Thursday, December 11, 2008

Steampunk Gift Guide 2008

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This year I've tried for a somewhat more accessible array of items that are best
thought of a 'gifts for the Steampunk' rather than 'Steampunk gifts' as I think
that will be of greater utility those those of you choosing presents for the
Steampunks in your lives!.    - Jake.
Girl Genius Comics
Set in an alternate world of mad science, Zeppelins, and mechanical servants
called "clanks," our hero, Agatha Heterodyne must navigate a feudal landscape of
power hungry Barons and criminals who seek to enslave her for talent with all
things mechanical and sciencey. 
There are strong female characters throughout, the writing is clever and quick,
and the pages are beautifully inked and colored.
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I like the Steampunk torch and Girl Genius Comics the best. The compass and lanterns are examples of great industrial design with their graceful lines.

Sunday, November 23, 2008



The boss of your boss.
It was annoying to have to submit a TPS report to my boss and my grandboss. It's enough to make a dude blazy.

Urban Dictionary

This is a word that should be used by as many people as possible. A lot easier than saying my boss's boss.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Social Networking Changes the Playing Field of USA Elections

Silicon Valley for Obama Logo

All the stories about attempts to disenfranchise American citizens, making sure their votes don't fairly count, has me down. A lot of tricks designed to prevent people from voting used to be limited to Black or poor communities. Now, the-group-that-shall-not-be-named, are bold enough to block people from voting everywhere.

Mashable, one of the people I follow on Twitter (he usually Tweets techy stuff) send out a great link about leveling the presidential election playing field a bit. He, or one of his minions, sent out a great link to The Ultimate Election Day 2008 Toolkit. In addition to the Twitter Vote Report I mention above, it has YouTube and other social networking sites that are tuned into the United States of America Presidential Election on November 4th. Definitely worth a bookmark. I'll try to blog the post so there may be more information above this one.

I've been busy with election stuff since the original post. I've done Senator Barack Obama phone banking (lots of people calling from one location) at the Palo Alto City Hall during the Rally for Change, Swing State GOTV (Get Out the Vote) Phoning at the Silicon Valley Campaign Headquarters and I've done some GOTV phoning at home. The thing about phoning Florida, Montana and California, the temperament stereotype is true. If the person has a friendly, good, upbeat attitude, they are an Obama supporter. If they are mean, nasty, rude and grumpy, they are a John McCain/Sarah Palin supporter. So far, I haven't run across anything to contradict this cliche. Even counting in the people who were in a rush and couldn't talk.

This is by far the most work I've ever done for any candidate at any level of government. Here's some pictures I took. Wish I had other candid shots of the HQ, but I was kinda busy. I feel like the polls are too close to relax and make assumptions how things will end. I plan to get back on the phone calling this afternoon, to try to make more of a difference. I don't want to wake up once the results have been tallied and think, Why didn't I do more?

My favorite links to track what's going on with the election:
The thing I like about all these sites is that the "what's interesting" filter is other humans, not some production editor in some mainstream mass media outlet. Sure there are a lot of kooks and people who didn't pay attention in school but you also find out about stuff you wouldn't have otherwise. Like this morning I caught part of Obama's speech in Ohio live on C-Span. The TV guide said something like "C-Span weekend programming". If it wasn't for Twitter, I would have missed it.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Twitter Helps Us Protect USA Democracy

Twitter Vote Report

Use your Twitter Account to help make sure the November 4th election is fair. Anyone with a account can use their cell phones or their computers to send a message and notify voters and election monitors around the country. The main webite page with all the details:, and follow Vote Report on Twitter. Tweet the Vote!

Even if you don't want to participate on the backend of setting up or running this project, send any notes about voting irregularities to the universal tag (or hashtag) #votereport. A quick rundown on how you can participate.

Ways to Use VoteReport
  • Twitter: include #votereport and other tags to describe the scene on the ground
  • For individuals with serious legal issues or someone you know is being prevented from voting
- Tweet #EP{two-letter state code} - e.g. #EPNY for New York, #EPOH for Ohio - and a brief message about your problem, and we'll tweet back with next steps. We have a whole coalition of voting experts supporting us.

- Tag for additional issues: #machine - use this tag to signal a problem with a voting machine

- #registration - use this tag to signal problems with the registration process, people being turned away for paperwok reasons

- #wait:time - use this tag to signal a long wait. Add a colon and the wait time in minutes - e.g. #wait:30 for half an hour, #wait:120 for two hours.
  • SMS: Send text messages to 66937 starting with the keyword #votereport plus other hash tags (above)
  • iPhone: We expect to have an iPhoneApp in the App Store by election day
  • Phone: Call our automated system to report about conditions, using any touch-tone phone
  • Talk to a human to report bad conditions you've observed, please call our partner 1-866-OUR-VOTE.
If you needed any proof about how effective and powerful Twitter is for leveling the mass media and mass communications playing field, all you need to do is read this Fox News headline from Sunday, October 26th: U.S. Army Says Blogging Site 'Twitter' Could Become Terrorist Tool. The fact that Fox News hates Twitter gives Twitter all the credibility it needs. In case you hadn't caught on, anything Fox News hates or feels threatened by gets labeled terrorist. Too bad for them that they cry wolf too often by throwing the word Terrorist around so much. Now it's a joke whenever they use the word at all.

Twitter Vote Report Mission Statement

On November 4th 2008, millions of Americans will go to over 200,000 distinct voting locations and using different systems and machinery to vote. Some voters will have a terrific experiences, and others will experience the same problems we have been hearing about for years - long lines, broken machines, inaccurate voting rolls, and others will experience problems that we haven't heard about before. Using either, iPhone, direct SMS, or our telephone hotlines, voters will have a new way to share these experiences with one another and ensure that the media and watchdog groups are aware of any problems.

As news outlets and blogs will report on Election Day stories, we are building an invaluable resource for thousands of voters to get immediate help. From questions like "where do I vote" or "how do I make sure that my rights are being upheld," Twitter Voter Report augments these efforts by providing a new way for voters to send text messages (aka tweets) via cellphones or computers which will be aggregated and mapped so that everyone can see the Nation's voting problems in real-time.

Imagine a nationwide web map with pins identifying every zip code where Americans are waiting over 30 minutes to vote or indicating those election districts where the voting machines are not working. Collectively we will inform each other when when the lines too long and ensure that media and watchdog groups know where problems exist.

Twitter Vote Report

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

My Sarah Palin Name

Last night, I tried to make the following Tweet on Twitter, but it was rejected.
Track, Bristol, Willow, Piper, Trig? What would you be named if you were born to Sarah Palin? Find out here:
I'm thinking there is some kind of filter on the service. Putting in Governor Palin's kids' names somehow triggers it. Anyway, I thought the post was pretty neutral. It wasn't like I called Governor Palin's children her props or something like that.

I just wanted to point out the fun Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. Where else could I find out "if you were born to Sarah Palin, your name would be:

Flex Gunship Palin

Who knows, Flex Gunship Palin you just might be president one day!" I'm kind of scared of my own name. Aggressive but powerful. Sounds like the name of a comic book anti-hero.

What is your Sarah Palin name?

Monday, October 06, 2008



A design feature copied from a similar artifact in another material, even when not functionally necessary. For example, the click sound of a shutter in an analog camera that is now reproduced in a digital camera by playing a sound clip.

A skeuomorph can be employed for various purposes. Since people are used to the click sound of a camera as feedback that the picture has been taken, it is now artificially-produced in digital cameras. Other examples are copper cladding on a zinc penny (for familiarity) and wood finish on a plastic product (for a more expensive look).

From Greek skeuos (vessel, implement) + -morph (form)

A.Word.A.Day with Anu Garg

An ornament or design on an object copied from a form of the object when made from another material or by other techniques, as an imitation metal rivet mark found on handles of prehistoric pottery.

A derivative object which retains ornamental design cues to structure that was necessary in the original. Skeuomorphs may be deliberately employed to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, such as copper cladding on zinc pennies or computer printed postage with circular town name and cancellation lines. The word derives from Greek, skeuos for 'vessel' or 'tool' and morphe for 'shape'.


Skeumorphs are Material Metaphors

Efforts to make the new look comfortably old and familiar, or simply habits too deeply engrained to wash away.

Archaeologists, who make an academic practice of studying material culture change, while not the first to notice that yesterday’s functional features become today’s stylistic decorations, were at least the first to name the phenomenon:

Skeuomorphs are material metaphors. They are informational attributes of artifacts which help us find a path through unfamiliar territory. They help us map the new onto an existing cognitive structure, and in so doing, give us a starting point from which we may evolve additional alternative solutions. They provide us with "a path" instead of "no path" at all.

Skeuomorphs and Cultural Algorithms by Nicholas Gessler

For some reason, I find Skeuomorph a fascinating word. It's fun trying to think of other examples other than those above.
  • A horse on a Mustang car
  • A carriage on the side of an RV
  • A pocket watch pocket in jeans
  • Molded plastic with fake looking screw heads
  • Digital knobs, buttons, switches and sliders that duplicate the ones that existed on the original physical device being emulated
  • Stone or metal decorative features that simulate wooden or timber structures like studs or crossed corners
  • QWERTY keyboard. Originally laid out to prevent physical keys from getting stuck when popular letters were together in the original typing machines.
  • Plastic sandals that look like fabric or leather
  • Spoke patterns on hubcaps and rims to copy the old carriage wheels
  • Molded trigger on plastic guns
  • Molded furniture that looks like wicker or woven cane
  • Gesture that people use to get someone to to roll down a car window. Miming a circular hand crank
  • Canopy bed simulating a private cave
  • The concept of pages in word processing software and web pages on the internet.
  • Bookmarks is as archaic as web pages.
  • Wood grain on cheaply made products
  • Lights shaped like candles
  • Shopping cart icons on ecommerce web sites
  • Reel-to-reel tape icon used to represent a tape such as a voice mail message
  • Old fashioned key or lock to represent security
  • Concrete outdoor furniture that looks like wood or metal
  • Manila folder icons on computer
  • Video gambling machines that simulate one-arm slot machines
  • Floppy disk icon button which stands for "Save" in computer applications
  • Taj Mahal architecture that simulates traditional Mongolian tents (gers or yurts)
  • Calling the strings of instruments like guitar, harp, violin, cello or bass gut even though they may be made of steel or nylon

Face for Radio

Some people can't appreciate character.
clipped from
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Saturday, October 04, 2008

20 Minutes at Great Glass Pumpkin Patch

I was supposed to volunteer for OneBrick at Great Glass Pumpkin Patch 2008 but it didn't work out. At least I got a few pictures to compensate for driving down to the Art Center lawn in Palo Alto this morning. There were patches of about 20-50 pumpkin-esque or squash like glass sculptures all over the lawn. Long lines of people were waiting to get their chance to pick some.

Sprinkles Stanford Mall Visit

After reading articles where the likes of Halle Berry, Heidi Klum (Seal's wife) and other celebrities sing the praises of Sprinkles Cupcakes, I wanted to try them myself. Unfortunately, all of the closest stores were in Southern California. Low and behold, a branch was opening near where I live at the Stanford Shopping Center.

Finally, after over a month past the original opening date, it's open. Friday, 10-3-8, was the first time I could make it. So I went to the side of the mall with Max's Opera Cafe and Schaub's Meat, Fish, & Poultry, where Long Life Noodle Company & Jook Joint used to be. (I used to like their lemon chicken with pickled water chestnuts and ginger drink but I'd rather have the Sprinkles.) I thought all of the Grand Opening hoopla would have died down by now but nope, there's a line out front. Reaching from the Sprinkles Cupcakes front door to Bang & Olufsen next door. I should count myself lucky. The Bang & Olufsen sales guy said that on weekends, the line reaches to Oilily, next to Brooks Brothers.

After all the build up and waiting in line, I was seriously hoping the cupcakes would live up to the hype. I'm relieved to say that as far as I'm concerned, the cupcakes are as wonderful as advertised. No plasticy, chemically tasting Safeway cupcakes here. In fact, the cakes tasted lightly of cornbread to me. This is a good thing.

The flavors are distinct. The coconut lemon tastes of both coconut and lemon. Usually a sign of high quality ingredients. The flat square chocolate sprinkles on the chocolate cupcakes actually melt when they land on your hand. I'm guessing high chocolate liquor content. When I got home, the cupcakes were divine. Even the next day, the cakes were still yummy.

All in all, I'm glad I got to try Sprinkles Cupcakes. I will probably go back soon if a holiday party or some other special occasion comes up. Or if I want to try another flavor. Unfortunately, I didn't find out about the flavor schedule (a guide to what flavors are available on which days) until afterwards. Now I can time my future trips better.

Damn there's a line at 6 pm on a Friday afternoon! The crowd looks to be half teeny boppers and college kids (lotsa disposable income) and half adults and families.

Watching people getting served and eating at the counter while waiting in line about 30 minutes.

First look at THE Cupcakes when you finally get into the door.

Unfortunately, the store is too dim and writing is too small to read the menus. So you have to read the pegs on the cupcake boards or ask the workers what's what.

Inside the countertop by the front window are these little cupcake pillows. Cute part of the Sprinkles Cupcake ambiance.

More miscellaneous stuff to buy. So you can take home part of the Sprinkles Cupcake experience.

Funny looking wooden sporks to eat cupcakes. Ah, sporks, the universally inappropriate eating utensil, aka, foon. Neither adequate as a spoon or fork.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Rolling on the Grass Laughing

This picture says it all. ROGL indeed.
clipped from
loldog, rogl, funny dog pictures, rofl
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Monday, September 22, 2008

Dog Doing the Cabbage Patch

Lots of good pictures on this page. I liked this one the best.
clipped from

…you put your right arm in, then you shake it all about…

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dog and puppy pictures
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Sunday, August 31, 2008

Follow Hurricane Gustav on Twitter & FriendFeed

Most recent Tweets and FriendFeed public posts with the word "Gustav" inside. Not able to automate the refresh rate, so you'll have to keep hitting F5 yourself.

Thank you to for all the weather images.

B. Obama Walks the Walk - Helping Americans Impacted by Gustav

Barack Obama 2008 Campaign Button

This article summarizes one of the main reasons I back Barack Obama. In fact, I'm one of the people he mentions as being on his e-mail and SMS contact lists. I believe in community service and helping out others in need and apparently so does he. We don't have to wait for him to finish being president to see him interacting with people who make less than $500k per year.

To see him doing this stuff before he can score political points shows that this is the real him. Not a put on. The fact that he's called on to do these events shows how much people respect him and think he can help. Here's a link to the blog post on the site, asking for help, "Hurricane Gustav: How You Can Help".
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Barack Obama, not only talking the talk, but WALKING THE WALK- UPDATE: McCain jokes about Katrina

Sen. Obama gathered the pool outside after services at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. He told us that his camapaign plans to mobilize its huge e-mail list of supporters to volunteer or send money once the impact of Gustav becomes apparent and authorities know better what kind of help is needed. He said his campaign is coordinating with local authorities.

"We can activate an e-mail list of a couple million people who want to give back," he said. "I think we can get tons of volunteers to travel down there if it becomes necessary."

He even rolled up his sleeves and went to work in the part of Illinois that bordered Iowa to fill sandbags:

And he did the same thing with Hurricane Katrina BEFORE he was a candidate for President. the following is from a diary I've written before about Katrina:



Senator Obama visited New Orleans FIVE times since the Hurricane hit in 2005. McCain visited twice.

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Thursday, August 21, 2008

Last infoBayArea Mixer Event in Rotunda?

Earlier tonight, I attended the infoBayArea Silicon Valley Business Expo IV at San Jose City Hall Rotunda. I've been going to Cesar Plata's infoBayArea and muyBueno events since the summer of 2004 and I think this one was the best. He started as a regular Mechanical Engineer and now he's a Silicon Valley Dynamo. Not bad for a Dot-Com boom washout. I look forward to the events he puts on in the new name, everyCircle.

Some pictures I took at the event. I wished I had my real camera, but my iPhone didn't do too too bad. I did network and socialize after taking the pictures.

Coming around the corner from the 4th Street to get the first view of the Rotunda.
Coming around the corner from the 4th Street to get the first view of the Rotunda. AKA the Ovary, according to some skater kids going by.

Stairway that goes behind Rotunda to a walkway to the Towers.
Stairway that goes behind Rotunda to a walkway to the Towers.

View of the stairs and catwalks up to the top of Rotunda.
View of the stairs and catwalks up to the top of Rotunda. I wish I could have gone up.

Modernistic concrete and metal restroom.
Modernistic concrete and metal restroom. Everyone else was on the other twin side while I was in there.

Looking up Rotunda towards towers next door.
Looking up Rotunda towards towers next door.

Looking straight up at the top of the Rotunda from the inside.
Looking straight up at the top of the Rotunda from the inside.

Fountain on Santa Clara Street & 5th
Fountain on East Santa Clara Street & North 5th Street

Edible Arrangements Booth
Yum, my favorite booth. Fruit on a stick! I had a flower shaped pineapple and chocolate dipped granny smith apple. Yes, it was as good as it sounds.