Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Big Brother Is Watching XIX

If you drive through the town of Manalapan, Florida, not only will a series of cameras take infrared pictures of your vehicle and license plate, a network of computers will instantly run a background check on you and your vehicle. If anything fishy comes up in the background check, 911 will be dispatched. My advice: If there's a highway that bypasses the city, take it.

Thanks to TechDirt.

Event-O-Dex XCVII

Monday, May 3: New York Bloggers gather at the Apple Store Soho.

Monday, April 26, 2004

On Baseball

I just ordered a pair of tickets for a Brooklyn Cyclones game at the end of June. I'm quite excited about the presence of a minor-league team in my new hometown, and I'm thrilled silly that the park is on the edge of Coney Island. You can see the Cyclone from the stands.

I've also adopted the Mets as my major-league team to follow now that I live here. So far, they're not a very good team, but it's amazing how much more attention is given the Yankees. Word is that the people living in New York fall roughly 50/50 in terms of which teams they root for, but looking at the TV and newspaper coverage, the balance is decidedly in the Yanks' favor. Every day, the pinstripe players rate several pages of coverage and commentary, while the Mets are relegated to sidebars and smaller items.

It's easy to be a Yankees fan. And it's easy to become a Yankees fan. It's almost an assumption. The Yankees, even though they've been recently trounced by the Red Sox, don't need my help as much as the Mets do. A colleague just walked by, saw that I was scoping out Mets tickets for early June, and said, "Don't look at that sorry team!" The Yankees-Mets rivalry is strong here, and I'm often surprised that Yankees fans aren't more comfortable in their fandom. It's one of the biggest, best, and most bought team around; why the need to be defensive?

I don't have anything against the Yankees -- I don't root against them -- but they don't need my attention, backing, or faith as much as the Mets do. So I turn my eyes and mind to the Mets. And their minor-league feeder team, the Cyclones.

Go, teams.

Virtual Book Tour 4 IV

Time to catch up with Danyel Smith, who stops by Media Diet today as part of the Virtual Book Tour. I've encouraged her to write about some of the books, magazines, TV shows, movies, songs, and other media artifacts mentioned in he novel More Like Wrestling. Doing so will not only expand on and help annotate the novel; it'll provide some insight on Danyel's tastes and media memories.

Last week Wednesday, Danyel swung by Dashes to compare Oakland and Brooklyn. On Thursday, Claire "The Loon" Zulkey interviewed Danyel about writing. April 23, George Kelly interviewed Danyel via audioblog. Saturday, Jane Pinckard shares some of her Oakland memories circa 1986. And Confessions of an Indie Filmmaker will publish an interview with Danyel soon, as well.

I hope Media Dieticians everywhere will give Danyel a warm welcome when she stops by. I'm happy to have her join me as guest host!

Update: Danyel will be checking in later, as she's currently occupied otherwise. Keep your eyes peeled!

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

Gone Postal

I have a new P.O. Box! Media Dieticians can now send me anything and everything at

Heath Row
P.O. Box 3318
Grand Central Station
New York, NY

Zines, comics, books, records, and what have you.

Virtual Book Tour 4 III

Yesterday, as part of the Virtual Book Tour, Pamela Ribon interviewed Danyel Smith in In their conversation, Danyel shares more stories about Oakland, quipping that in New York, snow is a tax. Her comments on beauty as a utility worth paying for and why she moved to New York are also of note.

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

The Restaurant I Ate at Last Night XXIX

Usually, you wouldn't caught me dead, stuffed, and mounted in a place with as cheesy a name as Waikiki Wally's. But the theme restaurant near 2nd Street and 1st Avenue is surprisingly low key. Despite a waterfall installation, elaborate drinks menu, and bikini-clad waitresses, the restaurant is relatively sparse -- and the menu impressive. I recommend the tofu and shiitake sticks.

Why'd I go to Wally's? Jason Calacanis, who was bringing together some of the Weblogsinc staffers -- and hanging out with some other New York-area friends while he was in town. While the brouhaha was officially "off the blog record," I did enjoy meeting almost everyone there: John Brockman, Elizabeth Spiers, Lockhart Steele, Peter Rojas, Jake Dobkin (who shares some snaps), Brian Alvey, Judith Meskill, Greg Scher, Alberto Escarlate, and Mark Rabinowitz. If I missed anyone, I apologize.

Oh, and to break the "off the record" thing for just one comment. Peter summed up gatherings like this best when he said, "Can't we talk about something other than blogging?" The verdict: Apparently not.

Virtual Book Tour 4 II

Danyel Smith, featured author in the current Virtual Book Tour spent yesterday guest hosting Beast Blog. In two lengthy entries, Danyel shares some of her sense of the place the book is based in: Oakland, California, and the East Bay. She serves up some of the places -- restaurants and clubs -- she hung out at and recommends some novels with a strong sense of place. She also writes, "There's a lot of Oakland in Brooklyn. It's why I've been able to stay so long." That reminded me of a few lines from the novel: "Oakland build quality. Things were old enough to scare her in New York. If Oakland was hell -- and it was sometimes, in some parts, in bright light -- at least it was mine and I knew my way around." (pp. 1, 3, 23) Parts of Brooklyn remind me of Boston -- and parts of Boston remind me of San Francisco. The elevated platform where the G connects with the 7 reminds me of Chicago's El train. I think we tend to settle in similar places -- or places tend to settle us.

The Best of the Web VI

The nominees for the 8th Annual Webby Awards have been announced. I was a nominating judge in the Community category, and I think we came up with a good batch of services to vote on. The nominees are:

Friday, April 16, 2004

Virtual Book Tour 4

While the new Virtual Book Tour Web site isn't quite up to speed yet, we're kicking off another literary lope-around Monday, April 19. Kicking off with a discussion starting in Readerville this weekend, touring author Danyel Smith, former editor in chief of Vibe and author of More Like Wrestling will hit the following stops:

Be sure to check out the tour -- and tune in April 26 for Danyel's stint as a formal Media Dietician!

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Products I Love XIII

While walking back to the office after lunch with a friend yesterday, I was totally surprised how wet my feet and socks got in the short walk in the rain. Turns out that the sole of my current pair of Vans Old Skool Classics had split mightily, and it wasn't hard work at all for water from the street and sidewalk to drench my dogs. So I just ordered a new pair. Can't quite wear the ones I have in this wet weather. I love these shoes. I really do.

I'm also experiencing phone envy. So I'm eyeing the spiffy little Sony Ericsson T616. I'm also on hold for a Click to Chat session with a sales rep to ask whether I can order a phone, keep my current number, keep my current plan, and just start using the new phone -- while ditching the old one. Unfortunately, it's no go. They kept me on hold for 10-plus minutes before saying, "Our service hours are 7:00 AM - 7:00 PM Monday - Friday, and Saturday 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM, Central Standard Time." Now, couldn't they have told me that when I first made with the clicky?

Markets, Flash Mobs, and Mayhem III

I just learned of a new approach to flash mobs today. Dodgeball is a new Web- and SMS-based service that can help you broadcast your location to other friends using the service, broadcast SMS's to friends within 10 blocks of you, and search for various venues based on cross street. Users submit the locations that they'd like to include in the service's database, and outside of the location setting -- I haven't found an easy way to change my location via phone yet -- it appears promising.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of Dodgeball is its inclusion of social network services inspired by Friendster and Orkut. Right now you can't build out a full profile, but you can add friends, browse members, and otherwise organize your SMS social circle. Because there aren't full profiles, I'm hoping that the woman I just added as a friend is actually my friend, but this appears promising.

And it makes me wish I had a fancier phone, yes it does. Right now the New York version is in beta, but it appears it's also operation in Boston, Philadelphia, and San Francisco.

Thursday, April 08, 2004

Big Brother Is Watching XVIII

In Pleasanton, California, drivers with lead feet won't just be photographed if they zoom past a stop light, they'll be forced to stop if they approach an intersection at too quick a clip. The camera, located 350 feet away from the stoplight, will signal the light to change from red to yellow to green if a car approaches at greater than 35-40 miles per hour. The light will remain red for 10-30 seconds depending on traffic. While Pleasanton doesn't have immediate plans to install more, such a light has a precedent: The city of Thousand Oaks, California, installed a similar light in 2000.

Tuesday, April 06, 2004

Magazine Me XLIX

The June issue of Reason magazine will be mailed to subscribers with 40,000 different covers. Each cover's design will incorporate an actual satellite photo of a subscriber's neighborhood -- and their house, circled in red. AdRants pooh-poohs the impact of such a subscriber database play -- saying that the true potential of personal publishing lies in specific, specialized content. Um, duh. But it's still pretty cool to get a magazine in the mail with your house on the cover. I wish I'd subscribed already.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Comics and Community XXII

The recently formed International Comic Arts Association, a new comic industry trade organization, seems to bode well for readers, creators, and publishers. But the most interesting aspect -- at least initially -- might very well be the related ComicArts AdCouncil and the ICAA Media Council, which will help increase the medium's visibility in the public eye. And the Comics Outreach Program? Shades of Free-Range Comic Books and Read a Comic Book in Public Day, methinks. More power to all involved!

Desktop, You Don't Stop

Ever wondered what your friend' or co-workers' desktops look like? Are the folders all structured and organized? Are they all over the place? Are they using the SVA logo as their background pattern? My friends David and Kirsten are starting to collect screenshots of desktops for a project called Pretty Desktops. When they obtain enough, they'll post them online to view.

Don't know how to do this? It's easy. On a Mac, use the OS X application/utility Grab to take the screenshot. Or hit Shift-Ctrl-Cmnd-4, point the crosshairs in the top left and drag to bottom right. Windows users can use the Print Screen key.

Don't edit your desktop. Don't change things around in an effort to make it look different. Do let your friends know about the project. Mmm, Pretty Desktops. I'm going to send them mine now.

Event-O-Dex XCVI

Tuesday, April 6: The Thermals, Say Hi to Your Mom, and Dirty on Purpose warm up Northsix in Brooklyn.