April 7, 2006 | 3:14 PM ET

Monolith: muddying the waters of the digital copyright debate — I haven't played with the actual software so you're on your own there, but the idea behind it is pretty cool.  (Also see the gray box toward the top of the page.)  This could be an alternate Commuter Click, or just scroll down to "Digital Content is Finite" for the juicy part.  The idea is that everything digital translates to ones and zeros.  How those ones and zeros are rendered determines what the file looks like.  The question for copyright purposes is where the line is between the collection of binary digits and the "owned" work they represent.  It's digital existentialism.

Speaking of copyright, can HBO see when you're downloading bootlegs of the Sopranos?  It looks more like they can see when you're sharing the file, so they find your IP and write to your ISP.  Given the number of people who are reporting the same thing happening to them and the lack of anyone reporting anything beyond that happening to them, I'm thinking the most that happens is a warning from the ISP.  (Until HBO or a surrogate industry group sues you.)

Things I wish I knew when starting a blog — Part of the point (and fun) of blogging is learning lessons from the process, so cheating by following the advice of others might rob you of some of the joy.  On the other hand, avoiding frustration is sometimes worth it.

Commuter Click:  Unskilled and unaware of it (pdf)  With a summary here.  Self perception, particularly with regard to self-esteem, has been an interest of mine since college.  (And if that sounds like an unnecessary and defensive explanation for why this is the Commuter Click, that's because I printed it up and forgot it in the printer, so right now all of my co-workers are wondering who printed it and what they're trying to say.  Dear colleagues, that’s not what I meant.)

Video of the Day: The Art of Motion — I can’t imagine how exhausting it was to take repeated “mid-jump” photos to put the flying scenes together.

Kind of creepy but not completely:  MyDeathSpace. — If you know someone who died who had a MySpace, you can send it to this guy and he’ll list it as a sort of obituary.  It’s not about glorifying school shooters or anything like that, just straight news, but the vitality of the MySpace pages makes it very haunting.  (Note:  the site is under a bit of construction right now so the photos don’t load, but you get the idea.)  [Related:  The Blog of Death (and check the blogroll).]

The plot summary for the new Spider Man movie is out.  Sounds awesome and complex.  Hopefully they treat it all well and it’s not so busy plot-wise that they have to gloss over the whole story.  Hey!  Here’s an idea.  Since I happened to have been collecting comics quite avidly when Spider Man picked up the mysterious “black substance,” so I know the answer, the first person to name where it came from in the comic book series will win some MSNBC.com swag (like a hat or something).  If you're not a comic book geek, don't worry, this one is easy to look up.  No, wait, actual rules:  The first 15 right answers will go in a hat and I'll draw the winner from there.  That should give more people a shot at it.  If you win I'll reply to your e-mail, so for the first round, just make sure you're using a valid e-mail address.

Treehugger says that birds being killed by wind turbines is a myth, although reading a little deeper it's more like a thing of the past than a myth.  One stat I wouldn't have guessed:  "In the United States, cars and trucks wipe out millions of birds each year, while 100 million to 1 billion birds collide with windows."  He points here for a study of things that kill birds.

Speaking of energy alternatives, the plug-in Prius is sort of a hacked hybrid.  Totally believable quote:  "I've worked in the automotive sector and in battery industry and there is a huge skills gap between the two. One does not realise what the other is doing. That's given us a huge opportunity."

Speaking of alternative travel, Japan's new fastest train will run 224 mph in a normal trip.  On that business trip I took in January I got to take the Accela train (high speed Amtrak) home to New York from D.C.  On my hand-held GPS I clocked us at 124mph.

Why there are still FBI agents who don't have e-mail addresses.  This might be too depressing to read on a Friday.

Remember the video of the Russian kid who jumped and flipped around a bleak industrial landscape?  This kid does something similar, but what stands out to me is the parts he does in a shopping mall.  Can you imagine if shopping mall stunts catch on as a trend?  (Tell me you never considered swinging from one of those tapestries they hang from the ceiling.)

Why is it OK to show a man's breasts on TV?  The argument here is that it should also be OK to show a woman's breasts on TV (or anywhere) and that there's no reason for the difference.  He makes some points I don't agree with, but it's a fun exercise in thinking about where social mores come from.

Robots may take over polar exploration — (Where eventually they'll socialize, procreate and organize their revolution.  Find Sarah Connor.)

Top 20 strangest gadgets and accessories — Some of these we've seen before, but as a list it's pretty impressively strange.  Synthetic human skin lap bags are pretty gross.  (And think of all the poor synthetic humans who gave up their lives!  Find Isaac Asimov.)

Maxim Magazine made a huge pin-up poster and put it in the desert to be found on Google Earth.  You can't see it unless you click the magic link, so I'm not sure the point, but in the course of trying to find it I did visit the Maxim site (useless trip) so I guess it worked as a marketing ploy.

“Photograph shows a kayaker being trailed by a Great White shark.  True.”  I never would have taken this bet.

“Welcome to Edgen Animations. 'Upliftingly dark' cinematic film/game music and the digital art gallery of Justin R. Durban.”

I confess that I don’t always keep the volume on when the cable folks run the Bush speeches.  Looks like I missed some good sparks yesterday.

Home LASIK surgery.  Surely a 4/1 leftover.

April 5, 2006 | 4:13 PM ET

The incremental posting experiment is over.  Nice try, but most folks didn't like it.  Here's just one more abbreviated entry before I go back to bulk posting:

Folks in some parts of the blogosphere are critical of a rumored Dateline NBC segment in which hidden cameras will record reactions of Americans to Muslim-looking men in their midst.  The concern is that it's a set-up to make Americans look like racists because (again, according to the rumor) the scenes will take place at a NASCAR track and a football stadium.  I liked this post for its suggestions of other "stings" that could be done to show how Americans treat each other.

I spoke with a colleague at Dateline who didn't have any knowledge of the segment but pointed out that Dateline has done something similar in the past with a woman in a fat suit.  And a friend of mine here played the role of "regular-looking guy" in a similar segment about how attractive people are treated.  What I'm not sure about is what studies like this tell us.  If five people at a NASCAR race give dirty looks to Muslim men, what percentage of the quarter million people at that track are they representing?  The segment has yet to be produced, nevermind being aired, so I'm only speaking theoretically, but it's an interesting question:  How do we measure our social behavior, and what social behavior should we measure?

Speaking of stings, watercooler rant of the day:  I don't like the "charged in online sex sting" wording of the headlines being used to describe this story .  To my mind, writing a headline that focuses on the "sting" misses the point of the crime.  "Official caught in sex talk with girls" says what the crime is and therefore what the story is.  The "sting" technique used by police is part of the story, but not the headline.

Jill Carroll Hostage Case: A Black Eye To Blogging — There has been some controversy over blog treatment of the Jill Carroll story.  Some folks apparently questioned her personal allegiance after seeing her America-bashing tape.  The two points that resonate with me in this summary are whether the fact that the terrorists forced her to say those things is something that historically would have gone without saying and would not have required a formal announcement, and the broader theme of the relevance of the pundit blogosphere.  Now that blog hype has largely given way to Web 2.0 hype, we've seen bloggers trying to assess their own relevance to the political process, the war effort, and news analysis.  Obviously blogs are useful tools, but the question of where they fit in the larger media spectrum now that the Yeehaw band has marched on is a question yet to be resolved.

" Is the media telling the truth about Iraq? Do you have an opinion on this issue? How does the nature, quality, and content of media coverage of the Iraq war ultimately impact the lives of people in Iraq, the Middle East and around the planet?"  I've managed to secure an invite to this panel discussion this evening.  There is a video and audiocast component so you can sort of attend as well.  I see there's going to be an IRC backchannel, so I'll bring my laptop and see if I can get in there.

Speaking of news from Iraq, Iraqi blogger Mohammad at Iraq the Model describes the political stalemate there and gives some context to the question of proximity to civil war.  (His co-blogger Omar will be participating in the event described above.)

"Warner Music UK act Gnarls Barkley have made music history this Sunday with their debut single 'Crazy' topping the UK singles chart on downloads alone."  (Includes link to MySpace page with free stream of the song.)

Are virtual spaces the future of the Web?  Hive 7, discussed here, is not much different from Avatar chat you may have participated in years ago, or online games you may be playing currently.  Taken all together, however, could there be a picture of a Web in which we traverse a virtual, representational space?  I'm not convinced it's necessary or a more efficient use of my time, but I understand that some (by which I mean millions of) people prefer the virtual world interface.

In the event of snakes on a plane...  (Put your head between your knees and kiss your asp good-bye.)

Pixsy is a visual only search engine.  Even though there already are image and video search engines out there, what struck me when I played with this one is that again we find news navigation that is a grid of images instead of list of headlines.  (See a few days ago when we looked at 10x10 and Phylotaxis.)

Tiny Ohio town freaked out by Mario prank — "[F]ive girls from Ravenna, Ohio (a town of approximately 12,000 residents) placed 17 cardboard replications of the iconic Super Mario Brothers power-up cubes throughout town..."  Apparently they assumed it was terrorism.  Prank details here.  I wonder if a call to authorities explaining the prank would have eased fears.

Following on yesterday's talk of movies that shouldn't bother with a theater run but that will likely do well in the home theater market, I have to wonder if that could actually become a Hollywood strategy and we'll an increase in the level of crap that people wouldn't be seen buying a ticket to in public but will secretly watch with relish in the privacy of their own media stations.

April 5, 2006 | 12:35 AM ET

I'd like to try an experiment today in which I post today's entry in pieces rather that in one big shot.  It might interrupt some of the "speaking of..." thematic groupings, but it'll make the page a little more dynamic.  I haven't figured out yet how to post the equivalent of a Krispy Kreme "Hot Now" sign, but if you check back every hour or so I should have new stuff up.  Tell me if you hate it.

The Carnival of Bauer is a round-up of bloggers discussing 24.

Speaking of things that aren’t April Fool’s jokes, The Bob Ross video game.

A Simpsons movie is on the way.  This might be one more for today’s theme of “straight to DVD.”  I’m a Simpsons fan, but I’m not sure I see the need for this movie.  South Park was able to do some new things with their movie, but that’s because they can barely be contained by TV.  How will a Simpsons movie not be a 90 minute TV show?  I can certainly see fans wanting to collect it or rent it (or steal it).  Since they’ve already got the production resources in place for the show, they can probably make this movie relatively cheaply, so maybe they don’t need big numbers for this to be a success.

Things in New Orleans are not OK.

I meant to pair this one with the George Clooney backfiring celebrity sighting campaign this afternoon.  Chevy invited people to make their own commercials for the Tahoe SUV on their site.  It should come as no surprise what some of the results were.

Announcing: Movie-Plot Threat Contest — I think he’s trying to make a point about homeland security and the futility of some of the ideas for protecting the country from terror plots.  Anyway, if you’re creative it’s a fun exercise.  If you’re sensitive, it might be upsetting.  I seem to recall the government itself soliciting this kind of feedback from Hollywood types.

Technorati has begun indexing MySpace blogs and set off a bit of a debate between two Web ideals: inclusiveness, which says the Web is for everyone, the more the merrier and the of course Technorati should include MySpace blogs; and “ Signal vs. Noise” which says that the utility of the Web increases as the crap is weeded out, so adding a lot of personal journals to a tool like Technorati only serves to muddy the water.

Flash your stash — Of all the things this could have been about, this is the very last one I would have guessed.

April 4, 2006 | 4:30 PM ET

Following the earlier item about Web 2.0, I clicked this criticism of the term itself, which also points to the 4/1 report that Yahoo has actually already purchased all of Web 2.0.  ( Funnier headline)

Speaking of terms for the Web's future, " Next Net" is seeing some use as well.  By my understanding, Web 2.0 would be a subset of Next Net, which looks like a general business term for the new online environment.

Lastly, Web 2.0 as morality.  I don't know if the spirit of generosity is new, but there does seem to be a new environment that allows people with more than money on their mind to thrive (much to the frustration of those for whom money is a higher priority.)

The eXtra-Super-Damn-Tiny microphone has a 1 x 1 mm frame.  It has an unfortunate battery arrangement, but fixing that imagine what a cell phone using this would look like.

The speech accent archive has been updated.  I like the "browse by region" feature.  Click the flag and hear the passage read with an accent from that part of the world.  " Please cool Stellah."

The DIY Kyoto sounds like a prettier version of the electricity meter that's already in your house, but it comes with a lot more functions.  In short, imagine being able to watch your electricity bill grow as you consume.  If your first question is the same as mine, the answer is, it's wireless.

By the way, since I mentioned those April Fool's stories at the top there, the Wikipedia entry for Saturday has been collecting every online prank of the day (including some that suck) and the Museum of Hoaxes has a list of the top 100 ever.

Not on the list and therefore, I think, not a joke, the metered caffeine inhaler.  Why stain your teeth with coffee or ruin your gut with soda?  Just breathe it in.  UPDATE:  OK, I didn't follow through on this one.  When you try to order one you'll see it is in fact a joke.  Thanks to Dorkbot, Melissa, and Bill for pointing that out.

2:46 PM ET

Poems showing the absurdities of English spelling

Video of the Day is the clip associated with this story of this woman's Borg implant.  We've seen other stories of technology enabling the blind to see, but I don't know if I've ever seen a socket in the back of someone's head like that.

Offset bike cranks — Everyone knows about the hard-to-pedal spot when a bicycle's pedal is at its peak.  This new set-up employs two individual cranks working together to keep the pedals from being 180 degrees from each other, thus avoiding that tough spot.  Looking at the simulator on the product's site, it looks like there's a bit of wiggle in the pedal arms.

Lefty bloggers will be meeting at a conference in Las Vegas this summer at an event called YearlyKos.  The name implies that it's an annual event, but I hadn't heard of it before.  I did find evidence of at least one previous.

Speaking of Sharon Stone movies going straight to DVD, two download companies have made deals with the big five movie studios to offer full movie downloads for purchase when movies pass from theater runs to DVD sales.  The idea is to beat online movie pirates at their own game.  It'll be interesting to see how it works.  Will it also spell the end of the tangible DVD library?

Will Wikio challenge Google News and Technorati? — Sometimes headlines like that are really statements, not questions, but I think in this case it really is a matter of speculation.  "Wikio is a user managed news search engine."  That's probably the most important thing to be aware of at this point.  This entry does a nice job setting the stage for a coming battle between user managed news technologies.

General wisdom says that once a major outlet like Newsweek runs a story on your cutting edge phenomenon , it's no longer cutting edge and everyone should move on.  While everyone keeps repeating this conventional wisdom with regard to Web 2.0, it doesn't seem to be holding true.  Likely based on the recommendation of this Slashdot post, a lot of folks are pointing to this essay on the state of Web 2.0.  I'll have some related Web 2.0 discussion coming up...

1:39 PM ET

Remember the Gawker Stalker map on which New York City celebrity sightings are plotted?  Apparently out of concern over genuine stalking and privacy invasion, George Clooney encouraged fans to submit fake sightings.  The effort appears to be only fueling interest in the site.  Sorry George.  (P.S. While sitting at a red light last week I saw Harvey Keitel in his car making the left turn from South End Ave to Albany Street.  He was turning from the painted median while someone else tried to make the same turn from the actual traffic lane.  The other guy screamed out his window, "THAT'S NOT A TURNING LANE!!!"  Harvey muttered F-bombs through thin lips.  Don't worry Harvey, that guy was a tool.)

"A Japanese quadriplegic plans to ascend the peak of a Swiss mountain by riding piggyback on a mountaineer who will get some extra muscle from a robot suit."  Cool photo here.  Giving mobility to the immobile is a good thing, but piggyback up a mountain seems like a weird way to go.  I'm waiting for someone to invent the sport of robot suit wrestling with the kind of suit Sigourney Weaver wore in Aliens.

The Memeorandum folks have a new news/blog aggregator focusing purely on baseball called Ballbug.  It's not the only sports aggregator, but it's the only one I know of that's only about baseball.  I don't follow sports very closely, and frankly, sometimes sports blogs are hard to discern from gambling spam to my untrained eyes, so this may be a way to gain some elementary insight.

A lot of bloggers are talking about the redesign of the New York Times site.  I found good insight and links in Six Apart's assessment.  Are blogs having an influence on Web design?

The winners of the first annual Blooker Prize have been announced.  The prize is for books based on blogs and it's awarded by a "print on demand" book publisher.

Of course Basic Instinct 2 bombed this weekend.  I'm not sure I agree that people can get better porn on their own so they don't need Hollywood pseudo-porn, but I definitely agree that American prudery is not to blame.  That woman was over-exposed before she even took her clothes off.  And even if you didn't already see all the sex scenes online, "erotic thrillers" strike me as the kind of thing more likely to be consumed in home theaters.  If ever there was a case to be made for simultaneous DVD/theater release it's this movie.


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