I first sat down at a Macintosh in 1986. Prior to that, I'd worked on early PCs and Commodore machines. The Mac blew me away. It still does.
Here's a pic of the first Mac I could actually afford. I've owned several since the venerable Mac Classic, but this one holds a special place in my heart because it's the first one that actually lived with me and became part of my personal space. The way my other Macs do. And the iPod. And iPhone. And iPad. And AppleTV.
Like most nerds, I crave the latest and highest tech. But do I really need it?
A new blog called Last Year's Model is a reminder to us all that, no, we don't. Most of us will be happier (and more green, with yet more green in our pockets) if we just make do with what we have. A quick inventory happily confirms that my existing gear is very reliable.
Cell phone: original iPhone I bought used from a friend over a year ago.
Recorder:Sony MiniDisc recorder/player I won in a contest almost a decade ago.
I use most of this gear every day and it rarely, if ever, lets me down. Over the last year, my tech-related purchases were either peripherals (Bluetooth headset) or blank media (USB flash drive, DVD-Rs, etc). Making this list gives me a sense of satisfaction to counter-balance my tech envy of friends with swank new HD flatscreens and netbooks.
If I'm patient, I'll probably get some good deals when my friends upgrade in a couple of years. Like The Police said: "When the world is running down, you make the best of what's still around ..."
The Global Hawk, an unmanned aerial vehicle that's seen action in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now being used to study the environment.
Earlier this year I wrote a story on the Global Hawk's new mission for Unmanned Systems, the magazine of the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International. I traveled to Edwards Air Force Base for the unveiling of the aircraft and interviewed the program scientists and engineers. It's a fascinating science-based project using a drone that can stay aloft for 30 hours, allowing it to travel from the equator to the polar regions and back in one flight.
It's a members-only magazine so the online content is restricted to subscribers, but NASA liked the article so much they asked to make it available at their website. You can download a 4.6 MB PDF of my story here (the photos are mine as well).
It doesn’t hurt anybody. It’s something I love to do, and it doesn’t
hurt anybody. And the world probably doesn’t need any more songs, but I
need more songs. It’s satisfying and lovely to do. I feel better, and
as a band—I think I can speak for everyone—we feel better making
something that wasn’t there ten minutes ago. Whatever spirit there is
in the universe, I think that puts you closer to it. The act of
creation, you know, it’s a very powerful thing, and very gratifying. I
wish it on everyone. I wish everyone could enjoy making something that
wasn’t there before.
A staggering conceptual debut for singer/saxophonist Clark Perry, "Each Wins All" was released under his solo nom de plume Governor of Gibraltar. Recorded with an unnamed gypsy klezmer band Perry encountered during a stay at an East Berlin drug rehabilitation clinic, "Each Wins All" is a jazzy, surrealistic portrait of a 1920s German cabaret singer who poisons her devoted nightclub audience before committing suicide onstage. Critically drubbed upon its 1986 release, the album has since received public nods of admiration from David Bowie, Johnny Cash and Luciano Pavarotti.
Through April, Orbit Books is offering ebook versions of selected fantasy and science fiction titles for just one dollar each.
I'm not big on fantasy but Iain M. Banks is fast becoming my favorite living science-fiction author. And Use of Weapons was already next on my list. I've never read an ebook before and I may hate it. There's just something about holding a bound book in my hands that feels so natural. But for a dollar, I'll give this one a try.
Clint Eastwood's Changeling is a great story but I wouldn't call it a great movie. It's certainly well-made, suspenseful and emotional in all the right places. But there's something about the structure of J. Michael Strazcynski's otherwise intelligent screenplay that bothers me: the story's seemingly endless wandering toward a conclusion. There were at least five scenes in a row that felt like the "final scene." After one or two fairly satisfying stopping points that would've worked, it became exhausting to watch yet another scene crank to life. Even the goddess-level suffering of Angelina Jolie can only carry me so far.
But the story is truly amazing and there are so many more where that one came from. The LA Times recently ran Paul Lieberman's gripping series on the Gang Squad of crimefighters and look how much of a no-brainer it was for Warner Bros. to pick up the option. The sordid history of crime and corruption in Los Angeles has been a treasure trove for writers like James Ellroy, whose work I devour as soon as it's published.
Now that I think about it, I could easily envision a TV or mini-series based on stories from the LA Times archive -- maybe a modern-day Untouchables or a period Lou Grant or an anthology where the city itself is the main character. Newspapers are, among other things, fantastic repositories of narrative. Given the dwindling readership and financial catastrophes facing the press today, would it be unethical for them to pitch and package more of the stories they uncover?
Whether you're looking for good story ideas or just good stories, you can get wonderfully lost at the Times' Daily Mirror site, which reprints actual pages from the city's long and storied life. Hell, I can lose hours just poring over the ads from way back. Don't say I didn't warn you.
This French super-duo has been around since 1980 but only came to my attention last week via this BoingBoing post on the music videos of director Jean-Baptiste Mondino. Specifically, the writer singled out this video of the song "C'est Comme Ça" as his favorite video of all time.
I'm floored. Not only was the video ahead of its time (1985?!?!) but the song is funky and beautiful and tons of new wave fun. It sent me on an hours-long quest for everything I could find about Les Rita Mitsouko, its talented and flamboyant frontwoman Catherine Ringer and, sadly, news that guitarist/songwriter Fred Chichin died last year from cancer.
I know they sing in French and that's probably why they never received any American airplay. But it's at once thrilling and frustating to realize they've been out there all this time and yet I never heard of them until now. I don't think of myself as living a particularly sheltered life but somehow this group's music completely eluded my radar until now.
What other artists are out there that I would love if just given the chance to check them out? That's the beauty and opportunity of the web.
Here are more fun videos from Les Rita Mitsouko that I recommend highly. I don't want to embed the videos here because I have to scrunch them down. Use these YouTube links to see them for yourself: