Spielberg: I Got Yer Tintin Right Here

It’s finally happened – Steven Spielberg is making a Tintin movie. Backoff bitches, the role is mine! Observe:

And that’s on a bad hair day. With a little Gumption™ and a few hours in makeup, I can have that cowlick hairstyle standing three, maybe four inches high. You know how to contact me.

(Alright, I’m kidding here – but I have loved Tintin ever since I was a kid. Growing up, a red-headed boy only had him and Danny Dunn to look up to as red-headed role models. Well, at least until Ron Weasley came along, but I’m not sure he sets the right example for the rest of us “gingers”.)

Pondering Switching to Mac

This weekend has been a bit of an interesting experiment – I borrowed a 12″ MacBook Pro test machine from work to take Mac OS X for a spin. My personal machine is starting to show its age after five years, and I can’t say Vista is an especially appealing prospect. If I’m going to have to buy new hardware anyway, I figured I’d take the Mac for a spin (after coveting them at the Apple store for the better part of a year). Actually, now that I think about it, this is not entirely a new experience given that I owned a PowerBook 180 back in university.

After a weekend of playing around on it, I’m pretty impressed. The positives:

  • Beautiful construction: The laptop body itself is solid as a rock. It’s sturdy and feels finished, especially compared the plastic of my Dell.
  • Keyboard action: There’s something about the snappy spring of the keyboard that is simply satisfying.
  • UNIX toolset: I admit it – the first thing I install on Windows is Cygwin. Not having to do that on Mac OS X is a nice value-add.

There are, however, some items that I find annoying. The behavior of windows is a pain; there is some inconsistency about how windows are opened that I find leave the impression of clutter (I’m a full-window man, all the time). I’m also suffering from some apprehension over applications. While most of my applications are either cross-platform or web-based, I can’t help but shake lingering concerns. I mean, Mac OS support is always a secondary concern for most software vendors – what if something really cool comes out, but it’s only available on Windows. Parallels and BootCamp ease this concern a bit, but not completely.

What I’m really curious about is what bugs people about the Mac. What are the features that irk you? What’s the stuff that really annoyed you after you switched to Mac OS X?

Dear Boston Police: Try “Google”

Not a month after the Aqua Teen Hunger Force incident in which Boston Police shut down the city to blow up a number of promotional blinking ads, it seems the Boston Police Bomb Squad is bucking for promotion again today. This time, they blew up a suspicious package in Boston’s financial district, that turned out to be a traffic counter placed there by the City’s own Transportation Department.

How is it that no one bothered to try to identify the device before blowing it up? I mean, I understand that faced with a possible bomb, caution is required. But couldn’t someone take a picture with a cameraphone and see if someone in the City could identify it beforehand? How about a Google search?

In fact, let me suggest a new protocol for first responders to deal with any unusual circumstance:

  1. Open a web browser
  2. Go to Google.com
  3. Type a description of the object in question
  4. Examine the results for a match.

It’s that easy. It even works for other circumstance when you don’t know what you’re looking at. Take the recent case of the immigrant who was denied entry until he removed a medical device from his posterior that the customs officials thought might be used to smuggle drugs. It’s called a “seton”, and despite the fact that the doctor at the airport had never heard of it, a Google search for “seton” and “anal” immediately returns a nice detailed result on the device and the medical reasons it is used.

Come on guys – it’s just not that hard.

BeeThere

Newly discovered service BeeThere provides something I’ve been seeking for a while: a simple way to track tour dates for specific bands. Create an account, add bands and artists to a watch list, and presto! a feed of upcoming tour dates in Your Area. It even has a nifty option to suck artist names out of iTunes. Nice one!

Is PayPrank Real?

I just came across a site called PayPrank, which claims to be a site that allows you to pay people money, but in the most annoying fashion possible. It “lets you, the payer, have as much fun paying a debt as the receiver has getting it”.

Does anyone know if this thing is real? It’s a cute idea (nothing like paying off a $100 bet with a buddy with checks made out in random amounts), but it could it just as easily be a very well-executed prank itself.

Click2Call v0.0.1 Released

On Friday, a co-worker noted that our in-house phone system has a “click-to-call” capability to allow you to trigger the system to call a specific phone number on your behalf and then connect you via your desk phone, all by simply issuing a HTTP request to the right URL. He thought this was pretty cool, but wanted something that would auto-link phone numbers in web pages (such as our intranet-based phone book) to the phone system to allow him to simply call numbers by clicking on them in his web browser.

A couple of hours, some Firefox-fu, and I’m proud to reveal Click2Call. It’s a simple Firefox extension that looks for phone numbers in web pages, and links them to your phone system’s “click-to-call” functionality using a URL pattern you configure. Enjoy!

When Predictive Text Goes Wrong

An email from a co-worker writing on a BlackBerry Pearl left me a bit confused:

But we cannot pull rabbits from gays…

Turns out what she meant to say was “rabbits from hats” – the BlackBerry’s predictive text went a bit weird on her.

Pipes: Where’s the Money?

Let me preface this by stating that one of the Yahoo! Pipes core team members, Kevin Cheng, is close personal friend – I have the deepest respect for him and his team’s work, and not just because he managed to survive three years living in the same house as me.

That said, as I look at the Pipes product I just don’t get it. I mean, technologically, I understand the concept – a service to allow you to re-mix RSS content any way you want it, analogous to what UNIX pipes do with stdin and stdout. Neat-o! I can think of many uses for this in my own daily news/data-gathering routine. There’s just one problem…it’s not something for which I’d pay any money. And I don’t see them adopting other measures to monetize this property.

Now, Yahoo! is a big organization and it has many other places to make money. This could easily be positioned as a “thought leadership” exercise designed to grab the hearts and minds of the developers, lock them into Yahoo!’s “platform”, thus presenting the opportunity to monetize the platform and development community at a later time. But it’s that “later” part that bothers me. We seem to be gradually drifting back to the time when users/eyeballs not revenue were the primary indicator of the value of a business. I suppose that they could extract value from the mining the types of pipes people create, but that seems to be a stretch.

I guess I’m just curious if anyone knows how Yahoo! (or similar organizations) evaluates these types of projects from a business perspective?

(I just noticed how may quote marks I used in this post – a worrisome sign, in and of itself.)

D-Wave: Canucks On a Roll

Looks like some hometown entrepreneurs are making waves with their quantum computer, and getting plenty of coverage to boot. Alas, I wasn’t able to score an invitation to the party at the Computer History Museum, but The Register covered it nicely (I especially like the quote “the management’s mix of enthusiasm and frank realism made the pitch all the more believable” – something uniquely Canadian).

Way to go guys!