My Day In Photos

I've been bringing the camera along for the ride a lot more lately. Witness today.

Sunrise on Mopac while driving to buy a Wii (failed again, BTW):

Sunrise Over Austin

Trip to the dog park with Mister Emmet (who chased squirrels the whole time):

Quick, Get My Rappeling Gear

Brunch at the Magnolia (24 hour breakfasty goodness):

Sorry, We're Open

Afternoon nap, until somebody stole my pillow:

My Pillow Now

Sunset on the way to JPM's for dinner:

Sunset In Austin

Watching the Resentments at the Saxon Pub:

The Resentments

We Don't Resent Tips

Looking back on it (literally), I'd say it was a pretty good day.



So, David Pogue weighed in today on the classic airplane on a treadmill story today, and started a firestorm in the comments. It was picked up by BoingBoing, and Mark Frauenfelder published my comment on the topic:

A plane doesn't increase velocity by pushing off the ground; it does so by pushing off the air. The ground is just there to keep the plane from falling into the center of the earth. (Think of seaplanes ... they can still take off despite lack of significant friction with the ground). Since the air in this example is no different from a usual takeoff, the plane would push off it and move forward as usual. The difference, however, is that as the plane started to move, the wheels of the plane would turn, and the fictional treadmill would increase in speed to match ... which would cause the wheels to turn faster, thus causing the treadmill to move faster, etc ... a mutually reinforcing system, until the wheels and the treadmill both turned to molten lava (and how fast that happens depends on how closely the treadmill could match wheel speed). Meanwhile, the body of the plane would be busy taking off as usual, unaware of the drama happening below (except, perhaps, for the smell of melting rubber).

So there you have it - the definitive word on the subject. Except for my lack of any advanced degrees in the physical sciences. Anybody want to weight in?


Trail Of Funnel Cake

Last night, Uberjam ran the Trail Of Lights 5k at Zilker park. I, in my infinite wisdom, did NOT run the Trail of Lights 5k.

However, I did get to go a) eat a funnel cake, and b) twirl around under the Zilker Park "Christmas Tree" (not really a tree, just a huge tower with lights on it). Here's what it looks like underneath when you're not spinning around:


Here's what it looks like when you are spinning around:


Whoa. Anyway, I managed not to fall over or get sick, despite just having eating said funnel cake (for my fellow yankees, "funnel cake" ~= "fried dough").

Anyway, here are the rest of the photos from the run.


A wii bit disappointed

Last night, Uberjam and I tried to go get a Wii at Walmart. When we got there at 10:30, there was already a line of people (waiting outside in the cold, for some reason I don't understand) to get a Wii at 8am the next morning. We gave it a moment's thought, then decided that we'd be OK waiting a bit longer. So instead, we went to get some food at the Magnolia:

The Magnolia

And I'm going to sign up with NintendoFinder.com to see if I can get any better info on where to get one. I'll let you know if it's worth the $6.50.



So, you may remember that I started out November participating in NaNoWriMo. Well ... I didn't make it. I got about 15,000 words in (towards a goal of 50,000) before realizing I was absolutely bat-guano crazy.

BUT ... I did make 15,000 words, which is pretty good. I actually like a lot of what I wrote, and I think some of the characters really had promise. But as it turns out, writing a cohesive novel with no idea about the plot or purpose when you start is ... well, tricky.

So, goodbye novel. Maybe I'll see you again next year.




My review of the Santomojo festival is up at Houston Calling, David Cobb's local music blog. Check it out.

Photo via Flickr, courtesy of The Portal & Friends.



I've never been a big one for Michael Moore. His films have the hallmarks of the same propaganda style I decry when it represents views I don't agree with; and so, I find it hard to get behind him, even though I usually find my views (at least basically) aligned with his.

But in the past couple weeks, he's written two pieces that really deserve to be read, even if just to spark conversations.

First, a few days after the election, he wrote this piece: A Liberal's Pledge to Disheartened Conservatives.

It's a set of promises that we (as progressive democrats) should make to our conservative brethren. While many of the "promises" are really just unhelpful (and boorish) attacks on legitimately held conservative views, there are at least a few of them that I'd be proud to say I support, and I'd wish to see everyone of political integrity get behind.
"We will never, ever, call you 'unpatriotic' simply because you disagree with us."

"We will discourage religious intolerance and fanaticism -- starting with the fanaticism here at home, thus setting a good example for the rest of the world."

"We will go after any elected leader who puts him or herself ahead of the people. And we promise you we will go after the corrupt politicians on our side FIRST."

That's great stuff. As for the balance, let me just emphasize my caveat above: I think many of these "promises" are just "nyah nyah" style flamebait, particularly the bits about handguns, stem cells, and counting age from birth. I may agree with him on many of them (don't worry, my Texas neighbors: not the handguns part) ... but I think that's a particularly unhelpful way to change the minds of conservatives, which is ostensibly his goal here. A dialog may change minds; a diatribe won't.

In any event, I think the list is worth reading.

Second, just today he published this letter advising America to "Cut & Run" in Iraq.

As most people have, I've been of the opinion that an immediate troop withdrawal would plunge things into chaos. But he makes a few stark points about how the operations there have, ultimately, already failed - the war of ideas has been decisively lost, even if the war of bullets is still suffering a slow burn. Many of these things I agree with strongly - most importantly, that for a people to be "liberated", they have to make it happen themselves. After impugned motives on the way in (oil? revenge? popularity ratings?) and seriously compromised execution (rising violence? massive civilian deaths? rapes?? Gitmo???), there is now no way that anyone in Iraq can view the Americans' actions with the same gratitude that we were viewed with at the end of WWII. They (collectively) look at us and want us either out or dead.

What I like about this piece isn't the bullying tone, but more the perspective he ends with:
"A majority of us were upset and angry after 9/11 and we lost our minds. We didn't think straight and we never looked at a map. [...] We didn't know what a Sunni or a Shiite was, never even heard the words. Eighty percent of our young adults (according to National Geographic) were not able to find Iraq on the map. [...]

But at our core we are a good people. We may be slow learners, but that "Mission Accomplished" banner struck us as odd, and soon we began to ask some questions. [...] The majority now feel a deep sadness and guilt and a hope that somehow we can make make it all right again."

Well said, sir.

I'm glad there's a Michael Moore to take these ideas and galvanize them. I'm also glad he's not running things at the top, because I don't think he leads from a place of quiet wisdom like truly admirable leaders do. But for heavens' sake, these pieces should be read and digested, and argued about - and, perhaps, answered by conservatives with equally compelling arguments (and a minimum of FUD slinging).

Any takers?


Bloglines Freedbacking

(If you don't use the feed reader Bloglines, this post will be a snoozer. Consider yourself warned.)

I've got a little freedbacking for Bloglines. OK, well, actually, a lot ... this is software I use every day, so any of these little improvements would go a long way with me. In order of importance:

1) Show the sub name. When I click "j" to go to the next item, and I'm viewing a folder where I have several feeds, it's often difficult or impossible to tell what feed I'm looking at (which makes all the difference in the world, in terms of my rapid understanding of the content). I find myself clicking the mouse on the whitespace of the page and pressing the "up" arrow a few times to see it, which is extremely inefficient. I'd like it either to a) stop where you can see the folder title when you press "j", or b) float a little div with the sub name somewhere on the right side of the screen where it won't interrupt me.

2) Filters. Build Feedrinse-style filters in so I can reduce the number of posts I get. Feedrinse works great for that, but a) after a certain number of feeds, they make you pay, and b) it seems like logical functionality to have right in Bloglines. Plus, I'd love to still be able to see the real number of subscribers on my feed, even though I'm reading a filtered version.

3) Improve email subscriptions. I use email subscriptions a lot (I have over 200 of them), but I'd really love some more management tools for them. Searching, sorting, dead feed warnings (i.e. "You've never gotten anything for this email feed"). And I know it's unlikely, but I'd really especially appreciate it if you guys gave open RSS feeds to me for the email subscriptions (even if that requires me to pay, which would make sense). My lock-in to Bloglines should be because you guys have the best service, not because you host all of my email subscriptions. (Now, of course, the best way to do it is use mail forwarding at your mail host to redirect to bloglines, instead of giving out bloglines addresses to the lists you subscribe to directly ... but I didn't figure that out until I already had over a hundred of them. Whoops.)

4) View all items from last view. Sometimes I accidentally click a feed / folder link while I'm in the middle of reading a long list of items. I want a way to go back and see exactly what I was looking at before; the droplist option that lets you show all items from this session doesn't cut it, because it might show many more (if I've had the session open all day). I just want to see the exact items I was viewing before.

5) Pause. I want the ability to "pause" a subscription without removing it - it would stop showing up in my active feeds, but would show up instead in some kind of parking lot page. I could set myself a "reminder date", at which point Bloglines would ask if I want to a) dump it, b) reactivate it, or c) keep it paused.

6) Feed search. I'd love the ability to search the Names & descriptions of all my feeds. I have over 400 feeds, in several folders, and when I can't find the one I'm looking for by name, it takes forever. This search could be an advanced option, not shown in the regular view so as not to clutter things.

7) Stats. I'd like a page that shows statistics about your feed (number of items over time, etc.) - especially for the email feeds, some of those get hard to handle. Statistics showing how many you read over time, broken out by folder and / or feed, etc, would also be nice.

8) I'd really like to have nested folders.

9) Tab integration. I'd love to have better integration with Firefox tabs. Maybe a default that lets you open new folders / feeds in a separate tab rather than the reading pane of the same tab.

10) Non-BL popularity. It'd be super cool if bloglines had a way to show the general popularity (based on a 3rd party system) of a feed, not just the number of subs on bloglines. (Like: "351 Bloglines Subscribers (4,500 total)").

Oh, is that all?


Airport Tour: Stop #2

Originally uploaded by Ian Varley.
So, I've now played in two airports in Texas. The first was last month with Drop Trio, at the Dallas / Ft. Worth Airport, for a private party.

The second was yesterday, with my bud Ed Jurdi. Ed's a phenominal singer / songwriter, and we played two sets of his tunes. I was a bit under the weather (worse today) but managed OK, for not knowing the songs at all. :)

Next up: the Houston airport? Or maybe Lubbock?


Goodbye, old friend

This is terrible, terrible news: Eatzi's is closing in Houston. Guess it's good that I moved to Austin, because if I were still working out of my Houston office (which was a block from Eatzi's), this news would probably have led me to jump off a bridge.


The Monster Mash

Have you heard of mashups? If you haven't, you will. The term originated with musical examples (like the Grey Album), but now the term is being applied to technological examples, like this cool little calendar widget from 30 Boxes:

This shows a) my blog posts, b) my flickr shots, and c) Drop Trio's show calendar all in one single live calendar (you can scroll forward and back, too).

This kind of cool stuff is possible because of an age-old programming concept that's only now coming into its adolescence: the separation of content and presentation. Keep your data logically separated from how that data looks or where it goes, and you've got all kinds of magic powers. Programmers have been talking about it for the longest time, but only now, I think, is it starting to sink in to our shared consciousness.

By the way, there were a couple others mentioned by TechCrunch today, including a Google Maps one that looks pretty cool.


We have a winner

So, the 40,000th email in my saved mail folder was this email:
Subject: Beyond the keytar?


The funniest part was, two other people have since forwarded that to me. Is this everyone's way of telling me I play a lot of air guitar?

Or is it a call to arms that I need to get one of those and use it in my stage show?

I'll assume the latter.



So, my count of saved email stands at 39,953 as I type this. Who's gonna put # 40,000 through the goal posts?

I'll do something really cool for whoever it is. Like, send them an email or something. Ready? Set? Go!


Shifting Sands

Wow, the house of reps congress and Rumsfeld in one day? The times they are a changin'. Now we can get down to the business of destroying the country with this handy 25 point plan.

But seriously. At least we got to go to a rad bake sale while we voted. I think some people would have had a better day if they'd gone to a bake sale, too, like the guy who self-immolated in protest of the Iraq war. Doh.


Happy Birthday, Emmet

Hey, it's Emmet's birthday! He's one year old today. To celebrate, he mangled a sock.

Sock Attack

Good boy.

To celebrate for him, I upgraded to a flickr pro account, so now I can upload hella photos all the time. Cuz I gotta do something to more effectively procrastinate on my novel.

Besides, you know ... my marriage, job, 6 bands, 3 composition projects, music mixer series, and pilates class.

Yeah, that's right, I said pilates class.



Hey, anybody else out there doing National Novel Writing Month? It's where you try to write a 50,000 word novel in the space of one month.

I'm doing it, and I've already got my first 5 pages (1600 words) written.

Because I so totally have time to write a novel this month. I just ... well, I have more energy than time, put it that way. Wo0t!


I'm the cutest!

Hey, check it out - my first public notice as a photographer: my photo of a kid playing drums made it to the top 10 photos of the 2006 ACL Festival.

The photo credit is a little misleading (implying that the kid is named Ian Varley, instead of the photographer) but, well, what can you do? (For starters you can email the ACL festival asking them to change it and get thoroughly ignored. Doh.)

Happy Halloween!



OK, so here's a conundrum.

I love playing music - practicing, playing live, writing, recording, etc. And the more I listen to inspiring players like Brad Mehldau, the more I realize that I need all the practice I can get. :)

Of course, I'm also a pretty driven guy in other areas of life - work, friendships, learning, etc. So very often, my healthy protestant work ethic ends up trumping my playing time, because practice isn't as "important" in the list of short term things.

But ultimately, music is very important to me - more so than whatever happens to be on BoingBoing, Homestar Runner, etc. So how do I hold myself accountable to that?

Well, as of right now, I'm going to start tracking how many hours of playing I do every day, publicly, via Joe's Goals (a great little web site):

Ian's Practice Time

That shows the number of hours of actual playing I'm engaged in on any given day (including gigs). My hope is that with other people watching, I'll have impetus to do it more. If you see me slacking off, tell me to get back to it! :)



Found a great new Austin events site that's very "web-two-point-oh" - it's called Do512.com, and it seems to already have a pretty fair number of events. Users vote on the ones they're going to, which makes rise to the top of the list. I've put in my next event - throw it a vote. :)

I'd love to be more megagaltastic. I think watching zefrank is a good way to do that.

And sometimes things speak for themselves.

Enjoy your weekend.


Friday the 13th

Gosh, where to start today?

- Who schedules dental work on Friday the 13th? Me, apparently. It's OK, though, I'm now back in tip top dental shape, and only a little bit sore. And who knew that laughing gas was so, well, funny?

- Who wants a Wii? Me! I want one! Me!!

- Eat out or dine in? This thread I started last night on Ask Metafilter got a ton of responses, and got picked up by Get Rich Slowly and LifeHacker. Cool. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go get some tacos. Or maybe go shopping. ??

- Just rediscovered Digg today. Talk about time suck!

- Ok, no really: talk about time suck.

- Anyone want to take a trip to the Houston Center for Photography ... uh, Center?

OK, that's all I got. Back to my regularly scheduled email.


Lakewood Barre and Gril

Or is it Bahr and griln? Whatever. It's in Dallas and I played there on Saturday night with the Lowdown. Fun show - I always enjoy getting to do some Left Hand Bass (tm). Plus, Mr. GPF showed his ugly mug shining face, and sat in on a couple tunes. Rad.

I don't have any pics of the Lowdown, unfortunately, because, well, I was playing. But next up was Moving Matter, of whom I took copious photos, because they had a kick-awesome light show. Here are a couple gooduns:

After a few songs, the gents called me up ("Fireball to wardrobe ...") and I played a couple Scofield tunes, plus a couple MM originals as well. Here's me in action:

More pics here.

Thanks for a good weekend, Ari & co. Looking forward to some more travels this weekend. But it'll be a long week first.


Austin City

So, this weekend, Uberjam and I are off to the Austin City Limits festival, with a few friends. I'm usually not a big festival goer, but this particular festival is so well done, and has such a great lineup, it's hard to turn it down.

One of the main conflicts of the festival lineup, for us, was that Aimee Mann and Calexico were playing at the same time. However, thanks to my friend Shred, Uberjam and I managed to see the Calexico Austin City Limits taping on Thursday night. I'd share pics of that, but you're not allowed to bring in cameras.

But I will be taking photos of the festival this weekend, so stay tuned for that. Off we go ...


labor dabor

Had a nice day today. Cooked out at Casa Del Pecos The Dog, read the newspaper, and obsessed over my to-do list. Ah, relaxation.

Oh, and we made some pretty awesome strawberry shortcakes.

Happy new labor year!


is broken! is no work!

FYI - to anybody who's trying to contact me today, my email service provider is out, and tells me they won't be back up until tomorrow. This sucks, but they also tell me all the mail will get through eventually. If you need something right away, give me a ring.

UPDATE: As of 9:30 this morning, fastmail is saying it'll be another 30 hours. Doh! They've been rock solid for the 3+ years I've been using them for my IMAP provider, but I guess everybody has a bad couple days now and then. In any event, I've put a rollover system in place using my gmail account, so for all intents and purposes, my email is functional and seamless again ... but if you've sent me anything in the past 24 hours, I didn't get it, so please resend it.

Unless you're that guy who keeps trying to get me to buy stock ... I'm telling you dude, try ninjas.

UPDATE: As of Sunday evening, it's back, and I think I got all the email that was pending. As of right now, my inbox is empty and I've replied to everything that needs replyin'. If you didn't get one you expected, as always, please to follow up. Gracias.



Uberjam and I took a little trip this weekend for our anniversary (number 6, thank you very much). We went up to Horseshoe Bay, where they've recently opened a resort. We stayed at the Marriott, and had us a good ol' time.

When we arrived, we were told that our room had been upgraded. Significantly. "It's a very nice room," said the concierge, in a way that almost creeped me out. "That's no extra charge."

Nice room? The Stephen F. Austin Presidential Suite turned out to be bigger than our freakin' house! Well, not quite, but there was a kitchen, a conference room, two (2) bathrooms, a huge patio ... you get the point. Here's a shot of the living room:

We felt more than a little silly in there - I mean, it really could have held a family of 6, or an entire conference on neurophonology. But who are we to look a gift horse in the mouth? Considering the fact that we'll almost definitely never get to stay there again, we decided to enjoy it for what it was worth.

Which mainly consisted in sitting on the patio and eating fruit. And taking closeup pictures of the rug. Three cheers for simple pleasures.

Anyway, it was a great way to wind down and spend some time together. The next day we hit up the Bluebonnet Cafe for some lunch, and then spent the balance of the afternoon at Hamilton Pool.

Pretty rockin' anniversary, but not as rockin' as the next 6 years are gonna be.

More photos here.


"I bet nothing hurts you, Conan." "Only pain."

Whee. I spent most of this weekend dealing with a computer crash, with my Windows XP Desktop. After many hours of work, I managed to get all my important files off it (which is lucky, or I would have had to jump off a bridge). Tomorrow I'll have to bring it in somewhere to see if a "professional" can repair the damaged operating system, so I can avoid 40 hours of software re-installation this week.

"How did it happen?" you might ask. "Disk failure? Virus?"

Nope. Upgrade.

I tell you, the sooner I get off this windows garbage, the better. What I wouldn't give for a hot-swappable XP / OSX dual core macbook. Do you hear me, Santa? Make it happen. At least by '08.

In happier news, a bunch of our friends from H-town visited us in ATX this weekend, which was really nice. We went and had yummy fries at Jo's and saw Gnappy kick ass at the Elephant Room.

Good times. Almost good enough to make me not cry about the fact that "Services.exe has unexpectedly terminated".



Incriminating Photos

Everybody's been bugging me about putting these photos up online, so here they are. This is from a show in May with Lush Green Havens - the solo project of Jarle from Grass. Jarle said to dress up crazy, so I did:

I guess posting this pretty much erases my chances of running for president, but there wasn't much chance of that anyway. I will state for the record that I don't usually wear a dress. I do like wearing those goggles, though.

In other news, Emmet has decided to start blogging again.


CT Trip

This weekend, we headed north to Fairfield, CT, for the wedding of my good friend Dylan. The wedding was on a beautiful farm in the hills.

Here are a bunch more photos.

We flew from Austin on JetBlue, and if you haven't done so yet, I can highly recommend it. They've got a TV screen in every seat with Direct TV - I watched 6 consecutive episodes of King Of The Hill (I think that officially makes me a texan ... that, and the fact that I finally got boots.)

Even as we sped northward to Connecticut, Jill's brother sped southward away from Connecticut - to Austin! He's moving here to take a teaching position at UT. Woot!

Hope y'all are enjoying your 4th of July. I'm off to clean the house! :(


Marmaduke Explained

OK, this site is very funny: Joe Mathlete Explains Today's Marmaduke. I mean, funny in a postmodern kind of way - not read-every-day funny, but definitely "read-once-in-a-while" funny.

(Hat tip to le grooveblog.)


CW show photos

Sorry this post is late in coming, but this past week was a busy one.

So last weekend, I got to play at Rudyard's with Christopher Wilson. It was the CD release party for his new CD, Read On. Those of you paying attention may remember that I wrote part of the soundtrack for the companion film by Jeff Faulkinbury (also titled Read On). What you may not know is that I also played as a studio musician on Christopher's album. So when it turned out that I would be in Houston during his CD release show, I jumped at the chance to sit in for a few songs.

As it would happen, I also got a new camera last week. It's a FujiFilm FinePix E900 ... a consumer reports best buy, I'll have you know. So I figured, what better time to pull out the new camera and take a few shots? Here are a couple of them:

You can view the full set here.


ecret-say ode-cay

I read a great article on LifeHacker with step-by-step instructions on setting up encryption in Thunderbird. It's actually super easy, and I just did it. My public key block is below.

For those of you not familiar with encryption, the basic idea is that you're communicating in a secret code. When someone sends you a message, they use your public key to encrypt (lock) it. Then, only your private key can decrypt (unlock) it - nobody else can read it.

PGP isn't totally uncrackable, but it's pretty close (with a 2048-bit key, cracking it by brute force on today's average computers would take longer than the known life of the universe). It's not "stake your life on it" level of privacy, because a) it's possible that someone's cracked it in another way and we don't know, and b) in 10 years time, a brute-force approach to our currently encrypted stuff will be trivial (especially with DNA computers and other massively parrallel algorithms). But in practice, that doesn't matter now - encryption between two people using PGP is (for all intents and purposes) private.

I like the idea of using encryption because it jives with our perception of how we see the world. When we write emails, we act like it's a private conversation; but that's simply not true. Anyone along the way -- from ISPs to random people sniffing packets on a network -- can read your email, and it probably happens more than you think. This is especially true in corporate environments where the management has not only the capability but the legal right to read anything you write on their computers. With encryption, though, it really is the case that (as we all assume) only the people involved in the conversation can read the message. Our assumptions of privacy become a reality.

Anybody else out there use PGP encryption? Wanna swap keys? Here's mine.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.3 (MingW32)



A Stupendous Day

Had a really great day today. After a slow morning start, Uberjam and I hit up some Chocolate Chip Pancakes over at Austin's best kept secret, Magnolia. Then we headed out to Inner Space Caverns to take a tour of some really wicked caves. Being in a cave really has a way of changing your perspective (see these photos (not mine)). We left the caves and I felt really outstanding - like a dose of mysterious had been dropped into my drink.

In the evening, we got some tacos over at Maria's Taco Express (slightly underwhelming for a first visit, but my enchiladas were full of cheese and cheese is GOODTM). The dog-bot came with us and enjoyed floating his ears in the car.

Ended out the day with a Lowdown gig at the Troubador. The set was great, saw a bunch of great folks, and heard Topaz throw down a wicked set with some new musicians - kind of a trance-like heavily textured palette with deep grooves and crazy sounds. Really great, as evidenced by all the musicians hanging out for almost the whole set.

The air this evening was smooth, relaxed. Austin in June is just like that, I guess. But as odd as it seems, this is the first night I've really felt at home here. I feel a connection to places, sometimes, in a dream-like way that's hard to explain. Maybe I had to go into a cave to find it here. In any event, day's end has me very thankful and sated. Some recent band news has my gears turning, and tonight it occurred to me how it will all work out. I'm happy to be here, now, in the present (which is good, because I hear that the future totally sucks).


Spreadsheet love

So Google Spreadsheets is pretty damn cool - to quote GPF, "in that 'push up your glasses' kind of way."

A few people online have been throwing it some flack, saying:
a) Get over it, it's just a spreadsheet.
b) You're not safe putting your personal info here, because you can't control what Google will do with it.
c) It's less reliable than regular spreadsheets because if you lose your network connection or Google's servers crash, you may lose data.

To them I say:

a) Yes, it's just a spreadsheet, but it has one thing that is brand new to the universe: the ability for remote parties to edit simultaneously. I've been looking for something like this for years, literally. Other products have come and gone, but Google Spreadsheets is here to stay, and is wicked easy to use.

b) Privacy is something we should all be concerned about. What we need is for companies like Google to make promises in their software privacy policies that are enforceable by law, and that they can't just change on a whim. I.e. "we promise that we'll never sell or give away your data to anyone, even the government, and that it's legally yours even though it's passing through our servers". We need to raise the bar for companies so that they are expected to create a legally binding privacy agreement with protections like these. They won't do it without pressure from us (and, probably, from congress). I trust Google, generally, but that trust needs to be replaced by legal standing. If you care about this stuff, as I am, you should join the EFF.

c) It's true that networked (web top) software has one major downside - what if the network is unavailable? Sometimes you REALLY need to view and edit your data when your network connection has been interrupted, or the server is unavailable.

There's an answer for this, though, and I predict it's not too far off. What we need is software that's a combination of web top and desktop, where the desktop portion can cache and allow you to work normally in the event of a network interruption. Some apps already work like this - most major mail clients like Thunderbird have an offline mode, so you can read your email without network access (like, say, on a plane) and even write new emails (to be actually delivered when access resumes). These new Google apps - calendar, spreadsheets, etc - need to have similarly stable desktop components available, so that when the cable company digs a ditch through your internet line, you don't get FUBAR, you just get a little message saying "network operation isn't available right now - you're in offline mode until it resumes". That way, you've also got a full copy of your data locally, in case the service provider goes belly up, gets hit by an earthquake, etc.

The good news is that with Google's advances, we've entered the time when simultaneous remote collaboration on data is possible. Once people have a taste of that, they'll never go back, and pressure for mixed web / desktop answers to these problems will mount.

For now, I'm just psyched to have these new abilities. In a, you know, push-up-your-glasses kind of way.


Quiet Monday

It's a quiet Monday evening here in Austin, TX. Uberjam, Emmet and I took a ride in the car with the windows down, so mister dog could float his ears a little bit, and all was right with the world. Now we're back home, Uberjam is finishing up an editing project, and I'm catching up on a few emails and blogs.

Of note:
  • I finally got a local number here in Austin. The reason that's important, strangely, is that since Austin is a one-area-code town, nobody lists the area code on anything, and if you do, you're obviously an out-of-towner, or at least a new-to-towner. So I got one. Ask me if you want it. And BTW, my old 713 number still works (forwards to my cell) so don't bother changing it unless you get a lot of calls from me.
  • Tomorrow afternoon I'll be attending a conference on the .NET 2.0 framework. Little about my gainful employment has been particularly thrilling of late, but I am excited about upgrading to the next version of stuff and geeking out with all the new programmingy things. IMO, the .NET programming framework is one of the few things Microsoft really hasn't screwed up in recent memory. It's just great.
  • My friend Jeff posts a succinct rant on why Bush can stick his head up his ass about gay marriage. Pardon my french.
  • Looks like google is on track to replace yet another of the key processes in my life with Google Spreadsheets. What's that you say? Online group-editable spreadsheets? Be still my heart. (And yeah, seriously, Google Cal is the shizzle ... Uberjam and I have never been so easily in sync on our calendars before.) I know one guy that'll be hitting refresh all night ...

That's all I got.



I think it's somewhat awe inspiring (or at least, humility inspiring) that after so long, a bug could still be found in the cannonical binary search function. This is, like, one of the most profoundly researched and looked over functions in history. Leave it to Google to have an array so big that they discover a dormant bug.


Mistaken identity

Sometimes, a blunder on live TV brings a little sunshine into the world. This is one of those times. From BoingBoing:
The BBC wanted to interview Newswireless.net editor Guy Kewney about the Apple music / Apple computer decision but accidentally pulled his cab driver onto the set for a live TV interview.

Beautiful. The expression on his face when he's introduced is hilarious.


new host

So, I've got a new web host. So far it seems pretty great (at least, compared to my previous ones). They're called WebSiteSource.com.

Now, where was I? Oh yes, chasing my dog around the house. Later ...


A note to spammers

Attention all spammers (yes you, the ones who have sent me upwards of 4000 emails this month):

I am not interested in weight loss products, viagra, hot stock market picks or refinancing my home. Emails on these subjects are a waste of both of our time. If you'd like to effectively mass market to me via unsolicited bulk emails, I suggest you try sending emails on any of the following topics:
  • spaceships
  • the future
  • really good french fries
  • swords
  • keytars
  • key-sword-tars
  • pirates
  • ninjas
I can be reached at ivarley@spamcop.net, and I look forward to receiving your advertisements and scams on the above mentioned topics. Thanks for your consideration, and I hope you rot in jail and / or hell.


Google Cal!

So ... Google Calendar is live. What it will do is pretty rad - Ajax interface, intelligent text parsing, sharing cals (editable by multiple people, like, family members), rss / ical feeds, etc. All of this is awesome. I've been working with it for a couple hours now, and I can see that it's going to be a center point in my digital life for the forseeable future. I've been wanting this killer app for so long, and now it's here. Wo0t!

Also, I drank two glasses of DP earlier tonight, and I can't fall asleep. So that's a good time to play with it, right?

So: it's not without kinks - at least, it's not tonight. When I uploaded the file from my desktop cal (Sunbird) and Google got all the dates wrong by a couple hours. So I deleted it (an ordeal cuz of server flakiness) and entered my events by hand (which ruled because of the natural language capability ... you can just type "Dinner with Jarle on Tuesday at 8" and it interprets the parts of that phrase into fields in the calendar entry. Hasn't really gotten one wrong yet, either.

It also seems that this evening, some settings changes (creating new calendars, updating some preferences) are completed slowly, if at all. I can't get it to allow Uberjam's account to see a shared calendar of mine, for example. Hopefully it'll get ironed out by morning.

I've been thinking (while waiting for it to correct itself) about how I want to set up my calendars. Here's what I'm thinking:

First, I've got my personal cal. This holds anything that I have personally committed myself (and only myself) to going to. Or, maybe "committed" is the wrong word, since this would probably also house things I'd like to get to (like, a concert I want to see but don't absolutely have to go to).

Second, Uberjam and I need to be able to share a family calendar of events. These are events that pertain to us both, like parties we're going to, trips we're going on, etc. We can both edit it, and set reminders that go to us both.

Third, I need a calendar of events for the band, which is editable by all 3 guys in the band (adding blackout dates, entering gig information, etc.). Jill should also be able to see this calendar, as should the other "band significant others". And IDEALLY, there would also be an easy way to then publish the confirmed public dates directly from this interface to our web site. That might be asking too much for now. But it IS important to eventually offer people who use google calendar a way to subscribe to all of our dates ... and GC offers that. So, rad.

Finally, I'd love to see other projects I'm involved in create calendars that I can subscribe to (but not necessarily edit). Other bands I'm in, groups I'm part of, etc - all could publish this way so I can see them all right in this interface.

Anyway, it looks pretty rockin' here at 3:30 am, even if there are some kinks tonight. Go GOOG!


Abstraction Layers

Just read a great article about creating "abstraction layers" in organizations.

The term "abstraction layer" might not mean much to you if you're not a programmer, but in a nutshell, it's a self-imposed separation of functions into different areas. E.g. don't mix up the code that shows the boxes and buttons with the code that decides what the interest rate on the loan is going to be.

However, I think this philosophy is applicable to any part of any organization that needs to focus on doing an A+ job in a narrow area. In the article, he even makes an analogy to Dolly Parton, and the "abstraction layer" (i.e., support infrastructure) she needs to do her job.

Interesting stuff. Joel's blog is one of the best out there, when it comes to writing about computers and software.


Emmet's page

OK, I promise this blog will not turn into "all dog, all the time". But I just wanted to share that Emmet now has his own page on Dogster. Come be Emmet's friend! I mean, if you're a dog.

Personally, I was pretty amazed with how fast he picked up typing. He's a terrible speller, but you can't get it all in your first week.


Emmet Comes To Austin

So, a new friend has joined our family: Meet Emmet!

Emmet 2006-04-05 #1

Emmet is a dog on the move.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #2

In particular, he's moved to Austin.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #3

He heard that was where all the fashionable dogs were going.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #4

Emmet is nothing if not fashionable.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #5

Em heard through the grapevine that we were looking for a standard Dachshund puppy.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #6

Em happens to be a standard Dachshund puppy.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #7

We thought it was a fine match.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #8

Emmet couldn't be reached for comment at press time.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #9

But we're pretty psyched about him.

Emmet 2006-04-05 #10

See ya round!

Emmet 2006-04-05 #11

You can download hi-res versions on Flickr if'n you like.