneyland-like line right across from the Apple store, and these people were waiting to get into that line. I heard that the wait was 2-3 hours. Man, I don't like shiny things that much.

The Apple store employees distributed large, black umbrellas so that people wouldn't have to stand directly in the sun. It kind of felt like a rainy funeral, except all the people were checking their e-mails or surfing the web on their old, non-exciting iPhone 3GS.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

dbasr introduction

My friend Josh Ellis has been working on a web-based content management system for musicians and other artists. The project, dbasr, is meant to be easily customizable to fit an artist's needs and personality. He's trying to raise some capital to continue to work on this full-time. I just donated because Josh usually knows what he's doing, and instead of complaining (which he can admittedly do plenty of), he went out and did something about it. From his blog post about moving forward on the project:
Look, whether you like me or not or think I’m a windbag, you have to admit something: I’m good at understanding where holes in the market exist. I’m neither capable nor interested in filling most of them...But this hole I can fill. And it might change the world, at least in a little way. It won’t cure cancer or feed starving children or teach Beyond Petroleum how to build an oil rig…but it’s pretty goddamned cool, nonetheless.
It is pretty goddamned cool, Josh.

Here's an introductory video about dbasr (also featuring TJ and Ryan from Big Friendly Corporation):

Dbasr introduction video from Joshua Ellis on Vimeo.

The Roots, "Dear God 2.0"

The Roots released their first video from their new album, How I Got Over. It's a remake of a Monsters of Folk song, and features Jim James in the video.

(Updated with active video embed).

Monday, June 21, 2010

the original Bellagio

NPR's 50 Great Voices: Donny Hathaway

NPR did a great feature on Donny Hathaway as part of their 50 Great Voices series. When NPR were soliciting votes for the series, Donny Hathaway was one of my five choices (along with Aretha, Judy Garland, Stevie Wonder, and Nina Simone).

This is my favorite song by him:

Donny Hathaway - A Song for You
- Watch more Videos at Vodpod.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

things I've learned from my dad

me and Dad, cooking
  1. How to wrap a microphone cord
  2. How to make a dark roux (although his instructions for making the rest of the gumbo are to "just add things until it tastes good" - luckily, I have this recipe to fall back on)
  3. That Sly Stone "was an innovator"
  4. How to duplicate a VHS tape
  5. How to play saxophone
  6. How to read
  7. The original band names of Chicago (Chicago Transit Authority) and Lakeside (Ohio Lakeside Express)
  8. That you need to invest in systems, not just people
  9. To be the hardest-working, best-you-can-be in whatever you do
  10. How to curse somebody out if needed

Thursday, June 17, 2010

...a little secret...

You never stop wondering if there is a velluvial matrix you should know about.
Remarks from Dr. Atul Gawande, 2010 Stanford School of Medicine Commencement Speaker

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Chicago, The Very Best of Chicago - Only the Beginning

I bought Chicago's The Very Best of Chicago - Only the Beginning for three reasons:
  1. Chicago is a band that my dad really liked, but I didn't. His taste in music from the 70's is almost impeccable, so I wanted to give them another shot.
  2. We were in Dana Street Roasting on Sunday, and they were playing parts of this album. It never occurred to me what a great Sunday afternoon soundtrack old-school Chicago is.
  3. I wanted to chart the exact moment in the band's transition when the horrible slide from jazz instrumentalism into VH1 pop ballads occurred (it's not as simple as the switch from vocalist Terry Kath to Peter Cetera). I haven't found that moment yet, but I have pinpointed the song in which things have already gone horribly wrong:


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Ira Glass and retrospective humiliation

You know when you're biking to or from work, listening to a podcast, and the podcast triggers a memory of you making an ass of yourself, and you smack yourself so hard on the forehead that you almost fall into the street? Yeah, so does Ira Glass:

Slate interview with Kathryn Shultz, "On Air and On Error: This American Life's Ira Glass on Being Wrong"

here ye, here ye... is my birthday!

Ringmaster, originally uploaded by The National Archives UK.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

This Week Sucks podcast

My friends TJ and Mike have a podcast called This Week Sucks. It's mixed extremely bi-modally; Mike's voice is in my right ear and TJ's in my left. This kind of feels like I have an angel and a demon on each shoulder, except both of them hate everything except for wild cherry air freshener and Quincy Jones.

Check out the most recent episode here (note: it's got a lot of naughty language and mockery of recently dead celebrities). It's pretty funny if you aren't easily offended. It's even funnier if you imagine TJ doing this entire podcast in his Randy Newman voice.

Richard Misrach, from Oakland Fires series, "Untitled #12-91" at Fraenkel Gallery

Whit and I took a field trip to San Francisco on Saturday, partly for Little Skillet's chicken and waffles, but partly for the Fraenkel Gallery's 30th Anniversary show (entitled, Furthermore). While the collection was well-curated and grouped in really fascinating ways, this Richard Misrach photo was the one that I couldn't stop looking at. It also helps that it's printed ginormously (I can't find exact dimensions, but I'd estimate it's about 7'x6').

Richard Misrach, from the Oakland Fires series, "Untitled #12-91" (1991)

The show is up through June 25.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

never thought I'd be in a tree

Today, I was on hold on the phone when I decided to climb the tree in front of my office building.

climbing a tree
climbing a tree
climbing a tree

One of my students caught me in the act.
climbing a tree
iPhone photo by Mitch Lunn

Monday, June 7, 2010

Adam Savage, "Problem Solving: How I Do It"

I haven't posted anything about Maker Faire 2010 because I've been wanting to highlight some individual experiences from it instead of a large summary post. I've especially been waiting for them to post the video from Adam Savage's talk on Saturday afternoon.

Adam Savage

Adam's topic was "Problem Solving: How I Do It." The questions that he asks prior to embarking on a problem are:
  1. What is the problem I'm solving? (Am I solving the right problem?)
  2. What is the big picture? (Where is the problem that I am currently solving fit into a larger context?)
  3. How much time do I have?
  4. How precise to I have to be?
  5. What is my rhythm and how does it fit with this project?
  6. What are my resources?
  7. Does the place in which I'm solving this problem help or hinder the process?
  8. How many people do I have? (Is the team big enough? Is it too big?)
  9. Do I have all the skills necessary?
  10. Do I have a realistic understanding of what my skill level is for the problem that I'm about to solve?
  11. If I'm not good enough at something, is there enough time for me to get good, or do I have to contract it out?
Once the project has already started, he talked about asking iteratively the following questions:
  1. How important is this particular step?
  2. How important is it that I get this step right?
  3. Is my machine deteriorating?
  4. Is this a step I might be able to improve later?
  5. Am I missing something stupid? (Am I being too clever? Is there a simpler way?)
  6. Am I sure that how what I'm doing fits into the larger picture?
  7. What does the whole picture look like now that I've solved this part?
Whit was really excited about Adam talking about the breakdown of his problem-solving process (since that's what he studied). Although I tend to use some of the same steps when doing the project management part of my job, I was more excited about the following: crew knows intimately that I hate to look for things, so before I start a project, I go everywhere in the shop and I get every tool that I need and put it on the table. And I get every material that I need, and I put it on the table. And I get everything lined up so that I don't have to move once I'm in the sluice; once I'm rolling, I wanna keep on rolling...
...which is essentially mise en place for engineers. I'm glad to know that there's an overlap.

Adam spoke for about 25 minutes, and then took questions for another 25 minutes; the latter part is where he really shone. I loved that he took a ton of questions from the kids in the audience.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

peach galette

We got an awesome deal on donut peaches at the Mountain View Farmers' Market today: $2.00/lb!

donut peach

Unfortunately, we weren't super careful in transporting them home, and 3 out of 4 of them wound up getting smooshy or slashed in the bag. So I decided to make a galette.

peach galette

I'm still not good at making these; I either overfill (as I did today), or I roll out the dough too thin. My galettes are not attractive. I console myself by referring to them as "rustic." They are still delicious.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Stanford MFA filmmakers win Student Academy Award

Two first-year students from the Stanford MFA Documentary Film program just won a student Academy Award for their film, SueƱa Despierto (Dreams Awake). Kevin Gordon and Rebekah Meredith describe their film as "a portrait of an immigrant worker who discovers his artistic and political voice in the U.S."

You can watch an excerpt of the film here.

Below is an interview with the filmmakers on ABC News:

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Outside Lands 2010 lineup

The lineup for Outside Lands was released this morning. The organizers chose to announce it with a mashup of the artists performing.