Monthly Archives: March 2010

How to create scarcity and the 12 hour play “The Demons”

As media becomes increasingly digital, it’s becomes very difficult to have scarcity when it comes to artistic creations. And without that scarcity, the amount creators and producers can charge for their work is limited. Which leads me to the story of this play in the NYTimes.com: ‘The Demons’ – 12-Hour Play, and Endless Bragging Rights. Notice how the play is discribed:

“Every theater season has its must-must-must-see show, the snob hit that separates the true sophisticates (at least in their own minds) from the cultural chaff. New York will have a doozy of a contender this July: a 12-hour production of a grim Dostoyevsky novel that will be performed only twice, in Italian (with English supertitles), in a warehouse on Governors Island, reachable only after a ferry trip and a 20-minute walk.”

The lack of shows, the length of the play, the location of the play, the language of the play: all of it points to a degree of scarcity. This is not the Metropolitan Opera, broadcasting to the world and over big screens in public places. This is a play that will be very difficult to get to and get through. That is part of it’s charm, at least for a certain audience. And for that, they will be able to charge top dollar, I believe.

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Want to give someone a great gift for a little over $2?

Then consider this: Yum Printable Home Cooked Meal Gift Coupon by empapers on Etsy.  It looks like this:

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Jan Banning – Vermeer in Vietnam

What do you get if you use the work of Vermeer as the basis for a photo essay set in Vietnam? If you go to jan banning‘s web site, you will see. Banning has taken the composition and other aspects of famous Vermeer painting and set his Vietnamese subject matter to it. I recommend you go see the site for that, but really, he has some other great photo essays as well, including one on Bureaucrats and another on the survivors of force labour on the Burma and Sumatra railways.

All the photographs are well done, and the essays are strong. I’d include a sample here, but it’s all locked down in Flash.

How to find grocery deals in Toronto

Easy! Throw the output of my Yahoo Pipe: Toronto Grocery Deals from Toronto on the Cheap into your RSS reader. The URL is http://pipes.yahoo.com/bernie_michalik/weeklytorontogrocerydeals and is extracted from the feed of the excellent web site, Toronto on the Cheap.

Coincidence?

From the great blog, Iconic Photos, here is a photo of Adlai Stevenson in the 1950s:

And this one is over 50 years later:

Coincidence?

The rise of Caravaggio and the decline of Michelangelo

It seems odd to state that Michelangelo is declining, since it is relative to the ascent of Caravaggio, at least according to this article in the NYTmes.com. It’s also not true that Caravaggio has suddenly come out of nowhere. But it is interesting to see how a certain fatigue has likely set in when it comes to Michelangelo and how likely it is that Caravaggio is the beneficiary of that.

I have always thought it fascinating how the reputation and interest in artists waxes and wanes over time. This is an opportunity to see one develop.

(A photo of one of Caravaggio’s works from Virginia Della Rosa’s photostream on flickr.com)

Five Reasons Companies Should Not Block Access to Social Networks (plus one more)

I like how this story in Advertising Age starts:

“Last week, a client told me that they don’t allow employees to access YouTube at work. “Do your employees carry cellphones?” I asked. The answer was yes, of course. Well then, most of them already have access to YouTube – right in their pockets.”

Very true. And so I would add this additional reason to the five very good reasons listed in the article:

  • Providing social networks to employees can be a competitive advantage to employers. You can attractive people more easily if they know you allow employees to use social networks and your employees will spend less time accessing them on things like their cell phones and therefore be more productive.

Check out the article in Advertising Age, especially if you are blocking or considering block social networks at your work location.

What’s living and 12,000 years old

This clonal mojave yucca:

According to wikipedia, such plants originate from one single ancestor, so one plant can essentially clone itself and live on and on. (Clonal colonies are fascinating in themselves.)

Rachel Sussman has a portfolio of the oldest living things, such as the yucca pictured here and may other things, including 2000 year old trees and much more. Well worth checking out. (Found via Swiss Miss).

Edward Tufte Goes to Washington

That President Obama has appointed Edward Tufte “to the independent panel that advises the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board (i.e., the team of inspectors general who track how stimulus funds are spent)” may not seem like a big deal. But if they listen to him, it could make a big difference in how organizations communicate in general. That may seem like hyperbole, but many companies and organizations looked at how Obama ran his election campaign in 2008 and the tools and technologies and approaches he used, and made that a model for how they themselves should use these things. With any luck, the work Tufte does could be another model for people to use. Here’s hoping!

For more on this, see this good post: How Legendary Information Designer Edward Tufte Can Help Obama Govern from The Gaggle Blog at Newsweek.com.

Love Songs for Grownups

There are a few artists: Bonnie Raitt, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, among others, who can write and sing love songs that someone other than teens can associate with. There’s a complexity to their music and the relationships that they sing about. I think of them as love songs for grownups. There’s nothing wrong with love songs aimed at teens: it’s just not something I can relate to. But songs like this, Sheryl Crow’ s My Favorite Mistake, I can relate to. Here it is:

Cool Dashboard Tech to inform and inspire your team

Can be seen here:

It’s an automated dashboard displayed on a Sumsung 460UXN-2 for the team at Panic to glance at for the latest and greatest info on their work and things related to it (like transit information!). This post describes all the information on the screen, as well as how they went about building it. Anyone who works on IT projects should consider building one of these.

The goodness of Joanna Newsom and the NYTimes.com

Two good things:

  1. a very substantial write up of Joanna Newsom in the NYTimes.com
  2. a number of tracks of her music, including “Sprout and the Bean”

If you use VMWare Virtual Appliances, read this (and then you won’t waste all of the hours that I did today!) :)

(This is somewhat geeky, but then if you are in reading a post about VMWare virtual appliances, you already knew that. :) It’s not really geeky, because I am an IT architect, and we can only get so technical. :D)

The problem, in a nutshell, was that I had a virtual appliance running Ubuntu server on top of my Windows XP machine, and I could not get the stupid appliance to snag an IP address so that I could use WINSCP to load files onto Ubuntu to test. That was the problem. Oddly, it used to work — I had even documented what I had done — but that was months ago.

To try and solve the problem, I tried all sorts of fussing and fiddling with configurations of the appliance. A colleague of mine who knows lots about VMWare suggested it could be a MAC address mismatch, so I mucked around with the MAC address within the appliance and then the .VMX file itself.  After many hours of that, it still didn’t work. (It’s a slow slog, changing and rebooting, etc. Plus, the appliance was locked down, preventing me from changing some files in /etc).

FINALLY, I deleted the directories of the appliance on Windows XP and uninistalled VMWare Player, and then reinstalled VMWare Player and the appliance. This time, the appliance picked up the IP address. This was good! But I could still not connect to the appliance with WINSCP.

However, I did think that maybe the fact that I had no network connectivity (direct or wireless) could have something to do with it. So I deleted the appliance again, connected wirelessly to my router, and then reinstalled the appliance. This time everything worked.

So, to sum up, if you are having such problems, rather than fool around with the appliance, try deleting it, uninstalling the player, and then installing the player and the appliance.

The Canadian Couch Potato Investment Strategy: now with an ethical option

I am a big believer in the Couch Potato investment approach, and I highly recommend it everyone who finds money a) useful to have b) boring to think about. Now there is an ethical investment option. You can find out more about both here: The Ethical Couch Potato « Canadian Couch Potato.

If you want to aggressively manage your investments, then this is not for you. For everyone else, I highly recommend it.

On watching the Oscars, the Olympics etc with hundreds of my closest friends

Last night I watched the Oscars with hundreds of people I hang out with
daily. I did the same thing watching Olympic hockey. Likewise during the
recent U.S. Presidential election. How I did it was via Twitter.

Having done this for these events, I can’t imagine doing it without Twitter
now. I love hearing and exchanging viewpoints with my tweeps while the
event goes on.exciting events are more exciting and boring bits are more
bearable. And I get to hear people’s opinions in real time, not days later.
It’s not the same as a party, but it is pretty good and better than
watching it by yourself.

If you haven’t done it, I highly recommend it. You’ll have fun and learn
more about the people you follow on Twitter.

(Hacked out on my Blackberry. Thanks for reading this.)
—————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld.

So your twitter account has been hacked, now what?

It happens to the best of people, like John C. Dvorak.

If it does, don’t panic. Go to twitter, click on “Settings” on the top right of the page and look for “Password”. Go in there and change your password to something more difficult. Also, see “Connections”? Go in there and revoke any applications you don’t recognize or want.

You can find more tips here and here.

The great photographs of Uzbekistan by Umida Akhmedova

According to the site, English Russia,

In the end of 2009 the Uzbekistan Agency on Press and Information has initiated a criminal proceeding against a talented documentarian photographer and the first camerawoman in the country – Umida Akhmedova. She was charged with the “slander and outrage against the Uzbek people” in her photos. She is threatened to be sentenced to 2-3 years of correctional works or to 6 months imprisonment.

This is a shame: her photographs appear to be anything but slanderous and outrageous. Here’s a great shot of an old woman

and another of a young girl

There’s more at the English Russia site (as well as all sorts of fascinating stories from that side of the world).

More brillian Legomation: this time Star Wars

If you liked the great job that was done in reanimating a scene from the Matrix, then you will love this video, The Force Unleashed. Equally well done.

As a side note, there is a site Bricks in Motion that looks to bring together Lego animators. Here’s hoping the result is more great legomation.

How to save time processing email at work

This article, Using a three-folder system to keep e-mail under control in Unclutterer is a good approach to simplying the time it takes to process email. I use this approach and have been for some time. Before I used to try and file my email in different folders, but it just took too much time and it didn’t help me much in locating lost emails. Having less folders is better.

However, before you file it, ask yourself: can I delete this? If you can, do it. That will save you even more time, now and in the future.

How not to use social media

I think this explains itself: Israeli Raid Canceled After Facebook Leak from The Lede Blog on NYTimes.com.

30 Chick Flicks in 30 Days

Awesome. The author of this blog, in an attempt to better understand women, decided to watch 30 Chick Flicks in 30 Days and write about the experiment. As he says:

“How far would you go to understand the opposite sex?

That question has helped to fuel the idea behind this site, “30 Chick Flicks in 30 Days: One Guy’s Exploration of Romance Through Movies Loved by Women”.

First, you should know that I’m that “guy” exploring these films. Second, my name is Nick. I’m a husband, and have been for seven years. Third, no one put me up to this. And fourth, I’m not some professional film critic. I live in a small town in southern Oklahoma. I work in communications.

This little experiment will begin Friday, Jan. 15, 2010, and conclude on Saturday, Feb. 13, 2010—the day before Valentine’s Day. That’s 30-straight days; 30-straight chick flicks.”

I think there could be a book or movie here. Certainly it’s a good looking blog. Go see. C’mon….you know you are intrigued.  :)

Labor Costs in China

There’s a good article here talking about how JP Morgan thinks China has a huge labor problem. The article is worth reading, but a chart says a thousand words, so here it is:

Clearly labour costs are rising greatly. But is it a problem? That depends. It’s not like Chinese wages were high to begin with: if you are a Chinese worker, this is not a “problem” at all, at least in the short term. In the longer term, though, it will create some interesting dynamics both in China and outside when it comes to labour and capital worldwide.

For font nerds (and fans of Bob Marley or Eric Clapton)

Found at Andrew Sullivan’s site.

Shameless web site theft: TeuxDeux and the TeuxDeux “clone”

This is the teux deux web site: What deux yeux have teux deux teuxday? It’s associated with Swiss Miss, as you can see.

Now check out this site: TeuxDeux Clone

Can you see much of a difference (other than the word “Clone” appearing?). Nope, me either. But if you hadn’t heard of the original, you might overlook the clone part (“clone” being a fancy way of saying “rip-off”, I guess.) I’d like to think there is a good reason for ripping off the original site, but I can’t think of one right now.

Sad.

Now if you think the site is a great idea, then go to the original.

An amazing SNL reunion – the ex-Presidents come back to haunt Barack Obama

In this Funny or Die.com video (made by Ron Howard, no less), we see Will Ferrell, Chevy Chase, Ron Howard, Jim Carrey, Fred Armisen, Darrell Hammond, Dan Aykroyd, and Dana Carvey team up in one video, all playing the U.S. Presidents they did so well. It’s like a Beatles reunion! Well, not quite, but it is still remarkable (and funny, too). It’s for a good cause, but even the most rapacious of bankers will enjoy this video.

Great stuff.

You know you want these pants!

There are all kinds of great thing you can get at 20×200, include great art for $20. Check it out. (Found via Swiss Miss).

Don’t Hit F1 in Windows If a Web Site Asks You To!

It could end up with bad things being downloaded and run on your Windows PC. See Lifehacker if you want the details. In general, if a web site asks you to do something unusual, pass on it until you do some investigation.

Seb’s Cappuccino: Old World Cappuccino in Toronto

With so many coffee shops offering cappuccinos and other old world coffees, it’s hard to imagine that once only places like Seb’s Cappuccino would have been selling them. The great thing is that places like Seb’s still exist and still offer great cappuccinos, according to BlogTO. So head over and enjoy. (The canolis look amazing too).

This is how I want to look as I get older…

The Sartorialist does a superb job of photographing many subjects, including older men. Indeed, looking at the style of older men there, I feel more strongly than ever than style is something you have, like taste, and like taste, it can last your entire life. So you can still look this good late in life: if anything, your style can be more polished and refined, just like your taste can.

Game-ifying reality

Related to the “Glow” post below, Kevin Kelly at The Technium has a post on the Game-ified Life. What does that mean? In a nutshell:

“It’s the last third of his talk where Schell really gets going. He offers a vision where ordinary life is gameified. Cheap tracking technology turns whatever you do into a “game” that accumulates points. As the gameification of life becomes ubiquitous, you go through your day racking up points and “getting to the next level.” Instead of getting grades in school you graduate to the next level. It’s a head spinning scenario, with lots to love and hate, but well worth considering.”

We all do this in a limited way now: I play “Punch Buggy” with my kids, people on the subway try to stand in the proper place on the platform to get on the train faster and get a seat easier, drivers try to find the fastest way home. What our new technology allows us to do is to play more sophisticated versions of those games. For example, it would be interesting to have a game that allowed you to track your carbon footprint for the day, week and month, and provide you with suggestions on how you could lower it. To make it more interesting, you could compete with out people who have the game. I can imagine all sorts of games like this. To people who don’t like games or bets, it may sound stupid. But for people who do like games and bets, it is a way to make the mundane more interesting. I can see it taking off.

Glow: Location-Based “Feelings” for iPhone and other such ideas

RWW has a review of Glow: Location-Based “Feelings” for iPhone. Essentially you can enter your feelings on your iPhone, and Glow will somehow aggregate them with the feelings of others and put them on a map. It’s an interesting idea, and like Twitter or other augmented reality software, this one could end up taking off. If….and here’s the thing…it could take off if you could get more from it then you put in. One of the things I thing any such app should do is provide I high benefit/cost ratio. Users should think: wow, I want to use this, and even take the time to submit my status, because it provides me with alot of value. For example, with Glow, if enough people go to a place and report positive feelings, others might want to go and check it out. (Likewise with negative feelings).

I also think that iPhones and other devices should be able to gather some of this information automatically. Either through better sensors or through even faster inputs (e.g. if I had a bluetooth device I could quickly tap to send a signal).

Regardless of where this technology goes, I expect to see alot more of it in the future.