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)

More packing and an 80s party


We actually blew off most of Saturday, took me a while to catch up on sleep, especially the one night I got 3 hours due to trying to stay ahead of the painters. We did go out Saturday night to an 80s themed birthday party for a neighbor, and I had the presence of mind to take pictures before we went. Check out the repainted bathroom behind us.


Other than that, more packing and organizing has been the theme, I’m almost done with the office now. Now to catch up to the Oscars.

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…

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.

Yo Joe

You may know there’s a new live-action G.I. Joe movie coming out this summer, but you may not know they’ve already whetted fans’ appetites with an animated film. Last weekend Adult Swim aired the new movie, G.I. Joe: Resolute. Written by comics legend Warren Ellis, it had more realistic tech and a lot more violence, both individual and in mass quantities. If you don’t catch it in reruns online, they’ll probably have it in stores in time for the film in August. And if that’s not enough online Joe stuff, catch every Robot Chicken sketch about them.

It’s back

The Star Wars Holiday Special always held a special place in my heart – until I actually saw it again a couple years back. While the Boba Fett cartoon is still cool, the rest has the worst of 70s excess (can’t decide if Jefferson Starship or Bea Arthur is the low point). But now 30 years have passed, and it’s at least being acknowledged, if not officially released. Poking around brought me here, which led me to find that one of the MST3K splinter groups had done their own commentary track. After checking out their site, I also found a Jurassic Park commentary track with Weird Al, and I bought both of them. I foresee some comedy gold in my future.