Monday, January 30, 2006

Japanese study on line

Here's a survey of Japanese language study aids and dictionary lookups for mobile phones and web.

[via Scott]

Saturday, January 28, 2006

gizmag Article: On-product magazines could change the media landscape

Here's an idea: On-product magazines , little magazinelets attached to common grocery store consumer products like bottled water. The pages are designed to withstand refrigeration without going bad with condensation.

The company that makes it, ModernMedia Concepts, apparently has a patent on the idea, but I wonder how defensible it is. Spitfire Ventures' FingerTip books, is very similar and probably more durable.

Glassblowing in Seattle

This Youtube thing is the coolest app I've seen in ages. They apparently support WMV no problem, as long as the file size is under 100MB.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

HD Camcorders

PCWorld says HD Camcorders aren't yet worth buying. That's what I concluded too, though recently a gadget-loving friend told me that he is loving his new Sony and the positively brilliant images you can get.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Anorexics unite

Proof that the social networking sites are a force for evil as well as good: A Stanford doctor who studies these things notes that anorexics and bulemics have their own web sites, and that people who visit them tend to end up in the hospital more often than those who don't.

Sunday, January 22, 2006


Whenever one generation of apps becomes popular and mainstream, there are people who try to push the analogy to the next level of computing and networking power. Sometimes it works and sometimes not. The people at FlickR have a popular web app that lets you easily share digital photos for free. Now a company called YouTube wants to extend that to video. Here's a sample video I just uploaded:

Born Into Brothels

“It’s nearly impossible to photograph in the red light district”, begins Zana, a London-born photographer with degrees in religious studies whose first big project focused on infanticide in India. But children can take pictures there, so a few years later she started, an organization that tries to empower impoverished children by selling the photographs they take of their everyday lives.

These children grow up and play in the most hellish of circumstances. Their parents are prostitutes, drug users, uneducated, and extremely poor. Although they laugh and play innocently like children anywhere, you know it’s inevitable that they are only a few short years from joining the sad tragedy of the rest of their neighborhood in Calcutta, so Zana tries to intervene by giving them cameras and teaching them to photograph the world around them.
Through a couple of high-profile non profit fundraisers, she fights India’s terrible bureaucracy to enroll most of the children in good boarding schools where mostly they now are all doing well.

The street scenes of India, amid extreme crowding and terrible poverty, remind me of my week there a few years ago. I never met any children but I often wondered about the lives of the young beggars I saw everywhere. This documentary gave me a chance, I think, in some small way to meet some of them.

Saturday, January 21, 2006

Vote Yes to Mercer Island Schools

Mercer Island has a reputation as a tight community with strong schools. Almost 1/4 of the school budget comes from a property tax allocation called the "general levy" which is up for renewal every couple of years in a special election. This year's election is on February 7th, and since nothing else is on the ballot it's especially important for people who care about Mercer Island schools to take the effort to turn out.

Interestingly, although this one election accounts for a huge part of the school budget, the school district is not allowed to lobby or organize anything in support of the election, so the entire get-out-the-vote effort is run by a bunch of volunteers unaffiliated with the school. Since my wife and I care a lot about Mercer Island school quality, we joined the committee and set up a web site to promote the cause.

Take a look at the site and let me know what you think:
Vote Yes to MI Schools

Monday, January 16, 2006

Free audio books from Librivox

It's about time somebody started some real competition to

LibriVox has an army of volunteers who record public domain classics and other books for free download as podcasts.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Investor's Business Daily

The Investor's Business Daily web site is free from Jan 9 - 15th.

When I worked at Apple years ago, I told myself to sell all my employee stock purchase shares as soon as they arrived and invest them in my arch-competitor. Working now at MSFT, I'm looking for similar alternatives to simply parking those shares in my own company's stock.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Order a short cappucino at Starbucks

They don't advertise it because "there's no room on the menu board", but you may want to ask for a short cappucino instead of whatever you regularly get at Starbucks.

According to Slate's Starbucks Economics the short drink is cheaper and tastier.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Freakonomics' KKK article was wrong

Freakonomics blog recants the chapter that discussed a Ku Klux Klan inflitration. Apparently the source of the story has less-than-stellar credibility, and now Leavitt and Dubner take back the claims of the chapter.

Seattle Bon Vivant: Taste: Oh Chocolate!'s French Hot Chocolate

Seattle Bon Vivant: Taste: Oh Chocolate!'s French Hot Chocolate

Oh Chocolate! is a Mercer Island favorite, and it sounds like they sell hot chocolate too. I'll need to compare it to Starbucks Chantico, which I find a bit too sweet.

Favorite Web 2.0 applications

Mark Millerton lists his Top 10 Innovative Web 2.0 Applications of 2005. They all use RSS, AJAX, mash-ups, etc. to give interesting new views on data.

Includes NetworthIQ, a personal finance site that encourages people to submit their financial information and compare it to others (anonymously) by age, occupation, etc.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Future of the real estate market

FREAKONOMICS BLOG � More Bad News for Real Estate Agents mentions the case of Madison, Wisconsin, where recently a critical mass of people have started selling their own homes, enough that now the Realtors have to pay attention.

This will ultimately spread nationwide until all homes are old on a fixed cost basis, with fewer agents handling more transactions.

The same thing applies to every business that today uses percentage-based commisions to do something that is essentially a fixed amount of work. Watch out financial planners!