New voicemail message

Most of the time being a grownup is a pain. The perceived freedom from a child’s viewpoint doesn’t really exist. But sometimes you can take a wish and make it come true. Check out our new voicemail message, courtesy of Simon Jones (better known as “Arthur Dent” in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

(via a Kickstarter project)

Google Reader shared items 6/4-6/10

Very funny.
Introducing the new Dave Matthews GPS Navigational System.

via Wired: Underwire on 6/10/09


A little bit of X-Files intrigue, a little bit of Indiana Jones-style supernatural archaeology and a whole lot of steampunk gadgetry fires up the pilot episode of Warehouse 13.

A clever drama debuting July 7 on Sci Fi Channel’s soon-to-be-renamed SyFy Network, the show follows feuding federal agents Pete and Myka (Eddie McClintock and Joanne Kelly, pictured above) when they get unhappily reassigned from Washington, D.C., to South Dakota.

There, they encounter a cavernous warehouse filled with weird artifacts stored over the past century by the federal government. Rumpled manager Artie, played by Saul Rubinek (pictured above, center) welcomes the agents with an array of antique gizmos. Their mission: Track down a sinister artifact each week and bring the relic back to South Dakota for safekeeping.

“Making the pilot, we had this notion that Artie is like Q in the James Bond world,” says producer David Simkins, checking in from the Warehouse set in Toronto.

“Artie hands out the gadgets,” Los Angeles show-runner Jack Kenny adds. “Creating this show, ‘steampunk’ was our mantra.”

If subsequent episodes live up to the pilot, SyFy may have a hit on its hands. Borrowing a page from the Breaking Bad school of high-contrast desert cinematography, the artfully shot Warehouse 13 emphasizes its characters’ isolation. Most importantly, stars McClintock and Kelly generate exceptional on-screen chemistry. He’s loosey-goosey; she’s rigid. It’s been done before, but these funny, relatively unknown actors make the bickering investigators’ shtick seem fresh again.

Simkins and Kenny got on the phone with for a show-and-tell sampling of Warehouse 13‘s low-tech gewgaws.

The Farnsworth

The Farnsworth was named for Thomas Edison's rival.

Named after inventor Philo Farnsworth, the Farnsworth communicator is supposedly hacker-proof.

“This is basically a video cellphone and it was invented by Philo Farnsworth, the unrecognized inventor of television,” Simkins says. “We imagined that Philo invented it one weekend in 1929, it worked, and it’s been in the warehouse ever since. One reason they still use it is that the technology is so old, no one can hack it. It’s not digital. I don’t even know what it runs on but it’s untraceable because the Farnsworth exists totally off the grid.”

The Tesla Gun

Telsa Gun named after Thomas Edison's brilliant rival.

The Tesla Gun is named after brilliant scientist Nikola Tesla.

“We say this little ray gun was invented by Thomas Edison’s great rival, Nikola Tesla,” Simkins says. “It’s basically a stun gun, like a Taser: There’s an electrical charge, you aim it, it fires.” Kenny adds: “And the Tesla destroys immediate short-term memory.”

The Contraption

This device has an unknown function.

Encrusted with dials and flashing lights, this device serves an unknown function.

“In figuring out the kind of world Artie inhabits, we talked a lot about Jules Verne and steampunk,” Simkins says. “We’re not quite sure at this stage what a lot of these things do, just that they’re really important.”

“I have no idea what the hell that thing is,” Kenny laughs.

Steampunk Typewriter

If it's not broke, don't fix this steampunk typewriter.

A new computer screen is patched into an old keyboard in the Warehouse’s gadget-filled office.

“This goes back to the steampunk aspect of old tech meets new tech,” says Kenny. “Besides this piece, Saul has a portable computer that’s actually an old Smith Corona typewriter that we steampunked up and turned into a Sea-Monkey-looking portable laptop computer.”

Warehouse 13 episodes will also include a holographic device repurposed from a 1960s-era Bell & Howell slide projector, implosive grenades that suck all the energy out of a room, “schlags” that send spiderlike tendrils into lock mechanisms, and hypnotic Eye Flower fireworks from China that appear to freeze time and space.

“In this show, we’re dealing with the concept of magic and illusion and what’s real and what’s not,” Simkins says. “We put things in this warehouse that we don’t quite understand.”

See also:

via on 6/9/09
Only 10?
Geeks, as a general rule, are pretty easy-going. We like to think things through, so passionate confrontations aren’t commonplace for us. When we get well and properly provoked, though, watch out! We won’t stop talking until every last point that we can think of has been made at least twice. So, what do you say to provoke a geek? Glad you asked!

via on 6/5/09
100 mph updrafts? Wow.
The latest information indicates that Flight 447 encountered severe turbulencein explosive thunderstorms prior to the catastrophic chain of events leading toa crash.

via on 6/4/09
I think I need to watch this tonight. Also, Burn Notice returns!
Will Ferrell on ‘Man vs. Wild’: Top 5 Moments

via on 6/4/09
Hey musicians, pay attention – embedding 30 second samples on your website or on MySpace doesn’t help you or me.
A report to be published in the International Journal of Internet Marketing and Advertising says that longer, higher quality free music samples engage more listeners and reduce the number of “free riders”. Ask any food manufacturer, free product samples give…

Concert stats geeks rejoice

For now there is a social networking/ticket buying site just for you. was originally launched as a concert encyclopedia/ticket shopping comparison site, but is now relaunched with a crowdsourced aspect (you can still buy tix, of course). There are over a million current and future shows online, but anyone can add shows (someone started the HFStival shows, and I finished them). Very addictive for me – I’ve been writing down my shows since college, and I’ve had them all online for over ten years. It’ll take a while to put all of mine in, but that’s fun for me.

Google Reader shared items 5/29-6/3

My apologies to the folks that have seen these already, but Facebook’s not playing nice with Google, and it’s also nice to archive my notes somewhere.

via on 6/3/09
Jill has announced she’s going if Weezer and Blink-182 headline as some predict.

via on 6/3/09
Man, these guys should have done the prequels – I’d pay just to watch 90 minutes of this.
E3: We preview Star Wars: The Old Republic, by Jenna Busch, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via Wired Top Stories on 6/2/09
Sounds like someone else I know…
Alexey Pajitnov, who designed one of the world’s most-copied videogames, wages stealth campaigns in the popular MMO. You could be playing with him and not even know it.

via Wired Top Stories on 6/2/09
Just recently discussing this with co-workers. I think a possible solution is 2-way RSS.

The social web trend is more or less complete. Oprah’s gone Twitter, your co-worker has a MySpace problem, and if your parents aren’t bugging you with Facebook movie quiz invites, they probably will be by the time you’re done reading this. People are flocking to these sites in record numbers, as Facebook now boasts over 200 million users worldwide, and Twitter has grown 3,000 percent since last year. But for the social web to evolve into its final stage and take flight, the walls that separate these services, their users and everything they create will have to come down.

If you examine them closely, the social websites that are all the rage now have a strong family resemblance to the earliest internet giant, America Online. In the early ’90s AOL built a walled garden that functioned as the shallow end of the internet pool. People joined to get their feet wet, and then eventually abandoned AOL. The social web is the new walled garden: the photos we upload to Facebook, the 140-character messages we post to Twitter, and all of this other social activity is more or less locked away in those services. A friend cannot reply to your Twitter post without registering an account, and you are basically locked out of doing anything on Facebook unless you sign up. And it’s all-but-impossible to take all your stuff out of these services in order to switch to a competitor.

To be sure, authorized features like Facebook Connect allow users to share their activity from other services with their Facebook community, such as movie ratings at or high iPhone game scores. And there are also unauthorized tools that allow you to cross-post your content to multiple sites, but they are basically hacks, and they do not enable any of the real two-way interaction that defines the “social” web. In the words of Forrester Researcher Jeremiah Owyang, “the inhabitants of today’s isolated social networks will adopt a more useful social experience” by importing cool stuff from the wider web. But, he emphasizes, “they’ll still be stuck on those islands.”

Leo Laporte, a broadcaster who runs the popular TWiT network of technology podcasts, calls the phenomenon “the social silo,” and he doesn’t think it can last much longer. “People are pouring all this content and value into individual sites,” says Laporte, “but they aren’t going to want to keep dealing with Facebook, and Twitter, and FriendFeed, and whatever is next.” Laporte and Owyang agree that in order for the social web to move forward, the separate ecosystems which make it up need to unite.

Google has taken the first step toward knocking down the walls. Last week, the company announced, to great fanfare, something called Google Wave. It’s an open platform for real-time communication and sharing media, and it’s aimed directly at Facebook and Twitter. With Wave. any competent developer will have the tools build a Facebook or a Twitter – or more to the point, whatever comes next – and, even more important, any user content poured into a Wave-based system will be accessible by anyone that user has granted permission to have it. The philosophies of openness and accessibility are baked right in to the tool. If Wave turns into the tsunami that Google hopes it to be, then for the web of the future you will truly need only a single log-in.

The vision of a web where users are no longer locked up with their content away from others just because they picked a different social networking service, is a big one. “We’re essentially creating virtual reality, except that it’s more of an intellectual, informational reality,” Laporte muses. “It’s hard to imagine what this world will look like … but it’s really about breaking down barriers that, up ’till now, have been about the scarcity of resources and information. Now those are coming down.”

The Future of Social Media: Is a Tweet The New Size of a Thought? reports: The Importance of Being Twitter

Read More

via on 6/1/09
Saturday’s ep was great, I’ll be watching the other tow, then waiting for the comic.
Bryan Fuller: How Pushing Daisies ends-and how it was supposed to end, by Kathie Huddleston, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via Slashdot on 5/29/09
Really, Sun?
An anonymous reader writes “The monetization of Java has begun. Sun released the Java 1.6.0_14 JDK and JRE today which include a cool new garbage collector called G1. There is just one catch. Even though it is included in the distribution, the release notes state ‘Although G1 is available for use in this release, note that production use of G1 is only permitted where a Java support contract has been purchased.’ So the Oracle touch is already taking effect. Will OpenJDK be doomed to a feature-castrated backwater while all the good stuff goes into the new Java SE for Business commercial version?”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

via on 5/29/09
Nice recap before the last three air starting Saturday.
Why you should watch the final episodes of Pushing Daisies, by Adam-Troy Castro, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via on 5/29/09
Producer: What to expect from Chuck’s new season , by Kathie Huddleston, for SCI FI Wire, Part of the SCI FI Online Network

via on 5/29/09
Interesting response.

New concert merch idea

For the current Dead tour, they’re releasing a photo book each night. I don’t know if I’d buy it for this show, but it’s a cool idea. I’m a big fan of buying the show as audio (or downloading it for free), but this is a good idea – I would only do it once in a while, but if it’s publish on demand, it just take a few buyers to recoup the setup costs.

Geeky weekend

Jill joined me after work Friday so we could get to Alexandria early, but I forgot the tix, so we had to head home first. We were only a couple minutes later for our reservation at Del Merei Grille, but the place was empty as they’d just opened, so we were ok. It was the only time we were going out during Restaurant Week, so I looked for the closest place to the Birchmere that was participating. They served frickles (fried pickles) to start, which sounded good but were way too salty. We both had the salad for the next course – I had the “blue jalapeno” dressing on mine, not very spicy but a very smooth blue cheese flavor. The entrées were really good, both of us had filets, Jill had the pair with the tasty Cajun Butter Smashed Potatoes while I had one with a Potato Hash Cake topped with Gorgonzola Bacon Butter, better than the Blue Cheese butter I make. For dessert, Jill had a peppermint brownie and I had the best carrot cake ever. I warm slice without frosting was served with what looked like a scoop of ice cream, but it turned out to be cream cheese frosting. Absolutely amazing, we’ll be back there.

And the reason we were down there was a show by JoCo with Paul and Storm. The geeks were in full force both on and off stage, with plenty of references to BSG, LOLcats and my first ever live Rickroll. The music was pretty fine as well, though Jill was unhappy with not one but two Neil Diamond covers.

Saturday I spent most of my time working on some DVDs during the day, then we went to a Firefly mystery party that was also a birthday party for my coworker Josh. I was Mal and Jill was Kaylee, and hopefully we’ll get some pictures soon (’cause I thought both our costumes were pretty good). The party was fun as the mystery was well done, and both Jill and I guessed the guilty party. The burgers and cake were good, too, and we came home so I could crash on the floor (Jill had to wake me up and send me to bed).

Sunday I finished off my DVDs during the afternoon, then took Illa for a walk and started on my main geeky pursuit of the day: doing the taxes by hand. I stopped to grill some chicken for dinner (just sprayed some oil on them and rolled them in a lemon/pepper mix), then got back to it. Good news: this year we actually get a refund (don’t care how much, just happy to get one), which is a help. Jill made us s’mores for dessert to celebrate. Now I’m watching the Oscars (late, I was watching TV and Michael Clayton while doing the taxes) and then it’s bedtime.

New toy

I’d done research, read some reviews and found a good price, so I ordered a Samsung NC10. Now I’ll be able to blog, check email and upload pictures while on the road. The most shocking thing is how small it is. If it’s got the biggest keyboard of any netbook, I don’t think I’ll be able to use a smaller one. But it’s nice and responsive – I think I’ll keep it (I’m writing this on it).