Hey you, go vote!

Well I guess it isn’t primary day everywhere, but considering that my readership is pretty much in MA and IL (with a small Wisconsin contingent who vote in a week or two, or something,) I figure I’m ok with the generalization. I voted for Obama, but I think it’s mostly important that you actually turn out and vote – I’ll save the proselytizing for someone else. Polls here are open ’till 8, so there’s pretty much no excuse. 

Accident at Clarendon Hill

When my alarm went off this morning I had a sinking feeling that it was not going to be a good day. As I got to the bus stop around 8:50, I saw an eighteen-wheeler pulling into the depot slowly. (This doesn’t happen, since it is only for busses.) That seemed strange. I had my headphones on so I didn’t immediately know what was going on, but I took them off to hear a young woman telling me “that truck just ran someone over!” There was a person lying on the ground and a twisted wreck of a bicycle under the truck. Everyone called 911.  To the truck-driver’s credit, he immediately got out of the truck and started tending to the victim. So did a few passers-by and a T worker. It was probably only a few minutes, but it felt like hours before the emergency vehicles started to show up. I counted four police cars and one fire/ambulance. That is pretty much all I know.I would like to know more – if you know what happened, could you please write me? I would like to send something to the person who got hit to wish a speedy recovery – I suppose this posting is a decent start. To the person who was hit, whoever you are: my thoughts are with you, I hope you’re ok, and that you recover from this as quickly as possible. My thoughts, of course, immediately turned to Dana.  

Who watches the watchmen – part 3

As promised, part 3. This morning I got a call from channel 4 news asking to interview me about this whole street-view thing. It was a pretty big surprise, but exciting. They sent an interviewer and cameraman over to my office about an hour ago, and I am apparently going to be on the 6pm news on channel 4. (Probably making a fool of myself – it is hard enough to get a decent still of me…)

I figured that they shouldn’t be the only ones doing the documenting, so I took some pictures of them while they were filming (the one that includes me was shot my my colleague Katrina.)

Not exactly 15 minutes of fame, but it was kinda cool anyway. (And, if you’re one of those folks who knows how to youtubify stuff and you feel like recording the news and sending me a clip, I would be most grateful.)

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Who watches the watchmen – part 2

Part 3 is likely to come later today, but I won’t spoil the surprise.

In any case, my photo of the street-view car from back in June is linked all over the place and I occasionally get contacted by people about it. Today is Google’s big street-view launch in Boston, so I have been getting more interest than usual. And wouldn’t you know it, as I’m walking back from the watch-repair shop this afternoon, I am faced with this mapping behemoth coming down the street towards me.

This one is from TeleAtlas. Their bright-orange paint job and attractive logo didn’t change the feeling that I was facing some kind of creepy urban-assault-vehicle like the kind EBN used to cruise around Providence when I was at RISD. The armored surveillance cameras didn’t help their case – and the unfriendliness was compounded when the driver (from NH again, what gives?) didn’t feel like slowing down as I crossed (sprinted!) in front of him. (Adding a bit of irony to the “Caution, Slow Vehicle” warning painted across its rear…)

So here’s a few shots of the mappers mapping me. TeleAtlas – your logo is lovely, but your drivers really don’t understand how to behave in a city. (Maybe hire someone local next time?)

I wonder how many street-views I appear on these days…

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Mike, I am so proud of you.

As I’m reading the globe today I saw this headline “Artist gets probation for building secret apartment in R.I. mall” and my first thought (before reading the thing) was “Mike, what have you done this time?”Sure enough, my old dear friend Mike Townsend is the artist in question. He’s always been one to push the envelope, and has never really minded working (or living) in grey areas.

It’s been a while since I’ve heard from him, perhaps because he was living in a makeshift “home” in a parking garage, or perhaps because he got sick of me, who knows. Regardless, this guy has been living the dream – back in school he organized a bunch of us to do masking-tape murals all over the RISD campus. Most of us enjoyed the minor local celebrity status among our fellow freshmen, but only Mike took it past a 4am prank and made it into a real artistic undertaking. He’s traveled the world doing tape art with kids and adults.

The impromptu apartment is nothing new either. In college he and his roommate John transformed their dorm room by bringing in a wood stove and building a brick hearth (they even checked the building schematics to make sure it could handle all the weight), and later in his college life Mike found an abandoned tunnel under Providence and began using it as a studio space. The guy is clearly a little bit nuts, but he is my kind of a nut, and quite inspired at that.

This time it sounds like he and some friends built a “home” within the Providence Place parking garage, and lived there for quite a while (with amenities including a tv and PS2 (which makes sense, as I have a great many fond memories of Mike and videogames)) before anyone noticed them at all.

So, Mike, I am delighted to see your name in the news. I applaud your apartment/installation/performance/documentary/whatever, and I wish I had the courage to still live the real artist life like you are. I hope you’re well, I miss you!

Oh My God – he has a photo of me from the early 90s when we went to Cleveland to do a tape art mural for Manco Tape! I am the second on the left, barely visible.

Mike has a website about the project. He tells me that he gave 25 interviews yesterday about this project.

Here’s a link to the coverage in the Providence Journal.

More here from Mike’s wife.

Open letter to Apple – Unbreak the iPhone!

Ok Apple, here’s my story:I bought my iPhone on day 1. I had faith that the platform would open up, and I had faith that you as a company would keep your users best interests in mind as you developed the device. I believed you when you said you’d be rolling out features to “surprise and delight” me. I’m patient – I didn’t mind that the price dropped precipitously after just three months, in large part because the developer community succeeded at opening up the platform even without your support.

Their efforts showed us just how lameass your “AJAX devkit” really was – native apps were just better, even those written with zero support and zero SDK. They did a great job. They made your customers happy. We loved our iPhones.

Then yesterday, FOR NO REASON, you released an “update” that offered no meaningful new features (sure the wifi store is cool and all, but now that Amazon sells DRM-free music for less, why do I want to buy from you ever again?) and instead crippled iPhones everywhere.Now, I never unlocked my iPhone, because I don’t really see any reason to do so. But HOW DARE YOU break phones willy-nilly while simultaneously voiding warrantees just because people legally installed _legal software_ on a device they legally owned?

It’s time you showed up with an apology, a plan, and a path towards Apple-sanctioned 3rd party development. In the meantime, I’m happy I never unlocked my phone, and I’m going to avoid all of your future “updates” like the plague.

For all those whose iPhones are now broken, it seems to me that a remedy from Apple is owed you. They’ve essentially sold you a defective non-upgradeable device which they refuse to support, and that is simply appalling. I wonder how many class-action suits are being written as I write this. Apple – I expected better from you. I am very, very disappointed in you. Make it right.

Bandesphoto relaunch!

There’s still a rough edge or two here and there (and if you have time to offer copy-editing services (ED!) they would be most welcomed) but I’m proud to announce that my rebuild of my portrait and wedding website is now ready for public consumption. I’ve been meaning to integrate my “new” logo into the site for nearly a year, and it’s finally done, which makes me very happy. If you spot something weird, please let me know – I have been testing the site with good results, but one never knows…

iPhone initial impressions (and unbox pix)

So I’ve spent a day with the iPhone, and here are some thoughts:

1. Everywhere I have been so far (in rural maine) has had wifi open so I haven’t been on edge yet. Wifi is nice and snappy

2. Nobody has called or texted me yet, so I can’t really say anything about the cellular features per se

3. Mail automatically configured itself to my mail.app accounts and settings – supercool!

4. I didn’t have to enter any configuration info whatsoever

5. Activation through iTunes was a dream, it couldn’t have been easier, took about two minutes.

6. The screen is gorgeous and really works. Multitouch is everything they said it would be.

7. I find the onscreen keyboard a bit easier to use than the Treo’s keypad, but I was never big on the two-thumb approach anyway. I do make plenty of typos, though I did on the treo too.

8. Web browsing is good over wifi, and I am pretty sure that AIM works via the web clients (I connected, but none of my buddies were online.)

9. YouTube is just brilliant on this thing

10. Music, video, YouTube all can use the internal speaker, which is really cool

11. It feels much much smaller than the treo, fits comfortably in my pocket

12. Neither mail nor safari are at all like their desktop counterparts, but both are good.

13. App-switching does feel a little clunky. I miss the apple-tab switching…

14. I’m feeling good about the 4GB capacity. I would of course love to have a 60 or 80 gig model, but failing that, a small-capacity unit is going to feel limited either way, and since it needs to be synced often to charge, I can just use it like I would use a shuffle.

15. The headphone jack is idiotic. I don’t think my koss headphones are going to work (they are at home) and it’s hard to imagine why they did this, it doesn’t make the thing look any better, that’s for sure.

16. The camera is ok, and the photos app is amazingly great

17. Google map app is very very cool, though I haven’t figured out how to use it for “just” a map instead of for directions

18. Call forwarding doesn’t seem to allow you to keep an address-book list of possible forwarded destinations, that’s a shame.

19. The screen can get a little sticky/greasy

20. The DLO “jam jacket” case I bought has got to be the worst case I have ever seen. Don’t buy it! (If you want one (you don’t,) let me know and I’ll give you a deal.)

21. The included ringtones are great. I love the “Old Phone” which is much better than the equivalent ring on my treo.

22. Web and email apps are VASTLY better than the treo equivalents

23. There are already a promising array of cute web-apps for the iphone, including sudoku – this makes me happy

24. The text message my dad tried to send me never arrived. I don’t know what to make of that.

25. The AT+T store salesguy tried to sell me a charger. I said it came with one. The “Apple Representative” at the AT+T store said it didn’t and I should buy one. Guess what? The iPhone does in fact come with a dock and charger, just like everyone said, just like it (somewhat cryptically) says on the box.

26. The iPhone packaging is amazing. I especially like the little lucite tray that it was “floating” in inside the box.

All in all – there are a few rough spots, but they are relatively inconsequential. This is probably the most satisfying gadget first day I’ve had since my first iPod. Now I just need to figure out what to do with my Treo.

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iGot it

It’s really true that I will buy almost anything Steve tells me to. So, despite my better judgment I found myself standing in line at the Central Square AT+T store this afternoon, starting around 4pm. Quite contrary to the reports of ginormous lines at the Apple Stores, there were only about 30 people ahead of me, so I was pretty encouraged.

The line started moving at 6pm as promised, but it moved at a truly glacial pace. It was 7:30 before I had my coveted little slab of black glass, and the guy after me got the very last one, leaving a long line of angry people outside the store. I had been torn between the 4 and 8 gig models, but the store made the decision easy because they ran out of the 8 gig units after the first ten or so customers. Really I don’t mind, I save $100 and I was never going to use this as my primary media device anyway, that’s what my iPod is for. (There were a lot of VERY unhappy people in line though.)

I have to say, the AT+T store people handled the line extremely poorly. There was zero line-management, and no communication. I would’ve appreciated someone outside the store telling us how many units they had available (I’m sure the thirty or forty people behind me would’ve appreciated it even more, as their hours of waiting were thoroughly fruitless – nobody official even announced that they were sold out!)

I haven’t unboxed the thing yet, as Nicole, Emma and I left for Maine immediately after I got the new toy. Tomorrow I’ll have photos and impressions and so forth.

This guy got the very first unit the store had. Nicole thinks he looks too cool to be a line-camper.

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