Archive for March, 2009

Mar 31 2009

i have more friends than a cat

I met someone yesterday who has a Facebook page for their cat. Apparently their cat only has one friend (what? I had to ask), a “cat down the road that they’ve actually never met”. I feel much better knowing that felines have fake Facebook friends too.

Dermatographia art. Dermatographia is a harmless condition where your skin welts extremely easily in response to light pressure, dramatic temperature changes, and more. I have it, and I used to write my boyfriend’s initials on my leg when I was 14.. but I never thought of creating art! (The last photo in particular is sooo neat.. I almost want to try.)

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Mar 30 2009

a very practical certification

A school in the UK is offering a degree in Twitter, Facebook, and other websites for a mere $5000. I also offer certification in social media, but my price is a coffee and a bowl of pho. Also, your certificate will be written on a napkin.

30 simple tricks that make you look smart. I know, I too am kind of stunned to be linking actual practical advice for everyday living. People who know me, however, will be reassured by the fact that I was looking for a way to get gum out of my hair. I am still bereft of adult sensibility.

2 responses so far

Mar 27 2009

physics is dumb anyway

So last month I lost fifteen pounds on a diet. Then I went to the US for the weekend, and upon my return I had put on FOUR POUNDS. How is that even possible? That would have to be 6000 calories a day, which even if I was eating like This Is Why You’re Fat (which I wasn’t) would be really difficult to achieve without, you know, dying or throwing up or something. Anyway, clearly my body is making up its own energy conservation theories as it goes along — obey the laws of thermodynamics, dammit!

The hot new social media news is that some celebrities are not actually writing their own Twitters. Shock shock! Celebrities have people to interact with with their fans for them! Although I gotta say if Ashton Kutcher can come up with 140 characters on a regular basis, Britney really has no excuse… y’all.

South Korean school children singing a happy song about Netiquette. This made me smile.

2 responses so far

Mar 24 2009

you can’t stop the rock

I was in the US over the weekend, and had the opportunity to take a cab. The fellow at the wheel spent the first half of the trip sharing how much he loved the movie “Taxi Driver”, and the last half talking about all the filth and corruption in the city that needed to be cleaned up.. possibly by an armed vigilante cab driver. Needless to say, I tipped well.

LastFM to start charging international (non-US) users. Grawrrrr! Stupid Canadian licensing laws, it wasn’t enough that you took Pandora out of my life. I’m going to go smash a pile of Nickleback and Tragically Hip CDs in protest. You can’t make me listen to your Cancon crap!

Note that the Cancon link is actually a really good look at the lows and even lowers of Canadian popular music, although he best be steppin off of Stan Rogers because I grew up on that maritime folk music, yo. It’s good for the soul.

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Mar 19 2009

this and that

I used to froth and rant at Wendy’s advertising slogan “It’s waaaaaay delicious,” which makes Wendy sound like she dropped out of school in fourth grade, but I have a new fast food slogan nemesis. (What? I’m a big fan of nemeses.) It seems that Pizza Hut’s latest round of commercials end off with “Now you’re eating.” Now.. you are eating. It’s like the only lure their food has is that you can put it in your mouth and swallow it. “Now you have found food sustenance.” Next up: car commercials with the slogan, “Now you are operating a motor vehicle.”

10 Reasons to Use Google Reader. I adore the recent proliferation of RSS feeds and ways to read them. Back in the dark ages I had highly organized local bookmarks to keep track of all the blogs I read, and when I was feeling really fancy I would open my reading list in a million individual windows so I could just page through them. Oh, the luxury! Anyway, sometimes GReader can seem a little clunky, but this article actually helped me figure out a more efficient way of handling the 18 million posts I go through each day.

Worthwhile celebrity Twitter roundup: David Lynch does technical support, while Stephen Fry shows us how the famous fly to Asia.

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Mar 17 2009

tips for vancouver urban living

Points system for dog watching in Vancouver:

+10: Your dog is small and ugly.
+5: Your dog is small and cute.
+0: You are walking your dog.
-5: Your dog is wearing clothes. (Note: bandannas are acceptable.)
-10: Your dog is wearing designer clothes.

Scientific conclusion: No one likes to feel underdressed next to a dog.

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Mar 16 2009

life achievements

Achievement systems have become hugely popular in gaming over the last few years. I sort of understood from a distance why this was so, but the concept didn’t really seem that compelling to me. Then one day the game I play the most got its own set of achievements, and suddenly I was up until 2am trying to hug a certain number of ducks or whatever just for that split second of lights and happy music. They are, indeed, addictive.

So what about achievements in real life? I was looking over Diddit, a relatively new site that wants you to keep track of things you do in your life, and was reminded of the achievement model. Diddit doesn’t take it far enough, but it kind of has the right idea. You can set up lists of things you’d like to do with your life, and when you tick them off you can publish your life achievement to Twitter or other broadcasting media.

Here’s what I think a site would have to do: gather a panel of experts from 10 or so core life areas (stuff like health, travel, family), and have them come up with a whole whack of achievements. Users could add their own , but I think most people enjoy doing things that have been preset for them by an “authority”. Assign a points system to them, and a good search/comparison engine. Integrate achievement announcements with as many different services as you can muster. Give it quirky homespun graphics and a stupid name that ends in an ‘r’. Profit!

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Looking at my site logs, two Google search referrals stand out:

a) “hate macrame owls” – Me too, anonymous Googlenaut! In the meantime, let us make faces at this collection of macrame tables and chairs.

b) “how to be less self-centered” – Oh wow, dude. Did you ever get sent to the wrong site.

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Mar 13 2009

excuse the dust..

Changing things up this weekend.. excuse the mess, it’s a very gradual work in progress.

One response so far

Mar 11 2009

lying or editing?

So it is time for me to fess up: not all of my personal anecdotes are 100% true. I mean, often they are, but sometimes I rearrange events or add a little character motivation or occasionally insert that line that I SHOULD have said but didn’t. I had someone earlier this week say that that made me a filthy liar and my reply was, “I’m not lying! I’m editing.”

And, to my mind, it’s true. I don’t fabricate entire events out of whole cloth, or turn people who zig into people who zag. But my innate tendency when I’m telling a story is to punch it up a bit. And I think I’m not alone in this, or at least I have David Sedaris on my side and that’s pretty good backup.

Really, so much of life now is about good self-PR. The whole social media thing? It’s all self-PR, which is part of the reason I so enjoy it. What is the “Jessica” brand? What does it believe in? What does it promote? What did it have for lunch? These are critical questions!

So does punching up the odd anecdote to make it more impactful* or more coherent or, yes, more flattering, constitute lying, or good old fashioned editing for your intended audience?

* “Impactful” is not strictly a word but it SHOULD BE.

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Down with Facebook! For all my Twittering and Digging and Blippring, I hate Facebook. It was kind of okay at first, and neat to catch up with old absentee friends. Then the interface got all cluttered with crap and I realized that I don’t actually care about that many people and my email box was hit with a plague of messages like, “That Person You Hated in High School wants you to join their Pirate Ninja Squad!” Despite the fact that some of my good friends still hang out there (Chris, dude, I am talking to you. Get a goddamned Twitter and save me some pain.), I refuse to participate.

4 responses so far

Mar 09 2009

social bookmarking and other things i pretend to know about

So I’ve been on kind of a social media bender lately, as y’all can probably tell. I’ve been out of the loop for a while and am months if not years behind on a lot of stuff. (“Hey, did you hear they’ve got pictures on that intarnet thing now?”) Anyway, this weekend I decided to sit down and take a good hard look at the big names in social bookmarking, namely Delicious, Digg, and Stumbleupon. The final results were thus:

Delicious: The winner for plain old storing bookmarks. Delicious has advanced tagging features to easily find things, and is old school enough that I’m not worried about my account disappearing into the ether any time soon. The list of top bookmarks overall is kind of meh as a jumpoff point for mindless web surfing, but does lean towards neat web and graphic design finds. The default setup for the Firefox plugin will spew crap all over your hotbars, but a little fussing with the options settled things down nicely.

Digg: The winner for denoting neat finds. The interface is really simple, particularly if you’re not submitting a fresh Digg yourself: go to the website, click “Digg”. Voila! Your newly marked fave is saved to your account and added to the overall totals. The user base seems to trend towards the Farkish audience, and posts about Linux, comic books, and hot babes get up the list pretty quickly. It’s still a pretty solid place to start your browsing day, though, and the new section that recommends links based on your Digg history is awesome. The Firefox plug in is kinda neat, but not really necessary unless you are a hardcore Digg user.

Stumbleupon: I liked the idea of this site. Similar to Digg, it wants to store your bookmarks and be a ‘hot or not’ for websites. It also emphasizes the “social” part of social bookmarking more than the other two. And the Stumbleupon button is nifty! You feed the site your subject preferences, and at least 66% of the time it sent me somewhere cool. Unfortunately, overall the site comes across as more of a dating website than anything, which turned me off. If I’m just looking for somewhere online to store my bookmarks, do I really want to be asked in my profile about my body type or the amount I drink? Stop judging me, Stumbleupon! Pass!

So I ended up with a combination of Delicious and Digg, and the Shareaholic Firefox extension to make using both easier. The way I break it down is that if it’s something that I will want to find and look at on a fairly regular basis, like a neat blog, I’ll stick it in Delicious and tag it carefully. If it’s a site that I think is notably interesting, but I probably won’t look at it again or at least not for a long time, I’ll Digg it.

And thus ends my primer on social bookmarking.

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Link dump:

9 Comics to Read After Seeing Watchmen. Everyone is all blah blah bad word of mouth blah, and I think they’re clearly insane. It was a GREAT movie, all three hours of it. I was a fan of the book, but not a fangirl, and felt entirely satisfied by the movie treatment.

Chocolate cake in five minutes, using a coffee mug and a microwave. Now this is my kinda cooking.

PS: I thought about putting a pretty graphic or two in this post to increase the visual appeal and better attract readers, but then I realized I don’t care. Suck that, Web 2.0.

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Mar 06 2009

i’ve been reading the internets again

I am feeling prolific and linky today. Maybe it’s a Friday thing, or reduced game responsibilities, or the fact that I’ve had almost no office work to do all week.

City of Vancouver votes to allow urban chickens! Get this motion passed by my cats and we might be on to something. Really, though, raising chickens in the extra bathroom isn’t very practical. It would be much more sensible to build giant plexiglas tubes around the whole apartment and have them wander about like hamsters. (Side note: the author of this how-to on removing a hamster from a tube should chat with this half-baked theorist on pneumatic hamster tubes).

Helicopter shots of Venice. Absolutely stunning, and almost enough to make me think about going back to Italy. “Hey, here’s an idea: we’ve got 118 islands, why not build a city all over them?!”

So I mentioned Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, but I just discovered the competing film, Pride and Predator. Clearly the one with walking undead will be superior. Elizabeth is a smart and proper lady, it’s not like she’d lower her standards to courting alien bounty hunters. Please. It does makes you wonder how the film world happens upon this synchronicity…

Guerrila Camoflage for IKEA. The next war will not be fought on the battlefield, or even on computers. It will be on huge concrete fields of sensibly priced Swedish furniture.

Oh, and finally, I have to give a shoutout to David Lynch’s Twitter. Sometimes he shares a thought or two, but mostly he just posts the daily weather in Los Angeles in perfectly structured English. It is very odd and it pleases me to no end.

3 responses so far

Mar 04 2009

slave to social media fashion

Time Magazine thinks Facebook’s “25 Things About Me” meme is dumb.

Jon Stewart hates Twitter.

The LA Times argues that social networking hasn’t made us any more social.

I am pretty in to the whole social media thing — I am a faithful reader of Mashable — and I have a history of being very strongly in favor of making the web a huge personal publishing platform for everyone. My stance has always been that if every mom had a way of sharing their thoughts the world would be a better place.

Lately though I’ve been wondering if all these new content platforms are actually.. killing content. Who is creating the neat websites that we used to blog about? (Note: not me.) Books become essays, essays become blog posts, blog posts become 140 character status messages. (Amusing: the book Twitter for Dummies is 288 pages about 140 characters.) It seems like it’s not entirely impossible that within two years we’ll be communicating solely through acronyms and bulleted lists. Will it still be content at all, or just self-contained egocentric notes being shouted out in a storm of voices?

And if I really feel strongly about this, shouldn’t I be helping by creating actual unique genuine content that is more than a sentence? Hmmm. All this thinking about stuff is making my fingers tired, so let’s just have a list of things about me! (I am not interesting or patient enough for 25 items, so instead here are 10.)

1. I didn’t attend kindergarden, or grades 4 and 6. I just didn’t.
2. The town I grew up in didn’t have access to funky hair colors way back when, so I dyed my hair blue with bleach and kool aid.
3. I sailed a replica of a wooden Spanish longboat at the Brest, France maritime festival in 1992.
4. My Dad almost named me “Shasta Daisy”.
5. My favorite Beatle is John.
6. I threw a glass of water at a hobo once. I also punched a really obnoxious street kid in the nose.
7. In grade 10 my friends and I secretly ran a fake Student Council president campaign for the mysterious and non-existent “Bob Aran”.
8. My mother once told me, “No matter how poor you get, never buy second hand shoes”, and I still feel that’s a damn fine life lesson.
9. I don’t like conflict, particularly when I was younger. Instead of quitting jobs or making appointments I have had brothers die or be horribly injured, family members go missing, and broken my leg a few times.
10. I have never broken any major bones, although I did pop a chip off my left index knuckle once. It hurts in really humid weather, which kind of pleases me because it seems poetic.

6 responses so far