Capn Design

December 2007

This month I posted 17 entries, crafted 8 tweets, listened to 170 songs, watched 3 videos, bookmarked 4 sites, took 17 photos and favorited 3 things.

Resolution: Less Input, More Output

Posted December 31, 2007

I've spent plenty of time pondering the glut of information available to us, but this post isn't about that. Instead, I'm publicly declaring that I'm going to cut down on magazines, tv shows, movies, etc. and work hard to start making more stuff. As those now painfully annoying IBM commercials say, society is run by doers. While, the earliest years of your life should be about soaking up data and learning to process it, I'm ready to put down my Guitar Hero axe (for a little while) and spend some time making a bigger dent in the world.

Sure, my life is 90% output from 10am to 6pm during the week, but I have a greater sense of ownership of the work I do on this blog or projects like The Movie Binge. I don't pretend that Capn Design could make much of a dent on society, but it makes me feel good knowing I've contributed something. And like all aspsects of the world, those first, small steps could lead you just about anywhere.

Strategies for Making it Happen

I do have a couple bigger ideas to work on, but I'm going to focus more on making every input bear fruit. This means I'll only see National Treasure: Book of Secrets or listen to This American Life if I'm willing to spend time finding something interesting about it. It may suck some of the enjoyment out of my free time, but I need to train my mind to be more critical.

What may be even more important is taking the time to write things down. Some friends were leafing through my 100 page notebook I carry everywhere and we realized I'd been using the same one for over 4 years. While I do jot down ideas on the computer, far too many go the way of the Dodo Bird.

While cutting back on input helps, it won't give me the time I need to get things done. I've already started improving the systems I use to process data, but in the end it comes down to setting aside time to just think. To start, I'd like to have an hour of time to create something every night. It's not much, but I think it will get me going on the right path, which is what these resolutions are all about.

RIAA Says You Can't Rip CDs You Own

Totally insane. It will be a serious clusterfuck if they win this case.

Dining with Bear Grylls

Posted December 22, 2007

20071222bear.jpgI'm a big fan of Man vs. Wild, the Discovery show about a survival expert thrown into situations that require, well, survival. While that's the gist of the show, my two favorite subplots (and potential drinking games) are Bear telling war stories ("I knew a man who lived on beetle fur for 12 years in this rain forest) and Bear eating gross creatures then describing what they taste like. My secret desire was fulfilled when a clips show entitled "Bear Eats" came on last night. I was squeeling with joy.

While I recommend you try to watch the show (here's a schedule and here's a DIY video montage), I've decided to compile some of Bear's cooking and eating tips I gleaned from this episode. First, here's some info on the flavor explosion Bear experiences.

On long horned beetles: "It's like a big prawn that's been sitting around for weeks that's all shell and rotting guts."

On termites: "They taste like...a little bit zingy..not very nice citrus." "But termites pack a surprising 560 calories in every handful."

On raw wild snails: "It's like a giant, cold, bogie."

Bear is also an expert in nutritional info and cooking.

On boiled sheep eyes - "Icelanders eat almost every part of the sheep...even the eyeballs. Sheep eyeballs are extremely nutritious. They're high in protein and rich in vitamins A and D. Usually they're the first thing to rot, but in this cold weather, these are still good." He boiled the eyeball in a hot geothermal pool. They're okay to eat raw, but he's just trying to get rid of the bacteria. "It's like chewing gristle full of cold gloop." MMmmmmmm.

On roasted turtle - "I've always cracked the belly, gutted it, scraped all the meat out and ate like that. But in the Everglades the Seminoles used to cook it straight in its shell, sort of like a pressure cooker. Just put it [on the fire], leave it for an hour." "Cooking time will depend on the size of the turtle. One way to tell it's ready is when the shell is brittle and cracks." He hammers it with the his knife to expose the flesh. There's less than a half a gram of fat and no carbs or sugar. "Mmm, this is one of those times you can say it really does taste like chicken."

That's just the half of it, but I'll make you watch the show to see the rest. I love Bear.

Remember the Milk Can Be Beautifully Integrated with Gmail

Now I'm regretting starting up with Todoist, even though it rocks.

A More Thorough Assessment of Non-Profits

Two young fellas start a non-profit that rates non-profits based on more than just their tax forms. I think it's a great idea, but I'm not a big fan of their site. Still, it's a smart idea.

World Express

Video of NYT photographer Todd Heisler as he visits the communities along the 7 line. Makes me want to spend a weekend visiting stores near each of the stops.

Behind the Whopper Freakout

"But we had a philosophical discussion and said we really got the best reactions from real people so we cut out everyone who was fake. It was my insurance policy. I didn't know – I had to see it to believe it." It'd probably be good if you watched the freakout first.

Trailer for the Dark Knight

It's hard to get Jack Nicholson out of your head, but this looks super-duper fantastico.

Reuters Photos of the Year
The Bible According to Google Earth

Four biblical scenes seen from the bird's eye view of Google Earth

High Wire:

A beautiful video portrait of men who fix high wire power lines. They climb on from the wing of a helicopter and wear conductive suits.

Landing Without a Parachute

Several groups of skydivers are looking to be the first to complete the task. They're using winged outfits, $2 million runways and are coming in with up to 120mph of horizontal speed.

Whiskerino 07

These awesome photos make me want to grow my beard again. With wedding events beginning as early as March (!!), now is the time...

Dangerous Grounds Project

A traceur and landmine activist traverses the full 50,000 square meters of London without touching the ground to bring light to the need for landmine clearance. There are lots of great videos and photos on the site.

Kindle is Dead, Long Live Kindle

Posted December 4, 2007

20071204kindle.jpgSeveral weeks have passed since the release of Amazon's new eBook reader, Kindle, and I am ready to explain to you why this hardware will fail and why it is the first step towards the eventual end of paper books.

It's Still A Screen

Forget that it's ugly, because that doesn't matter too much. The biggest reason it will fail is that it does not replicate the experience of reading a book or magazine. From all I've read and seen, you are still reading on a super fancy, high contrast PDA. Chip Kidd put it best when he said, "People don't want to read books on a screen." I agree, but only because screens today suck.

This is where flexible screens come in. Right now in a lab somewhere, there is a painfully expensive piece of plastic that you can bend and will display video or still images. No matter what anyone tells you, this is not ready to use. As this 2004 BBC article notes, "eventually the displays are expected to be in colour". While no one knows exactly when, eventually there will be a flexible screen with contrast and resolution that comes incredibly close to paper. Remember digital cameras 10 years ago and the 600x480 photos they produced? Today we have 39 megapixel professional cameras and there will be a screen equally ridiculous ten years from now.

When flexible, 8"x10" color screens can run for a full day without a charge at 300dpi, then you'll hear paper books' death rattle. I want something that can approximate the experience of reading a broadsheet, a magazine and book while being able to play a video or song. Basically I want Harry Potter newspapers with sound.

Sharing is Good

The only other point of failure is Kindle's DRM. Dive Into Mark put it best, so I'll let you head there to find out the details, but I can't imagine not being able to lend my friend a book or magazine. Just like many of the music stores, if Amazon shuts of the service tomorrow your books are gone. The got the music store right, but they got this horrifically wrong.

The Rest Ain't Bad

The distribution method, the selection, the acquisition process and even paying for blogs are done well. Kindle makes reading books on a digital device very easy. They're just five to ten years too early.

The Visual Design of Team Fortress 2

The prettiest game I've played in a while and some of the best character design I've seen by anyone outside of Pixar

Aesthetic Apparatus Explains Screenprinting

Do you like 60s game show music and yelling? This video is for you!

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