Want to be syndicated on Planet Informatics? Email Erik

June 08, 2006

Ars Technica:

Google releases Firefox synchronization tool

A new tool, fresh from the Google labs, promises to smooth over the problem of keeping several browser instances reasonably similar. Does it deliver? And who can use something like that?

June 08, 2006 07:03 PM

Louisiana passes video game law; lawsuit to follow

Someone's not paying attention down in Louisiana. The state legislature has passed a new, restrictive video game law that will suffer the same fate as all the others.

June 08, 2006 06:50 PM

Citing its underage eroticism, Sony America pulls plug on Japanese video game

Sony America has declined to release the Japanese title Rule of Rose in the US, judging its content too offensive for US gamers and politicians. Is it a sign of American prudery, sound moral decision, or good business?

June 08, 2006 05:57 PM

Microsoft admits Windows Genuine Advantage phones home

Windows Genuine Advantage checks in with Microsoft on a daily basis. Is this something to be concerned about?

June 08, 2006 05:02 PM

Net neutrality goes up for a vote in Congress

The US House of Representatives will be voting on two proposed amendments covering the issue of network neutrality.

June 08, 2006 03:08 PM

FTC settles with Rockstar over Hot Coffee: potential for sex all it takes

The Federal Trade Commission has announced that Take Two Interactive and Rockstar games will settle charges that they failed to properly label GTA: SA.

June 08, 2006 02:54 PM

Windows Vista Beta 2 officially open to everyone

Microsoft has officially launched its Windows Vista Beta 2 Customer Preview Program. Join us as we rediscover the meaning of "beta"!

June 08, 2006 02:30 PM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... Harlem, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 11:54 AM

What's Right & What's Wrong

What's Right
-Courageous mix of patterns
I love the mix of large check shirt with a dotted tie and small checked patterned jacket. I'm not saying it is the best I have ever seen but it does takes courage to mix it up like that. A+ for effort

- I like the rakish attitude of his tie knot.

What's Wrong
-Fit, fit,fit
This gentleman is tallish and thin but the jacket has no shape, it desperately needs to be taken in at the waist. Some may say his jacket is a little long but I think that is up to personal preference, plus if it gets more waist suppression that will minimize the length issue.

-Sleeve length,
He needs to show some cuff

-Pocket Square
Right now no suit seems finished to me without a pocket square. This gentleman obviously has a talent for mixing patterns so I would love to see how he would incorporate a pocket square into this ensemble.

The Good News
-All of the problems are so easily fixable.
He could take that jacket in today to a good tailor and elevate this look from a 6 to a 10 almost overnight.

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 11:47 AM

Planet Informatics:

Josh's Photos: Josh-Champion.jpg

josh.ev9 posted a photo:


My likeness, as well as a short blurb, was in the local Chino Hills newspaper. Go me.

June 08, 2006 11:21 AM

The Sartorialist:

New Post

Sorry no new post tonight - Blogger is doing maintenance
I have a great one for tomorrow morning though

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 10:49 AM

"Freelancing" Socks

-I shot this the day I ran the Glenn O'Brien profile so maybe I had "freelancing socks" fresh on my mind but the navy socks with the khaki suit are perfect. To me, it is the little details like this that separate a Sartorialist from the simply well dressed.

-Great suit, great fit and great pant length

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 10:47 AM

On The Street.... Upper East Side, New York

I shot this young lady a few weeks ago wearing a beautiful coat dress with 3/4 length sleeves (I should clarify she was wearing the coat dress, not me - me write pretty someday)

I just happened to run into her again recently - she really has that Audrey Hepburn kind of elegance down pat.

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 10:39 AM

Planet Informatics:

Erik Stolterman: HCI research and the common good

When reflecting on CHI2006 there are some things in the academic field of HCI that I find problematic. Maybe the most pressing issue that raises many questions is the relation between research and development (I am not using "design" here for specific reasons). Many academic fields have the purpose of building universal true knowledge, and some also have the purpose of building knowledge that is "useful". This is true in the fields like medicine, health, and others. In these fields it is quite easy to see that research and development (i.e., inventions and innovations of new artifacts and procedures), is aimed at serving the common good. Improving health is always a valid reason for doing research (or?). But, what about a field like HCI? What is the common good? What is the goals, the intentions, for research that in a similar way is obviously for the greater good? Are new technological artifacts for any purpose in itself a worthy outcome? With what intention and purpose should we study new interaction technologies? Is the benefit for organizations and companies in general (efficiency, effectiveness, userfriendliness, etc) worthy intentions? Or can we use the same reasons as for health, so our research should support people's wellbeing? Depending on how we frame our purpose and our "clients" we will be facing different "measure of success". If true universal knowledge is our foremost goal, then the procedures of science and its "measure of success" must be taken more seriously than today. If the aim is to support the greater good, then we really have to get into some serious discussions about what that purpose stands for in our field!

[Of course we have to do research for one obvious purpose -- that is to expand and improve the knowledge and skills of professors in a way that supports their teaching. Research hopefully forces anyone to broaden perspectives, challenging ideas and views. These are outcomes that (in the best of worlds) will benefit the students at any level.]

by Erik Stolterman at June 08, 2006 10:39 AM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... Refined Sportswear#4, New York

I have one goal this summer - give guys some direction and inspiration on how to do summer casual in a more refined way. I can't take another city summer of cargo shorts and logo tees. Granted, doing refined casual is so much more difficult in the height of summer than it is in the depths of winter but I will keep my eyes peeled for the guys that are doing it right.

What I really liked here was the green,pink, blue color combo.

The shoes also drew my attention. A friend of mine that lives in Florida mentioned he likes to wear shorts but couldn't decide on the shoes. He suggested leather sandals, I suggested leather mocs - Tods or J Crew both do a great version. I won't be seen with him in leather sandals.

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 06:52 AM

On The Street.... Beauty & The Bike, LES, New York

I love the contradiction of the sexy dress and the implied sportiness of the bike.

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 06:20 AM

On The Street.... Upper East Side part 2, New York

Some girls were just made to wear little summer dresses

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 05:48 AM

On The Street.....Retro In Shorts, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 05:18 AM

On The Street.... Nolita White Dress, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 02:21 AM

On The Street.... Green Dress/Red Hair, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 01:58 AM

On The Street.... Orchard Street Bikers, LES, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 01:48 AM

On The Street.... Two Detail Shots, New York

A&S suit w/ tie pin

Vintage Valentino

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 01:32 AM

On The Street.... Daisy Of A Dress, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 01:06 AM

Old Man Style....Washington Square Park

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 01:00 AM

On The Street.....Nolita, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 12:59 AM

On The Street.....Bleeker Street, New York

by The Sartorialist at June 08, 2006 12:51 AM

June 07, 2006

Ars Technica:

Getting your World Cup fix without a TV

The world's most popular sporting event is set to kick off on Friday. How do you plan to watch it?

June 07, 2006 09:37 PM


This is by far one of the coolest pictures of my dad I've ever found

June 07, 2006 09:15 PM

Ars Technica:

21st century university campuses: a haven for hackers and data thieves?

Security agencies and news media are reporting that computer hacking and information theft is on the rise on college campuses. Is there cause for concern among students and staff?

June 07, 2006 08:57 PM

UMPC aside, tiny Haiku device still on Microsoft's radar

Before the Origami, I mean UMPC, Microsoft displayed a prototype called "Haiku." The UMPC is hitting the streets, but what happened to Haiku? According to a Microsoft exec, it's still in the works.

June 07, 2006 08:26 PM


Suburban landscape

Jon and I bought our house from a middle-aged single man who worked as a flight attendant for a major airline. He only spent two weeks a month in the house, so he left very little impact on anything. The hardwood floors were in perfect shape, and all the original molding had been preserved, but he decorated everything as if he were paying homage to the color of stomach bile. When I saw the color of the walls for the first time I was immediately reminded of the time in fourth grade when I threw up a ham sandwich on the school bus and the driver had to pour large flakes of saw dust on the puddle so it wouldn’t slosh around when she took a hard right.

The rumor was that the previous owner was a lonely gay man, and he didn’t get along with anyone on the block. He used to call Animal Control on the next-door neighbors any time he saw their cat in his yard, and once left a threatening voicemail that he was going to sue them from the emotional distress he had suffered at the hand of their cat’s poop. Another neighbor told us he used to party when he was in town and that we could probably attribute the towel in our sewer line to one of those raucous nights, because “who knows what happens when those crazy gays start drinking vodka.” I’ll tell you what happens! BEHAVIOR THAT DISRESPECTS THE SANCTITY OF MARRIAGE. Because crazy gay drunks? SIGNIFICANTLY DIFFERENT THAN CRAZY STRAIGHT DRUNKS.

The yard was also very tidy, the grass green and cut as close as a military haircut, but he had lined the flower beds with giant concrete slabs that looked exactly like parking dividers. During our first summer in the house we tried to beautify the lawn, and the first thing we did was haul those slabs to the dump. But that was the extent of our collective gardening experience — taking things apart — and when we tried to plant a variety of bushes and flowers I accidentally destroyed most of the work the previous owner had done. While digging through the soil I kept finding walnuts buried several inches down, and after chucking a handful into the street I asked Jon, “Why would someone bury walnuts?” He hadn’t been paying attention, and once he turned around and saw me throwing things into the street he dropped his shovel and ran over to interrupt my pitching practice. Turns out those walnuts? They were tulip bulbs. Imported from Holland. Was one of those instances when Jon could feel confident that he had totally married up.

A couple years ago a new set of neighbors moved in next door, the taxidermist and his wife, they who once used a stuffed yak as a decorative gargoyle. As a gesture of hospitality the taxidermist offered to bring us a truck full of rocks he had found near his Death Shop in the mountains, and we used those rocks to decorate the uneven line between our two properties. On his side of the line he planted an assortment of plastic flowers, many of them very life-like, and two petrified tree stumps he had found on the side of the freeway. Within a couple months weeds had grown up through his artistic landscape and were thick enough to hide an advancing army and tall enough to shade the second story of their house.

A few weeks ago after learning that the taxidermist was moving out of state we hired a small landscaping company to rip out the line of rocks along the property line. The man in charge suggested we plant sod between the houses so that instead of two disparate plots of uneven soil we could have one rolling lawn, but that in order to do so we’d have to get the neighbor’s permission. So I cornered the taxidermist’s wife one afternoon because once, while we were making small talk on the sidewalk, she looked at her yard and then back at me while rolling her eyes as if to say SHHH, DON‘T TELL ANYONE, BUT I HAVE PLASTIC FLOWERS IN MY YARD. She said that she wouldn’t mind, but since they had just got an offer on the house she didn’t know if she could give the go ahead. “What if the new owners really want the tree stumps?” she said laughing.

“You’ve got a point,” I said. “If I were paying that kind of money for a home I’d want the weeds thrown in, too.”

Within a couple days the landscaping company was ripping apart our lawn, digging up yards of ground cover I had planted incorrectly. One person was in charge of hauling out all the rocks, and while he was lifting up one of the tree stumps he stepped on a giant tarantula. Taran. Tula. While crushing it with his shovel another one crawled out from under a mass of weeds followed by two smaller tarantulas, perhaps its tarantula babies. We were destroying their lovely tarantula home where they had rested their wee tarantula heads.

Jon didn’t tell me about this until the day after it happened, which was incredibly smart on his part. If I had known about the tarantulas while the tarantulas were happening I would have gotten in the car and driven off the edge of the Earth. My guess is that the rocks the taxidermist brought down from the hills were carrying tarantula eggs, which is a little frightening because there are four other places in his yard where he deposited rocks from that same batch. And they are still there flanked by a decorative flourish of plastic hydrangeas.

by shug at June 07, 2006 07:59 PM

Ars Technica:

Sling strikes out with Major League Baseball

Major League Baseball has expressed its displeasure with the place-shifting Slingbox, setting the stage for a possible lawsuit against the upstart company. Sling, meanwhile, continues to expand.

June 07, 2006 06:22 PM

The Sartorialist:

Style Profile.....Glenn O'Brien, GQ's Style Guy

Glenn O'Brien has been the "The Style Guy" at GQ for years. He has helped countless gentleman define and refine their style. I met Glenn recently and asked him a few questions about his personal style. I have to admit that I have big respect for any guy over 40 who can wear Supreme with Hermes and make it look good.
Best Sartorial advice from your Dad?
I never knew my father but my grandfather said never buy a car you can't wear your hat in. (He wore a homburg.)

You build your daily look around your?
My mood.

The first thing I look at in another Sartorialist’s outfit.
Shoes and where the trousers meet them.

I skimp when buying.
I like generic white handkerchiefs and Colgate toothpaste.

I splurge when buying.
I have my suits made in London by John Pearse and Anderson & Sheppard.
(note that the suit he is wearing in the photo is a John Pearse navy pintsrtipe denim DB!)

I always break this fashion rule.
GQ says your socks should match your trousers. I think socks should freelance.

I never break this fashion rule.
I religiously wait until Memorial day to bring out the white.

Must have item for Fall 2006
A new "coppola" from Sicily.

Favorite store
Hermes, Supreme

Style icon
Thelonious Monk, James Coburn

Worst fashion mistake
Shirt tail out, not knowing where your waist is.

Most cherished item
My Anderson & Sheppard tuxedo

Favorite item of clothing
John Pearse double breasted pinstripe denim suit.

Favorite “fashiony” movie
Blow Up

Guilty pleasure
Pasta, Fiorduva white wine from Marisa Cuomo in Furore ($)

Describe your personal style

You feel best wearing?
Belgian shoes, Supreme jeans, Hermes sweater

Personal Style quirk
When it comes to my feet comfort comes first

Dress to impress who?
Dress to express myself.

Most overrated item in menswear

Most underrated item in menswear
The tie.

Most stylish city?

Never caught wearing?
Basketball shoes

When I was in high school I wore?
Clashing madras

Shine your own shoes?
Half the time.

reading, bridge (when I can find 4)

Golf, ping pong

Favorite fashion magazine?
Italian Vogue.

Favorite other magazine?
Purple, Self-Service, Another Man

Cologne, skincare?
Hermes Rocobar, Kiehls, Pat Wexler's pink goo vs. old age

I always dress my best for….?
Occasions when my wife has changed her clothes several times before we go out.

by The Sartorialist at June 07, 2006 06:10 PM

Ars Technica:

Wii's classic games to be priced less than US$10

Nintendo Wii will have access to an impressive back catalog of classic Nintendo titles, all reasonably priced. Now if only we knew when the Wii would ship and for how much.

June 07, 2006 05:05 PM

Senate won't grill telcos over NSA spying, after all

After strenuous opposition from the executive branch, Sen. Arlen Specter won't bring the phone companies to Washington to explain their behavior. Who needs transparency, though, when you have a secret, government-picked court looking out for you?

June 07, 2006 05:01 PM

Apple could find trouble in Norway

Apple is finding itself the target of criticism from another European government over its FairPlay DRM. Are we about to see a continent-wide backlash?

June 07, 2006 05:00 PM

Intel sales sliding; time for a turnaround?

In its efforts to muscle out AMD from its own traditional hunting grounds, Intel seems to have taken its price war to unprecedented extremes. Analysts think the upcoming quarterly report will be full of red ink, compared to last year's.

June 07, 2006 04:41 PM

Google Office: it's about file formats, not MS Office

Google planning to kill Microsoft Office sales? Nah. In the battle over office suites, it's not the application but the file format that matters most.

June 07, 2006 04:23 PM

Planet Informatics:

Mathias Klang: Online Civil Disobedience

One of my research areas is the odd but interesting area of online civil disobedience. The basic problem her is whether or not the internet can be used in political forms of protest. The trend has been to limit the ability to use denial of service (even manual attacks) and web page defacement as legitimate forms of political protest. My opinion has been that this discriminates against online activities. For my arguments read the chapter Participation in the draft of my thesis Disruptive Technology here.

Five years ago the groups “Libertad” and “Kein Mensch ist illegal” (No Human is Illegal) organised 13000 people in an online blockade (With a script- client- based distributed denial of service attack) of the airline Lufthansa. The protest was against the companies part in the deportation of asylum seekers.

Now the Higher Regional Court in Frankfurt says online demonstration is not force but a legitimate form of political protest.

Decision by the Frankfurt Appellate Court (in German only, 22.05.2006)

Statement by Libertad on the ruling (in German only, 1.06.2006)

In German (1.06.2006)
In English (2.06.2006)

(via EDRI newsletter)

by Klang at June 07, 2006 03:22 PM

Amit Gupta:

Widescreen Mail.app Plugin



Finally a way to make full use of your widescreen in Mail.app.

Link: Widescreen Mail.app plugin

by Amit Gupta at June 07, 2006 02:52 PM

Ars Technica:

State of Minnesota facing lawsuit over video game law

Stop me if you've heard this one before: a state legislature passes a law regulating the sale of video games to minors only to find itself on the wrong end of a lawsuit.

June 07, 2006 02:30 PM

Google: we compromised our principles

Was going into the Chinese market the right thing to do for Google? One of its cofounders has his doubts.

June 07, 2006 01:17 PM

Planet Informatics:

Will Ryan: Taipei Day 3

Today we had a planned day ahead of us. We would first visit "Eslite," which is the largest bookstore in Asia, and then go to Taipei 101, which is the tallest building in the world presently--though I was told Dubai is building one that is taller. The group of those going consisted of Shaowen, Jeff, Shaowen's mother and sister, and myself. After breakfast, we met up at their house and then departed.

We spent a lot of time at this first bookstore. At first, we kind of went off to our own corners then Jeff, Shaowen, and I converenged on the Media, Cultural Studies, and Philosophy sections. I bought books that were a very short introduction to Poststructuralism, Kierkegaard, A Critical Thinker's Series book on Paul Ricour, Remediation, a book on video game studies, a book on postmodernism and design, and a book on virtual media studies. I'm not going to disclose Jeff and Shaowen's list because that would cause a buffer overload for the server (for the non-computer scientists in the audience, that means it would be a number so large that the computer could no longer count it--i.e. if I have a buffer ranging from -255 to 256. Then if I tried to put in 257, the computer would read it as -255.)

After getting all of our books, we went down to have lunch at the food court downstairs. Shaowen told me that she would help me to find something to eat since everything was in Chinese. She asked if I would like noodles or rice. I said noodles and then asked if I would like noodles with beef on them and I said sure. So she told me that she saw a restaurant that had that. We went to it and she ordered it for me. I got my food and went back to where we were sitting. As I sat down, her mother told me that it was hot--but I thought that it wouldn't be too bad. Wow, that was a bad mistake. That dish had me in tears, it was so hot. Everyone looked at my reaction and started to give me their food so that I would stop eating mine. Eventually Shaowen's sister got up and ordered me something similar that wasn't spicy. We started joking that Shaowen was trying to assassinate me. And we all had a good laugh. Then Shaowen's sister, Jeff, and Shaowen all tried my food and each confirmed that it was indeed very hot. Shaowen's mother said that the dish is normally not that hot but we got it from a Szechuan restaurant. Szechuan cuisine is notoriously spicy and I experienced it firsthand. Note to self: don't let Shaowen pick food for you any more :).

Everyone got up and went to the restroom. Jeff came back first. He revealed to me that he had misplaced a small notebook that Shaowen had loaned him. He said that he might have left it in his basket in the store (we had yet to buy are books but were still browsing, but the front desk held them for us--think of it as halftime), but he thought that he may have left it on some of the shelves somewhere. First, Shaowen’s mother said that she was going back to the apartment because she needed to take a nap (Shaowen told me that she gets up really early in the morning and needs to take a nap in the afternoon).We go up to the desk after lunch to get our books, but Shaowen and her sister say that we can just leave them there and get them when we’re ready to check out—but Jeff insists that he wants to have them with him. When we get our baskets back, Jeff realizes that they are not there.

Jeff and I go back to the philosophy section and Shaowen and her sister split up with us. When we get there, we find it we see it right there on the shelf. Jeff said he was lucky because Shaowen would have killed him if he didn’t find that (it had some of her notes for her own blog on the trip, which she didn’t have anywhere else). I suggested that Shaowen would make him finish off the noodle dish she got for me. When Shaowen and her sister came back to us, Jeff relayed the story to her and had trouble finding the notebook. He got caught up in his own story again. Eventually he found it in his pocket.

We made our selections. Purchased the books and went to Taipei 101. We purchased our tickets to go to the observation deck. This would give us a complete Panoramic view of most of Taipei. On most days, apparently the rain clouds and fogginess would prevent one from seeing much of the city, but we had excellent whether. As mentioned above, not only is this the largest building in the world, but it also has the fastest elevator in the world. It took us 37 seconds to get from the 5th floor to the 89th floor. The elevator even had a really neat visualization of our ascent. They even featured a completely unnecessary set of stargazing animations on the elevator ceiling and a new age soundtrack as the elevator climbed. They got me an English audio phone explaining what I was seeing that came with the ticket—it actually didn’t help at all so I was sort of half-listening to it and eventually gave up altogether. After we had strolled around the deck, Jeff, Shaowen’s sister, and I decided to go up to the top level that we could go to (the 91st floor) and go outside. This cost an additional 100 NTD (New Taiwanese Dollars) which is about US$3. It was extremely windy up there. One poor girl had to keep her hands on her skirt the whole time because it kept blowing up.

After this we went down to Pageone, another bookstore on the 4th floor of the building. We spent another 30 minutes there. I got a book on Hegel called Introducing Hegel. This is only of note because it is basically explaining the philosophy of Hegel in comic book form. Jeff pointed out a similar book on Sartre to me and spoke highly of another one that he had read (on Logic, I believe), so I figured I’d give one a try.

We made a quick stop over at Shaowen’s parents apartment, then went to another bookstore (Chinese only, so Shaowen could get a book that her sister recommended). After this, Jeff took me to a cheap video store—as in you can get a DVD for $3 and it is totally legit. He said he didn’t understand how it worked, but he was right. He bought a few BBC performances.

While we were doing this, Shaowen and her sister were meeting up with their cousin and bringing her over to their parent’s apartment for dinner. So when were all rounded up, we went back to the apartment. We had chicken, fish balls (pretty much exactly what you would expect them to be, they’re pretty good), rice, and veggies. Shaowen’s sister had also bought us another Onion cake (which we had had some day past for breakfast). Jeff and I agreed this one wasn’t as good as the one we had had before.

Sometime after dinner, Shaowen’s mother had brought out lychee fruit. It is a very sweet fruit, but protected by a hard spiky shell. It probably is very rare in the states but it was very tasty. It was a difficulty opening up the outer layer but was definitely worth it.

Finally, Shaowen, Jeff and I stopped at a tea shop. Because of all the noise that Jeff had been making about milk tea, I decided to try it without sugar. It actually was pretty good. Jeff had the same but chose the one where there was pudding in the bottom. And Shaowen had a certain tea that was flavored by a certain type of Chinese flower—it was definitely an acquired taste.

Finally, we went back to the apartment again—because Shaowen left what we would have for breakfast there for tomorrow. And then we went home.

June 07, 2006 07:51 AM

Mathias Klang: Politics in Games

Violence and ideologies in games have long been under discussion. On the one side computer game advocates argue that computer games are not the cause of violence while others claim that computer games are harmful. The truth is never as simple as either side would like to claim.

Americas Army is the official US army game and was developed by the US army (beginning in 1999) the goal is to allow players to develop into specialist “Green Beret” soldiers. The website contains information about US army recruitment centres.

Afkar Media is producing “al-Quraysh”, a real time strategy game that tells the story of the first 100 years of Islam from the viewpoint of four different nations - Bedouins, Arabs, Persians, and Romans. The planned release date is September. Afkar Media hopes the game will help to reverse negative connotations of Islam in the west and evoke new pride among young Muslims. (Christian Science Monitor).

Last year Afkar Media launched the game Under Seige, which was inspired by actual Hizbollah missions. An earlier game on the same theme is Special Force. They write on their website:

“The game “Special Force” is based upon reality, meaning that the game is based on events that took place in a land called Lebanon. Lebanon was invaded by “Israel” in 1978 & 1982, and was forced to withdraw…we decided to produce a game that will be educational for our future generations and for all freedom lovers of this world…”

Games such as these are criticised for simply reversing stereotypes while their supporters claim to redress the balance in a genre dominated by western forces defeating Arabs.

Does Civilisation create a “beat-them-up” “winner-take-all” view of history? Do Counterstrike and Vice City lead to conflict? And then what do the Sims tell us about ourselves and which values do they re-inforce?

It is interesting to note that all sides seem to argue that “the other” is unfairly portraying them as the evil enemy. The question of political propaganda in games is a large unexplored area. Taylor’s “Munitions of the Mind” is an excellent starting point for those wishing to better understand the history and impact of propaganda from a non-game perspective.

by Klang at June 07, 2006 07:45 AM


39 weeks and 6 days

Hello - I'm still here. Not even a last minute dash around IKEA yesterday brought on an early labour which I was sure it would. Now I am convinced it will happen over this coming long weekend when my doctor is sure to be holidaying in the country.

We've pretty much finished the work on the baby's room. We need to move in furniture and bits and pieces so it doesn't look quite so cold and doesn't have an intense echo which it does at the moment but the paint work has all been done and the junk has all been moved out. I wrote an article on basic ideas for designing a nursery yesterday for Kiddley and I have to say, while Dad and Big-P's paint job is quite beautiful, the furnishings and accessories are hardly going to live up to my high standards outlined here! But it will do for now, and the little person who it matters to most won't have a strong opinion either way about it for years to come. In the mean time I think it's calm, peaceful and pretty.

The parasol will eventually hang from the ceiling... when we get around to it!

My favourite thing about the room at the moment is this funny old recycled door we bought in Richmond. Dad put in an old door knob as a temporary measure until we find a new, more functional one. I have this funny feeling that like many other of our temporary measures it might just become permanent. The door knob comes from the ruins of the old family house up in the country. It was the house that the family first lived in when they moved into the area but they left it for a newer, more sturdy place down the hill taking anything of use, leaving the rest on the hill to slowly disintegrate. All that is left standing there now is the wooden kitchen and a chimney surrounded by mounds of earth which were once the mud walls. Some years ago we had a bit of an amateur archeological dig up there and found all sorts of stuff including this door knob. It's not exactly the most attractive door knob but I do like a good story and a good family historical connection. So it just might stay. Big-P thinks I am a bit mad, but I also like the outline of the old plate etched into the wood...

So now I need to put away all the baby clothes, hem the curtains, hang some pictures (not sure what they will be yet!), put in a feeding chair and some cushions and a floor rug etc. Lots still to do but at least the baby can come home to a room now.

by Claire at June 07, 2006 06:02 AM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... Lower East Side, New York

Refined, stylish, sporty And 40-ish.

Who said men age more gracefully?

The only part that would have made the photo better was if she was still on her bike - she had just locked up it up.

by The Sartorialist at June 07, 2006 04:31 AM

Planet Informatics:

Mathias Klang: Amnesty Advertisments

Have you seen the striking “see-through” Amnesty adverisments? The punchline:

This doesn’t happen here. But now.

Is underscored by the imagery which seems to be happening where the poster is.

Chilling stuff - more examples here.

by Klang at June 07, 2006 04:28 AM

Mathias Klang: Breeding Brutality

What happens when you train young people to kill and then pump them full of rhetoric and send them off to occupy a foreign country? The answer is tragedies like Haditha.

The strange thing is that there have not been many more tragedies and that the people who send their armies to war seem to be “shocked” and “surprised” by these events. What were they expecting?

In the wake of the massacre at Haditha where US marines have allegedly killed 24 innocent civilians the discussions about battlefield and occupation conduct has taken off. On the one hand there have been “damage control” actions such as the news that following Haditha servicemen are to be given ethics training, or as it was termed in a military statement “core warrior values” (BBC Online 1 June).

On the other hand there is sad news in relation to how abuses by servicemen are being treated. In the UK the Court Marshal cases lead to acquittals: “The acquittals call into question the future of Britain’s court martial system for dealing with serviceman accused of committing abuses while on duty.” (The Times June 7)

None of this should be surprising – its just tragic. Monbiot writes about the brutalising effect of occupations and closes his article with the words:

Why should we be surprised by these events? This is what happens when one country occupies another. When troops are far from home, exercising power over people they don’t understand, knowing that the population harbours those who would kill them if they could, their anger and fear and frustration turns into a hatred of all “micks” or “gooks” or “hajjis”. Occupations brutalise both the occupiers and the occupied. It is our refusal to learn that lesson which allows new colonial adventures to take place. (Originally published in The Guardian 6 June 2006).

Why is this interesting for me? Well in part becuase the horrors of war have a tendency to be forgotten since they are uncomfortable and a colleague of mine has asked me to participate in an exciting project on the legal use of lethal force in the military. This will be as part of a larger project on Military Violence and Killing. My part is to look at the Swedish militaries legal framework for use of lethal force and then, if time permits, attempt to ascertain whether this legal framework is reflected in the training and understanding of the men and women who will be forced into situations where lethal violence may occur.

This is particularly interesting since the Swedish military is gradually moving towards a position of more active participation in overseas peacekeeping/peacemaking action.

by Klang at June 07, 2006 04:08 AM

Ars Technica:

A day in the life of an analyst

Ever wondered who the analysts quoted so often in news reports and articles are and what they do? Ars hunted down a couple of analysts to ask what makes them qualified to expound on technology-related issues, products, and news.

We had a chat with Jason Kraft and Chris Kwak, two research analysts from Susquehanna Financial Group who specialize in video games (and who we've quoted before at Ars). If covering video games sounds like all play and no work, think again. Analysts produce guidance that is used by large institutional investors to make decisions about where to put their money, and their knowledge of videogames has to be matched by their knowledge of business. Getting it wrong can cost clients a good deal of money (and analysts their jobs).

Read on for analysis of analysts.

June 07, 2006 12:37 AM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... Refined Sportswear#3, New York

- Love the slim leg of the shorts and the color is great

- The slim cut buttondown shirt (with collar buttons undone) is really important right now -believe it or not the one he is wearing is Thom Browne

-For running around in the City on a hot summer day this works for me. Sure, he could tuck in the shirt and give a proper hem to the shorts but that is an easy styling adjustment that can be modified depending on the occasion.

-What really makes this look refined for me is the shoes -not flip flops or sneakers


by The Sartorialist at June 07, 2006 12:27 AM

June 06, 2006

Planet Informatics:

Tim Tucker: What we need is a PMS

(I know, I know, the post title may sound a bit odd)

After thinking some more about what I do and don’t like about Wordpress, I’ve concluded that it seems to work all well and good as a CMS (content management system).

However, with all the CSS and various chunks of PHP that it uses to piece everything together, I wonder if I’m not the only one to wish that I also had a decent PMS: “Presentation management system”. It seems like if we’re going to spend the time to separate out content from presentation, we need tools to be able to alter the presentation just as easily as we can add and edit content.

Then again, maybe something like In-Design or some other fancy tool out there already does exactly what I’m looking for. It just seems like there should be an easier method for the masses than “learn CSS and PHP, it’s fun!”. I already know CSS and PHP and I’m not having fun yet…

Then again, I’m also a bit tired, so I should probably work on this stuff when I’m more awake.

by TimTucker at June 06, 2006 11:36 PM

Tim Tucker: Solution is right in front of me

Been working on trying to do an overhaul of timtucker.com, but I’ve run into a few small problems. Basically, I’ve concluded that I’d really like something pretty close to the simpler look of the admin interface for Wordpress. The downside is that I’ve yet to get my head wrapped around exactly what’s being done where in its CSS and PHP.

The frustrating part is that I see exactly what I want whenever I go to the interface to make a change, just not when I get to what needs changing.

I kind of miss the old days of fiddling with tables…

by TimTucker at June 06, 2006 11:07 PM

Ars Technica:

Intel announces Core 2 chipsets, confirms launch schedule

At Computex today, Intel announced its P965 Core 2 chipset. The company also confirmed the Core 2 launch scedule for the summer.

June 06, 2006 11:03 PM

LCD sales set to exceed CRT sales, but when?

Perhaps someone will turn this into an office pool: at what point will LCDs ship in greater numbers than CRTs? Analysts haven't yet agreed on the exact time frame, but they all agree that the date is on the horizon.

June 06, 2006 10:15 PM


Finding my religion

There are three sentences Jon and I speak to each other that always send Chuck moping out of the room because he’s worried about the implications:

“What’s wrong?”

“Are you okay?”

“Oh God, that feels so good.”

My next piece about “The Dog Whisperer” is up at Alpha mom:

“It is in a dog’s nature to follow, and when they feel that their leader is weak or anxious they will inevitably develop problems. At the height of my postpartum depression I often yelled violently and threw things in frustration — keys, bottles of water, burning candles — and Chuck was always nearby to see me breaking down. He saw his leader being weak, and because of this he often feels like it is his responsibility, his burden to watch out for everybody else. That stress changed him and explains why he frequently escapes to the basement to listen to Bauhaus.”

by shug at June 06, 2006 10:03 PM

Ars Technica:

Microsoft denies building an iPod rival in Japan

After a weekend of speculation that Microsoft was planning to produce its own iPod-killer device in Japan, the company has come out with an official denial. Does that mean the rumors will finally be laid to rest?

June 06, 2006 09:31 PM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... Blue Dress, LES, New York

This girl was not very tall and yet the dress did not overpower her. I think the real key is the just below the calf length and the the fact the front is slightly shorter than the back

by The Sartorialist at June 06, 2006 08:38 PM

Ars Technica:

IM service integration inching closer

Microsoft and Yahoo are getting closer to having their two instant messaging services interoperate.

June 06, 2006 07:11 PM

Get your game on: professional gaming comes to North American TV

Professional gaming has made a major stride towards the mainstream in North America, by signing a television contract with the USA Network. Are we ready for heroes of the joypad?

June 06, 2006 06:50 PM

US broadband adoption accelerates as 48 million Americans post Internet content

The Pew Internet & American Life Project's new report on US broadband usage shows that adoption rates are skyrocketing, and that more people are choosing DSL over cable. The study also shows that 48 million Internet users just want to be heard.

June 06, 2006 05:26 PM

PS2 free with every PS3?

Reports surface that Sony is building a PlayStation 2 into every PlayStation 3 in order to ensure backwards compatibility. Does it make sense?

June 06, 2006 04:55 PM

Comcast to begin testing HD TiVo service add-on

Tasty HD TiVo service will be coming to some Comcast customers in the new future. Will subscribers be willing to pay extra for TiVo goodness?

June 06, 2006 04:43 PM

Ars Technica:

Will "fair use" be fundamentally redefined this week?

A new bill in Congress has some digital rights groups up in arms, claiming that the music industry is trying to pull a fast one on US consumers. Does the reality match the rhetoric?

June 06, 2006 03:54 PM

Networks cave to advertiser demands over DVRs

As the networks and advertisers discuss commercial rates for the fall TV season, the contentious issue of how to account for DVRs has come up again.

June 06, 2006 03:53 PM

The Sartorialist:

The Story Behind The Style - Harlem

I had been in Harlem for a few hours and just hadn't found anything to shoot. I finally gave up and decided to head back to Soho. After walking a few blocks down Madison Ave ,around 120th street, I see this gentleman - I literally stop in my tracks. I introduce myself and ask to photograph him. He says yes in a voice that sounds exactly like Ray Charles speaking voice. As I'm shooting he is telling me proudly about his community work and an upcoming Harlem bike race he is helping to organize. As I finish shooting I ask him about the suit he is wearing. I guess I was expecting to hear something about how he bought the suit back in the 70's and has been wearing it every Sunday since then. That is definitely not the story I got.

"I got this suit in 1990, I was dealing drugs then and one of the girls I sold drugs to threw this suit at me as payment. She would usually steal $20 or $30 bucks and give me that but this time she just threw this suit at me"

I can't make this stuff up, I can only hope to remember it until I can write it down. His story was not hard to remember.

by The Sartorialist at June 06, 2006 07:14 AM

Ars Technica:

Samsung going AMD for UMPC to shave costs

The UMPC/Origami has been slow to take off. Will a new CPU and a lower price help?

June 06, 2006 03:18 AM

The Zenith:

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

This is for you, Jack Ass.  I know you will never read it.  And most people who do read this don't know who you are when i refer to you as Jack Ass, so we're all good.

Girl:  So you said your name is Zeeeeen-a?
the Z: No---Zen ITH.  Like the TV...?
Girl: The wha?
the Z: Uh it's a brand of electronics.
Girl:  O! Is that what you were named after?
the Z: No---my family's last name is Nadir and they thought it would be a clever joke. 
Girl: O         uh          ok.   Bad Company rocks so hard.   O my god! 

Dude.  Why do you hang out with people like this?  I know you're deeper than that.  You have said that you often cannot  relate to me, nor do you know how to react to me.  Our personalities have so many drastic differences.  Yeah i know.  So you must actively seek out people like this who have no personality. There is no substance to their conversations, nothing to be challenged by, nothing to relate to except underage drinking experiences and encounters with the police, and the only substance in the room is the kind that eases you into not caring whether you do or don't really like the people with whom you've surrounded yourself.  You know you will probably never be deeply attracted to one of these females, thus, you won't have to endure that pesky little debate with yourself about what you would do if you were, therefore, you won't run the risk of backsliding on yet another one of your "convictions", which we all know you fucking suck ass at upholding.  Just wait till one of those girls gets you alone in your room when you're blacked out---again.  

So why is it so important that you remain in my good graces?  Why do you bother apologizing for brushing me aside time after time?  Why do you say you'll get a hold of me soon, you'll see me more often this summer, if i can forgive you?  You know you've been a dipshit and know that it is wrong to treat someone who has been nothing but nice to you, and if not nice, truthful, like that.  But if you have nothing to say to me and don't want me to hang around just fucking tell me.  So you don't know how to react to someone who has such an intense strength of character, who is so steadfast in their convictions, but think this must be a high quality person, this is the kind of person you should keep in your life and be respectful of.  So you're going to apologize and tell me you'd like to stay friends, then you won't have to feel bad about cutting off contact with me for at least another couple of months during which you resume your boycott of me and the other people with whom you used to have mutual fondness.

Face it Jack Ass:  you are becoming one of the people you detest the most.  A "frat boy".  You have been consistently progressing toward complete embodiment of that stereotype.  I know this is only the tip of the iceburg, Jack Ass.  But i would be damn surprised if you could truthfully deny any of it. 

June 06, 2006 02:22 AM

June 05, 2006

Planet Informatics:

Mathias Klang: CC Newbie Tech Litt

The idea of the publisher In Pictures is to provide basic computer litterature with plenty of pictures. Their primary audience is the beginner in the area.
They have now released 22 computer books under a Creative Commons Att-NC-ND 2.5 license.

The library includes books on software such as Windows XP, Mac OS X Tiger, Microsoft office, Openoffice.org, Dreamweaver 8 and Photoshop. In addition to programming basics such as MySQL, PHP and PERL.

by Klang at June 05, 2006 11:35 PM

The Sartorialist:

On The Street.... So Nice To See, New York

It is so nice to see a woman wearing jeans that don't show her butt crack (they sit on her hips perfectly). It is also great that she is wearing a belt and she has her shirt tucked in. See, casual can look refined and still be sexy.

Of course she was Italian-she spoke almost no English. At first she thought I wanted her to take a photo of me - she reached for my camera but the look on my face must have made it pretty clear that she had it wrong, Never touch a man's Canon -wait, that didn't sound right.

by The Sartorialist at June 05, 2006 11:32 PM

Ars Technica:

Coming soon: Google Spreadsheet. @SUM(trouble) for Microsoft's bottom line?

Google, after having swallowed up the web-based word processor Writely, is now poised to deliver an online spreadsheet application to complement it. Is this the next step towards Google Office?

June 05, 2006 11:22 PM


Today is a marvelously sunny day

And I am sitting here feeling too pregnant to move.

Amelia has gone off to Mini maestroes with my mum leaving a delicious silence in the house. I read some baby star signs the other day and while they said that Librans (Amelia) are sociable, talkative, bright and curious, Geminis (the next one) are even more so. How incredibly exhausting. As somebody who needs quiet and space from time to time I find the idea of constant attention seeking chatter and behaviour terrifying!

We watched the Family Stone the other night which is all about a big family and the big personalities and there was lots of noise and chaos and drama. I quite enjoyed that aspect. I am drawn to the fantasy of a big, noisy chaotic family... some of my favourite books and films are about sprawling, brawling usually slightly bohemian families including I Capture the Castle, Cloud Street, The Royal Tennenbaums, Brother of the more Famous Jack (apart from some of the more outdated and outrageous racist stereotyping), the Boyd Family biography, My Family and Other Animals, Brideshead Revisited to some extent and so on. I have no idea what it is that appeals to me about these narratives. I obviously need to do some more soul-searching and personal insight stuff! Clearly!

But I wonder if it came down to it I could handle being the matriarch of an enormous, constantly jostling family or if it would be just too much noise in my head and I would need to retreat to my hermit-hut and read novels and eat apples for long periods of time. Perhaps there could be a compromise.

Anyway, I thought I might also post some links I have been enjoying - firstly Sarsaparilla, a new group blog which is about "Literature, media, and culture, from Australian points of view" and all of Tania's inspiration links for April and May (top left sidebar). I am truly inspired!

by Claire at June 05, 2006 09:49 PM

The Sartorialist:


I meant to take more pictures but I start talking to people and forget, crap!

by The Sartorialist at June 05, 2006 09:32 PM


Billy Creek this weekend.  Woot!  My little brother's gonna go pretend to shoot shit while I....well...I sit around in a hoopskirt and get overheated mostly, but I'll look damn good while doing it if I ever get my dress finished.  Best part?  Military ball Saturday night and authentic camping all weekend!

June 05, 2006 08:49 PM


Monthly Newsletter: Month Twenty-eight

Dear Leta,

Over the weekend you turned twenty-eight months old. I think it’s about time that we address the issue of your hair considering that every picture we take of you makes it look like I do nothing but follow you around with balloons and rub them on your head. While it’s true that I often follow you around, it is not because I am intent making your hair look like a permanent shrine to the diagram of a chemical compound, but rather because you’ve inherited your parent’s clumsiness and are routinely knocking your head into furniture. I like to be nearby so I can laugh.

We have very few photographs of your hair looking tidy because, as your step-grandma has said, styling your hair is exactly like trying to wrap a rubber band around a wad of jello. It just falls out everywhere a few seconds after I comb it into place. Add to that the fact that you have more hair on your head right now than most people will ever grow in a lifetime, and you can see how it’s easy for me to throw my hands up in defeat. I heard that in some countries people shave their kids’ heads so that it will grow back in a heavier and thicker consistency. I don’t dare do that with you because if your hair were any thicker I would need a welding torch to bend it into place. I imagine it growing teeth and fingernails and eventually feeding on your skull for sustenance.

Your love for walks has grown to an obsession this month, and we spend many hours a day in the front yard or walking up and down our street. We love taking these walks because it forces us to slow down and appreciate very small and simple things as you bend down to examine your world. You’re often exploring holes in the sidewalk with your fingers, or stopping to watch a trail of ants. This morning I walked out the front door to lounge on the porch, and you followed me until you got to the lip of the front step and realized you didn’t have your shoes on. By your reaction I thought someone had thrown acid in your face, and your skin began melting off in chunks. “SHOOOOES!” you screamed. “WHERE ARE YOU!” You will not leave the house without your shoes on, and when you saw that I was barefoot you pointed at my feet and were repulsed enough to claw at your neck. Kid, this is my heritage. Be glad I’m not fetching the morning paper in my bra with a cigarette behind my ear and a Miller Lite strapped to my thigh with a garter.

This month has also seen a shift in your sleeping schedule. One afternoon you started resisting your nap and lying in your crib singing a mix-up of the ABC song and Baa Baa Black Sheep without ever falling asleep: “A B C D E F G, yes sir, yes sir, bee bogs bull.” Cute but unfortunate because by four in the afternoon you were so irritable that the inside of your body tried to tear its way out, and for a moment I could see your toes through the opening in your mouth. So I pushed your nap back an hour, and it changed everything. Now you take a three hour nap in the afternoon and rarely put up a fuss, except yesterday when you reached into your arsenal of excuses and tried everything to get out of it. You father and I listened on the monitor as you said, “Watch Elmo? … No? Okay. Go outside! … No? How about crackers? I want crackers … No? Water! YEAH! DRINK OF WATER!” As if we would fall for that one. I admire your determination, Leta, but if you want to see results you’re going to need to get a little more creative. Maybe threaten to chew your arm off at the elbow, or throw your body over the side of the crib. Think THEATRICS.

One of our favorite parts of the day with you is bath time if only because you are never more excited. Each time I mention that it’s time for your bath you take off running, and when I catch up with you in the bathroom you’re trying to throw your leg over the side of the bathtub even though I haven’t started running the water or taken your clothes off. For several months you hated the part where we washed your hair and that was totally my fault. I wanted to try out a new adult shampoo on you because I thought it might revitalize the texture of your hair and make it smell like the fragrance of freshly-picked mountain strawberries. But it burned your eyes, and I earned a place among the elite group of Mothers Who Should Be Clubbed with a Pipe Wrench.

When we switched back to the harmless baby shampoo you were still extremely wary of having water poured over your head, so we’ve had to come up with ways to get you to cooperate. Lately we’ve been tacking letters up high on the walls of the bathtub and asking you to identify them, and while your head is tilted back we quickly rinse the suds out of your hair. The other night we tried this trick again, and it worked so well you wouldn’t stop. You recognized the A, and then the G, and then the X, and even after your hair was rinsed you stood up out of the water and pointed to each letter sticking to the tub. We needed you to sit down and rinse the rest of your body so your father pointed to the F and said, “What letter is that, Leta? That’s F for effing sit down already.”

You promptly sat down and said, “F! Effing!”

“You’re smart, little one,” he said as he shook his head. “Can you say, ‘I’m smart.’?”

You giggled, brought a shaving cream cap full of tub water to your lips and took a sip. After swallowing a gulp you looked up at your father and said, “I’m fart.”

We’ve never laughed so hard or been more aware that there is nothing in life more wonderful than this, our family, you who have truly made us one.


by shug at June 05, 2006 07:06 PM

Powered by Planet!
Last updated: June 08, 2006 08:37 PM