November 30, 2004

Channel 9 Guy Travels

Here's a first cut across my trip images: the Channel 9 Guy travelling the world . As seen on Channel9

Posted by danyelf at 04:27 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Bilth Gater

It was 1997, and I was an intern at Microsoft. (I've written some about this experience before.) One metaphor that came to mind during our discussions was that of joining the Empire. Led, of course, by the Dark Lord, Bilth Gater.

I've been sitting with these comics on my hard drive since 1997. Now that I really have joined Microsoft, I thought it would be fun to share them. Click through to my SMUGMUG site to check them out.

Incidently, I don't remember Samedh's last name, or how to contact him. These images are, however, all copyright by Samedh, 1997.

Posted by danyelf at 02:28 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 17, 2004

No more home page...

Irvine is slowly shutting my accounts down (although my existence on this machine may last a little longer), and so I'm migrating outward. I just noticed today that my Irvine-based home page is down...

Posted by danyelf at 09:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Telephone opportunity?

Some interesting things have happened with the IM market. In particular, each of the serivces has a huge degree of lock-in. If I'm an AIM user, it's a serious pain for me to chat with an MSN user or a Yahoo user. So you see two different response patterns:

  • I try to convince my friends to use my tool of choice.
  • I change to a tool that my friends use.
  • I use more than one tool and thus try to cover all my various friends.

Obviously, option (1) is the one that a service wants me most to do. If I can't do that, I should at least do option (3): then there's a fair chance I can make them convert ("Dude! YIM has superhero figures!" "Yeah? AIM is native to my mac!") Whatever happens, of course, I shouldn't do (2).

Interestingly, the cell phone companies are trying for the same thing. Recently, we've seen ads from T-Mobile, Verizon, and ATT/Cingular all advertising something like

  • Free conversations with other people within the network
  • Substantial discounts to "share" an account (that is, split the minute budget) with another person the network.

But, wait. If I split a line with a friend, and then call pretty much only people within the network, I pay nothing except the price of the shared line.

They hope this leads to strategy 1, of course: that I can convince them to leap over. They disincentivize strategy 2 by putting huge costs on dropping. And strategy 3 used to be too expensive.

So here's the plan. I'll get together with two friends. I'll buy a T-Mobile phone, and then get two shared lines, and give one to each of them. They'll do the same with Verizon and Cingular. It'll cost me 1 month (minimal minutes) plus 2 "add a lines" per month. I have three numbers, sure -- but that's no different than having an MSN, an AIM, and a YIM ID.

And splitting minimal minutes isn't too bad when you don't use any for most calls.

Now all I need is someone to physically build a Trillian unit that takes three SIM chips and acknowledges three phone numbers...

Posted by danyelf at 02:56 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

November 12, 2004

Was Darwin Wrong?

Appreciating National Geographic (courtesy Auros )

Was Darwin Wrong?

Interestingly, the National Geographic teaser page is not as unambiguous. They want you to have a copy on your desk for someone to flip through.

Posted by danyelf at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 11, 2004

Email black hole

Somehow, all email that went through UCI in the last few days got eaten by a grue. Or protected and locked away. I'm still trying to figure out what.

But if you sent any mail to my UCI or my ACM acccount on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday, you may want to resend it -- and this time to ACM but not UCI.

Posted by danyelf at 06:58 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Double translation

from Joshua's Blog

This text apparently appeared in Josh's spam the other day:

This lozenge is a modern grease-binding accessory which removes grease from a board you consume! Explicated with the mighty fat-sticking fiber, the alloy of biological constituents...

This tablets is a modern fat-sticking addendum which removes fat from a nourishment you wolf! Forged with the mighty fat-sticking fibre, the alloy of biological compounds...

As Joshua points out, these are probably the same text, translated twice. What are they translated from? Where did they come from? What do we know about the language, given that it translates (for example) one word as either "lozenge" or "tablet", and another as either "forged" or "explicated."

My own guess, judging from the text, is that it's just one text, possibly translated into two languages, and then back.

So let's imagine, for example, an (imaginary) primary text:

This tablet is a modern grease-binding additive which removes fat from the food you eat! Based on a powerful fat-attracting fiber, this combination of biological compounds...

and then send it to, say, French and German, and then back. Not that I have time for this...

Posted by danyelf at 03:57 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

CSCW Return

Back at work, and on a fat internet connection and a working computer.

Some quick notes:

  • On Nov 2, I got spam with the title: "Are you desperate from your country? Come live in the USA!"
  • Lots to think about with backchannels (still!) and inattention
  • If the subject of the discussion inside an online space is mostly that space, is that ok, or does it point to a lack of vitality? If so, does this point to my own lack of vitality, as a person who largely studies online spaces?
  • I listened to "deep house" music that was actually acid jazz remixes, but never made it to a bar a hundred miles out of chicago, with half a tank of gas, that played both kinds of music.
  • The US is a stunningly beauitful country: whatever your politics, it's wonderful to watch little towns built into the bends of rivers and the tops of mountains and badlands and patchwork farms and low clouds rolling across the Rockies. The flight down into Seattle -- Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, and Mt. Ranier towering over smaller snowcapped Cascades -- is humbling.
  • The Seattle airport's new expansion has a great combination of cool art, and a historic plane: a replica of Dick Rutan's Voyager. (If the name "Rutan" rings a bell, this is the brother of Burt Rutan, of SpaceShipOne / X-Prize fame.) The displays of rocks and water are surprisingly relaxing for a baggage-claim area. (Really.)
  • When I walked into the Sea/Tac baggage area, a military unit had just landed. The guys stood around, carrying green bags and wearing casual fatigues, while the Sergeant shouted their names as their footlockers rolled off the lines. "Sir, here sir!" "Good. Take your bag." "Sir yes sir!"
Posted by danyelf at 03:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

November 09, 2004

Blogging CSCW

I'm not, actually, although I may try to point out some favorite moments. But if you're out there, still wondering what I do with my time, check out

Jack Vinson who is both blogging the conference, and keeping track of the bloggers who are out here in Chicago.

Posted by danyelf at 06:46 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

November 07, 2004

Husky or Maltese Whatever

Three articles you should read, in sequence, about one of the great mysteries of modern life (right up there with STOP CASTING POROSITY)

Update: ... third link fixed.

Posted by danyelf at 10:20 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

"I've killed you!," I said. "Shot you in the head, I think."
"Well, did you go to jail?"
"Yeah, I did."
"I designed that feature. Pretty much everyone kills me."

I was sitting next to George Juntiff, and it was Microsoft's New Employee Orientation. We were on our first break: Tim had tried hard to keep up our enthusiasm for the variety of different dental plans, and what their implications for SSDPs are1, but now we were free to talk amongst each other.

Currently my neighbor at NEO, George had been in the military until recently. He'd been on active duty in Thailand, Bosnia, and several other sites until he decided to go back to school. He trained up in modeling and simulation -- and got tapped to work on a game. He was the military lead for "America's Army," coordinating the team of contractors who would convert the "Unreal" engine over to AA and keeping them honest to military standards and training.

In the beginning of the game, a sergeant leads you around and trains the character who is playing, barking orders and pointing. Juntiff took the cameo and voiced that sergeant. He insults you if you don't keep up, he yells at you if your aim is off.

And, when they watched players, they saw that pretty much everyone takes a potshot at some point or another. Just to see what happens. (They go to jail, a sparsely-decorated room where they can't do much. I don't know how long it lasts.)

America's Army is now available for free download; Juntiff has coordinated massive promotional campaigns, and now is moving on to something else. In this case, it's an operational role somewhere in the depths of the Microsoft software release systems.


Three days later, I was set with temporary housing, a temporary car, and a permanent badge & office. I had a computer, a phone, a bus pass, and an email account. In other words, I was in place and a real employee.

That was Thursday. On Friday, I flew off to Chicago for CSCW. My trip to Tanzania was actually timed around this conference: I was co-running a workshop on the applications of social networks to computer-supported collaborative work, and so needed to get back in time to attend the conference.

Today is a day off. I'm split between "see Chicago sights" and "take a really long nap" as my major activities for the day. I was scheduled to see an old friend from undergrad for lunch, but he had to bail on me.

[1] "SSDP" is definitely my Acronym of the Day. Stands for "Same Sex Dependant Couple."

Posted by danyelf at 10:14 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack