April 28, 2006 | 6:11 PM ET

Yahoo buys the Babelfish translator.  I don't know if I ever mentioned it, but that's where I go first to translate sites in languages I don't understand.  It doesn't always do the best job, especially with blogs, but usually it gives some idea of what's going on.  Update your bookmarks.

Speaking of translating things I can't read, this Russian site appears to be demonstrating some of the shortcuts taken by Disney animators.  (You can see what I mean about the translation.)

Speaking of "the international Internet," as American influence online is balanced by the spread of Web access around the world, I find myself running into foreign sites with familiar functionality.  Daily Motion is a video upload site like we're already familiar with, but check out those flags.  American flags are few and far between.   (Note:  I don't see any on the front page, but I've seen bits of nudity here.)

We can find a Video of the Day while we're there.  How many times did they shoot this to get it right?

And even though Google is making an effort to be all things to all people of all languages and political restrictions, Web watchers are keeping their eye on a French media search engine called Quaero.

Sci Fi is working on a Battlestar Gallactica prequel series called Caprica.  (Mmmmmm.... space drama prequel... [::drool::])

Chinese women busting out of small bras — A click-magnet headline if ever there was one.  (Totally safe for work, it's about improved nutrition and more calories.)

"What if you could one day unlock your door or access your bank account by simply "thinking" your password? Too far out? Perhaps not."  That has got to be the slipperiest slope yet.  It sounds like a field day for cognitive philosophers though.  Do we really think with enough consistency to satisfy a computer?

Jason Calcanis has teamed up with AOL to launch a new network of business blogs called BloggingStocks.

102 Movies You Must See Before...

Blogads' political blogs reader survey 2006.

Other good stuff at the overview page too.

Ze Frank is the future of news.

FBI Thinks Several Lawmakers Got Hookers through Wade, Wilkes — Apparently prostitutes were part of the Cunningham pay-off scandal.  I'm suddenly aware that the Law & Order series doesn't have a D.C. spin-off yet.  I'd say they're due for one.

Speaking of scandals, bloggers on the right have been very attentive to the story of CIA agent Mary McCarthy, fired for leaking information to the press (Washington Post's Pulitzer Prize winning Dana Priest).  I've been hesitant to link to anything specific because I wasn't able to keep up well enough to tell the difference between the blog reporting and the simple relaying of mainstream media reports.  The reason blog reporting is worth following in cases like this is that focusing on the minutiae of the story paints a different picture than broader brush coverage.  Elements of the discussion I've seen include connections with the Clinton White House the Democratic party (Tom Maguire is always good for fleshing out a story with thorough and thoughtful details), whether her dismissal really is related to Dana Priest's reporting, and somewhat tangentially but still interesting, the roots of Dana Priest's coverage of U.S. torture abroad.  I'm still catching up, but regardless of how this story turns out, it can't be denied that bloggers have a way of making it more intriguing.  I think because they're more willing to ask and workshop questions out loud.  Open speculation that might be irresponsible in a newspaper is fair game (and frankly, fun) on blogs.  UPDATE:  On the way home I realized the irony of linking to blogs that are offering corrections to newspaper coverage while at the same time talking about what other blogs are doing as being too irresponsible for newspapers.

Speaking of stories with too many twists to follow, Firedoglake presents competing theories about Karl Rove's involvement in the Plame affair.

(While there I also happened to click this entry on book sales hype.  I had no idea book sales dealt in such small numbers.  Since all the players involved speak to hundreds of thousands through their blogs, it seems silly for them to even write books at all.)

"A robot that can speed across the surface of water like a lizard could open the door for multi-legged amphibious robots."  How we've gotten by this long without a multi-legged amphibious robot is beyond me.  No video that I could find.

I had to check Technorati to see why people are linking to a site about interlocking furniture from 2004.  Looks like it started with a Jason Kottke post about living in small apartments and making 700 square feet feel like a spacious two bedroom.

"Until the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 Balaklava was one of the most secret towns in Russia."  Its home to an underground submarine base.  The only thing I question is that it looks like the set of a dozen James Bond knock-off movies I've seen.  If it was secret, the idea of it certainly wasn't.

If you remember the video clips of the Japanese school girls with meat strapped to their heads in front of a hungry, prowling caged lizard, you understand why it would be worth reading a blog about TV in Japan.

Porcupine babies

The pizza delivery cars at Glass Nickel Pizza in Wisconsin run on the restaurant's used fryer oil.  Spreading food-smell through town is probably a nice marketing perk as well.

Chrysler, GM, BMW announce new hybrid system — I don't know why this makes me more cynical than happy.  Maybe I'm just tired from a long week, but I can't shake a deep lurking suspicion that car makers have the technology to produce more efficient cars and they're just sitting on it until gas prices threaten their business.

Gadgets for the lazy

Coachella is this weekend.  Looks like you can watch it online for free.  (I don't see a price and I was able to watch other stuff on that site for free.)

I don't know when "Chew On This" is coming to America, but I keep seeing excerpts and mentions of it (The strawberry shake story yesterday was related to it too).  It's about fast food marketing to kids and it's written by the Fast Food Nation guy, and it seems to have a lot of little shocking stats that would play well on TV.  "Almost one out of every three new toys given to American kids each year comes from McDonald's or another fast food chain."

Podcasts (or "audio commentary") from JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association

April 27, 2006 | 2:19 PM ET

I'm not seeing many distinct themes in today's clicks, but since there's so much talk on TV about gas prices, let's start there.

What is so special about gas prices?  A lot of bloggers have been trying to see the facts through the hysteria over increased gas prices.  But while it may be debatable whether we’re really in a crisis state, it’s hard to deny the pain of higher prices.  Jane Galt takes a shot at answering Drezner’s question.

BP launches $16-a-gallon fuel — It’s 102 octane.

Crunching the numbers on alternative fuels.  Discusses how they’re made and has a handy pdf comparison chart.  The whole thing doesn’t leave you with the same hopeful feeling some of those “there’s a new technology that’s going to save us all” articles do.

Alternative fuel station locator

Think Progress catches the president reversing his position on tinkering with the national oil reserve .  (I don't always hold position reversals against politicians, but it's funny to see how stark the contrast is in this case.)

Speaking of Think Progress, you may have read excerpts of the new press secretary's criticisms of President Bush in the news coverage .  Think Progress put together a straightforward list.

One never knows when the homosexual is about.

How to see in the dark

I think Snopes is overreaching a bit on this one.  It may be worthwhile to confirm what the whale actually did, but interpreting thanks from the whale is beyond the scope of even Snopes.

Great Historical Figure Created By Accident on the Internet — Sloppy quoting and repeating someone else’s mistakes leads to a pretty convincing search result for an incorrect name.  Good lesson.

Pictures of spider webs by spiders on drugs.  What’s the deal with the caffeine spider?!?!

There’s a word for nerd rap and it’s not coming to mind right now.  (Note:  contains curses that are pretty easy to hear when you blast it out loud.)

Related:  massive nerd rap compilation coming soon.

Move over Slingbox, here comes SageTV Placeshifter — You’ll recall that Slingbox is the thing that takes your TV signal and turns it into streaming video that you can see on your computer from anywhere (with an Internet connection).  I haven’t played with it, but I know a few folks who use it and speak highly of it.  Now they’ve got competition.  I have to wonder what this means to our long standing  question of whether we’ll ultimately watch TV on the Web or surf the Web with our TVs.

Speaking of the Web on TV, tech bloggers are interested to see the launch of Yahoo Go TV, the repackaging of a newly acquired company called Meedio.  It's a free download and then you plug your computer into your TV.  It's like Tivo, so you need to have a lot of free memory space on your machine if you want to record TV shows with it.

Since this is Turn off your TV Week, you may want to wait for next week to try the above toys.

Are redesigns a rite of spring?

Speaking of redesigns, how would you change the appearance of Whitehouse.gov?

BBC video, finding 200 million year old life trapped in a block of salt.  The conclusion is that it’s not really all that different from life on earth now.  No alien DNA or anything.

The Abbey Road Webcam — I finally got this to work but haven’t seen anyone trying to duplicate the album cover yet.

Aerial views from around the world — I thought this was kite photography, but I think they use planes.

PandoraFM is simple. As you listen to music via the excellent Pandora music service each song gets submitted to your profile on Last.FM.

How to stay awake in boring meetings — It’s like boring meeting bingo.

Geeks Take Down Dirty C-Level Executives — A public service reminder to everyone who’d forgotten that the geeks in your company’s IT department own and control everything.  (Also a nice story of a bad guy getting burned by his own hubris.)

Somewhat related: Football player beats up nerd.  What a jerk.  (Note:  turn your pop-up blocker on.)

I’m not much of a computer hardware geek so I usually overlook links that are excited about equipment capable of new speeds and capacities, but even I feel impressed at something the size of a credit card that can hold 16 gigs.

How to get up right away when your alarm goes off — “This is going to sound really stupid, but it works.  Practice getting up as soon as your alarm goes off.  That’s right — practice.  But don’t do it in the morning.  Do it during the day when you’re wide awake.”  If anyone actually makes this work, let me know.

Color theory game — Kind of like Tetris, but with color mixing computations instead of shapes.

50 worst things ever to happen to music.

Stop sitting around complaining that the media doesn't report good news.  If you know of some, contribute it yourself.

Skunkboy+Crazy2cool scratch it up

Video of the Day — This takes a while to get to the punchline, which you can see coming a mile away, but it still produced an involuntary “D’oh!” in me.

April 26, 2006 | 11:07 AM ET

Along the lines of the online activism mentioned Monday by Isaac and Becky, everyone is talking about Save the Internet.  What else I clicked:

Speaking of who owns the Internet, Wi-Fi City Sees Startup Woes — Contrary to the headline, I think this is a really hopeful article.  The problems don't sound insurmountable.

One Day Soon, Straphangers May Turn Pages With a Button — I don't often link to New York Times stories, but between city-wide Wi-Fi and advances in e-paper, folks are getting excited about the picture being painted of the future.  (They compare it to Minority Report, but I thought of Harry Potter.)

Apple stores “have had a chronic problem with visitors hogging the display computers and using them for hours on personal business, rather than demo’ing the computer or software.”

Disinhibition Nation — I've been waiting for someone to write this since the advent of cam girls.  Some bloggers have taken umbrage at his focus on the blogger-as-different-species straw man, but the idea of digital identity is definitely worthy of study.  The Internet has a way of being real enough to stay stimulating but unreal enough to give the impression of safety and reduce inhibitions.

“As a long-term proposition, I don't buy the superiority of blogs and the New Media.”  It used to be that we'd see blog-bashing articles by people who clearly had never read them.  That seems to be changing.  I could just as easily link to articles and blog posts about old media dying and blogs are the new vanguard and rah! rah! rah! blogs!  That spirit still exists.  But what feels new to me is a new note of sobriety that recognizes a more limited role for blogs in the media spectrum.

Brain stretcher of the day:  What If Media 2.0 Is Less Profitable Than Media 1.0? — I don’t always follow marketing and advertising news, so it was a bit of a struggle to catch up to what’s being discussed here.  I understand that the 1.0 model is to count the traffic or viewers and then sell advertising based on that number and hope a fair percentage of those people are influenced by the ads they see.  The Web, with its social networking, viral distribution, no middle man media presence and improved ability to monitor and target customers has changed the game.  The question is, how?  And how can the advertising industry keep itself relevant?

Speaking of “2.0” marketing, The game of “Lost” — Next month ABC is going to offer a “Lost” video game online.  “While there will be no prizes offered, the appeal of the game will be the secrets that are revealed to winners.”  I’m not clear on whether those secrets relate to the show or this separate game, but sounds like it could be fun.

Speaking of making the ad industry irrelevant, this article explains how fans of Joe Lieberman’s challenger Ned Lamont are helping rally support for him (and criticism of Lieberman) online.  (It’s a bit long, but you’ll get the point quickly.)

Speaking of online video, Michelle Malkin has launched a conservative (anti-liberal?) video blog called Hot Air.  Whether you agree with her or not, this is really well done.  Look for the liberals to pursue something similar, in which case, I have to wonder how cable news will respond.  A few people in the comments have remarked that Fox News will try to hire Malkin after they see her vlogging, but why should she switch when it looks like she can out-Fox Fox?  If she’s open about her perspective, expresses herself well and provides links to relevant content, I think that’s better than TV.

HDR photos of NYC

" Blacklight reactive ink is a great way to have a tattoo that no one can see but under the blacklight or to add a little something special to trip out your friends."

Purse doesn’t let women forget keys, phone — “RFID tags are inserted into your "stuff," and a reader at the bottom of the purse makes sure they're all there before you leave the house.”

Video of the Day:  Dance, Monkeys, Dance

Speaking of funny videos, the folks at Coudal show why computers are solitary work stations by necessity.

BMW’s ‘CLEVER’ concept completed — Includes good video.  These little vehicles are cool, but I have a hard time imagining them catching on - especially in America.  This one reminds me a little of the old Corbin Sparrow.  I saw a similar steering mechanism at bike week this year.

The 59 ingredients in a fast-food strawberry milkshake

How Google Maps is used in News & Media

Commuter Click (literally):  Beating traffic — “The world is full of traffic and people who hate it. This article analyzes a year of data to determine if minor tweaks to departure times can significantly impact commute length - or if it is all out of the driver's control.”

The St. Petersburg Times reports that the rich are getting richer.  “1980: CEOs made $10 to average worker's dollar. 2006: CEOs make $430 to average worker's dollar.”  I clicked the Fark discussion of the article in case you’re curious how one community is receiving the article.

April 24, 2006 | 2:35 PM ET

I forgot to include the mail in the post earlier...

  • Hey Will,
    This organization (IPAC) should be of interest to your readers.  It stands for Information Policy Action Committee and they address things extremely important to the kind of internet savvy people who read Clicked; like net neutrality, the evils of over-reaching DRM, and general legislation which affects technology and the Internet.  I hope it serves as a good rally point for all of us who know more about technology than our government seems to.  Thanks for the great blog!
    —Isaac

  • You might want to let readers become aware of this.  It’s scary to realize how much our government has its hands in our everyday pocket.
    —Becky

Will replies:  Thanks guys.  I meant to tie this into today's theme of being identified online because recently I've been seeing online activists discussing naming names of politicians who don't support the net neutrality cause.  Hopefully politicians are at least in touch enough to know when they're being criticized online.

  • Apparently many are protesting the use of the name, "Black and Tan" because that was the nickname of a controversial militia employed by England during the Irish War of Independence.  That the flavor is a nod to Irish culture furthers the insult.  This screw-up is a picture-perfect example of the value of free online resources like Wikipedia.  Upon thinking of the idea, the product supervisor could have looked up the terms, found a disambiguation page listing the various meanings, and would likely have gone with another name or idea.
    Keep up the great work,
    Davin

Will replies:  Hi Davin.  I tended bar for a number of years and served many black-and-tans and never heard a discouraging word, so I can understand why it might not have occurred to Ben and Jerry that they'd be offending anyone —although I'm not sure the same can be said for their marketing department.  (I will say that we once nearly had a bar clearing brawl when an Irishman heard someone order an "Irish carbomb" - a gratuitous drink in which a shot of Jameson's is dropped into a pint of Guinness and consumed with haste.)

  • Hey, Will. If I'm not mistaken, you're a fan of the show "Lost". You and other lost fans might be interested in this.
    Enjoy!!  :)
    —Chris

Will replies:  Thanks Chris, that's fun.  I'm trying to think of what I can stick it to in our company cafeteria.  Maybe the frozen yogurt machine.  I do like Lost, but I have to grump a little about all the "recap" shows they keep running.  They should set up a way for people to catch up online or something and not string regular viewers along two weeks at a time waiting for new episodes.

  • Here's a true story. I used to do contract work in the former Soviet Union, and have spent time in the Baltic republics of Latvia and Estonia.  Back in April, 1992 a colleague and I flew from Moscow to Riga, Latvia.  The small country had regained its independence from the USSR in August of the previous year and I had warned my co-worker about possible changes in the way of doing things in the newly-independent country.  We landed at Riga's airport at about 12 Midnight local time, and the pilot parked the big Tupolev airliner right next to a big, official U.S. government passenger jet.  Since the amenities at Riga International were such that we had to deplane on the tarmac, we gathered our luggage and walked past the big U.S. jet.  Sure enough, it was Air Force Two---and not a guard in sight.  Nothing.  We could have taken chalk and replicated a Rembrandt--or a Disney-- on the engine cowling.  There was no one there to stop us.

    A few minutes later, I anticipated turning over my passport to an official of the newly-independent Latvian government...something I had looked forward to since 1989 when I first visited the place.  Except there was practically no one in the air terminal.  It was completely dark except for an elderly man sitting behind a desk in an out-of-the way part of the airport.  Obviously the passport office.  I took my passport out and handed it to him.  He looked at my passport, handed it back to me and asked for a (newly minted) Latvian ruble.

    He was the restroom attendant.

    No Passport Office in Latvia, no guards around Air Force Two.

    A completely different time.
    RMiller

April 24, 2006 | 1:49 PM ET

A journalist’s name is his (or her) credibility, and his willingness to sign his name to his work is a show of confidence and transparency.  So when an L.A. Times blogger admitted to making anonymous comments, it should have come as no surprise that the paper would not take the matter lightly.

Leaving aside the specifics of this case, I can understand why someone would feel compelled to hide behind a pseudonym.  In most other cases, hiding one’s identity is recommended.  We tell teens not to reveal too much on the MySpace profiles.  We share stories of employers Googling the names of applicants and uncovering embarrassing blog entries.  I got my foot in the “big media” door working with chat rooms where conventional wisdom was always that it was a bad idea to give up too much personal information.  Everyone chatted pseudonymously because it made the most sense in terms of safety.  Coming to MSNBC.com, I was reluctant to have to put my real name on everything I did, but journalism has a different set of priorities and principles.

Speaking of identifying yourself online, elsewhere in the blogosphere, pundit bloggers are engaged in a war of personal information.  When one blogger republished a press release containing the contact information of protest organizers, the blogger’s readers used the information to attack and intimidate those organizers.  Other bloggers, sympathetic to the cause of the protesters, published the personal information of the opposing bloggers.  The result was a rage-fest of anonymous death threats (of which I want no part, hence, no linking from me, thanks) that has forced at least one blogger to have to move to a new residence.  In addition to the issue of the safety of identifying oneself online, the matter also calls to mind the question of one’s responsibility for one’s readers (or followers or fans or faithful, in offline contexts).  Can personal privacy function alongside social unaccountability?

Speaking of being sneaky about online identity, College bans MySpace.com claiming use is slowing down their network.  This should be humiliating for them to admit as the problem is obviously their own, but more importantly:  Kids outsmart Web filters.  One school official is quoted calling Web proxies “a hot new trend.”  There’s a certain irony about schools relying on their students to be too uneducated about how the Internet works to defeat their Web filters.  Remember that company that was going to produce laptops with copies of the Web on it?  That might be a good solution for schools.  No Web access, just a safe copy of the Web for students to play with.

Speaking of policing against MySpace, Wired has some cool links in a brief article about “ MySpace watchers.”

I’ve seen HDR discussed in photoblogging circles with increasing frequency and now I’m seeing it in general online parlance.  It stands for High Dynamic Range and the idea is to combine several pictures of the same thing so that all of it renders clearly.  Have you ever taken a photo that came out well, but the sky was too bright so it burned white?  Or the faces in the room came out right, but the background was too dark?  If you adjust your camera’s light sensitivity, you can get those problem areas to come out better, but then the focus of the shot is lit wrong.  With HDR, you take the same shot with different light sensitivity and take the best areas of each one and make a single photo where the dark areas aren’t too dark and the light areas aren’t too light.  The result can be a photo of surreal depth and lighting.  See the process described in better detail here and more examples in the HDR Flickr pool.

Gas prices in America mapped by county — What the heck is going on in the Rockies?  Do they grow their own out there?  We’ve got something similar for checking state by state prices .  UPDATE:  I happened to read this bit in Friday’s Krugman column:

“According to the polling firm Survey USA, there are only four states in which significantly more people approve of Mr. Bush's performance than disapprove: Utah, Idaho, Wyoming and Nebraska.”

Sesame street video clips — Warning:  Strong possibility of spending the rest of the day with Count it Higher in your head.  (P.S. Fans of the president will get a kick out of this one.)

Valerie Plame To Attend White House Correspondents Dinner — Awkward!

Miller beer to be first to use cold can technology —  What stands out to me is that it looks like a 16 oz. can but only holds 10.5 oz. of beer.  Hmmm.  (Meanwhile, I was checking out the rest of the site because I wasn’t familiar with “New Tech Spy” and ran into this cool headline:  Wireless vision implant.  What else can we wirelessly implant in our eyes?)

Some else's medical condition is never something to take lightly, but in the abstract, can you imagine what you’d eat (or what you wouldn’t turn down) if your body could process 6500 calories a day without gaining weight ?

Remote control golf ball — The golfers I know wouldn’t have a sense of humor about this.  Silly hats, dirty jokes and frustrations with the game itself, yes.  But trick balls might make them grumpy.

Speaking of jokes, Mark Ecko explains how he did the Air Force One stunt .

Speaking of hoaxes, I find it really hard to believe that so many people in England are so blindly obedient to their satellite navigation that they’d drive into a river.

Robotic self destruct and self healing chair — Not exactly Terminator 2, but someone might want to find Sarah Connor.

Collapsible Emergency Escape Elevator (With video) – Would this have worked on 9/11?  In spite of the exciting and authoritative drum soundtrack, something makes me think it’d be another thing that would require an after-report on why it didn’t work as planned.

Video of the Day:  I watched this several times and I’m pretty sure this guy would have been dead.

Speaking of treehuggers, Tiny reactor could boost biodiesel production — “The device — about the size of a credit card — pumps vegetable oil and alcohol through tiny parallel channels, each smaller than a human hair, to convert the oil into biodiesel almost instantly.”  I’m not sure why the article emphasizes farm use.  The size makes me think it would be well suited to home or urban commercial applications.

TV Guide launches blogs (holy moly, talk about jumping in with both feet!)

To market itself in China, Google changed its name and has produced a little video commercial.  This blogger has been kind enough to translate the video and explains some of the controversy around the name change.

Zeyad at Healing Iraq describes the complexity of a battle near where he’s staying in Baghdad.  Between the various players involved, the mistrust, the rumors, the crossed signals and the misunderstandings, it’s a wonder anyone is left standing.

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