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.