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February 21 to 27, 2005
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The Continuing iPod Phenomenon
To those electronics manufacturers who have been talking trash about the iPod, I would counter: stop burdening your devices with needless features and design bling bling - usable elegance is the new cool. Stop making your gadgets out of materials that feel cheap and fragile - tactile design, heft, and durability is very important. And please, require no configuration, no extra cables, no docks, and no extraneous crud. I just want to listen to my music, and if your player gets in the way of that in the slightest, then I'm not buying!

Note that the chips in the iPod shuffle are recording and FM radio capable, but Apple doesn't use these features. Also note that they make an 40% markup on each unit:
People are making (and selling) iPod shuffle art. I want surfboard designs:
Libraries are now lending iPods with audiobooks on them:
Bars are letting customers be DJs with their iPods:
In related news, a man connects a Mac mini to a 60-inch TV and creates a spectacular-looking media center. It ends up being far more capable and much, much smaller than any of the other boxes attached to his TV:
New Tech
A startup creates molecular storage technology that could store 1 terabit per square inch, or 25 DVDs of data in a postage stamp-sized area:
Samsung introduces cellphone videoconferencing:
The Vapo-Blaster is the new high-tech bubble-making weapon of choice:
Forget ringtones. The smart money is in toothbrushing music! "Several recording artists" are in talks:
Modern Life
The late Hunter S. Thompson often visited Hawaii and wrote many infamous things there. Here's the best take on him, by Honolulu-based writer William Moake:
In a panel at a Web conference in 1995 I talked about the inevitable rise of instant stardom and its perils, once the Web got popular. Here are some of the latest subjects - a very funny online video of 19 year-old Gary Brolsma showed him lip-synching to a Romanian pop song. Now after CNN and VH1 broadcasts, he's hiding at home, refusing calls from the New York Times and an appearance on the "Today" show:
Boston resident Geoff Hargadon made a popular parody of the art installation "The Gates". His site got 4 million hits, and he got a reception with the mayor, appearances in international newspapers and MSNBC, and offers from museums across the U.S. to add his work to their collections:
Here's a brilliant business and innovative social practice - I haven't heard of any historical precedents for this social role. The business is "Wingwomen", where shy bachelors pay $50 an hour for attractive women to introduce them to potential dates in social settings. With over 300 clients in New York, business is booming, they have a 65% success rate, and there are offers to open franchises in Brazil and Japan:
Tommy Chong is the star of "The Marijuana-Logues", a very funny and critically acclaimed pot-centric parody of the "The Vagina Monologues", which started this month. Because of parole restrictions he's had to recuse himself because so many are toking in the audience:
Here's a clip from "The Bill Maher Show":
A great article about NASA's programmers and the culture and systems that encourage software development as if engineering mattered. Their code is 99.9% bug-free. Their lessons can be applied to nearly any team effort:
Top tennis stars Andre Agassi and Roger Federer play on the world's highest tennis court in Dubai, about 1,000 feet up:
The court belongs to the Burj Al Arab, purported to be the world's best and most luxurious hotel. Here's an opulent virtual tour:
However, all this luxury island building is (temporarily?) destroying Dubai's natural environment:
Terrorism and You
"Declaration of Revocation"
This was rumored to have been written by John Cleese, but whether it's true or not, it's still very funny:
There will be no encryption on new U.S. e-passports, even though they could be read stealthily from 30 feet away:
Visa will be using the same technology for its credit cards, but with multiple layers of encryption and fraud detection. Because in the U.S., money is far more important than your identity:
People using T-Mobile services (like Paris Hilton, who had her personal address book posted all over the net this week) should realize how incredibly easy they are to hack:
T-Mobile simply says, "change passwords often":
Wal-Mart flew in a team of labor experts to counter 21 year-old employee Joshua Noble and 17 others who tried to form a union. Despite international attention, the effort failed. "It's just a bunch of brainwashing, but it kind of worked" says an $8.10 per hour co-worker:
New super-cool solar roof tiles blend invisibly into housetops. Let's see these around town!
The new 1-kilometer high Solar Tower, which could power 200,000 homes, has found a building site in Australia. This got a lot of press this week:
Photographer Chris Jordan's "Portraits of American Mass Consumption":
Here's where your cell phones go:
Don't forget the cell phone chargers:
A compact kitchen/bathroom/storage unit for small spaces:
The way things are going, the world's population will be 9.1 billion by 2050:
Nature is a lot tougher than you. Scientists revive 32,000 year-old frozen bacteria:
The cool trailer for the new movie based on the Philip K. Dick novel "A Scanner Darkly". In nine years, everything you do will be recorded:
Canada's Oscar-winning animated short film "Ryan":
This quality photoshop contest shows real life, cubed:
A Londoner's house is full of wall-to-wall collections:
This design concept shows a great way to recycle water bottles:
The elegant Eva Solo magnetic (kitchen) timer:
Bored? Try pixel art, using Post-Its for pixels:
Stuff For Web Developers
A nice old-school history of multimedia:
The new XML-centric method of Web development now has a de-facto name - Ajax:
Add a little mp3 player to your Web site:
Or a drag-and-drop shopping cart like this:
Turns out Google Maps isn't that new. Here's its predecessor, an amazing zooming map of Switzerland:
It isn't perfect, but I like the clean, no-frills information design of Metacritic:
The first Grammy winner in the Best Hawaiian Music Album category, "Slack Key Guitar Volume 2", hit number one on Billboard's World Music chart and number two on the New Age chart. If you buy it, keep in mind that it nowhere near represents the best in Hawaiian slack key guitar music:
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