February, 2006

Feb 06

Blade Runner

Wasn’t kidding in my previous post — i actually have started using the new Gillette Fusion razor. 5 blades. I love it, actually. Am really excited about it. Makes my 3-bladed Mach 3 seem sort of like shaving with a loofa. Loufa? Lufa?

(What exactly is a Loofah, anyway? Answers.com tells me that it’s this: 1. Any of several Old World tropical vines of the genus Luffa, having cylindrical fruit with a fibrous, spongelike interior. (or) 2. The dried, fibrous part of the loofa fruit, used as a washing sponge or as a filter. Also called dishcloth gourd, vegetable sponge.)

Anyhoo, it’s a great razor. Except for the extra sideburn razor on the back (the fabled 6th blade!!) — that sucks. My sideburns always clog it up. Maybe my sideburns are just more, um, robust than their test sideburns. (Probably guys like BJR.)

Except that each blade costs approximately what I make in a day. It’s a little ridiculous, really. But great job by the fellas (gals?) in the labs. Can’t wait for the next $3B razor research effort. I’m hoping by the time Sam starts to shave we have some sort of multi-blade face wrap-around where you just stick your mug in and millions of little nano-blades do the work for you.

Feb 06


Privacy is slipping away. A little bit more every single day. I don’t say this to be alarmist — i’ve not believed that there’s been much legitimate privacy in the world for a while now — but I think that the trend is picking up the pace.

Everyone’s attention, of course, is on our “J. Edgar Hoover/Watergate burglers”-style government invasions of privacy. Which are heinous. I have a bit of a hard time telling whether they’re different qualitatively than other periods in our history with executive-branch abuses (Adams pushing Alien & Sedition Acts, Lincoln suspecting habeas corpus). It feels to me like the worst abuses, but I don’t have a wholly historic perspective, of course.

So that’s real, and bad.

But I think the bigger problem is illustrated by Tivo & Google & Apple. (3 companies who make some of my very favorite products in the world.) Lots of people wrote about Tivo tracking what people watched & how they watch (and rewatch) television — wondered what they were doing with the info (selling it, duh). Apple made the latest misstep with the little mini-music store. And everyone knows about how Google knows everything you’ve ever searched for ever. And now, when you do Google searches, the search results even list the number of times you’ve visited a given site. Creepy.

The reason that all these folks are collecting information, of course, is marketing. The more they know about you & your habits, the better they can get at showing you things you might want to watch, or click on, or listen to, or buy. Depending on your point of view, this is either amazingly great or an ever-present evil.

For me, I like marketing. It’s great. i just bought a new razor. (5 blades! Man, how do they think of this stuff? Science fiction on my stubble every day. Like I’m living in the future. Wish I knew what was in the labs next.)

So I’m conflicted. I feel okay about Amazon & Tivo & others knowing the stuff I like to buy because occasionally they suggest to me other stuff that is somehow missing from my life (but is destined to become integral!). And I like that.

All the same, I’m starting to worry.

I search the web probably 50-100 times a day. I use iTunes pretty much the whole time I’m awake and not in meetings. I use an online calendar that’s on a shared server. I blog about my shamefully high susceptibility to commercials with monkeys in them. (How’d they get the whoopie cushion?? Crazy monkeys.)

Now that I’m living a life that’s becoming virtually wholly trackable online it’s all a little creepy.

Not sure what conclusions to draw here, as I’m not going to go all Luddite and turn off my browser cookies. But just want to highlight that the real threat is not our dopey executive branch, but the well meaning folks all around me in cyberspace.

Feb 06

Google Pages

I’m a little mystified by this one. Take a look here: http://pages.google.com — it’s basically a browser-based way to create web pages & web sites.

It’s a fine idea, of course, but I’m pretty sure it was called Geocities the first time around.

I do think, though, that the web has changed since Geocities came out — there are more specific types of pages & sites. Blogs. Photo sites. Movie sites. HotOrNot type things. Enough useful patterns like this have emerged that I’m unclear that generic HTML editors like Google Pages is worth it at all. Specifically the question I’m wondering about is whether the additional interface complexity that is a natural cost for including the HTML generality is worth it.

I think that the iWeb team at Apple figured this out.

Using iWeb, you can’t do some of the more generic type changes you can with Google’s new stuff. But you can share pictures like crazy. And you can run a journal like crazy. (I don’t say “blog” here because it doesn’t (yet) do things like comments & such.)

We’ll see. Maybe they’ll get it integrated with Google Base and Google Video and they’ll together turn into some sort of amazing chocolate, peanut butter & ice cream milkshake. But I’m skeptical. Especially because I like so many of the other things that Google does. The disparity is just glaring.

Feb 06

Good news? Bad news?

Not sure if this is good news or bad news, but finally figured out today that my World of Warcraft install CDs work on my Mac, too 9(in addition to my PC). So it’s running great on my laptop now. Might mean I play more than I have since Sam was born. Maybe not. Hmm….

Feb 06

Long weekend

Nearly every Monday when I come in to work (or Tuesdays after a long weekend, like this one), someone asks how my weekend was.  And lately, I nearly always answer something like: “Fantastic.”

It’s not that we’re doing very much these days — in fact, we’re decidedly sedentary in our lifestyle most weekends lately. This weekend was mostly about lying around on the living room floor, tickling Sam, helping him grab stuff, taking his hands off my glasses or out of Kathy’s hair, and cleaning up the occassional baby hurl from the carpet. Oh, and watching Stanford basketball underperform. (sigh)

And yet, I find myself thinking a lot about something I wrote in my blog a while back — Kurt Vonnegut saying “If this isn’t nice, what is?” I went back and re-read that post today, and recalled that what I was referring to in my post was that my friend Bryan was getting great news about his health and Kathy & I had just found out that baby Sam was on the way.

Anyway, I’ll say it again: if this isn’t nice, what is?