Category Archives: Internet . Web

News of Interest 070408

Happy Fourth of July.

Per MSNBC young people like fancy cars they can’t afford. This causes many of them to remain living with their parents as they choose a hefty car payment over rent. If you’re going to show off a nice car, which nets you attention and status, (whether deserved or not,) wouldn’t that all come crashing down once admitting you’re 25 and live with your parents? It reminds me of this Dallas based project called “The $30,000 Millionaires.

Apparently some bored teenagers drove up to a tiny upstate New York village called “Oniontown,” and via a YouTube video titled “Oniontown Adventures” made fun of the less than glamorous locals in hopes of make some sort of amateur reality “Deliverence” style project I guess. Upon their return trip this week a local youth pelted them and their car with rocks.  Sooo – as miserable as these three guys are for spending an entire day mocking those that don’t live in track home McMansions, and making a video of it, it turns out their analysis of the local populace was relatively spot on.  But then again I wouldn’t want some random jerks cruising up to my house making fun of it – and the peeling paint.  Note to self:  one of the many risks of taking pictures of everything I see.

This is a quite the random gathering of photographs, (everything from babies to business exteriors,) but the photography exhibit Bill Wood’s Business showcases life in Fort Worth, Texas from 1937 to 1970. Bill Wood’s was a photographer and took these photos for clients and business purposes rather than artistic. The documents gathered an appreciation over the years. Its being show at New York’s International Center of Photography.

This 1961 photo shows an old Montgomery Wards truck leaving a warehouse.

Update: I checked yesterday, and my signs are still up at the Home Depot sheds!

News of Interest 062808

As mentioned previously I’ll be participating in the MS Society Colorado Chapter’s 150 mile bike tour this weekend. We’ll ride from Denver to Fort Collins and back in order to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis research. I won’t be posting anything new, or have my much loved Asus onboard my bike either.

That “not posting” part WOULD have more weight if I actually posted something everyday instead of saving them all up for two days a week – but anyway here’s a few articles in my to-read queue when I return:

If you’d like to learn more, (or ride next year,) visit

Politico examines the countless “make believe” experts that populate the cable news show.

Dr. Dobson’s tirade against Obama backfires in the eyes of many – according to the NY Daily News, and Time Magazine.

An interview with David Lida – a Mexico City based journalist writes about the largest megapolis in the Americas. at too.

IHT via the New York Times visits Elizabeth, Colorado – and studies life in the exurbs and whether it can be sustainable.

Dear Ramada Inn Detroit Airport

Yours is a good motel. I haven’t felt compelled to write a letter to a motel since I stayed at the atrocious and dangerous “Dale Downtown Motel” in Colorado Springs.  Anyway I didn’t fear for my life last night, but it’s still an important issue…

I stayed at the Romulus Ramada Inn last night in order to catch my early morning flight to Denver. The room was as expected; everything worked, it was clean and quiet with minimal jet noise. The desk staff was friendly and my shuttle bus driver was very cordial and right on time at 6am for my 6:40 flight. Also I was surprised at the incredible cornucopia that was the breakfast bar!  What a welcome treat to see bacon, sausage, eggs, and fresh fruit along with the expected bread line-up that normally constitutes the entirety of most “continental” breakfasts.

Here’s the gripe though: You have a major infestation! No it’s not rats, cockroaches, or other sorts of vermin I saw on Discovery’s “Verminators”  last night while sprawling out on your spacious bed.   The problem is your “free lobby computer”   A free access PC is a great feature for the traveler, especially leisure travelers who don’t need to carry a laptop with them.

But your computer is not safe and should be avoided at all costs! Seriously, I jogged the mouse and saw a desktop half full of app icons, a start menu two columns wide chock full of – err, “programs,” more toolbars littering IE than I could count, and a check of the task list check revealed upwards of 30 processes running.

This is very very bad. I’m not just writing a funny letter – it seriously needs to be addressed for this reason:  The people your PC serves MOST are usually non savvy computer users who just want a quick email or bank account check.  These are the people who will be HURT the most because they don’t realize the enormous population of malware or log in/password harvesting programs that might be residing in this PC.

Of course I don’t know for certain what if any viruses are actually INSTALLED on this PC.  A nefarious trench coat wearing individual might never have sat down with their skull and bones flash drive and uploaded said keyloggers to this PC. However when you see a public PC that allows ANYTHING to be installed you should ALWAYS err on the side of caution when using it. In fact it would be better to REMOVE the PC completely rather than have it sitting there inviting grandmothers to type in their Hotmail passwords and credit union log ins.

I suggest you re-install Windows on this PC, create a “guest account” which prohibits installation of any programs, and ensure the “admin” account is securely locked.

Feel free to pass this along to other Ramada Inns as well.  I was too tired last night to take a picture but fortunately found a photo of your motel and offending PC on your website.

One more quibble: says this location has a “business center” and labels this photograph AS the “business center.” Sorry, but an unsecured Dell computer on a particle board desk in the corner is not a “business center.” But let’s take care of the computer first then worry about semantics.

Thanks again for a good nights sleep, and I hope you’ll address this matter.

All the best, James..

by James Van Dellen

SF Connected Bus

Technology on wheels: Select San Francisco’s Muni buses now feature Wi-Fi and touch screen maps noting the schedules of connecting and intersecting lines.

I like the idea – and hopefully it will be simple enough for travelers to use and figure out, saving time for both visitors as well as commuters.

Some critics say it’s money being spent in the wrong places – and that the touch screens and various on-board technologies will be targets for vandalism. Hopefully this won’t happen. ok won’t happen to a level where it wasn’t worth the installation.

It would also save energy for some if the screens had an option for “Spare some change?” And then the screen could display the many variations of “Sorry man, No.”

“This is a smart bus in every way, shape and form,” Newsom said. “You can download music, you can play video games. It’s a bus where you are connected. It’s constantly generating information about your connection to the rest of the Muni system.”

The bus, part of Muni’s hybrid electric bus fleet, is painted green and black with a picture of Mother Earth and an electronic display panel boasting “270 tons of CO{-2} saved” and other “green” messages. But what really makes the bus different is inside.

SF Gate article. More at Cisco at

It’s Not Easy Being Green

I’m a day late getting in on “Blog Action Day,” and failed to write about anything green related yesterday as mandated by the blogosphere lords. But my regular day was in fact mostly green. I biked to work as usual, shopped local, watched a Netflix movie, (if that’s considered green,) and drank some green tea after dinner.

We hear lots of chatter about green products and companies. A LOT of chatter. In the past year the green theme has nascented into an avalanche which seemed to land mostly on the desks of marketing strategists. I don’t blame anyone for being burned out on the green scene: I see green labels at the supermarket, I can purchase carbon offsets when flying, and Mr. TV constantly tells me to “be green.” However every time I see a “green” promotion in retail or online my skepto-dar immediately cranks up and I wonder if in fact the money brought in from the green marketing collection plate is even making it to the green causes they promote.

Maybe I’m annoyed people treat the theme of environmentalism like a new scarf. Or those stupid oversize sunglasses that are so popular for some reason. It’s akin to your favorite band hitting it big, and you fervently reminding me “Hey I was with them when they were playing at…” You get the point. I’ve never mulched or torched a Hummer, but overall I think I’ve always BEEN pretty green.

With so many companies promoting “greenery” I fear eventually consumers will become tired of the theme, companies will shuffle on to the next trend, and the label “green” will once again be relegated to a pejorative for extreme environmentalists living in trees.

I’m FOR environmental awareness. I encourage people to maintain a reasonable environmental footprint. But that goes beyond retail and marketing. For those truly green it’s interwoven into your identity so tight that you don’t consciously THINK “green” with every purchase you make. Hal Taussig, founder of “Untours,” is a perfect example of this. He doesn’t need to concern himself with trendy green purchases because the entire philosophical umbrella of which he lives is life shows concern for personal and ecological sustainability. And I doubt he pontificates it daily.

I ask using Taussig’s example: Do you really need to juggle carbon offsets and weigh farmer over supermarkets if the MAJORITY of your life is already lived in the green? Personally I enjoy biking as a viable transportation method because it’s efficient and healthy. I shop local because it’s convenient and less time consuming, and our household has one car because it saves a ton of money. My motive in those choices isn’t to label myself green. It’s to maintain a simple, manageable, and enjoyable life. Fortunately these decisions end up being green. That however is a dangerous message for companies selling the “green” game, because part of being green is to eschew excess consumption and materialism. (Ok now I’ll disclose I own the Roomba and two iPods.)

Being “green” is more than just buying paper towels labeled green (in a plastic wrapper picturing the earth from space.) It’s about the sum of your individual choices. Your collective life is the denominator of what’s considered “green” or not. Should certain companies even market themselves as environmentally friendly when the products they design can never be considered green in the first place? How can a magazine even consider itself green, when as noted in the Cause Related Marketing blog the entire concept of a magazine – paper, printers, and trucks – is the complete antithesis of what being green is about?

I find it ridiculous for someone to search out green toilet paper when they have a three or four person family living in a 3,500 square foot house with five bathrooms to stock said TP in. It’s as nonsensical as slapping a lemon yellow “for the troops” stickers on a shiny black Escalade.

We live in a competitive and consumptive society. We’re told daily to purchase products we don’t need in order to solve problems we don’t have. The blog “marketing green” even examines and details strategies and methods of selling green. Green products follow the logic and money trail down another avenue of marketing. A company can’t say the REAL green message of “Don’t buy our junk – you don’t need it.” But those that are a different shade of green are astute at making smart consumer choices, limiting their consumption, and refraining from stockpiling their homes with unnecessary cheap plastic crap.

I’m a critic of our country’s suburban design, lack of accessible neighborhoods outside cities, the over reliance of cars for simple community transportation, and the quicksand pits of credit card debt that people gamble wade into. To me these larger concerns often override the efforts to be green on a small scale, and until the issue of larger than life consumption is addressed I’m not too concerned with “White Google versus Black Google.”

When thinking “green” forget about what’s on the store shelf. Examine your consumption, material drives, and balance your needs versus your wants. Scaling down in life, spending less, and making conscious consumer choices beyond whether it’s “green” or not will by proxy make you a greener person. That’s the ultimate green statement. But don’t tell the marketers.

Notes in Spanish

My small advanced Spanish language group, which meets weekly, at times tends to flow like a mismatched crowd wave during a baseball game.  We’ve been together for about two years and have a great time together every week poring over history books, heavy grammar, or some weeks just hitting the pinot grigio — but our level of interest, schedules, and other life activities of any five members logically influence the amount of time we’ll put into our studies at any given period.

Wanting to listen to something other than my stale iPod rotation I paid a long overdue visit to “Notes in Spanish.”  Notes in Spanish is a site run by Madrid couple Ben Curtis and Marina Diez.  They began their podcasts in 2005, and post about one a month.  They have a beginner, intermediate, and advanced level.  Their friendly demeanor is delightfully enjoyable and easy listen to.  Their grammar is perfect, and their charm and wit shines through their voices.  I feel like I’m sitting at a street cafe chatting and participating in the conversation with these two lovebirds.  A fun recent podcast is “Zafiros” where Ben recants his trip to Thailand and getting hustled to buy fake sapphires.

Their podcasts are free, and they supplement them with comprehensive worksheets downloadable for a small cost.  Their forum at Notes from Spain is quite active too.

Ben Curtis has a book about moving to and living in Spain, titled “Errant in Iberia”.   Also they have a sister site “Notes from Spain“, a site about daily life, living, and working in Spain.   Take an internet trip with Ben and Maria to Madrid at   or   From their site:

Ben has lived and worked in Madrid since 1998. He is a travel broadcaster and editor, and has previously worked in Spain as a bilingual translator and teacher. Recent projects include work on Fodor´s Spain Gold Guide, the BBC’s Olive Magazine, podcasting from Spain, India and Thailand for Lonely Planet, researching the Home and Abroad Madrid Guide, and appearing on Classic FM. He has also written in Spanish for Solo Moto 30, a Spanish motorbike magazine.

Marina, a true Madrileña, originally worked as an IT consultant for international tech. companies, and now works full time on Notes from Spain and Notes in Spanish. As well as being the Spanish speaking expert behind our Spanish podcasts, her love of Spanish Cuisine provides the inspiration for our Cuisine from Spain programs.

Maps for Us

I’ve been happily exploring Maps For Us today. Do you love maps, charts, and diagrams of, well, everything? Of course you do. And so do I. Who doesn’t like to hunker down at the library on a rainy Saturday afternoon poring through old maps. Now expanding on my thrilling hobby, the site maps travel places like coffee houses in Amsterdam, various underground and metro lines, and other cityscape related maps. But what makes them fun in such a dry way is their serious documentation of such obscure charts as “Map of Halcyon Masonic Lodge No. 498 in Cleveland,” or “Neo-Copernican Map of Chronological Cosmology

Check them out at There’s more maps than you can shake a rolled up map at!

Pictured below: “Map of the Evergreen State Fair – Monroe, WA” and “Birding Hotspots of Guatemala”

Eric Durchholz . gameboys

I saw Eric Durchholz’s promo on the Gawker artists list.  Durchholz is a Nashville artist who primarily works in photography and 3D images.  His upcoming show “gameboys” gives homage to the overlooked segment of gamers:  gay guys.

For Durchholz, gaming is sexy. He considers himself a hardcore gamer. “I don’t watch much television, nor do I read many books. I do play a lot of games and most of my gay friends play games and I wanted to reflect some of that culture into my work. Most people are shocked to hear that gay guys play games. In my world, gaming and gay go hand in hand and I realize that not everyone sees that way. Hopefully this exhibit can help change the perception that just straight teenage males play games and some games with specifically gay content will start to be developed.”

Durchholz has published a full coffee table book titled 3dboys, and also heads up Concrete7, a small group of Nashville artists who, as explained on their site, “make cool stuff.”

Gameboys shows for two weeks beginning October 2nd at Tribe Nashville,  1517 Church Street, Nashville.

Google Cars

From   Some pictures of the Google street fleet.   These Chevy Colbalts’s have 360 cameras mounted on the roof, and will cruise down neighborhoods and arterials while snapping pictures in every direction.

So far only primary streets in major cities have been photographed, (with much controversy at first.) Personally I’m all for it. I’m guarded about my privacy. I check my credit reports, keep a separate mailbox address, but photography on public streets isn’t a violation. It’s the same whether you’re snapping a photo of a local landmark for yourself and Grandma to see, or sharing it with the entire planet.

The fact I can “walk down” major cities right from my desk is cool. It’s what the internet was made for.  Just like the commercials for communications companies that idealistically show a classroom in middle America sharing lesson plans with kids in Japan.


When plunked in front of the computer I usually listen to XM Radio or some other various internet radio stations.  One I listen to frequently is   Not only is this a great techno/dance station out of Buenos Aires, but the staff, (yes this net radio station is staffed), helped track down a song for me after much fruitless searching.

A song in light rotation featured the fragment of lyrics “Such a crying shame, she’s so pretty, so insane” and “She’s Cool Cool” to a heavy driving beat that I love, ala Starkiller’s “Diskoteka”.  Plugging these crapshoot of lyrics into the regular searches netted nothing, with exception to a few people using it in myspace as their signatures.

I e-mailed Beatbox with the lyrics and time it ran, and Javier promptly responded and gave me all of the song information.  Turns out it’s “KooKoo” by DJ Jay P. 

Of course I immediately downloaded it because you’re dying to hear it: 

Thanks Beatbox and Javier!  Listen to Beatbox and send them some love.  And warmth. It’s very cold in BsAs now.