Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Interface with overlay navigation

The design team at Colette is trying to do something interesting - they have built an unusual interface to their web catalog. There are drag-able items layered on top of a sketch of a room - not that interesting in itself - but when you roll over the items, one of item on each screen will bring a transparent layer over the room sketch. They haven't taken this further, which is disappointing. But there is an idea in there somewhere... imagine using transparent layers as a way of navigating, up a level, down a level, different places..... wouldn't that be neat?

Do you know of any sites that use overlays to help visitors navigate? I'd love to hear from you...

Thursday, December 2, 2004

City Symphonies & Urban Memories

Interesting next week:

City Symphonies & Urban Memories: Database Documentaries from the Labyrinth Project

December 7: Presentation, Marsha Kinder and Scott Mahoy

6 p.m. Bill Bordy Theatre, 1st floor, 216 Tremont St., Boston.


8 p.m. Huret & Spector Gallery 6th floor, 10 Boylston Place, Boston.

December 7-10: Exhibit

December 7: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

December 8-10: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Huret & Spector Gallery 6th floor, 10 Boylston Place, Boston.

More information on this and other events can be found on the City in Transition website,

Friday, December 3, 2004

Claudia Cortes' Colors

My friend Antonia just sent me a link to Claudia Cortes'Colors because she liked it and thought that I might too. She really goes for all of that artsy stuff. All I can say is that it is so riddled with gender stereotypes that I am considering sending an email to the artist to complain and adding Antonia's email address to my spam list so that her emails get blocked.

For those of you who aren't familiar with the site, it includes movies for each of six colors (red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and violet). In each movie, animated people that look like the people on public bathroom doors (the guys wear pants and the women and girls wear skirts) walk around and act out words that are represented by the color.

But listen to this … which gender is shown to represent the words educated, technical, authoritative, commanding, and rebellious? Men of course! The few women in the movie (wearing skirts of course) represent words like vain and fantastic (a delicate fairy!), or are nursing someone back to health, walking children to the school bus, or reading a book to children at bedtime. Not that I have a problem with showing women as being nurturing or anything, but there certainly are plenty of intelligent, commanding, and authoritative women out there as well (have you ever tried getting a kid to go to bed at their bed time? I rest my case!). There are plenty of nurturing male nurses and house-husbands out there as well (and they probably don't like it that their professions are always being represented by women).

The same thing happens in video gaming as well. The games are just the same old sexist fairy tales rewritten, over and over. The men are there "to save the day" and be some kind of big testosterone-driven hero, while the women are there just to have big boobs—so that the game companies can successfully market their products to all of those horny adolescent boys out there that have nothing else to masturbate to because they are too young to buy pornos. It makes me so angry!

Saturday, December 4, 2004

Working in a bookstore

Bookstores aren't particularly peaceful before Christmas. There is all the angelic music for sure - no escape from angel harps sounding over you while you browse through the sections. But this is manageable. Customers aren't always so.

Since the internet, people have been treating bookstores differently. It's like everything is disposable: You read something, you dispose of it. In the past, you could always count on someone shouting out "oh, I have that book!" if you mentioned your current readings. Alas, no more: People stop by, pick a book, buy it, read it.... and.... RETURN IT!!! Just have a look at this article - The Barnes and Noble's experience:

One of the first things I learned while working at Barnes & Noble was that you should never, ever pay for a book. You can read an entire goddamn novel in the store and we won't bug you once. If you'd rather the convenience of reading at home, simply pay for the book, keep the reciept, and finish it within fourteen days. Even if you say "I didn't like it." they'll take it back. If this surprises you, then you should be even more surprised to learn that this is B&N's version of a strict return policy; recently changed from 'If we carry it, you can return it; no questions asked.' You'd be surprised at the number of people who do this; many seemingly consider Barnes & Noble a library that just happens to require safety deposits.

What's happening here?

I wonder - can it be a side effect of how we read on the internet? People don't keep physical libraries of anything anymore, let's just face it... they don't even shop for cd's now when all they need to do is to load the music into your iPod... Digital artifacts like book lists in a blog is more important than your home library. People enjoy showing off what they are listening to in their Instant Messenger heading when they are online more than bragging about having someone's lates album..

Anyway - this all means that every single day, clerks like me get bugged down with sales return after sales return, even before the infamous month of January...

The link above is a pretty hilarious read. I feel inspired to write about my own stories! Lately, this strange, elder guy have been coming to the bookstore. He never buys anything. He stays in the religious section area, carefully scrutinizing every single book. Yesterday, he seemed very interested as this cute guy approach me, asking for advice on a cooking book for his mum... I wonder what that was about - it was kind of creepy that he was so interested in our conversation. I'm already convinced that this guy is a live blog post waiting to happen...

Sunday, December 5, 2004


TEKKA 7 is nearly out! Ed Ward writes about the music record industry:

Cliché Number Three states that the record companies have now suffered so much financial damage at the hands of file-sharing that their future is imperiled. Plummeting sales, caused by Internet piracy, have made the major record labels trim their rosters, putting artists out of work, causing tours to be abandoned, and making it necessary for them to lay off huge quantities of staff.

Monday, December 6, 2004

Digital Libraries

JoDi's Volume 5, Issue 3 is all about Digital Libraries and User Needs.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

Online dating

I'm having so much fun trying out different dating sites!

It would have been so much more fun to do this together with someone - but Madison isn't game. I've tried hard to convince her -- these sites are getting better and better all the time. Obviously there are some flaws here and there, and outrageous claims, too. At you can take an attraction test to see who you'd be attracted to, and who'd be attracted to you. So far, I'm not seeing exactly how that can be assessed in pure data, but ... it is interesting.

I spent some time creating some profiles on different sites this morning. When I got back from lunch, I had to spend nearly an hour sifting through my inbox! So what if some of them aren't quite what one is looking for...? There are bound to be one or two you'd want to meet up with.

I'm emailing with at least 7 guys right now - it is nice to have some choice! Come to think of it, Madison's problem is that she is too picky... When she was over at my place last week and talked about this, we did a few searches on She didn't like anybody! I bet if she just met some of them face to face, she'd think different...

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Giant in the Playground's "Order of the Stick"

I found this great site this morning. It's a comic strip called "Order of the Stick" from the Web site The comic artist, Rich Burlow, is a game writer and designer, and he is absolutely hilarious. It had me in hysterics! The characters are all straight from a role-playing game — the heroes include a rogue, a halfling ranger, and their battle-hardened leader Roy Greenhilt.

My favorite of strip was a spoof on those inane automated voicemail answering systems — you know, the ones with menu after menu of options that confuse and frustrate you every time your phone bill is wrong or you want to change your billing information with your insurance company. The minstrel, Elan the Bard, has been injured in the field of battle, so Durkon Thundershield the dwarven cleric decides to make an appeal to the Mighty Thor in an attempt to save him. But instead of the great and powerful Thor, he instead ends up with a recorded menu of choices at ThorPrayer®. He is trying to get a "Healing Miracle," but when the automated system asks him to enter the first three letters of the name of the miracle, H-E-A gets him the options of "Heathen Smiting" and "Heat Blisters." For each, he is asked to chant "one" if it is correct and chant "two" if it is not correct. The results are funny and twisted, but I won't give them away. Poor Elan … he was better off with the swords stuck in his spleen!

The page says that it is updated every Monday and Thursday. This one is definitely going into my bookmarks.

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Will this work?

I decided to do the dirty work for Madison:

Dear NewToThis72, I came across your profile today and thought you looked interesting. Are you really into computer games? That's my passion, too! One day, I'll be a game designer. But I'm not there just yet; I'm working at a bookstore at the mall for now. What's your favorite multi-player game?

I'd love to hear from you. Please have a look at my profile and let me know where you'd like to meet!


Wednesday, December 8, 2004

Lionel Kearns

Recommended: On Lionel Kerns - by Jim Andrews

The "Birth of God/uniVerse" visual poem from 1965 is extrordinary in its relevance to digital culture, having been written prior to there really being any. But, as Kearns points out, when he wrote the piece, he was not thinking so much of computers as the dynamic of binary generation present in creation myths, Leibnitz's philosophy, the principles of yin and yang, etc. He was thinking less about technology than philosophy, language, and poetry. This would tend to produce work that is less disposable than a given technology. Computers could as well operate in something other than base two (binary) and, in fact, did so in the earliest days of computers. In this sense, that "Birth of God/uniVerse" is iconic of the birth of the digital age is coincidental. However, the poem is generative of all things, including coincidence. It is close to the source of things. It is thoughtful about the primal. Additionally, there is a concern with design and simplicity here I admire. It is not psychadelic.

Thursday, December 9, 2004


He wrote back! He'd like to see her for lunch!

But how do I convince her to do this? I already asked her if she had plans for lunch tomorrow and she said she was free. The problem is, if I tell her that she has a date, she'd probably not agree to go. How do I make this happen... I need to think, fast.

And - come to think of it - I should probably find her a few other matches, just in case. Better safe than sorry. Madison is extremely picky.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Peter Pan

Peter Pan is a popular character these days. The new movie "Finding Neverland" has received great reviews.

In TEKKA's Here be Matches, Elin Sjursen uses Peter Pan as a metaphor for her experiences in online dating:

In the beginning, looking for love online felt a little like entering Peter Pan's Never Never Land, where dreams are born and time is unplanned. Tapping the keyboard lightly, my fingertips brought a seemingly endless number of tall, dark, smiling knights to the brim of my screen. Here were my matches: compatible males of all shapes, sizes and colors. At first sight, utopia came to mind, but online daters quickly realize that this is where their searches begin, not end.

Monday, December 13, 2004

End of Men?

Take a look at this article: As Y Chromosome Shrinks, End of Men Pondered. One can only hope, I suppose? The very last thing I'd want in my life right now is a guy. Antonia invited me over to do this online dating thing a few days ago, but... even 20 minutes of that was more than enough for me to validate my impression of men: they're a bunch of needy, impossible, self-important puddles of flesh.

Their profiles all sound the same. They want a woman who would look just as great in a black, sexy little dress as she would in jeans and sneakers. Would Coco Chanel see a contradiction here?

This study is a sign from God.... Check it out!

Some geneticists think the Y chromosome is now little more than a genetic wasteland that will eventually just disappear. If that were to happen, it would certainly spell the end of sexual reproduction.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Good Experiences

Oh! This looks incredibly interesting! A conference on what makes a good experience. About time - how come I didn't know about this before?

The participants are divided into tracks. Some visit a school, others the market, some the street, and some lucky attendees will go to the museum, all on the look-out for good experiences.

I really want to go - think about all the ideas you'll bring home and implement in your designs. Most of our clients at work hire us to design their web catalogs - studying how people buy and salesmen sell at markets might give valuable insights in how interactions on a website could be designed. Perhaps I could get this trip sponsored...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Men everywhere

What is going on? I'm flabbergasted. I was just posting about wanting to write about my bookstore clerk experiences a few days ago - and suddenly, I'm overwhelmed by strange incidents. Like if I didn't already have enough to write about!

Yesterday, a slightly overweight guy walked up to me right before lunch, with a shy smile, handing me his business card. "I'm Brad," he stuttered. What was I supposed to say? Did I know him? Hmm…

He just stood there, waiting for me to make the next move. "...and..?" I finally asked. "Well, here I am!" he smiled. Yes, indeed he was - but what did he want from me?

He looked like a complete jerk, standing there in his wrinkled business suit, hiding his arms behind his back.

"Can I help you with something?" I said. "Well, I am here for lunch!" He kept smiling as if I knew him. "This is a bookstore," I reminded him, just in case this wasn't already obvious. I've had people ask for underwear here before, so everything is possible. "Aha..." he said, not entirely convinced, though... and wiggled his eyebrows back and forth a few times, nervously. "Is everything OK?" He shuffled some hair away from his face.

"I'm fine!" I insisted. I'd be better if he got the hell out of the store, but... "You know, usually, you get lunch over there, at the Food Court. Or, you could try the California Pizza Kitchen at the end of the mall." I pointed out the door with my finger, turning away from him to show him I was done with the conversation. I mean, f i n i s h e d. Done.

But he didn't move! I turned my back to him and began sorting some books to be re-shelved. Some minutes passed. What did he want from me? Finally, just before I was seriously freaked out, he left, slowly, looking at me as he walked though the door as if I was nuts.

Then today, when I came back from lunch... my store manager handed me another business card. "Frank DeLuca, Research Assistant" it said. "Where did this come from?" I asked. "Some guy was here, asking for you during lunch," she said.

What is this all about!

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

The End of Men 2!

The news at NPR are really amusing these days. Here is another End of Men article - Making Sperm, No Men Necessary. This study is a gem!

(By the way.... notice that this study is lead by men.... talk about being self destructive!)

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Pardon Me

Very slowly, haltingly, a white highlighted block of text scans through a dictionary for the right word. It reaches the letter p, and soon enough, two letters appeared as a sentence on the top of the screen, "Pardon Me."

Friday, December 17, 2004


Each month, a Tinderbox Troll prize is awarded to a reader who submits the best contributing blogpost for our TEKKAlogue story.

For immediate release: Bishop Angry Green to join Tinctoris

Watertown, December 17.

Early this morning, Bishop Angry Green's application for a transfer from TEKKAlogue's headquarter to Tinctoris was considered and accepted during a staff meeting. Bishop Angry Green wrote in his application that Miss Bliss Peaceful, in spite of numerous warnings and angry hisses, had continued to aggravate him with her thoughtful, calm expression. Unfortunately, this irreconcilable conduct of behavior from Miss Bliss Peaceful has made it impossible for Bishop Angry Green to concentrate on his note taking.

TEKKAlogue's staff will miss Bishop Angry Green tremendously, but agreed that a transfer is the best solution due to these special circumstances. We know Jeffrey Radcliffe at Tinctoris will take good care of Bishop Angry Green so that he can concentrate on his note taking once again.

Congratulations to Jeffrey Radcliffe, may your new Tinder Troll inspire. Bishop Angry Green has been wrapped in a sound proof box and shipped to your office.

Sincerely, TEKKAlogue Staff

Want your own Tinder Troll? Read the guidelines and send us a blog post to

Friday, December 17, 2004

I think I'm in trouble...

Oh, what have I done? Madison absolutely hated that guy I sent over to have lunch with her yesterday. She rejected him flat out. But he is still hoping for a second date!


sorry for both of us that things were rather staid yesterday on our meeting. it's too bad, but that's the way it often works, as each person has a lot of getting used to in terms of three-dimensionalizing the other, particularly in a short date with two somewhat shy people. I'm taking a philosophical view on this-- where you see a person for the first time to evaluate them, and it's often very formal, then a visit or two later, you're both comfortable. so i always offer a second date, if you accept. My experience is that it is much more relaxed and fun. Let me know, Madison. I'll drop by the store again.


How pompous! And stuffy.... he must be desperate for attention.

What do I do now? It is all my fault - I set both Madison and this guy up. But for Madison's sake (and mine, if she ever finds out I'm behind this!) - I must get her out of this NOW. Hopefully he'll see the exit sign in this message. I just sent an email:

Fred, thank you for taking the time to see me. But the truth is that there is no chemistry between us. I appreciate that you came to see me, but a second meeting is NOT in our future. I don't want to meet you again, nor do I want to see you at my workplace. Best of luck - I hope you will find the right person for you. Madison.

Clear enough? Phew. Close call.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Making Music

In the new TEKKA, Ed Ward writes about the confrontation between the music industry, the downloaders, and the people who make the music.

This whole file-sharing fracas has been in the news, ever since I got back, and it's good to see someone who doesn't just assume that music is something they make and you buy. It's good, too, that someone understands the world is bigger than the nearest shopping mall.

I especially like his point distinction between kids and connoisseurs. People act as if the everything turns on what Japanese preteens think is kawaii, because all those preteens shop the same way. But it's a big world: even in the village, we used to get CDs and videos. We'd all gather in Kestrel's house and watch Tom Cruise together. And yes, there are a lot of Japanese preteens, but there are a lot of villages in this big old world.

And, however far I went, I never got beyond video night.

That's one big difference, though: we'd watch and listen together. Not many iPods and personal videos in the village.

Monday, December 20, 2004

War between the Roses

Kieran digs into the gender issue and asks where the female bloggers are:

This process of association affects content, too. which in turn affects the probability of reading and linking. It may be that explicitly political blogs are more male-oriented because of the confluence of male concerns and linking patterns. For example, earlier this year Matt Yglesias was wondering why women weren't interested in politics. There's a time-demands answer to this, which I'll get to in a minute, but it's also the case that many of the political concerns of women are not well-addressed in mainstream political commentary, or are simply not thought to be political issues at all (e.g., "work/family choices").

Bitch Ph.D. argues that Kieran is missing the point:

The other thing I've been thinking is this. As academics, it is our job--is it not?--to read things and think about them. Not seeing that there is meaning in domesticity, that there is meaning in daily life, that there is meaning and thinking in these silly, diaristic women's blogs, really demonstrates a lack of reading skill.

This process of association affects content, too. which in turn affects the probability of reading and linking. It may be that explicitly political blogs are more male-oriented because of the confluence of male concerns and linking patterns. For example, earlier this year Matt Yglesias was wondering why women weren't interested in politics. There's a time-demands answer to this, which I'll get to in a minute, but it's also the case that many of the political concerns of women are not well-addressed in mainstream political commentary, or are simply not thought to be political issues at all (e.g., "work/family choices").

Bitch Ph.D. argues that Kieran is missing the point:

The other thing I've been thinking is this. As academics, it is our job - is it not? - to read things and think about them. Not seeing that there is meaning in domesticity, that there is meaning in daily life, that there is meaning and thinking in these silly, diaristic women's blogs, really demonstrates a lac

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Forgot the Christmas cards again?

- do not fear. You'll be thrilled to know that finally, thanks to a real artist, sending interactive e-cards won't make people think you're a cheapskate, nor will it make you look cheesy!

Jacquie Lawson has done something incredible. She has created a subscription based e-card service for those in need of a proper card to send for special occasions: there is NO advertising, no promises of freebies or anything else. Don't be fooled by the unclean website design. The cards are delightful - surf through her site and click on the previews of those cards - you'll want to subscribe in a snap!

Especially if you (like me..) haven't done your Christmas card duty...

I'm so curious about her business model. She has managed to give her customer a feeling of something exclusive: her subscription renewal rate is 70 %. That is a high number, given that there are only 47 cards on her site, each card cannot be sent to more than some ten thousand people, and she only adds about 10 new cards every year.

Monday, December 27, 2004


I'm feeling more lonely than usual, this Christmas. I've never celebrated the holidays much in the past, but always welcomed some peaceful days off. This year, I have a suspicion that I am, and have been missing out.

While most people, or so it seems, have been running around decorating their homes with trees and whimsy, I've been walking around the city, reflecting on my past.

Still searching for my daughter. The first step is to find her mother. This hasn't been easy, for embarrassing reasons. The truth is, I knew quite a few women back then. Some may never want speak to me again, but I'm hopeful that they may be able to forgive. I am after all, a changed man.

Christmas may be over soon, but if you're up for it, this site offer some advice for the lonely. Remember your inner core of steel, think happy, be generous. Volunteer to help others.. That's my plan!

Monday, December 27, 2004

Blog Bridging

Pito Salas recently made his new blog reader, Blog Bridge, available for download:

BlogBridge is a new kind of Blog Reader, making it practical for a non-technical user to discover, follow and enjoy literally hundreds of feeds without losing their mind.

The Boston Globe writes: "It's the 'pure entrepreneur who often leads the way"

''I sometimes liken my personal approach to the BlogBridge project to writing a book," Salas writes via e-mail. ''I have a burning desire to tell this story, and am willing to forsake a conventional job to do it."

Monday, December 27, 2004

When Lawyers Blog

Described as a a cultural phenomenon, the anonymous lawyer's blog became a popular outlet for frustrated associates at elite law firms, commenting on his post at late hours. The anonymous lawyer, "in short, a petty, cynical, sexist, miserable, overpaid corporate creep", was immensely popular with his readers who recognized his world, in spite of his fictional existence.

"Gosh. I seem to be in the New York Times today." blogs Jeremy Blachman, a Harvard law student, claiming authorship of the anonymous lawyer.

What does this mean for the anonymous lawyer? Does fictional blogs end when the author steps into the limelight?

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I got my brother some really cool wireless Playstation controllers for Christmas. I really wanted to get him a copy of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas, but my mum would have a fit... so I got it for myself. That was practically an invitation for him to move in with me... Oy. I should have known better!

There is a great San Andreas video review atGameSpot by Jeff Gerstmann. I've been spending most of my Christmas break on this game... is that bad?

Antonia came by, and for once, she wasn't nagging me to go out with her. She seemed kind of worried, though, just sitting there, watching me play. It was nice to be able to do what I want to do for once, but... honestly, I think something is up. I hope she hasn't gotten herself into any trouble.

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Getting help to Asia matters a lot. It's hard for the blogosphere to know what to say. Please do what you can.

I was moved by a phone call on cable news from some American tourists, a family that had been enjoying a luxurious beach vacation when the earthquake hit. They have rolled up their sleeves and pitched in, working long days to clear debris.

I was impressed by the Amazon donation page -- not just because they replaced their home page, but because they show you -- right up front -- what they've collected and how many people have already donated. (More than $4M already!) Every time you refresh the page, the totals edge higher.

It is impressive in so many ways. You can see what's happening right now. You do something -- and you can see the result right away.

Oxfam's news page has a great sense of immediacy, too. Not just accounts of immense needs, but also exactly what they are doing right now. "Hired a ferry in Trincomalee... Aid flight leaves at 2.30pm GMT for Sri Lanka and Indonesia - the plane is scheduled to arrive at 10.30 on Thursday." Medecins sans Frontieres has the same idea: don't just show us the enormity of the disaster, show us what to do, and what is being done.