Megnut

The subway centennial

You have until the end of the year to check out the New York Public Library's exhibit, The Subway at 100: General William Barclay Parsons and the Birth of the NYC Subway, but why wait?

Celebrating the centennial of the opening of the New York City subway system in 1904, this exhibition both salutes William Barclay Parsons, the first chief engineer of the subway, and recognizes the importance of the subway system to the life and growth of the city.

Sounds great, and since the subway is one of my favorite things about New York City, I'm keen to learn more about its construction and history. I'm adding this exhibit to my to-do list.

Tonight in SoHo

A reminder: I'll be at the Apple Store in SoHo tonight from 6-8 PM participating in the New York Bloggers event. I'll be discussing the technology of blogging with the dashing Anil Dash and the fording Paul Ford. Please join us if you've nothing better to do on a rainy New York evening.

Living the bug-free dream

An interesting post about Where Bugs Come From -- the computer kind, not the creepy crawly kind (we know where those come from).

...[A] classic tale of slippery assimilation, trying to find that ridiculous cut-off point where a program went from being short enough to be bug-free, to long enough to be inevitably buggy...This, of course, is the promise of structured programming, of functions, of objects. If we can write 137 lines of code without a bug, then we can structure our programming style so that were always writing units of fewer than 137 lines. We can build those units into components, and voila! No more bugs.

If only it were so simple! Having used various approaches to programming -- from the by-the-seat-of-the-pants methodology to hard-core unit testing for each and every class that's written -- I can say that there's no magic bullet, no magic number of lines, no magic anything. It's just freakin' work, and lots and lots of testing, to get your software to the point that it does what it's supposed to, and when it doesn't, to gracefully alert the user that something's gone amiss.

Big on Jesus, small on everything else

Oh, God - "The Jesus Factor" asks what's behind the president's religious beliefs is a brief Slate review of a new Frontline documentary (premiering tonight) that examines President Bush's religious views. It sounds pretty interesting, if only to get a sense of where he's coming from. But I was surprised to read a pretty astounding figure buried in the article.

[O]f the $100 million so far dispensed to faith-based charities by the Bush administration, not one dollar has gone to a Jewish or Muslim organization.

What?! I've always been irritated by the use of federal money for faith-based charities, but to find that it's only going to Christian charities is even more egregious. Argh!

A little sense of things

I talked with Dan Kreiss the other day. He's working on a Master's at Stanford and is writing his thesis on blogging. He's posted notes from our discussion on his blog. It was a lively conversation, and gives you a bit of an idea where my thinking is these days. The best part of talking with him was discussing what I'm interested in doing next. The answer of course is lots of things! But in particular I got all jazzed up again about some ideas I've been thinking about for a while. When you've just finished a job, and you're spending you days alone at home, getting jazzed up about ideas is a really great thing.

Go east, young man

I'm always interested in new places to visit, and for some time, Eastern Europe has been on my list. The BBC has an article discussing the tourist hopes of new EU nations such as Poland, Waiting for the tourists to arrive.

History is just one of the attractions that brings tourists to the resort of Sopot, a short ride from Gdansk - along with natural beauty and 1920s spa architecture.

The Baltic coast is just one of Poland's tourist attractions. The city of Krakow is perhaps a better known one. Then there's the Mazuria lake district in the north-east of the country.

I first became interested in Poland through Maciej's writings. His post about growing up in Warszawa (Warsaw) piqued my interest. And his recent entry on the Tatra mountains of southern Poland, Bukowina Tatrzan'ska made me long for snow! I think a trip to Poland is in order. In preparation, here's a Polish Language Introduction.

A sense of humor?

The New York Times reviews
Eats, Shoots & Leaves
, a book about punctuation that's recently come across the Atlantic after receiving rave reviews in the UK. In what's surely a sly joke to the Sunday Book Review reader, the Times entitled the article, 'Eats, Shoots & Leaves': Punctuation and It's Discontents. At least I hope it's a joke.

You've got to know when to hold 'em

And you've got to know when to fold 'em. According to this New York Times article, Hello, Ms. Chips: The New Face of Poker, more women are playing high stakes poker and participating in events such as the World Poker Tour and the World Series. I've never been much of a gambler but recently spent a Saturday evening playing poker for very low stakes with some friends. It was great! I'm totally into poker now, as long as my total investment remains below the $10 mark. But this article inspired me. Maybe now that I'm done with Kinja, I'll begin my training to become a professional poker player!

Today's song

Today's song is Time Has Come Today by the Chambers Brothers. It will be in heavy rotation until the Time has passed.

Slate on variety meats

Interesting article over at Slate about all the gross things you usually only eat disguised as hot dogs, Offal Good - Why upscale chefs are serving euphemistically named "variety meats." Apparently British chef Fergus Henderson has a new book out entitled The Whole Beast: Nose to Tail Eating that has recipes for all the parts that Americans tend to throw away.

The publication of Henderson's book heralds a new fashion in food, already discernable in various hot restaurants in New York: offal, the organs and extremities (nose, cheeks, tail, feet) of butchered animals, has become chic.

Foie gras, truffles, and other traditional staples of gastronomic excess now find themselves cheek by jowl on upscale menus with, well, cheeks and jowls.

I haven't noticed this trend yet, but maybe I'm not eating at the "right" spots. I certainly don't think I'll rush out and buy the book any time soon. While I'm in favor of using the whole of the animal or plant -- and don't like waste one bit -- I have a hard time trimming the tips off a chicken's wings before I put it in to roast. As a failed vegetarian, I now enjoy meat occasionally when I'm out, but it's pretty much impossible for me to do any kind of chopping, hacking, or anything else with animal parts in my own kitchen. I don't expect to be boiling a pig's head any time soon, even if I had a pot it would fit in.

Also, who's the editor at Slate that allowed such horrible pun for the title?

IndyJunior dream

I use a neat little application called Indy Junior to map my travels. But apparently something's gone wrong with the XML file I output with Movable Type, because IJ still thinks I'm in the Caribbean, where I haven't been since early March. If only I were still on the beach. Thanks for the nice dream, Indy!

Luscious brightly colored floors

Over at the Apartment Therapy blog, Max has a great post about How To: Paint Your Floors and Not Screw it Up. He and his wife repainted the floors in their summer house and it looks lovely. Makes me long for a place where I could do this. I've never been much of a rug person, and this seems like such an interesting alternative, if you've got the right kind of space.

The amazing napper!

Since last Monday -- no not yesterday, Monday April 5th -- I have had a nap every afternoon lasting in duration from one to over two hours! That's eight straight days of napping, and frankly I'm about done with all the tiredness. I'm ready to get back to the business of living.

The Times on frozen sushi

Interesting article in today's New York Times about the common practice of freezing sushi fish, Sushi Fresh From the Deep...the Deep Freeze.

But because of health concerns and growing demand, 50 to 60 percent of sushi in the United States is frozen at some point in its journey from the ocean, according to wholesalers. And rare is the sushi restaurant that tells customers upfront that they may be eating fish that has been in deep freeze for up to two years.

Most would be even more surprised to learn that if the sushi has not been frozen, it is illegal to serve it in the United States.

I used to be a huge sushi fan, but lately I find the appeal is wearing off. After having it for dinner last night, I was even thinking, "I'm done with sushi for a while." Reading this article doesn't make me want to change my mind, I don't care how 'fresh' the fish still tastes. There's just something about frozen fish that I find totally unappealing. Even if that's the way I've been eating it all along.

Help megnut find a new home

For ages and ages now this site has been hosted by the very generous Matt Haughey. But the load on the server (it hosts Metafilter, among other sites) has been heavy from the beginning. And I think it's time for megnut to find a home of its own. So I'm looking for recommendations for great hosting plans.

My requirements are fairly straightforward: I need to host more than one domain and want the ability to create sub domains. I want Apache/Linux. I would like MySQL, PHP and Perl. I'd like something that's very reliable and can offer a fair amount of bandwidth. Oh yeah, and customer support that's not staffed by assholes. That's it. Do you have someone to suggest? Do you love your hosting provider? Is there someone you think I should avoid? Tell me.

1 for 2 with the New England teams

Well things didn't go as I'd hoped for the Sox opener (Pedro and the boys lost 7-2 against Baltimore), but at least the UConn women won against Minnesota and are on their way to the NCAA finals against Tennessee tomorrow night. Go Huskies! Watching the women play last night was amazing, and the improvement in the women's game even in the past five years is really something. Great ball movement, fakes, no-look passes -- it's a pleasure to watch.

The horror!

Gina's posted a photo of the Kinja development team, minus me and Matt, as Kinja prepares to go live. You can see the fear in their eyes, and yet everything went smoothly. It's nice when some much planning and testing actually pays off.

Kinja announcements

After 15 months in the making, I'm pleased to announce that Kinja, a new weblog reading tool, has launched today. We worked really hard on it and hope you'll check it out. On a personal note, I'm spending another month at Kinja and will be leaving at the end of April. I'm sure I'll have more to say about that in the future, but for now, check out Kinja and some assorted media coverage:

Nick Denton: Kinja is live

New York Times: Blog-Bleary? Try (What Else?) a Blog

My Kinja public digest (so you can read what I'm reading!): www.kinja.com/user/megnut

Hidden Tribeca

Neat stuff today over at MUG with Tribeca Pentimento. This essay highlights what I love about living in old cities, the hidden (and sometimes not so hidden) history that's everywhere. Working in Tribeca I know these spots and wish it were a sunny day for exploring the neighborhood rather than a cold rainy day for coding.

Situated software

Clay Shirky's got a new essay up on Situated Software, a term he's using to describe software, "designed in and for a particular social situation or context." I find his essay really interesting, and I wish I had time right now for a more thorough response, but my own application commitments prevent me.

One reason the situated software approach works so well is the clear definition of the end users of the system. It enables developers to build for a very specific set of users and features, which is a wonderful foundation for success. When you don't have business people requesting new features for some hypothetical user or situation, your software tends to do what it's designed to do better. In software development, the use of personas -- each persona represents a target user of the system -- is one way to address application focus and scope. But for some time now, especially with regards to social software development, I've wondered if that's sufficient. Later in his essay, Clay writes:

We constantly rely on the cognitive capabilities of individuals in software design...[w]e rarely rely on the cognitive capabilities of groups, however, though we rely on those capabilities in the real world all the time.

This gets to something I've been thinking about for sometime now, the possibility of using personas to represent groups rather than individuals. In fact, I even proposed it as a talk for the last O'Reilly Emerging Technology Conference but it wasn't accepted. I'm still tickled by this idea of modeling the groups, because as Clay writes, there's a power in groups that you don't find when the same individuals operate in isolation. By creating group personas (groupas? grouponas?), perhaps we could better design and hone our software to utilize the group's power. Then we could create software that's honestly social and situated, and it wouldn't necessarily be at odds with the breadth and reach of a Web School application.

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