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Eastern Standard Tribe

As is my custom on the drive home to Indianapolis, I pulled out my iPod Nano and listened to an audiobook to help pass the time. I’ve found to be a good place for books recently, and while the books available may not be the bestsellers you’d find on Amazon or Borders, the stories are usually pretty good. The book I chose (partly because it was the first in the list of podcasts) for the trip across the Ohio desert is no exception.

Eastern Standard Tribe by Cory Doctorow is a look at how our hyper-connectedness may effect how we live in the near future. Instead of making friends in our neighborhoods or cities, we might find that we are better connected to people in the same time-zones like EST or PDT.  To keep together and save face in the group member perform industrial espionage and cause trouble by going undercover and making things difficult.

Art is a member of the Eastern Standard Tribe and is undercover in London trying to undermine the Greenwich Mean Tribe as a user interface designer developing the worst designs he can. When he comes up with a brilliant plan for a good project, he shares it with his co-EST agent and his girlfriend from LA. And ends up in a mental institution trying to decide between happiness or smarts.

I rather enjoyed Doctorow’s take on what might be the pretty soon phenomenon of sticking together in time-zones. It’s a creative and twisty story.


Thanksgiving Vacation

I’m off work so I can spend the rest of the week with my family. Should be a fun time, hanging out with my siblings, parents and friends.

Need to go home and pack up, then depending on how late it is, I’ll be driving across the desert of Ohio to Indianapolis. My iPod is full of several audiobooks from so I’ll probably make it through at least one during the trip back and forth. Now if only the weather behaves and other drivers don’t freak out too much.


Varieties of Rock-Paper-Scissors

A couple weeks ago someone mentioned over on Plurk, variants of Rock-Paper-Scissors so I thought I’d check it out. David Lovelace, a Flash animator, musician and cartoonist, decided that the normal three options for RPS is just too basic. And since there was already a five gesture version he took up the challenge of developing others: RPS-7, RPS-9, RPS-11, RPS-15, RPS-25 and a flabbergasting RPS-101. For each one he drew illustrated hands for the gesture and a cool maps showing how each gesture defeats the others, like this one for RPS-15:

And he even made a cool Flash game for the variants RPS-25 and lower. Next time you need to make a decision with a friend, maybe one of these can make it more fun. =)


Crisp, Clear Skies

One of the things I do like about winter-time, especially near cities, is that many night skies are beautifully clear. A little bit like this:

The downside is that it’s cold outside and to properly stargaze, you have to have time for your eyes to adjust to the dark. So, if you do go out and look at the night sky on a clear night like tonight was here in Pittsburgh, make sure to bundle up and stay warm.


Podcamp PGH Meetup and Blogfest 16

This week, two social media meetups ended up being scheduled almost back to back. The brand new, post-Podcamp Pittsburgh meetup and the much older Blogfest on it’s sixteenth time.

The PCPGH meetup was held at the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip District. It’s a nice spot, though a bit dark so I didn’t take any pictures. Most everyone I expected to see were able to make it, and a good number of other who I’d seen, but not met at Podcamp as well as a one or two who’d I’d met at last Podcamp but weren’t able to make it this year. So that was fun, chatting with various people.

Blogfest is a similar atmosphere, though at the much brighter venue of Finnegan’s Wake on the North Shore. The roads were a bit icy, and Pittsburgh’s Light-up Night was happening simultaneously, so a number of people weren’t able to make it due to traffic, etc. However I counted at one point about 28 attendees, so it was a reasonably good sized crowd. Here’s a few photos from the evening with the rest of them over here.

Apparently, on Jennie and Anthony’s new collaboration blog Bricks and Boxes, there was a poll as to whether Bob Dylan’s Love Minus Zero/No Limit or Jeff Buckley’s rendition of Hallelujah is “the best song ever.” Jennie won and Anthony had to sing Hallelujah at Blogfest. He did a pretty good job and I caught the last couple verses on video:


Friday 5 — How

This week’s Friday 5 asks the H in WWWWWH — Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How.

1. How’s your health?
So far so good.
2. How was your day?
A bit fractured over several projects and things, but overall, a good day. Especially with Blogfest after work. Hanging out with people is fun and meeting new people is an interesting challenge for me.
3. How’s the weather?
I said on Twitter that it, “Looks like the weather can’t decide if it’s going to snow today or not. There was a white-out just a minute ago and now just cloudy.” Then shortly after that the sun was poking through the clouds. No matter what the visible weather was, it was on the cold side of 30°. And the roads were a bit icy and slippery.
4. How do you expect to get anywhere in life with an attitude like that?
Good question. I like to think that I have a fairly good attitude most of the time. But more often than not, rather than be proactive in doing something, I tend toward the passive, the just let things happen stance.
5. How many people made you smile today?
Something like five or six, probably more.

Spies: Quantum of Solace and Get Smart

This last weekend worked out to be spy weekend for me. I took the opportunity Saturday afternoon to watch Quantum of Solace and as Get Smart just came out in DVD and was available at RedBox, I picked it up for free on Monday.

Quantum of Solace

With Casino Royale being, in my opinion, the best James Bond film so far, Quantum of Solace had a pretty high bar to meet if it was to be at least as good as its predecessor. I knew that Quantum of Solace was intended to be the sequel to Casino Royale, with Bond searching for the person behind the death of Vesper Lynd, so I tried not to get my hopes up too high.

The movie opens with Bond bringing in a suspect to question about the circumstances involving the end of the Casino Royale. But they only discover that there is an organization out there which even has people in MI6. Bond locates the apparent head of the group in South America, working to bring a new military ruler to power with part of the deal getting the deed to desert property which contains the main water supply to the country. Unfortunately, the CIA and others are helping the bad guy without knowing what he’s up to, so not only does Bond have to handle looking like a rogue who’s gone off on a revenge trip and being looked for by MI6, he also has to stay out of the way of the CIA.

Bond runs across the path of a beautiful local ex(?)-agent who is working to kill this same soon-to-be dictator because he’d killed her family. They work together and successfully remove the military ruler and the leader of the organization. I missed how, but Bond also finds the guy who was Vesper’s boyfriend and put her in danger in the first place. One thing I liked about it is that the main Bond girl survives at the end where traditionally about 50% of other Bond girls don’t.

I didn’t find Quantum of Solace quite as amazing as Casino Royale, so I’ll probably wait until I find it at Half Price Books like the rest of the Bond series I have yet to collect (I’ve got about half so far). Nevertheless, it was a reasonably good James Bond film. Daniel Craig is growing on me as one of the better actors who has played Bond. He certainly earned it in Casino Royale.

Get Smart

I missed seeing Get Smart in the theater, so I had to wait until it was available on DVD to see it. As a movie version of a TV series I never saw, I imagine that fans of the show may be somewhat disappointed similar to even the best book movie adaptation being disappointing. The movie is the story of bumbling Maxwell Smart, Agent 86 for the secret spy agency CONTROL and his much more competent, experienced and beautiful partner Agent 99 as they battle the forces of KAOS.

Smart is an analyst who has been trying for a long time to be allowed to become a field agent and only is promoted when it is discovered that KAOS has found out the identities of many agents and is killing them off one-by-one. After investigating and attempting to destroy a nuclear weapons factory run by KAOS, agents 86 and 99 work to avert a KAOS nuclear demonstration which would kill the president of the United States as well as discovering a double agent.

I enjoyed the movie, which successfully combined the comedy and spy genres together. Not that it wasn’t a bit cheesy here and there, but it didn’t seem to take itself particularly seriously and somehow Smart was able to figure out things through his analysis of what was going on despite his apparent lack of skill. I probably won’t get the DVD, unless I happen upon it rather cheap at Half Price Books.