RIP, Jef Raskin

Sad: Jef Raskin, the philosophical father of the Macintosh, died of pancreatic cancer on Saturday.

As credit wars spread in the blogosphere over ideas like RSS and podcasting, I’d like to note that both Raskin and Steve Jobs can fairly claim credit for creating the Macintosh without taking away from either’s contribution. Jef had many of the ideas, and Steve drove the refinements and shipped the damn thing. But without either, I’d be writing this on a 30-pound Kaypro rather than my PowerBook, and for that, I thank them.

More: Metafilter, Joy of Tech, TidBITS.

No UFIA in Boston

Universal Hub: FleetCenter renamed to Boston Garden!. For a day. Drew Curtis’s, which bought naming rights for the center for a day during a charity auction, ended up renaming the center “Boston Garden” after several less funny but more sophomoric in-joke names (the “ Duke Sucks Center,” “the UFIA Center,” “the Abe Vigoda Memorial Center”) were rejected.

This is much classier and cooler. Thanks, Drew!

(Incidentally, don’t look up UFIA unless you have a strong stomach.)

LifeHacker: blogs imitate Python

With articles like How to photograph snow, How to make a life poster, and How to read effectively, new Gawker-authored, Sony-sponsored blog LifeHacker reminds me of nothing so much as a certain Monty Python sketch, “How to do it”:

(Cut to a sign saying ‘How to do it’. Music. Pull out to reveal a ‘Blue Peter’ type set. Sitting casually on the edge of a dais an three presenters in sweaters – Noel, Jackie and Alan – plus a large bloodhound.)

Alan: Hello.

Noel: Hello.

Alan: Well, last week we showed you how to become a gynaecologist. And this week on ‘How to do it’ we’re going to show you how to play the flute, how to split an atom, how to construct a box girder bridge, how to irrigate the Sahara Desert and make vast new areas of land cultivatable, but first, here’s Jackie to tell you all how to rid the world of all known diseases.

Jackie: Hello, Alan.

Alan: Hello, Jackie.

Jackie: Well, first of all become a doctor and discover a marvellous cure for something, and then, when the medical profession really starts to take notice of you, you can jolly well tell them what to do and make sure they get everything right so there’ll never be any diseases ever again.

Alan: Thanks, Jackie. Great idea. How to play the flute. (picking up a flute) Well here we are. You blow there and you move your fingers up and down here.

Noel: Great, great, Alan. Well, next week we’ll be showing you how black and white people can live together in peace and harmony, and Alan will be over in Moscow showing us how to reconcile the Russians and the Chinese. So, until next week, cheerio.

Alan: Bye.

Jackie: Bye.

(Children’s music.)

Pork chop sandwiches!! And knowing is half the battle

And speaking of horrific Internet mindworms, these inspired remixes of animated GI Joe public service announcement spots should earn a fond spot in the heart of anyone who watched a lot of syndicated cartoons on weekday afternoons in the ’80s. Personal faves: “Jamaican Nyquil” and “Fire” (not to be confused with “On Fire,” which is also pretty funny). Warning: contains copious amounts of profanity, so watch with headphones on.

Relationship marketing in a liquid exchange

Universal Hub – The online Boston community.: What’s the Point?. The Point, in Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston, is the first bar in Boston, and the first bar I know of period, with an RSS feed. Granted, it’s an RSS feed with links that don’t work unless you hit the most recent item, but hey, they’re trying.

And I could use a beer. We had another few inches of snow last night, and I found two broken shear bolts on the axle of our snowblower this morning (translation: it stopped clearing the driveway).

Another blogging Sloanie… er, Sloan CIO

Al Essa, the CIO of the Sloan School of Management at MIT, has not one but three public blogs: Tatler , described as “A personal perspective on intellectual history, aesthetics, political economy, and arts and letters”; The NOSE (Navigating Open Source Elearning); and Rude Mood, about running. I’m not sure that three complete independent, separately branded blogs aren’t overkill, but I guess it keeps things from getting confusing. A belated welcome to the blogosphere, Al.

It’s wicked pissa

Boston Online: Wicked Good Guide to Boston English. This is a compendium put together by Adam Gaffin, who maintains the Universal Hub site—and who, on the strength of this guide, will be a judge today in the Wicked Boston Accent Contest.

The guide, in the spirit of HL Mencken’s The American Language, captures information about pronunciation, odd vocabulary, and usage. Where else would you learn, for instance, about the Massachusetts Negative Positive? Or, for that matter, what the title of this post means?


this old house project in carlisle

My parents came in last weekend for a fun-filled weekend of sightseeing and home improvement—we didn’t plan it but it kind of turned out that way. This was the first visit to our new place by my mom & dad, and it turned out to be a perfect introduction to New England winter.

I already mentioned the Boston Camerata concert on Friday night. On Saturday morning we piled into the car, drove out through Lexington and on toward Carlisle. We were curious to see if we could find the current This Old House project. (My dad, Lisa, and I are addicted to the show, and my mom is very tolerant.) As there are only three or four major roads in Carlisle, it was pretty easy to find the house, though we did have to stop and get directions from some cookie-selling Girl Scouts. We did a brief drive-by and took a few photos to prove we were there.

Afterwards we went downtown. Lisa introduced Mom to the wonders of Filene’s Basement, and my dad and I wandered the North End, taking in Modern Pastry and the Old North Church.

On Sunday Lisa and I went and picked up a long-awaited tool purchase, our first major power tool: a 12″ compound miter saw. My dad and I assembled it—and promptly learned that the extension cord powering my workshop didn’t provide sufficient juice to power the saw and the lights. Guess I’ll be running in a new outlet—and learning about fishing cable above plaster ceilings. (I’ll probably take the opportunity to try to run some conduit up there to make it easier to run future cables.)

Monday, though, was the real home improvement day, thanks to a surprise six-inch snowfall. My dad and I started by hanging a coathook board in the entryway/mudroom to mitigate some of the winter coat clutter. Then we took the closet door off its hinges and took a half inch off the bottom with a reciprocating saw. Not only was this fun and therapeutic, it also meant that we could now open the closet door all the way, even with our snow-absorbing all-weather carpet in the mudroom. (Incidentally, there are probably a few more precise ways to cut a door than with a reciprocating saw, but most of them involve tools I don’t have—and, even with a 12″ blade, the new miter saw couldn’t cut all the way across the bottom.) I finished the job by sanding the new bottom, and priming both the top and bottom of the door. The previous owners hadn’t bothered to finish the tops and bottoms of several of the doors, and we had noticed that some of them got swollen and impossible to open and shut properly in the summer humidity. In between, we also took down a swinging door between the kitchen and the dining room that was obstructing traffic flow between the rooms, and Lisa painted the hall connecting the kitchen to the living room.

Somehow with all this going on, we had time to make homemade pasta, roast lamb, and polpettone (Italian meatloaf, basically a very large meatball). On subsequent nights, not all at once.

It was a great visit—I only hope that the snow and hard work didn’t scare my folks off!

Subscribe to what I’m listening to

Craig asked for an RSS feed for his iTunes so he could share what he was listening to. Turns out that’s a feature of Audioscrobbler, the community app for sharing your playlists. With a simple plug-in for iTunes for Windows or the Mac, you can upload everything you’ve listened to, and your friends can subscribe to the content in RSS (1.0).

Frinstance, here’s my Audioscrobbler feed. The only problem: what do you do with the information once you have it? Here Audioscrobbler is missing an opportunity. An automatic “buy on iTunes” or link to a tune excerpt, where available, might be pretty damn cool—and might make some money.