Capn Design

July 2004

This month I posted 32 entries, watched 6 videos.

Final Nintendo DS Design

Like Gizmodo says, I need to see the games before I can decide if this will be any good.

Turn Your iPod into a Universal Remote

Oh Bamma!

Posted July 27, 2004

My lordy. This young man is an amazing speaker. My entire apartment was clapping and hooting. The only time we make more noise is during episodes of The O.C., and even that's a close call.

Obama did an amazing job bringing together everyone. It didn't feel like a Democratic speech -- it truly felt like an American speech, a Presidential speech. I was thoroughly impressed by his heartfelt comments and I was proud to be from Illinois.

As Pandagon said, "You know how good this speech is? It will be on rap albums next year, during the tracks that are trying to be socially conscious."

Oh yeah: The full text of Obama's speech

My First Scary New York Moment

Posted July 26, 2004

Amazingly, it took me nearly two years to really have an unsettling encounter in this city. I guess I should be thankful, but I still feel uneasy.

Yesterday, while walking to BAM after checking out the new Target in my neighborhood, a man tried to tell me something as I walked by. I had my headphones on and couldn't hear what he said, but I slid them down as I was curious. After a quick inquiry, the man told me, "Oh, I thought you were an undercover cop that one time. I wanted to apologize." He wasn't nearly so eloquent, but it's hard to write in gibberish. I showed confusion, and he asked if I lived around here. I told him I lived a few blocks West and he was like, "Yeah, I sell weed on Hoyt Street!" Uh oh.

He apologized again and then went to knock fists with me. He knocked mine and then I knocked his. When I did that, it knocked his inhaler to the ground. We picked it up and he realized it was broken. I apologized, but said it under my breath as I wanted out of the situation, and started to walk away. "Hey man! Can't you apologize?" Then he snatches my glasses off my face and says, "What if I took something of yours?" I was shocked. "Excuse me, sir. Give me those back. I told you I was sorry. It was an accident." He must have snapped out of his stupor because he gave them back to me. I quickly walked away, ignoring his repeated requests for an apology.

After getting over the shock, I thought about the episode of Six Feet Under from two weeks ago. After seeing it, I wondered how you can trust anyone you meet on the street. Yesterday's event brought that home. This won't stop me from talking to people, but I will be a lot more cautious.

Shakespeare in the Line

See Shakespeare while waiting for tickets for Shakespeare in the Park [My friend Gil's labor of love]

Movie Marathon pt. 2

Posted July 23, 2004

Well, it's scheduled to rain for the next five days. In celebration, I am going to see a whole bunch of movies tomorrow at the AMC Empire 25 at Times Square. If you want to join me, shoot me an email (available to the right) or leave a comment.

Here's what I'm thinking about seeing:
Before Sunset
Bourne Supremecy
Donnie Darko: Director's Cut
Door in the Floor
Riding Giants

So, the schedule isn't set, but I'll plan around you if you'd like to join for a movie or five.

Update (7/25/04): I saw all of these but Before Sunset, which I'll be seeing tonight. Thankfully, I enjoyed all of them. I'll post reviews of each of them later tonight, most likely.

Referrer Spam is Out of Control

Posted July 22, 2004

This week, I have been trying to tackle my referrer spam. It has gotten terrible. I have looked in a number of places (botwack and diveintomark), but I can't seem to figure it out. I'm guessing the main reason I couldn't figure this out is because I don't really understand it, but I'm wondering if something has gone wrong.

So, could someone help me out please? Here is the source for refer.php (with the server login bits removed) so you can see what I'm up to. If you can help me, I'd really appreciate it.

2004 Straphanger Report Card
Electoral Vote Predictor

Currently, Kerry is poised to win, but it could easily swing the other way [via kottke]

Bookmachine: On-Demand Printing

Prints a soft-cover book in 3-5 minutes [via Engadget]

2004 Mercury Prize Shortlist

Posted July 20, 2004

The albums for the 2004 Mercury Prize have been announced. Here they are, with sporadic commentary.

Amy Winehouse - Frank

Basement Jaxx - Kish Kash Definitely one of my favorite albums from last year, as shown on my best-of list from last year (Top 15, Next 15).

Belle & Sebastian - Dear Catastrophe Waitress This is the first Belle & Sebatian album I have actually liked. In the past, I found them annoying. I kinda hope they win.

Franz Ferdinand - Franz Ferdinand They are going to win. If they don't then you can exepct an eternity of hellfire. You heard it here.

Jamelia - Thank You

Joss Stone - The Soul Sessions I've heard of her, but now I want to check her out.

Keane - Hopes and Fears Amazing. I saw them three years ago in a bar in London playing to 25 people. Really, check out this album as it's available stateside.

Robert Wyatt - Cuckooland

Snow Patrol - Final Straw It's more produced than previous albums, but still quite good. Due to the fact that one of their songs was featured in MVP Baseball 2004, they will not win.

The Streets - A Grand Don't Come for Free I haven't listened to this album enough. The Streets just aren't a band I crave.

Ty - Upwards

The Zutons - Who Killed...... The Zutons

I recommend you check out all of these bands. The Mercury Prize is one of the few in the world that I really pay attention to. Anyone out there want to say anything about these bands?

Bottle Cap Tripod

[via gizmodo]

Siren Fest Wasn't Fun

Posted July 20, 2004

I spent my Saturday at Coney Island experiencing this year's Siren Festival. I couldn't go last year do to a fishing trip, and I was annoyed about missing it. Now, I'm not so upset.

My largest complaint, and really the only thing that made it a bad experience, was the horrific sound. I'm not sure if it was any good closer to the stage, but if you were 100 yards back, like 70% of the audience was, then you could hear the bass and a little bit of singing. If you enjoy guitars or keyboards, you're pretty much screwed. This is why I only listened to 10 minutes of And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead even though they were the one band I really wanted to see. I almost enjoyed TV on the Radio because the crowd was slightly smaller, but I'm going to have to see them again in a more controlled environment. I know I shouldn't be complaining, it being free and all, but between the crappy sound and the throngs of hipsters clogging up the joing, I couldn't have fun.

Speaking of hipsters*, it was kind of funny to see so many people who pride themselves on being original in the same place. They all looked more or less the same. It almost looked like they had uniforms on. Do you think they felt self-conscious about it? We'll never know.

Back to the concert though. I think they should charge $15 next year. I would definitely pay that much to see all these bands and it would help them to use a better sound company and would knock out a few thousand people. Then, I would be happy. If things stay the same next year then I'll probably show up early and leave before the big bands hit the stage. Then I can hear what's going on, grab a couple of hot dogs at Nathan's, and head back to the other end of Brooklyn and do something else. Anything else.

Better luck next year, Siren Fest.

*Yes, I was wearing a tightish, "cool" t-shirt, but I had cargo shorts on so I'm exempt.

Schwarzenegger Calls Budget Opponents 'Girlie Men'

That is from the New York Times, not the Onion. Wow.

9/11 Hearings Offered on iTunes Music Store for Free

Here's an iTunes link

Illinois Residents with H.I.V. Can Now Donate Organs

This is the first state to allow this. Kudos.

Blockbuster Rentals

Posted July 16, 2004

Thanks to Hacking Netlflix, I was able to get a sneak preview of Blockbuster Rentals. First, here's a screenshot of the homepage in case they take down or move the beta (click for full-size).

Blockbuster Rentals Homepage

So it looks like they have 5,000 more titles (20k vs. 25k) and are two bucks cheaper. The site doesn't look as robust or user-friendly, but I'll reserve judgement until they're out of beta. The biggest issue for me is ease of use. I want to be able to have the two-day turnaround I have right now and I want to have a robust recommendations system. Netflix's is adequete, but not perfect, so there's room for improvement here.

I'm signing up for a free trial, so I'll report back in a few weeks.

I am a Self-Appointed Racial Ambassador

Posted July 16, 2004

My neighborhood is diverse (see horribly generalized and fairly inaccurate map made because it was fun to make below). Okay, most of New York City is diverse. That aside, I am living in a neighborhood that is more diverse than I am used to. I grew up in the northern suburbs of Chicago, where everyone except for the low-wage employees were white, and I went to school in Madison, which is a city that loves diversity but doesn't show it in the campus area. So, living in Boerum Hill has been a change.

It's pretty obvious that a ton of people are inherently a little racist. In my neighborhood, a lot of the non-white residents view me as someone who has come to gentrify things, raise rent prices and knock them over on the way to the subway. One of those is true, but that's not the point. The point is that this bugs me. I don't want to be viewed that way, but when I walk to work in my business casual clothes listening to my iPod, it's kinda tough.

I tend to get upset when I see a Hispanic man walk right past me and then ask a Black lady for directions, which happened this morning. I was also annoyed when I was walking into a store next to a Black lady and she asked someone a few feet ahead of me to open the door, even though it was much more convenient for me to do it. These are the small things, the tip of the iceberg, but it bothers me nonetheless. So, what to do?

Lately I've been going out of my way to be nice to people. I'll say "hello, how are you?" to passerbys on the street or I'll lend someone a nickel or a dime at Dunkin' Donuts. Sometimes, I'll just talk to someone in a line. It's amazing how shocked some folks are by this.

Thus far, I haven't made much of a difference in the neighborhood. I still get ignored when people are seeking favors/advice, but I feel a little better about myself. In fact, the other day I exchanged pleasantries with a racial ambassador from the other side. Our eyes met and he smile and said "Hello, how are you?" I smiled back and said "I am fine, thanks." At that moment, I knew he was on my side. The two of us were working together, probably unknowingly, to build a racially tolerant neighborhood. Okay, so he was probably just being nice, but I'd like to think that an army of us-es could change this neighborhood for the better. One day.

This is the horribly generalized map that I spoke of above:

Horribly Generalized Map of my Neighborhood

Inside the Mind of Sasha Baron-Cohen (Ali G)
400k Sign Petition Against Gay Marriage Amendment is helping people show their opposition to Bush's proposed amendment to ban gay marriage. Sign the petition, if you oppose it.

Michael Moore Provides Supporting Evidence for Farenheit 9/11

Down with Carb-Counting: Part 2

Posted July 11, 2004

This week an op-ed piece discussing the Italian diet appeared in the New York Times. It questions the reasoning behind Americans disdain for carbs when Italians are generally skinny and eat four times as much pasta per capita. As you'd guess, they have smaller portions of pasta in a meal and exercise is imbued in their daily lives.

It reminded me of my mom's super-secret, highly conceptual diet. Here is a step-by-step guide:

STEP 1: Burn more calories than you consume.

That's it. That's all you have to do. Okay, so it's not that easy, but if you do this and use common sense (balanced diet, regular exercise) then you're guaranteed to lose weight.

Like I said, it's not easy. Losing weight is a difficult proccess and I'm not intending to poke fun at those who are having trouble doing this. Americans have been trained to eat huge portions very quickly, which I think is our biggest problem. I could go on about how we need to slow down so you can more accurately tell when you're full, but the author of the op-ed piece is more convincing than I could be.

So, for the last time I hope, I ask you to reconsider your gimmick diet. By all means, find something structured that works for you, but if you're going to spend money on a new diet then I suggest you head to a nutritionist and ask for some help. It might be a touch more expensive than the South Beach book, but they know what they're doing.

Bush Flips a Pennsylvania Man

A wiki for New York. I think this could be great.

Go KenJen Go!

Posted July 9, 2004

I am enamored by Ken Jennings, the man who is currently tearing it up on Jeopardy. As of today, he has won 27 consecutive days and $868,960. That is frickin' crazy. According to, he is on pace to break $1 million in only five more games. All I can continue to think and say is, "That is frickin' crazy."

I was able to catch the show yesterday and he is spectacular. He wasn't all that far ahead in the beginning, but his wide-ranging knowledge bowled over the other contestants by the end of the first round. On top of it all, he seems to be a gentle, nerdy, all-around good guy.

Dana Stevens, from Slate, agrees. She did a little write-up about KenJen a couple days ago and it does a great job of capturing the spectacle. I think she's spot on when she says we all want to keep watching so we're there when he loses. I imagine it will be like when the Celtics finally lost their ridiculous reign of championships in the 60s -- you'll be upset by the change but a part of you is glad it's over. Also, you have to feel bad for all of these poor saps playing against Ken. They go in knowing they're going to lose.

As of today, I have a season pass (tivo-talk) of Jeopardy and Ken. I don't want to miss any moment. I'll be sure to speak about this more, assuming it doesn't end later today.

Learning Spanish While I Sleep

Posted July 8, 2004

No, I have not been falling asleep to Spanish tapes. In fact, I haven't even tried to learn any Spanish. Instead, I have been dreaming in Spanish. Despite having no real reason to speak Spanish since my senior year of high school, I have two dreams that had significant amounts of Spanish in the last month.

The oddest part about this sudden influx of Español is that my speaking ability was much better while dreaming than while awake. Then, while riding the train to work this morning, a group of three men came into my car and began singing songs in Spanish. Somehow, I recognized words that I don't think I've ever used. Baffling.

It's fairly likely that I'm not actually acquiring additional vocabulary purely through my dreams, but that doesn't stop this from being entertaining. If I start speaking French in my dreams -- a language of which I only know a handful of phrases -- then I'm going to supsect my self of sleep-studying. Either that or my girlfriend is playing me language tapes while I sleep.

A Long Weekend

Posted July 2, 2004

I'll be out for the rest of the weekend folks. I'm heading to Chicago for the weekend to see family and friends. It was a last-minute trip, but I'm gonna see the Cubs and people I care about, so it should be a good time.

See you on Tuesday (or maybe sooner).

The Most Disgusting Opera in History

You know its gross when the words "vomit," "raping," and "animals" are used to describe a scene. Unsurprisingly, it was put on in Germany.

Homogonized Dairy Beverage

Posted July 1, 2004

Carb CountdownMan those chocolate chip cookies were fantastic. Now, if I only had something to wash them down with. I know! I'll have some low-carb homoganized dairy beverage!

I think anyone can admit that this sounds ridiculous. Of course, not every low-carb food has to have such a ridiculous name, but it is a god segue into my thoughs on this carb madness. For those who don't remember, between ten and fifteen years ago the world realized that eating too much fat was not good for you. Consequently, thousands of low-fat and no-fat products flooded the market. Now, the same thing is starting all over again, and it's annoying.

We have low-carb soda, low-carb chips, low-carb bread, low-carb yogurt, low-carb cookies, low-carb ice cream, low-carb wine, low-carb candy and God knows what else. Most of these products just lower the sugar and market it as low-carb. I'm sure all of the naturally low-carb stuff is rebranding as we speak.

Personally, I feel bad for the wheat and rye products of the world. Here they are, not harming anyone, and they are considered to be deadly. It's sad, but this isn't a post about the craziness of some current diet trends. This post is to remind you that there will always be a health fad and it will not work magic. In another fifteen years we will be talking about the problems with protein or fiber and we'll go through this again. Guaranteed.

For now, I encourage you to chuckle at all of the ridiculous low-carb products available today. Marketing is funny.

The Phone

Interactive flash art [via what do i know]

Grand Central Gets a New Master Clock
Titanic Reenacted by Bunnies in 30 Seconds

They also do The Shining and The Exorcist [via andy]


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