Archive for May, 2007


Smile, You’re on Google Maps!

On Tuesday Google unleashed a new feature on their Google Maps. It’s called Street View and allows you to zoom in to the level of the street and see what the outside of buildings look like and move about the streets of the city almost just like playing the old game Myst except without the puzzles. So far it looks like they’ve only got San Francisco, Las Vegas, Denver, New York City and Miami in the system but they have people driving their cameras around other cities taking pictures.

Unfortunately there are already complaints coming in of all the invasion of privacy issues. You can see people’s faces, license plates, and sometimes into their living rooms. Still, the pictures were taken on public streets and are, therefore, technically legal. Google has provided a means to report inappropriate views of people and/or buildings.

That being said a lot of people are having fun spotting strange photos (I found an odd one… teabagging?!?) and intrepid searchers have even found me loitering about txting a friend.

Smile! You’re on Google Maps!

It’s an interesting project and I can’t wait to see what other people find…

8 Comments | Catergorized: geek  life  photos  rights  san francisco  technology


Sparkletack: San Francisco History

I just discovered a podcast blog called Sparkletack that covers San Francisco and particularly San Francisco history. This is the first time I’ve ever been interested in listening to a podcast and so far I’ve been pretty impressed with it. This place has such a colorful wild history and most people aren’t even aware of it; check out the American original steam beer or my icon Emperor Norton or America’s first black millionaire. So much. So brilliant. Thank you Richard Miller!

Comments Off on Sparkletack: San Francisco History | Catergorized: geek  san francisco


Population Density, Oil and Quality of Life

While I disagree with Orson Scott Card on the issue of global warming I cannot disagree with his desire to wean America off of our dependence on oil and his solution: the rise of neighborhoods where automobiles are almost completely unnecessary.

The rising middle class has to go miles from anywhere to find houses they can afford. They hope that when enough of them have moved into an area, somebody will build a grocery store.

But my plan would require the developer to build the grocery store into the plan for the village he’s building right from the start. The streets would all connect; no cul-de-sacs. There would be sidewalks everywhere, and retail close at hand. It would be a neighborhood from the moment you move in.

I’ve always thought population density was important. It creates neighborhoods, it reduces the need for oil and puts more quality of life options (retail, hostpitals, schools, friends, venues, etc) close at hand.

I keep hoping the population density here in San Francisco increases, but the base problem is it’s too bloody expensive here. That and the landlords are (generally) far too greedy for their own good. The cost of living needs to drop or at least remain static for a number of years before that will happen.

9 Comments | Catergorized: san francisco  thoughts


RFID Blocking Passport Wallets

Recently I asked for advice on where to find some sort of wallet for my new RFID embedded passport to prevent some random data jacker from stealing my data. I know I’m not alone in thinking RFID enabled passports is a bad idea.

That being said, it’s not like we have any choice in the matter. These things are being issued now.

So here are a few links to ways of protecting your spanking new chipped passport. Paraben Forensic Tools has an ugly but utilitarian looking bag. Travelon has a sporty ballistic nylon coated case. If you’re more into style, though, then you’ve got to get either the DIFRwear leather case or Kena Kai’s slightly fancier leather passport wallet. All of these are supposed to protect that RFID chip from being casually scanned, which is great news since I’m sure the thing will be completely hackable before the passport’s 10 year expiration date.

I bought the Travelon because I think anything ballistic is right up my alley.

5 Comments | Catergorized: fashion  technology


Light Posting Lately, Obviously

Obviously I haven’t been posting a lot lately. I’ve been in several moods the past week, none of which have been condusive to public writing. But that’s OK. Instead I’ve dredged up an old story line and have been working on it again. For those few who I’ve talked to about it, it’s the teen superhero schtick.

I haven’t forgotten the site, but until I start engaging the world again I think things will continue to be a bit light. I’ll try to keep it interesting by just posting quick links and such.

Comments Off on Light Posting Lately, Obviously | Catergorized: life  site  writing


Defining Freedom by Constraint

It’s something we often forget, but freedom is not defined by the freedoms themselves but by the constraints we place on them. It was good to read this reminder of that common sense premise. After all, absolute freedom is a tyranny of chaos and rule by brute strength instead of reason and respect. This is one of the primary arguments against idealistic anarchism.

While we should have the right to life, liberty, privacy and truth, there are limits we must accept with those rights. We also need to be vigilant that no one attempts to impose too great a limitation on those freedoms. It is a problem America is facing right now with the USA Patriot Act, the DMCA, excuses to curtail our freedom in the name of saving us from terrorists, and various lobbying groups for commercial interests trying to gain absolute control of our rights.

It’s something to think about and discuss, or at least to remember next time the government, or the music or film industry, or religious fanatics talk about limiting what we can and cannot do.

Comments Off on Defining Freedom by Constraint | Catergorized: rights  thoughts


Poor Little Redwood

Almost a year ago I planted a little redwood tree in my backyard because it was obvious he’d outgrown the pot he was living in. For the past year he’s endured the San Francisco weather. Incredibly hot February, chilly May and rainy October. Today, though, he suffered the worst he’ll ever hopefully face.

My landlord is cleaning out the upstairs and preparing to rent it out. Part of that preparation is painting the front of the building a nasty grey. The color isn’t the worst part; the scaffolding has been up for two months now. I don’t even remember what the front of my building looks like now.

Today, as part of the “cleanup”, the landlord hired a bunch of idiots to “landscape” the backyard. This consisted of cutting down everything that lived. The rose bush looks like it was an ear in a Mike Tyson fight! My poor redwood… He was in the middle of the yard when they attacked and, not having legs, couldn’t escape whatever implement of torture they used on him. He survived, but just barely.

He’s got a few limbs left but his proud, not-quite-two-feet is now reduced to about eight inches. I think he’ll survive, but I am NOT happy. Not happy at all. Poor little redwood… The good news is that I’ll be out there more often trying to spoil you back to thriving life again.

Stupid landscapers.

Comments Off on Poor Little Redwood | Catergorized: grrr  life


New Passport

I have a new passport. Where in the world should I go?

(Also, if anyone knows where to get a sleeve for the passport that blocks RFID scanning that would be great…)

5 Comments | Catergorized: life  thoughts


Lessons I Learned From Gramma

I got back from my Grandmother’s funeral in Detroit late last night. It was, as I imagine most occassions of this sort, a unique time to reflect upon her life and its impact on my own. I thought I would share a few life lessons I learned from my Gramma.

1: It’s easier to find a job when you already have one. And since my Aunt quoted this verbatim to me I guess this wisdom was dolled out liberally.

2: Let your kids find their own way. My Mom, Uncle and Aunt are all very different. In fact a stranger would be surprised they are related. Despite this, all of the good parts are there and the same stranger, after spending some time with them, would understand the similarities have little to do with lifepaths and everything to do with how they got there. I see this happening with my brother, sister and I, too.

3: If you can’t take a teasing, stay away from my family. I think my Aunt and Uncle had a lot of fun razzing me. I think this is a genetic trait in my family.

4: If you grow your hair long make sure it never gets in your eyes. I remember when I was a kid I wanted to grow my hair longer because all the cool kids were doing it. My Gramma didn’t seem to care so long as she could see my eyes. She even threatened to pin it up or cut it off if she couldn’t. Being able to see someone’s eyes is one of the primary means we see the honesty in other people. I think this is why I don’t like talking to people who wear sunglasses (and why I don’t wear them myself).

5: Independence is key to survival. This is a hard one to write about because I think her loss of independence is one of the primary reasons Gramma’s not with us now. But it spreads into other realms, too. Debt takes away your independence. Bad relationships take away your freedom (good relationships actually give you more freedom). Don’t keep owing favors to others; return the favor as soon as you can in a genuine way.

6: You’re not entitled to anything. You earn it and you keep earning it. Respect. Money. Love. Friends. A break from it all.

7: It’s possible to love someone all your life, even when they’re no longer with you.

There are many, many other things I’ve learned from Gramma but that’s a pretty decent list to start with.

3 Comments | Catergorized: family  life


I Smell a Pulitzer

Just read the headline of this article. Tell me someone hasn’t seen Star Wars a few too many times! Link via Population Statistic.

Comments Off on I Smell a Pulitzer | Catergorized: geek
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